- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2005

This week’s Fishing Report could have been a short one because of the tremendous amount of rain that has fallen in the past week. However, since the ground was so parched in most of our region, the rain in many cases simply soaked into the dirt and didn’t cause major problems. For example, as of yesterday the upper Potomac River in Washington County was actually fishable. I don’t know if that’ll continue to hold.

We do know that the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania is running high and is discolored. Much of that brown water is coming through the flood gates at Conowingo Lake, spilling into the tidal portions of the river in Maryland. The same holds true for Virginia’s James and Rappahannock rivers, which I crossed upon returning from a rain-soaked fishing trip to North Carolina earlier this week. Both were kind of muddy and the flow had increased by quite a bit.

Bad news, too, for ocean anglers who’ve had to contend with strong winds and wet weather, which brought much of the fishing to a halt. You can bet that this type of inaction won’t last long. Fall fishing can be great along the Middle Atlantic states.

The Chesapeake Bay, on the other hand, is in remarkably good condition (if you don’t mind a floating piece of wood now and then) and fish can be caught if the breezes are gentle over the next several days. We doubt that they will because after a prolonged rain, windy weather generally comes along with the sun that we haven’t seen in awhile.

Don’t forget, the U.S. Powerboat Show will be under way at Annapolis City Dock and Harbor tomorrow through Sunday. It starts at 10 a.m. each day. Tickets at the gate are $16 ($8 for those 12 and under). Check out every kind of craft from luxurious motor yachts to offshore fishing machines, cruisers, center consoles and catamarans. Follow signs off Route 50 onto Rowe Boulevard to nearby parking and shuttles. Information: usboat.com

You can e-mail us at [email protected]

(Ratings key: ****=excellent fishing; ***=Good; **=Fair; *=Poor.)

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; 202/244-0461), not far from the river’s falls, you can expect discolored, high water and not much fishing action. River bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) report that crawfish are found in many portions of the river and its feeder creeks, prompting them to start using crawfish-patterned crankbaits and plastic worms in red shad or brown/red combinations from around the Piscataway down to western Charles County and across to Virginia, in Prince William County creeks. Downriver, fishing in the Wicomico River hasn’t been the best, but it might perk up for perch and spot seekers. Quade’s Store in Bushwood, St. Mary’s County, has rental boats. Call Quade’s at 301/769-3903. Trollers downriver from St. Clements to Tall Timbers and on toward Point Lookout could pick up a few rockfish and bluefish.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Fair to good bass action in the lower ends of the creek, say, between Slavin’s ramp and the mouth. Upper creek parts show discolored water. Crawfish-pattern crankbaits and a wide range of plastics are all that’s needed to work marsh banks and sunken wood.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (**) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) will give up sunfish and small bass. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) has seen a lot of wind and rain and the shoreline that now has to be favored because of dam repairs is soft and muddy.

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) haven’t shown much bass action, although catfish are available for bait dunkers.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (**) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) The upper ends of the reservoirs are muddy and that will spread throughout the lakes. Some bass will be caught on bright, flashy lures such as spinnerbaits, but don’t look for great fishing.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — White perch will strike spinnerbaits or real baits in the river’s shallows as well as deep holes from Benedict down to the Route 4 bridge. Bluefish and rockfish come in and out of the mouth, with the Cedar Point Rip continuing to deliver good rockfish catches, but not all of them measure the required 18 inches.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area, park ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Heavy rains have left the reservoir high and muddy with lots of trees, logs and brush floating around. As a result bass and crappie are widely scattered. Spinnerbaits fished around newly flooded brush is the best bet right now. The catfish bite, however, has been outstanding. Anglers fishing off the boardwalk with chicken livers and large dead minnows really cleaned up over the weekend. Channel cats between 3 and 7 pounds were caught consistently both Saturday and Sunday. Look for the crankbait bite for bass to be very strong as soon as water conditions improve later on this week.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Look for bass around blowdowns and lake points. Scented plastic worms do well, as do medium-depth crankbaits. This lake can take rain and not show the effects of it as badly as some other impoundments.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (**) — The water has come up and in most cases has been in fishable condition, but the bass, walleyes and catfish have been shook up by all the weather fronts and changing systems. Bites are few and far between.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (***) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) finds bass and even a walleye now and then in a fine lake that slowly will begin to experience its annual “turnover,” when cool water temperatures flip from the bottom to the top, and the warm water moves from top to bottom.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — Strong runoff from the upper river has prompted Conowingo Lake’s floodgates to be opened to reduce pressure. The result has been diminished fishing, but if you work hard you could find some large catfish from the dam down to Havre de Grace.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — From Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, buzzsmarina.com), on St. Jerome’s Creek, St. Mary’s County, Christy Henderson reports, “The fishing this week has been off because of the weather but it certainly isn’t over. Capt. “Walleye” Pete Dahlberg (703/395-9955) has been having success in Eastern Shore shallows. He found stripers and blues in the Honga River and around the points and stumps of Bloodsworth Island and South Marsh to name a few places. There have also been a good number of breaking fish from buoy 72 all the way up to Barons Island. The Mud Leads are producing nice fish, even some jumbo croakers. Many of the anglers fishing from our marina were pleasantly surprised again this week at the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek where flounder and spot have been plentiful. One of our fishermen got into a large school of trout there.” Heading up toward the middle bay portions, schools of mostly small, surface-breaking rockfish seem to be everywhere. Trollers, however, find keeper rockfish and blues from above Cove Point to the Bay Bridges. In fact, trollers and topwater lure casters will see rockfish action clear up to the Chester River mouth, but watch out for floating debris.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck charter captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com or 804/580-7292) connects on rockfish, blues and a few Spanish mackerel, but the blues and mackerel fishing soon will come to an end as the water temperature drops. It doesn’t bother the rockfish, however. Down the bay, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, passed along that angler Arun Nhek fished from Seagull Pier, at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel last Thursday. Using a piece of clam bait, Nhek hooked a monster sheepshead of 203/4 pounds. This latest state record sheepshead was only 8 ounces shy of matching the world record. Incidentally, the same area also holds stripers and fat spot, as does the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (**) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The mouth of the river hasn’t been as good in the rockfish and bluefish department under the recent weather conditions, but it will pick up again shortly. Upper river is discolored and slow for bass.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (**) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The bass fishing has dropped off in the past three days, but things will perk up perhaps by the weekend. All that’s needed is more settled weather.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (**) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) This has been a wet and windy river and the fishing suffered because not many anglers tried it in the past week. Now it’s discolored, but that will change for the better real soon. Try it by Sunday and see if those Marshyhope Creek bass won’t be back on the feed.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Wind and rain had slowed boaters, but bass and stripers are possible. Try working crankbaits and soft plastics around lake points and stickups, but always have a rod ready that holds a Rat-L-Trap or some kind of jerkbait in case rockfish come to the top.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) The tidal water around Port Royal was strongly discolored on Monday and I heard it still looked off-color yesterday. That’s not good for bass fishing. Upper river probably is in worse shape, but we couldn’t get one of our sources to verify it.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Water isn’t in the best of shape, but catfish are possible. Bass have had lockjaw.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (**) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Catfish are your best bet until things clear up and the weather settles down. Then the bass will bite better.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (**) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Upper lake end around Bracey finally got a bunch of water and it didn’t look bad when I crossed the lake on I-85 Monday. Chances for stripers and bass are at least fair this weekend.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Water has risen and the fish are in flux. Not many bass bites are reported, but catfish are willing if you are.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) Catfish are the best bet. Not many bass were reported during the recent downpours.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (*) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) It was a sea of mud and fast water when I crossed the river in Richmond on Monday.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (**) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas will turn up some small bass and sunfish this weekend.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (**) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Bass like scented plastic worms in the boathouse waters along the lake. Rockfish catches are down this week.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (*) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Well, they got the rain that was needed, but for a few days it will be tough to fish the discolored river.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says, “Offshore anglers have been hampered for the past week with strong winds and rough conditions but at least one charter boat slipped out on Monday and came back with 10 yellowfin tuna from the Washington Canyon. Sea bass fishing on the near shore wrecks was on the upswing before the rough weather so it’s hoped this trend will continue when boats are able to travel out the Ocean City Inlet later on this week. Surf fishermen [saw] heavy surf conditions this past weekend and grass in the surf. Small bluefish are invading the surf and the inlet areas, so fishing should be good when conditions settle down. Sheepshead, tautog, striped bass and flounder are being caught from the inlet to the Route 50 bridge.”

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association said, “All kinds of fish should be waiting to be caught, but the weather has not let us get to them. It has been hard to get offshore. The few boats that have found a small window of opportunity have encountered very good tuna action.” For charter boats, call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.


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