- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2005

The first tagged fish has been caught in Maryland’s $1million Fishing Challenge that began Friday. A number of fish, including stripers, perch and bass, have been tagged and are swimming about in the Chesapeake Bay and its feeder rivers. If you catch any of the tagged fish, your name will be entered into a July23 drawing for the $1million prize. A day after the free and open to anyone Fishing Challenge began, Ed Lozzi, 43, of Felton, Del., caught a tagged largemouth bass in the Snow Hill sector of the Eastern Shore’s Pocomoke River.

Lozzi’s bass had a tag with the number 266. It measured nearly 16 inches long and was fooled by a Senko plastic worm.

Meanwhile, out on the fishing grounds of the Chesapeake Bay, the chum boats are scoring nicely on rockfish and increasing numbers of 2- to 3-pound blues. Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park says the most productive and popular chumming stretches include the bay’s ship channel edge from Buoys 72A to 72 and the mouth of the Potomac River.

Sea trout and some fat croakers have moved into the Patuxent’s Hawk’s Nest waters at the mouth of Cuckold Creek. Although you can’t prove it by me, word has it the croaker bite is on from the Potomac’s Cornfield Harbor up to the Route 301 bridge in Charles County.

In the Virginia parts of the Chesapeake, you can expect successful chumming for rockfish, bluefish and a few sea trout, while in the lowest portions of the bay and around the corner from Cape Charles in the Atlantic barrier islands, there has been a red-hot channel bass bite. The offshore waters are giving up large chopper bluefish.

(RATINGS KEY: ****=EXCELLENT FISHING; ***=GOOD; **=FAIR; =POOR.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — From the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown off Canal Road; 202/244)-0461) Ray Fletcher says there are still a few keeper stripers available, usually caught by boat renters. “We’re also seeing large catfish and a surprising number of bass.” he adds. “In fact, some nice bass have come from the C&O; Canal right next to us here.” The river is in good shape, with the recent rains apparently having no effect on water clarity. Downstream, bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are finding largemouths from the District’s waters down to western Charles County. Just about any river or feeder stream weed bed can turn up bass that like Senko or Zero scented worms or spinnerbaits and early-morning weedless topwater lures. Surprising numbers of fish also are available in waterlogged wood and blowdowns. You will find action if you pay attention to the daytime heat and confine your angling to the cooler hours of the morning. I haven’t been able to fish for them yet, but word has it that croakers are now available from the Cornfield Harbor area of the river up to the Nice Bridge (Route 301) in Charles County. That includes the Cobb Island and Bushwood area of the Wicomico River. Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) has rental boats. A word to the wise: You will catch more of them after sunset than you will when it’s bright and sunny.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***)— Lots of bass boats again are in town practicing for an upcoming FLW tournament, which means you will have company this weekend. But fish can be caught in a half-dozen large milfoil and coontail weed beds in the river. Dropoffs adjacent to spatterdock also hold fish. Senko-style worms, spinnerbaits and topwater lures are the ticket for bass, but clam necks are better for the many fat catfish in this creek.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) delivers bluegills and some bass. Try fly-rodding for the sunfish. It will pay off if you stay away from kids in paddleboats. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road), you could hook a few bass, sunnies or crappies by walking to the lowered water and casting small grubs and jigs. The lake’s dam is undergoing repairs.

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 great for bluegill fly-rod popping or using 4-inch soft plastic worms for bass. At Little Seneca Lake, there has been some tiger muskie activity, but the DNR reminds us that with the current heat wave, the muskies will be going deep to try to stay cool.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Get there early and work a loud popper or buzzbait around any kind of stickup or around lake points and see whether a bass won’t inhale it. Later switch to plastic worms or grubs or even jig’n’ craws in dropoff waters adjacent to lake points or along rock walls and such.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park says gray sea trout and croakers are caught around the Hawk’s Nest near the mouth of Cuckold Creek. Ken says the bottom fishing for spot, croaker and trout is in full swing in the mouth of the river from the Chinese Muds to Broome’s Island. Small, breaking rockfish are found now and then at Half Pone Point north to Cape St. Mary’s. Bunky’s in Solomons (410/326-3241) has rental boats.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) - From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area, park ranger Smokey Davis says, “The crappie bite has been outstanding. Two Manassas anglers, fishing with small minnows, caught over 30, with the biggest measuring 153/4 inches. They fished in deep blowdowns. Crappies weighing up to a pound were taken off the pier this past weekend.” However, Davis said bass catches haven’t been the best because of post-spawn days, when fish are more sluggish. Carolina-rigged plastic worms can find some nice fish, though. Catfish have not really turned on yet. Fly-rodders and worm-and-bobber users should know bluegills are abundant.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) - (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bluegills are willing, and a fly-rod with a smartly worked size 8 popper is a fun way to go after them. A few bass are taken on soft plastics, and the catfish are beginning to cooperate.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) - The DNR’s upper river fisheries biologist, John Mullican, says the river is low, clear and in the low 70s. Bass are attacking topwater lures, Rapala jerkbaits and various grubs and tube baits that the smallmouths like. But he also wants newcomers to know river fishing in the heat can be tough, so it’s best to fish early in the day or at sundown.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) - Guide Brent Nelson (301/596-5712, evenings) says the fishing has been terrific in Garrett County, and the DNR’s Keith Lockwood will agree. The big bluegills are beginning to take pieces of worm baits or tiny shad darts under a bobber. Look for action around docks. The bass fishing can be down one day, up the next, but everyone agrees that when it’s “on,” it means the smallmouths or largemouths really will bite.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) -Live-line a small white perch and see whether you don’t find a hungry rockfish out on the Flats. If you want bass, channel catfish or larger white perch, they’re also out in the ever-growing grass beds. Inside the river between Havre de Grace and Conowingo Dam, you will find some largemouth and smallmouth bass that like spinnerbaits or soft plastics.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Everybody on the bay is chumming for rockfish and bluefish now — and they’re being taken from the Hackett’s Light area down past the bridges and along drops and ledges from Sharps Island Light to the Diamonds. The better producer this week has been the spot known as the Gooses. Even trollers find some cooperative fish, but chummers are scoring more frequently, especially when you reach Southern Maryland and Tangier Sound waters. The favorite chumming area has been the ship channel edges between Buoys 72A and 72. Even trollers catch rockfish and bluefish, but if you have a way to chum with ground menhaden, that’s the way to go. Ken Lamb says a few flounder have been caught outside St. Jerome’s Creek. From Buzz’s Marina in St. Mary’s County (buzzsmarina.com) Christy Henderson reminds us that the bait man ties up at her dock with subsequent heavy sales of fresh chum. Christy echoes Ken Lamb’s report about chum areas, but she also suggests checking out Buoy 70. She also says a teenage boy was fooling around with a plastic Bass Assassin lure, trying to hook a rockfish on the bottom, when he set the hook to something — a 22-inch flounder. Check him out on Buzz’s web site.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or call 804/580-7292) says summer is here, and that will mean the 22nd annual Reedville Bluefish/Rockfish Derby in Northern Neck waters this week. It’s coming at the right time; rockfish have been abundant, with typical sizes ranging in the 22-inch class. They’re caught from the Northern Neck reef down to Buoy 62, the Triangle area at Buoy 65. Pipkin says the blues have not been biting as well as he had hoped, but the croaker fishing has been red-hot between the Cut Channel and Smith Point during evening hours. The Davidson Wreck south of Tangier Island has been for trout up to five pounds. Farther down the Chesapeake around the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says some black drum are still being caught at Buoy 13, plus the spadefish are there in force. Neill expects the cobia to make a strong showing this weekend. They’re being hooked in nearby North Carolina, so it might happen. Small gray sea trout, flounder and stripers are hooked in various spots along the Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The Cambridge fishing bridge has seen croaker catches, but most of them are in the dark hours, which is fine because the bridge is lighted. Chunks of peeler crab have been the best baits, but little white perch often try to steal away the crab pieces. It’s a price you must pay.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The Snow Hill stretch was the first to turn up a specially tagged bass that will qualify for the $1million prize in Maryland’s Fishing Challenge promotion. The bass and catfish fishing has been quite good here.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) For several friends of ours who fished here over the past two days, the bass catches have perked up a bit in the main stem and the Marshyhope feeder creek. Plastic worms and small spinnerbaits have done the job.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Sturgeon and Pideon creeks have delivered fair to good bass catches on soft plastics and spinnerbaits, but since the hot weather arrived, topwater lures are the way to go during the early morning hours. Even some heavy stripers are taken on Zara Spook and other topwater lures.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles ( **) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) If further rains stay away, the upper parts from the Rapidan to the I-95 overpass will be fine for smallmouth bass. Do not expect fine catches of largemouth bass in the tidal water. Catches have been poor, and even the blue catfish haven’t shown any inclination to pick up baits.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Crappie, sunfish and bass will cooperate this weekend unless heavy rains visit. Crappies love a 1/16-ounce hair jig fished under a bobber. Drop it into a blowdown or brush pile and hold on. Even bass fall for this rig, but plastic worms and grubs attract the largemouths.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass will jump on a topwater popper if it’s overcast or early in the day. Plastic worms are the better “hot sun” lure. Crappie fishing is OK in sunken brush. Do a little fly-rodding with tiny poppers and such and catch yourself a batch of bluegills.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Every angler complains about heavy jet ski traffic on weekends, but the early and late hours are fine for bass around boat docks and rip-rap, where soft plastics and crankbaits help. Topwater buzzbaits and poppers can score in weedy pockets.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Trollers continue scoring on a few fat rockfish in the lower lake. Blue and flathead catfish are taken on cut herring baits, while many bass are still acting goofy after their spawning chores are over. Still, some brushy areas and creek or lake points hold bass, and they will jump on a soft worm or a flashing spinnerbait.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles ([**]) — (Williamsburg area) We hear complaints about the lousy bass fishing, but sunfish and catfish are plentiful.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (**) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish are slowly finishing up with their spawning and a few are being caught, but overall the fishing is kind of slow.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (**) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas provide fair numbers of smallmouth and largemouth bass. Haven’t heard of any new fish kills or fish with sores, so maybe the still unexplained nightmare on the river has ended — although I have serious doubts about a state that is not nearly as tough on polluters as it should be.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Stripers are more concentrated at night around the “S” Curve, where erratically bounced bottom jigs can result in vicious strikes. The bass fishing is fair around docks and stump fields.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) The river has been in good shape, and plenty of smallmouth bass were caught, but if heavy thunderstorm rains visit, all bets are off.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Backwater flounder are biting, but getting one of more than 16 inches might be a chore. Stripers continue to hang around the Route 50 bridge waters, and they will strike a Zoom Fluke or Bass Assassin. A few tautog are also in the Route 50 bridge vicinity, but they will be gone pretty quick now as the hot temperatures warm the water a little too much to their liking. Bluefish are coming in and out of the surf, and cut pieces of mullet do well. Peeler crabs or sand fleas might result in a medium-size, surf-caught black drum.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association says, “The offshore waters are finally showing signs of warming up close enough for Virginia Beach boats to reach.” Big bluefish have been the result, and most everybody down here knows tuna will show up next, along with dolphinfish and pretty soon a few billfish. Flounder drifters from Chincoteague to Oyster are catching flatties but not many keepers. For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.


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