- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

This week’s strong winds played havoc with anglers in many parts of the region. Along with a friend, I fished a Charles County feeder creek to the Potomac and the wind prevented us from really doing what we wanted to do: fishing quietly for bass along marsh edges, using plastic worms. Instead we had to constantly shift locations because of strong breezes. The catches suffered because of it.

Much the same is heard from the trollers, chummers and sight casters on the Chesapeake Bay. The wind has been brutal most every day, but those who braved the elements scored nicely.

The Chesapeake currently is alive with rockfish (striped bass) and slowly departing schools of bluefish. Good striper catches are made from as far north as the Chester River mouth and as far south as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Don’t forget, Maryland’s DNR has begun its fall trout stocking.

Morgan Run, upper Gunpowder Falls and Deer Creek have been stocked. So have Seneca Creek, Lake Needwood, Stansbury Park Pond and Patterson Park Pond. Add to the list Tawneytown Pond, Farm Museum Pond, Rainbow Lake, Westminster Pond, Middle Creek, Little Patuxent Savage, Centennial Lake, Piney Run Reservoir, Patuxent River Special Area, Antietam Creek below Devils Backbone, Friends and Owens creeks. Last Friday, the Patapsco’s Avalon, Daniels and Sykesville areas also were stocked.

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POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — In the Fletcher’s Cove area of the river (Georgetown, off Canal Road; 202/244-0461), a few bass are hooked and plenty of catfish are taken. The adjacent C&O; Canal holds tons of carp and plenty of bluegills. Potomac bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) report: “In spite of heavy rains last week, most of the tidal Potomac is fishable, with the front portions of the tidal creeks and the main river in good shape. Stained water is in most of the upper river toward the D.C. area, but except for the runoff from the Anacostia River, the water remains surprisingly clear. Provided we don’t get additional heavy rains, the water should begin to clear. We are seeing large numbers of crawfish in the grass beds, and have changed our lure choices and colors to take advantage of the presence of the crawfish. Browns and greens are our most productive colors for soft plastics, with 4-inch Wackos in pumpkin/green flake or green pumpkin being steady producers. Crawfish colored crankbaits provide good catches, especially when fished on creek channels and hydrilla edges. Chartreuse/white spinnerbaits and black buzzbaits also work well on cloudy days. Grass is beginning to die off in very shallow water, but the grass in 2-5 feet of water remains green and holds good numbers of bass. Wood is definitely attracting more bass, and a well placed brown/orange jig and craw combination can produce some larger than average bass.” Downriver, a bit of an increase in trolled-up rockfish has been noted by local boaters. In the Wicomico River, however, Quade’s Store in Bushwood, St. Mary’s County, reports that the fishing has nearly died. “It’s slow, very slow,” said Grandma Quade. For rental boats and other information, call the store at 301/769-3903. Trollers downriver from the Wicomico have had to fight strong winds this week, but a few rockfish are hooked now and then.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Short plastic worms, crawfish or shad-pattern crankbaits, as well as spinnerbaits will do the job between the mouth and the upper creek parts near Hancock Cove. Some of the shallow water grass is dying, but not so for the milfoil in deeper water layers. Check out also the sunken brush and fallen trees along the creek’s shoreline. Some of them hold whopper fish.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) and St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) haven’t seen much action because of recent strong winds, but this weekend should see bass hookups, as well as plenty of 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) were a windy mess earlier this week, but this is the time of year when bass go on the feed, expecting lean months ahead. So start retrieving medium size crankbaits and work those soft plastic worms and tubes.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) This area can deliver trophy bass now if you work long lake points with crawfish-pattern crankbaits or red shad color plastic worms. Bottom-fished clam neck or cut fish baits deliver catfish in either reservoir.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — The Tackle Box’s Ken Lamb, in Lexington Park, reports: “The mouth of the river from Fishing Point to the Lighthouse Rockpile will have breaking rockfish, as will the tide rip at Cedar Point. The bluefish are also in the mouth of the Patuxent in quantity and size. Shore fishermen are catching plenty of blues on cut alewife and spot. The fish range from 15 to 25 inches. Rockfish are in the shallows for lure casters. Fish the high tides day or night. Topwater lures, bucktails, sassy shads and spoons will bring strikes from rockfish and blues.” Lamb also mentioned that rockfish will inhale spot and tiny white perch at structures, such as the pilings of the Patuxent River Bridge in Solomons. Seatrout and rockfish have been hooked inside the river from Sheridan Point to Sotterley.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) area, park ranger Smokey Davis reports: “The reservoir is full, but still stained from last week’s rains. Water temperature is between 67 and 70 degrees. The bass are beginning their fall feeding binge and nice fish are being caught on shad or crawfish colored crankbaits in the backs of deep coves. Crappies are biting well on small minnows, the largest this week being a 15-inch, 13/4-pounder, caught off Fountainhead Park’s pier. Catfish continue to hit cut baits or large minnows. Lots of bluegills are being caught from the boardwalk. They like meal worms and small pieces of nightcrawler.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Good bass opportunities are seen around lake points and brushy spots. Four-inch, scented worms in red shad or blue fleck colors are best. Use a very light slip sinker, no bigger than 1/16-ounce.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (…) — Your biggest problem in the upper river this week and throughout October and early November will be floating leaves that can choke the water intakes of jet motors. They’ll also get in the way of some lures, but bass can be caught on tubes, short worms, very small crankbaits and spinners of all types. On the nice mornings or evenings try topwater poppers from Knoxville down to Dickerson and beyond.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, fishdeepcreek.com) and his friend “Oatie” Oakum have been whipping up on the smallmouth and largemouth bass. They’re working long lake points and the large grass beds that still haven’t shown any sign of dying off, using soft plastics and crankbaits. The DNR says the bridge abutments in the lake give up fine crappies.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — Conowingo Dam now sees a steady stream of water releases, but the river from Port Deposit to Havre de Grace is fishable with small rockfish, perch and bass delivering the goods. Don’t know what’s happening on the Flats. It has been windblown and few would brave this area when it blows.


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, “Live-lining spot at Point No Point is still working well. Chumming between Buoy 72 and the Target Ship results in nice bluefish and stripers. Capt. ‘Walleye’ Pete Dahlberg (703/395-9955) took a party out and caught over 200 rockfish around the stumps and points at Bloodsworth Island and the Honga River. The biggest rockfish measured 32 inches. The Southwest Middlegrounds continue to produce a variety of species for the night fishermen, including sea trout and big blues. Watch for the ‘working birds.’ ” Meanwhile, Ken Lamb, of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, said, “The horrible weather ruined most days for fishing last week. By the time the sun finally emerged on Saturday, the wind blew a gale turning the water white. Big waves made any attempt to get out into the bay impossible. [Several charter captains] went out and they did catch their limit of rockfish though, using live spot. The wind will lay down and the rockfish and blues will be thick most everywhere. Trollers will find plenty of action with spoons, bucktails and surgical eels most anywhere at the edge of the ship channel.” Elsewhere on the bay, the Maryland DNR says bluefish pretty much have left the upper Chesapeake, but bait chummers and trollers continue to score on good numbers of rockfish. From the mouth of Chester River down to Choptank River and across to the Gooses and Power Plant, boaters see schools of them erupting on the surface. When they do, they’re suckers for topwater lures.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Northern Neck charter captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com, 804/580-7292) reports: “Despite last week’s bumpy water and windy conditions, fishing continues to go well. Cool evenings have dragged the surface water temperature down to 67 degrees. Rockfish are schooling throughout the region. The Northern Neck Reef is offering specimens from 18 to 26 inches. Larger fish are slowly making their way into the region. Good chumming action is found at the Asphalt Pile. Trollers are picking up 3- to 4-pound rockfish and blues that are schooling during the morning and late afternoon hours. Surface lures produce at Windmill Point, Smith Point, around Buoy 62, the flats below the Davidson wreck and the Middlegrounds. Bottom fishing for spot is productive in the lower Rappahannock River.” Down the bay, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, who has had to endure strong winds this week, reports: “Maybe we can go after those flounder at the Baltimore Channel or maybe even after some big gray trout at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Luckily, the action in the rivers and in the inlets has been good. The Norfolk spot bite has been on fire for the past few days. Multiple citation-sized fish are being caught, especially at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.”


CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Lower river has lots of rockfish flitting about. Some can be caught on topwater lures, although a Rat-L-Trap in blue/chrome is better when you see a school chasing bait. The rockfish can even be caught up around the Cambridge fishing bridge. Upper river parts from Denton to Greensboro have seen great improvement in bass catches as medium diver crankbaits and 4-inch plastic worms do most of the fish-attracting.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The bass catches have risen as water temperatures have dropped. Some nice bass are going after Mann’s Baby 1-Minus lures and plastic worms around flooded tree roots and spatterdock.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) Wind was tough on main-stem anglers because the river is more exposed than some of the other Shore rivers. But by tomorrow, the good bass fishing will resume from the Marshyhope Creek’s sunken wood out to the main river’s spatterdock edges.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Wind has been tough on main lake boaters, but now the bass are more likely to cruise the shallows again, looking to fatten up so they can weather tough winter weeks. Grass bed edges have been good, as have main lake primary points and creek entrances’ secondary points. Watch out for surface eruptions by lake stripers, especially when it’s overcast. Be sure you have one rod rigged with a big Rat-L-Trap or a Sassy Shad.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Things should be getting back to normal now unless more rain is coming. Upper river smallmouths will jump on a tube bait or a tiny crankbait. The tidal river has bass, but most of them fled into the feeder creeks when the muddy water arrived last week. They should be OK now and back out in the main stem.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (..) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Windy weather didn’t help johnboaters. It will be better now, though. Short plastic worms, 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits and crawfish patterned crankbaits will work. Crappies will begin to cooperate.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Crappies are beginning to stir. Live minnows are best, but a 1/16-ounce curly grub under a bobber also will get them in the bushes and stickups. Bass still like plastic worms best, but some are hooked on crankbaits and jerkbaits.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Crappies, rockfish and bass — all have turned up although there’s little fishing pressure during the week and good reports are tough to come by. Watch for the weeds to start dying off soon, which will move the bass onto boat houses and rocky points and rip-rap.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Parts of the upper lake are discolored, but stripers, crappies and bass are available. Some whopper blue catfish are seen in local tackle shops as anglers bring them in to be weighed.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) Bass fishing has perked up a bit, but the crappie anglers probably do better right now. Catfish continue to cooperate if you fish with bottom-weighted pieces of cut fish.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish head the list, but some of the cuts, channels and ditches of the upper tidal river also deliver crappies and bass.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas will deliver the fish. Front Royal angler Dick Fox reports: “The river is in decent shape. Yesterday I managed 23 smallmouths with my best one this year on river, which was 16 inches, plus a 14-incher and two 13-inchers, with the rest being smaller. Bigger fish were hitting buzz baits and crankbaits, as well as Senkos. Not great fish, but this year it was hard to find one over 12 inches.”

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Slow bass fishing right now. Nobody knows why. Striper catches in the main lake channel can be fine.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Good smallmouth bass catches will be the rule unless heavy rains visit. Small Tiny Torpedo topwater lures, as well as tube baits and smartly fished streamer flies will see action.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The DNR’s Keith Lockwood reports: “It’s been a fierce week anywhere outside the Ocean City Inlet. There has hardly been a boat out the inlet in the past week. [But] now boats will be venturing offshore looking for tunas and other species that were there before the big blow. James Bowie of Wilmington, Del., sent a report from an overnight trip to the Washington Canyon before the big blow. He and some family members caught yellowfin tuna, also a longfin albacore and a few dolphinfish. Surf anglers should soon start to see better chances for striped bass and larger bluefish as they will certainly make a run along the beaches. Fishing inside the Ocean City inlet lately has been focused mostly on the tautog of just legal size, but sheepshead are also caught from the jetties, the Route 50 bridge and the bulkhead from Second Street to Fourth Street. Small fiddler crabs, pieces of green crab or sand fleas have been the best baits. Flounder fishing has been off due to the wind and rain making the water cloudy and the extreme high tides.”

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association said, “Another week of wind [has caused] fishing in the ocean and in the open bay has pretty much ceased altogether. There are a few calm days in the forecast so maybe we can get out after those tuna at the 100 fathom curve.” For charter boats call Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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