- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2005

Virginia’s Northern Neck portion of the Chesapeake Bay is witnessing the arrival of Spanish mackerel. The swift swimmers are mixed in with 2- and 3-pound bluefish, as well as striped bass. From the Great Wicomico River in Northumberland County down to the mouth of the Rappahannock, the fishing can be frantic at times.

Meanwhile, in the Maryland parts of the bay, rockfish and croaker chummers find plenty of action on the Middle Grounds, as well as buoys 72A and 72. Occasionally, a bluefish is hooked and more are predicted to show up in the next week. We also expect to see Spanish mackerel. It’s time.

Fresh- and brackish-water bass anglers are doing quite well. It begins with the mountain rivers — all of them, from Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna to Virginia’s James — where smallmouth bass of all sizes are striking surface lures, spinners and a variety of plastic tubes and worms. In the upper tidal Potomac, meanwhile, topwater poppers, plastic worms and spinnerbaits are doing a number on largemouth bass around the edges or inside openings of aquatic vegetation.

Virginia’s sector of the Atlantic Ocean clearly is superior to others in the middle Atlantic. Proof of this is offered by Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association, who came out of Virginia Beach last week and ran down to the South Tower looking for amberjacks. The jacks were there. So were big bluefish. “The bluefish were eating up our croakers so fast, we decided to run down to the ‘B’ Tower and see if there were less bluefish there.” Neill and friends also put out a spreader rig on one rod and a spoon on the other — which promptly caught another blue. The spreader eventually resulted in a yellowfin tuna and 10 dolphin. (No, not real dolphins like Flipper; these were dolphinfish.)

You can e-mail us at gmueller@washingtontimes.com

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — In the waters around the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; 202/244-0461), days of hazy, lazy summer are making themselves felt. Still, the fishing for catfish, bass, scattered crappies and walleyes can be pretty good. The river below the boat house is doing fine as far as bass are concerned. Charles County bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) says he had well more than 60 bass with his two clients on Tuesday and other days have shown similar success rates. Andy likes to start with early morning topwater baits, then he switches to long blue fleck Berkley Bungee worms. Guide Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) said he was fishing a variety of creeks, including the Chicamuxen, Pomonkey and Piscataway, plus the Pohick Bay area, and connected on dozens of bass using topwater poppers and 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits. Both guides say the fishing has been outstanding, although many of the bass are young and not very heavy. Still, a number of 3- and even 4-pounders is possible. Croaker bites are seen at sunset around the Route 301 bridge in Charles County, but don’t promise anyone a fish dinner until after you’ve caught them. From Bushwood in the Wicomico River (St. Mary’s County side) fishermen are again finding cooperative croakers. Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) reports 15 to 16 hardheads hooked by each rental boater. Even some Norfolk spot, white perch and catfish are taken. The croaker, snapper bluefish, rockfish and spot fishing gets better as you head downstream toward St. George’s Island and on to Cornfield Harbor and Point Lookout, as well as on the Virginia shore around the Coan River and, of course, Smith Point.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — There’ll be a lot of “boat dock fishing” going on around the Sweden Point Marina area this week and next. Why not. A lot of bass have been released in recent tournaments and quite a few are still hanging around these docks. Early morning topwater fishing can be good, and if you like to hook a catfish, put some clam necks on a 2-hook bottom rig with a sinker at the end and cast it into the channel waters of the creek. The “cats” will do the rest.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows decent catch-and-release bass activity, plus sunfish and some crappies. Word has it that St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) will not be refilled and ready for boat launches at its dual ramps until sometime next year. Meanwhile, shore walkers score on some bass and fine sunfish.

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) are good for a few bass and well-fed catfish, but you’d better do your fishing before the sun bakes the water. Sunfish can be caught all day long.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Bass have been crazy about 4-inch Senko worms on light slip sinkers. Watermelon and junebug colors are good choices. Jig ‘n’ craw combinations also can do a job on bass that hang around the dropoffs near a lake point or the end of a fallen tree. Flyrodders can score bass and sunfish early and late.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Ken Lamb, of the Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, writes, “Norfolk spot have moved into the mouth of the river. We caught big spot just inside Point Patience, mixed with some huge hardheads, last Thursday. The spot and the hardheads [croakers] are available at Drum Point, Green Holly, Fishing Point, and at the Hawk’s Nest at the mouth of Cuckold Creek.” Lamb also reminds us that some nice white perch are biting in the same locations. If you want a rental boat on Solomons Island, call or visit Bunky’s, 410/326-3241.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area, park ranger Smokey Davis reports, “The hot, humid weather has had little effect on bass catches. A local bass club tournament produced a winning bag [six fish] of 20.2 pounds, with the biggest fish weighing a hefty 5.8 pounds. Several bass limits in the 12- to 16-pound range were also weighed in. Most of these fish were caught with Senkos or Yum Dingers along deep bluffs in the main lake. Mouths of long, deep coves also produced but the backs of these coves yielded few fish.” Smokey says the lake is clear; water temperatures stand at 78 to 80 degrees. He adds that the catfish and crappie bite remains strong. And how about the 4-year-old who, while fishing with his grandfather, hooked a bluegill on a mealworm that weighed 1 pounds. That’s huge.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Early hours are good for a few bass that like 4-inch scented, plastic worms around lake points and blowdowns. Small spinnerbaits can also score if you cast to waterlogged obstruction. Good panfish action is reported.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says the upper river is running low and clear as fishermen score readily on smallmouth bass that haven’t quite reached adulthood. In other words, “little” is the catchword. Biologist John Mullican finds a continued presence of fine tiger muskies in his river section in Washington County. He’s hooking them on crankbaits now.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Guide Brent Nelson (301/596-5712, evenings) connects on bass, even a few walleyes, and if he wants to he can find large bluegills and yellow perch. The lake is giving up good numbers of fish.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) — The waters just below the Conowingo Dam have been poor choices for bass, but not for catfish. The bass and stripers have slowed because of low water flow from up above. However, bass and catfish, even a few small rockfish, are taken on the Susquehanna Flats.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Upper bay striper fishing is doing quite well from Hackett’s Light up to the Love Point area of the Chester River. Bottom-fished chum or trolled lures find some action as long as the water is still in good shape as far as oxygen amounts are concerned. In the middle bay, from the Radar Towers to the Gooses and across on the eastern side of the shipping channel, you’ll troll up or chum for rockfish. The Stone Rock and Sharps Island Light sector continues to deliver a few black drum. From his Tackle Box store in Lexington park, Ken Lamb says chummers are getting their limits of rockfish, sometimes bluefish. Even the trollers who use spoons or bucktails get rockfish action. Keep a spinning rod on hand with a topwater popper on the line because surface eruptions by rockfish can occur anytime. Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, buzzsmarina.com) in St. Jerome’s Creek, reports, “The chummers were taking rockfish from behind Buoy 72A in 34 feet of water; between Buoy 72 and the target ship also. The croaker fishing is great. They are catching two at a time as a rule from the Point No Point Light to Point Lookout in 17 to 20 feet of water. Keeper flounder are scattered in the Mud Leads, with some [St. Mary’s County] fishermen catching bluefish, flounder and croaker.” Flounder are said to be biting in Tangier Sound.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Capt. Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or 804/580-7292) reports bluefish action can be enjoyed by topwater lure casters or trollers and chummers. The best catches have come from the channel edge at the Northern Neck reef and from around Buoy 62. Surface feeding by blues also has been noted from the Wolftrap Light to Windmill Point at the mouth of the Rappahannock River where Spanish mackerel have been flitting about and chasing after small silver spoons trolled on long lines with very little in-line weight on the monofilament. “Sea trout are becoming more abundant,” said Pipkin. “They’re caught at the mouth of the Rappahannock and along the Cell.” Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association, said red drum and black drum have been making their presence felt around the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Look also for spadefish and blues in the same vicinity.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Croakers are picking up baits in the river mouth and above. Not only that, Cambridge angler Debbie Hawkins caught a 53-pound black drum within sight of the Route 50 bridge in Cambridge. Nighttimes are good for a few croakers around the adjacent fishing bridge. Perch and spot will show up quickly.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Upper river bass fishing has been fine. Soft plastics and shallow-retrieved spinnerbaits around obstructions and in spatterdock will draw hits.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The bass fishing has been quite good, whether on the main stem from Sharptown up to the Delaware line, or in the feeder creeks. Early hour topwater lures do well, as will plastic baits.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Early hours, before the sun really cooks the water, can be great if you fish for bass with topwater lures of all types. Stick to lake and creek points that show sharply dropping water on the sides. Upper lake stripers have gone on feeding rampages during the dark hours, but forget it when the sun is up.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles () — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Some improvement has been noted by tidal water bass fishermen. Bass have taken plastic worms and rattle baits from Hicks Landing downstream to Leedstown. Upper river smallmouth and catfish catches are good — very good.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Get going before it’s so hot you can fry an egg on the bow of your johnboat. Bass, sunfish and catfish are willing.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Catfish and bass are not bashful. Use clam necks or liver strips on the catfish. The bass like 4-inch ribworms and Senkos around fallen timber or brush piles.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) It’s hot as can be during the noon hours, but if you confine your bassin’ to the dawn and dusk periods, you’ll catch largemouths on a variety of lures.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Blue, channel and flathead catfish are hooked with fair regularity. Even the striper fishing has perked up a bit, with largemouth bass rated as only so-so. Some lake fishermen continue to find numbers of white bass, using Little George tailspinners and such.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) This week again the main catch is catfish and some fat sunfish. But the adjacent lake by the same name is said to be bursting at the seams with largemouth bass.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (**) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) The blue catfish are on the feed again, including some real heavyweights, just as we predicted.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (**) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas show plenty of little smallmouth bass, but few trophies.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (.) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Early hours between dark and sunrise can be great for rockfish that hang around in up to 30 feet of water and will inhale deep-running crankbaits or a jig. Bass catches are down.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (****) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Float trippers or waders have no problems finding well more than 30 bass per day on spinners, small crankbaits, topwater poppers or buzzbaits, even flyrod streamers.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Flounder catches are meager if it’s keepers you’re counting, but the first croakers and Norfolk spot have been hooked in the Ocean City Inlet. Surf anglers find juvenile black drum, croakers, kingfish, spot and young sea trout. Offshore boaters connect on various shark species near the canyon waters that are turning up the season’s first billfish along with bluefin and yellowfin tunas. Some dolphin and bluefish are taken near the Jackspot.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association reports that bluefin and yellowfin tunas are in the distant offshore waters, along with dolphinfish, while amberjacks and big bluefish are hanging around the light towers. Flounder fishing along the Eastern Shore’s Chincoteague, Metompkin, Wachapreague and Oyster is only fair. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.


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