- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2005

Great news for fishermen who enjoy having sore arms and aching muscles: The black drum are biting. During a wonderful outing to the Sharps Island area of the Chesapeake Bay with Deale charter fishing captain John MacEwen, our group hooked four black drum, lost at least four others and actually live-released two juvenile drumfish. The black drum are on the Eastern Shore side of the bay after having finished spawning down around Cape Charles, Va. They’re here to fatten up and get ready for their return trip into Virginia waters sometime in early July.

Not only that, close to the black drum grounds in the mouth of the Choptank River, headboats and private boaters are finding scads of hardheads, spot and white perch. Much the same kind of action is found in Southern Maryland as Lexington Park’s Ken Lamb tells about the great bottom fishing for perch, spot, croakers and flounder in the mouth of the Patuxent River, especially during tidal changes that occur early in the morning and again at dusk.

Bass fishing fans are doing well in the Potomac River’s main stem and the feeder creeks, especially in the dense aquatic grasses where weedless lures like soft-plastic jerkbaits and wacky-rigged scented worms do well.

In the Atlantic Ocean, just outside the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the cobias have arrived, and they are clearly headed into the bay toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and other popular, yearly hangouts. Meanwhile, broad-sided spadefish are caught at the Cell, the Chesapeake Light Tower and the bridge-tunnel.



POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — From the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; 202/244-0461) you will find some straggler rockfish, bass, catfish and crappies, while the downstream portions from Columbia Island to Hains Point can deliver a mix of bass and stripers, particularly during the “cool” hours of the day. Charles County bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are doing quite well dragging weedless lures, such as Zoom’s Horny Toad and Super Flukes or floating worms of various types, over dense mats of aquatic grasses from the Wilson Bridge down to western Charles County’s main stem and feeder creeks and inside several Virginia creeks. There are some croakers now biting around the Route 301 bridge, but it’s hit and miss from day to day. Croaker catches, especially after sunset, also are possible from the Cobb Island and the Bushwood area of the Wicomico River (Quade’s Store in Bushwood, 301/769-3903 has rental boats) south to Piney Point, St. George’s Island, Tall Timbers, Cornfield Harbor and Point Lookout, including the Point Lookout State Park Pier on the bay side.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — If you don’t mind having plenty of bass boat company, there are some bass to be hooked in the creek’s weed beds and sunken wood. Soft plastics have been reliable, but early hour topwater jerkbaits or noisy buzzbaits can score. Catfish are in the creek channel, and they like clam necks.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) has plenty of sunfish for the hook-and-bobber crowd but also some surprising bass. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road), the water is still low because of dam repairs, but some sunfish, crappies and bass can be taken by shore walkers.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (***) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117, near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) have been slower for bass because of the recent heat, but sunfish and catfish apparently don’t mind. They have been biting on worm baits and the like.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Congratulations to 11-year-old Edward Richardson, who caught a 131/4-pound blue catfish at Triadelphia on Sunday. Young Edward used a light outfit with 6-pound testline and a size 10 trout hook with a piece of nightcrawler and a splitshot weight. That’s quite an achievement, especially for someone his age. Both reservoirs are home to plenty of catfish, bass, sunfish and crappies.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Ken Lamb, of the Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, says the cownose rays are in the river, and that can put the brakes on the fishing because smaller fish species often get out of the way and stay away when the big “skates” are around. The No.3 buoy in the mouth of the river has turned up a few flounder this week for minnow drifters. Fair-sized rockfish have been around in the shallows of the river around Sotterley, the mouth of St. Leonard’s Creek and probably a dozen other spots. White perch are here, but all we can find are small specimens. Expect some croakers to bite between the public pier in Solomons and the mouth of the river. Bunky’s in Solomons (410/326-3241) has rental boats.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) — From the area of Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), park ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Despite the hot, humid weather, the fishing at Fountainhead has been very good. A local bass tournament produced a winning six-fish stringer of 171/4 pounds, with the biggest bass weighing over 51/2 pounds.” The big fish of the week was a 40-pound blue catfish that was fooled by an 8-inch Berkley Power Worm. Crappies apparently will keep on biting. They have shown no sign of slowing down.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Sunfish, crappies, bass, large catfish and even walleyes and muskies are in this lake. The fishing is fine. What are you waiting for?


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — Summer has arrived in the upper Potomac, the DNR’s Keith Lockwood says. The water has warmed, and the flow has slowed. Evening hours are best for smallmouth bass, but most are small critters. Green pumpkin tubes dragged slowly across the bottom will see plenty of action. Catfish are in good supply, although sizes are not the biggest.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Guide Brent Nelson (301/596-5712, evenings) finds good bass action by flipping tubes under floating docks. Nighttime minnow drifters can score on walleyes. The deepwater coves give up large bluegills.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) — The tidal portion of the Susquehanna has been giving up a fine variety of fish, starting with rockfish and bass on the Susquehanna Flats. White perch and channel catfish are everywhere, but the bass are attracting a lot of boaters. White or chartreuse spinnerbaits and soft, scented plastic worms are all you need for them.


MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Chumming has begun big time, and you can see chumming charter boats from the Bay Bridge down to Point Lookout. But even the trollers seem to be doing well on rockfish and occasional blues. I talked to a Deale charter captain this week, and he said he was able to troll up two-striper limits for his six clients with apparent ease. The best news has been the black drum that finally showed up around the Stone Rock to Sharps Island Light stretch. Capt. John MacEwen (410/867-3273) showed us a few days ago as we hooked and landed four fine black drum in the 60-pound range and also lost some others. Also eagerly awaited by bottom fishermen is word that spot, croakers and white perch are biting well in the mouth of the Choptank River. From Lexington Park in Southern Maryland, Ken Lamb says the hardheads (croakers), perch, flounder and spot are on the Chinese Mud in the mouth of the Patuxent, where bloodworms, squid, shrimp and peeler crab baits will see action. The bottom fishing on the Middle Grounds and along the edge of the ship channel has been fine for croakers and rockfish, as well as occasional flounder. Expect some tasty, young bluefish to smash your baits now and then. The blues are traveling in roving bands all over the lower and middle bay. From Buzz’s Marina (buzzsmarina.com), Christy Henderson says croaker limits are caught on the Mud Ledas, mixed with a few flounder. Chummers have done well with limit catches of rockfish, but the best news was that a cobia inhaled one of the bait chunks in a chum line about 200 yards south of Buoy 72.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Capt. Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or 804/580-7292) says last week’s Reedville Bluefish Derby had more than 200 boats competing for the largest bluefish and rockfish. The stripers didn’t disappoint, but the blues weren’t all that plentiful. Still, an 11-pounder won that division of the contest. By the way, rockfish anglers stopped yesterday as the spring season ended. Croakers and gray sea trout are showing up in boat boxes. The trout were present in the lower Rappahannock River but also along the Cut Channel where the croakers and flounder have been biting. In fact, they’re biting from the Cut Channel to Smith Point. Down in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake, spadefish are taken around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, while plenty of small gray trout are in the vicinity of the concrete ships on the Eastern Shore side of the bay. Some black drum and channel bass are hooked off the rocks of the Bridge-Tunnel’s islands and abutments.


CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The Cambridge fishing bridge will get more croaker, perch and eventually spot because those three species are available at the mouth in good numbers. Upper river bass fishing from Denton to Martinak can be fair. Use scented plastic worms and soft jerkbaits in the spatterdock and sunken trees.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass in the 1- to 2-pound range are picking up 4-inch plastic worms in sunken branches, spatterdock and flooded tree roots. Early morning topwater buzzbaits and poppers also work.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The Vienna area has given jolts to bass boaters who cast white spinnerbaits or buzzbaits along marsh banks and suddenly see a striper smashing the lures. The Marshyhope Creek and other feeders hold bass that like plastic worms and spinnerbaits.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Early and late hours are fine for bass around lake points stickups, creek channel drops and the like. Use plastic worms, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and loud poppers. Stripers have been active early in the morning around the Splits and above. Topwater lures, such as a Zara Spook or a Zoom Fluke, can result in catches.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Tidal water bass fishing has been terrible. I don’t know what’s happening here, although the catfish aren’t bashful. The upper river’s smallmouth bass, however, will jump on a pepper grub (chartreuse and black-flecked tube) or many other soft plastics, small crankbaits or spinners.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass have been biting during the low-light hours if you cast wacky-rigged Senko or Zero worms, standard Texas-rigged plastic worms of all types or spinnerbaits and topwater poppers. The crappie bite has slowed, but sunfish are willing for flyrod poppers.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Catfish have been taken from the small pier at the concession stand. But bass are better sought in the upper lake around points and sunken brush. Sunfish are wild about a flyrod popper.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Our friend Marty Magone says the lake is almost in a typical summer mode. Early hours call for topwater lures around shallow points or using spinnerbaits over emerging grass beds. Some striper activity has been noted above the I-85 bridge near Bracey.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Bad news for striper fans. Local anglers are seeing dead rockfish floating, their gills containing some kind of grub. Even some largemouth bass have been found with the mysterious grub inside the gill rakers. Catfish catches are good, and that includes flatheads, blues and channel cats. If you find a school of breaking white bass, cast a small silver spoon and retrieve it rapidly. I like a Mann’s Little George. It has always done well on white bass for me wherever I suddenly ran into a school.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) Sunfish and catfish are in fine supply, but the bass have gone on holiday it seems.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (**) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) It’s still slow as far as the blue catfish are concerned. But a few heavyweights are beginning to show up on the local scales. Bass fishing has been slower than slow in most areas.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (**) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas seem to be OK as far as healthy bass are concerned. Local anglers have told us they have not noticed any further signs of dead fish. Perhaps the nightmare has ended. It probably was caused by an illegal chemical dumping of some kind.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Down-lake striped bass action is good, especially at night. Some decent catches of largemouth bass are made mostly on plastic worms and various topwater baits.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) There has been some outstanding smallmouth bass fishing this week, as well as catfish and sunfish catches by the dozen. Water levels are good at around four feet.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Keith Lockwood says the oceanside fishing points to flounder catches behind Ocean City and Assateague Island. Surf catches have been good as the fishermen with the 12-foot surf rods find bluefish, some channel bass and a few rockfish. The first bluefin tuna was hooked in Maryland waters last weekend, with many more to come this week. Plenty of bluefish are hanging around in the offshore waters. Blue sharks have been hooked, but no makos just yet.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association says, “Cobia have arrived in force, and many have been spotted in the ocean heading for the Chesapeake Bay. Spadefish are biting at the Chesapeake Light Tower. Offshore action includes gaffer dolphin and billfish in the Triple Os area, while bluefin and yellowfin tunas are turning up at the Fingers. Flounder drifts in Chincoteague and Wachapreague backwaters have not turned up many keepers this week. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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