- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2005

What a week this has been. The wind blew and blew, rain arrived by the buckets and some of our fishing waters became more than a little disjointed. It will take a few days before things get back to normal.

If the Atlantic Ocean calms down enough to allow offshore boats to leave their harbors, there will be albacore and yellowfin tuna caught. Inshore anglers should connect on scattered, migrating bluefish and a few red drum. Some, in fact, will be hooked by surf anglers from Delaware to Virginia.

In the Chesapeake Bay, wind has hampered efforts by chummers, bait drifters and trollers, but the weekend weather should be kind enough to permit all sorts of fishing for stripers, slowly disappearing bluefish and small sea trout.

A biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources says the upper Potomac River is fishable. I haven’t seen it personally since the monsoon rains arrived, so if this is wrong, get mad at the DNR and let them know how displeased you are.

Tidal river bass hunters can score in the Potomac, Rappahannock, Choptank and Susquehanna, to name a few. Spinnerbaits, plastic worms and now and then even topwater lures will do the job. Even the crappies have started stirring in the upper tidal Potomac; one angler sent an e-mail showing off “slab” crappies taken in the Wilson Bridge area.

E-mail Gene Mueller at gmueller@washingtontimes.com

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles () — In the Fletcher’s Cove area (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461), the fishing hasn’t been the best, but you can blame the recent rains and strong winds on that. However, the river is fishable, and catfish are always available. Before the latest round of wind and rain, Potomac bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) reported: “We still find a decent topwater bite during low-light conditions around grass mats. Bass are receptive to topwater poppers and prop baits, with many being larger than the standard tide water bass size. The spinnerbait bite is coming on strong with our favorite being 1/8- or 1/4-once Glamour Shad baits in golden shiner color or with the white glimmer skirt. Plastic worms in red shad or blue fleck also do well. The rock pattern is getting strong. Small, deep diving crank baits in crawfish patterns have been working well for us. Both main river and creek patterns are productive.” In the Wicomico River the fishing has been slow. Trollers from St. George’s Island down toward Point Lookout will find a few keeper rockfish on bucktails and spoons this weekend.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles () — The off-and-on fishing has started. One day you will catch bass with abandon, another day it’s like fishing the Dead Sea — no bass. Spinnerbaits and soft plastics are your best bets unless you can find a little open water next to sunken wood and crank down a lipped lure.

S. 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 given up much of anything, although this month should see some hefty bass strike jerkbaits and crankbaits.

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) kept most anglers away during the wet, windy weather. There should be some decent bass caught later this week.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles () — Triadelphia (off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County) and Rocky Gorge (off Route 29 in Montgomery County) show decent bass opportunities. Use slow-worked spinnerbaits in white/chartreuse or crawfish color crankbaits.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles () — The mouth of the river still contains a lot of small spot that make great drift baits for rockfish and slowly departing bluefish. Rockfish will be seen breaking on the surface this weekend and those anglers who use bass boats can find quiet fishing and casting around the river point using Rat-L-Trap lures or loud poppers that will draw strikes from rockfish in the early morning or at sunset.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (..) — In the area around Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), expect discolored, high water and slower than normal fall fishing for a few days.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles () — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Slowly fished scented plastic worms will do well on bass, but so will crankbaits that imitate a baitfish or a crawdad. Crappies are starting to gang up around sunken brush.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — Fisheries biologist John Mullican says the river is in remarkably good shape, so smallmouth bass catches should improve, but floating leaves will jam up the impellers of many a jet boat from Washington to Montgomery counties.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles () — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, fishdeepcreek.com) and his friend “Oatie” Oakum have been sweeping snow from their boats, but the bass fishing can be pretty good if you use crankbaits, spinnerbaits and scented grubs and worms. The topwater bite is over for a while, but fish still can be caught. Walleyes sometimes jump on a plastic grub or lipped crankbait.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles () — Reel Bass Adventures fishing guide Karl Bunch reports: “Largemouth and smallmouth bass in the upper Chesapeake Bay and the Susquehanna Flats are quickly transitioning into a fall patterns. Versatility is key to success during this transition stage. I’m catching bass fishing summer patterns one day and fall patterns the next. The storms and high winds have helped to start breaking up the grass beds, so target the small clumps of grass beds and during extremely low tides target the outside edge of the grass. I’m using a 1/4- and 3/8-ounce white and chartreuse spinnerbait. A key to my success is applying garlic-flavor fish attractant to the spinnerbait skirts. I am also having good success using crankbaits in chartreuse with a purple back while fishing the rip-rap and channel dropoffs. Drop-shot rigs, fished tight to the wood, also work well.”

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles () — From Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, buzzsmarina.com), on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, Christy Henderson reports: “Chumming picked up this week. From Point No Point Lighthouse to Point Lookout on the western channel there were more rockfish in the 26-to-30 inch range. The Honga River fishermen did well fishing the points and stumps again this past week. There were some big straggler blues taken between Buoy 72 and the Target Ship. They were in the 6- to 8-pound range, along with some big croakers. Anglers who were drift-fishing bagged some flounder and a few sea bass in 30 feet of water right outside of St. Jerome’s Creek. They used cut bait and minnows. Breaking fish are everywhere. Just look for the birds. A lot of the rockfish are throwbacks, but keepers are mixed in with the little ones.” In the middle Bay, from above Cove Point to the Bay Bridges, lots of rockfish traffic is seen. Many are small, but keepers are possible. Upper Bay rockfish chances are good from the Hackett’s Bar area up to Poole’s Island.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles () — Northern Neck charter captain Billy Pipkin (captbillyscharters.com, 804/580-7292) reports: “The remnants of Hurricane Wilma spun winds and high seas into our region, but fair conditions at week’s end will offer opportunities for small boat operators. The water temperature in the bay has dipped to 63 degrees. The main fishing pressure continues to be on striped bass that are available in great numbers just outside of Ingram Bay on the Great Wicomico River. The Northern Neck Reef is yielding limits of 18- to 28-inch fish this week, and the Asphalt Pile Reef is offering numbers of stripers mixed with bluefish from chum boats, but trolling and casting also turn up keepers. Surface-feeding fish remain to the east of Buoy 62 each morning and afternoon. Other locations offering surface action have been outside the mouth of the Rappahannock River and from Smith Point north to the Southwest Middle Grounds. Grey trout have been moving along the channel edges this week.” Down the bay, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, said, “Wind, wind and more wind. We did have a couple of decent days to fish this past week, and fish we did. Striped bass catches were good with some larger fish showing up. Livebaiters at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel tubes did well on rockfish in the 30-inch range. Wire-liners caught fish up to 40 inches. Wreck fishermen found good numbers of tautog on structures in the bay. The spot bite was still red hot with a lot of fish caught that exceeded the 1-pound, 2-ounce minimum for a citation. Most of these big fish were caught at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. Flounder were caught along the Baltimore Channel outside the third and fourth islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.”

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES () — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The mouth of the river has given up some nice rockfish, but you must expect the majority to be throwbacks. The inner river from Denton to Greensboro can turn up decent numbers of bass. Expect some discolored water.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles () — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Crankbaits, shallow jerkbaits, plastic worms and spinnerbaits are the ticket now from Snow Hill to Pocomoke City. Pay attention to dying weeds. If you see dead weeds, fish sunken wood..

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles () — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) The water is discolored, and the wind has made life miserable for boaters, but this weekend should see an upswing in bass successes from the marsh banks of the main steam into the feeder creeks, such as the Marshyhope and Broad.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles () — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Wind and rain has been awful, but that’s over with now. You might see some wind but nothing like that of the early week. Bass can be found on points, fallen trees, brush piles and rock piles. Crankbaits, grubs, worms and spinnerbaits are the way to go. Keep one spinning rod ready for breaking rockfish early in the mornings — especially above the Split. Crappie fishing around beaver huts and dock brush piles will pick up steam any day now.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) The rain came, and it discolored the water, but with a little luck the smallmouth bite will return in a day or so. In the tidal water, the coves and creek mouths will give up largemouth bass to casters of Rat-L-Traps, plastic worms and spinnerbaits.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (..) — (Route 793, off Route 29) The bass bite has slowed but will pick up by the weekend. Crappies and catfish are active.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Crappie, bass and catfish catches are possible. The water is in fishable shape.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles () — (Route 46, Gasburg) Lake specialist Marty Magone sent us the following: “Went out this week and learned the age-old lesson of not trying to tell the bass where they should be. Started out fishing the main lake grass beds. After struggling for five small bass and a couple of bluegills, I called it a day. Next day, [knowing] that this time of year bass follow the baitfish into the backs of the creeks, I went into Six Pound Creek, and sure enough, the first point in the back was loaded with shad. We started casting small crankbaits and within two hours had caught and released 40 bass between the points and rip rap area. No behemoths but lots of fun on a cool fall day.”

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles () — (Route 58, Clarksville) Crappie anglers are all smiles. They’re finding them around lake and creek brush piles, bridge abutments and sunken wood. Some decent stripers are taken by Redfin lure trollers up and down the lake. Blue catfish continue to suck in bottom baits, but bass fishermen are having a tough time finding steady numbers of fish.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) A few rockfish are hooked by slow-trolling Redfin and other jerkbait lures. Catfish are hooked, but not many bass are seen.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles () — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Some stripers are landed inside the river, up past Hopewell, but most of the catches are made up of blue catfish that like bottom-fished cut baits.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas will deliver the fish. The water is up and a little discolored, but some largemouth and smallmouth bass will be hooked on crankbaits, tube lures and spinners.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) If you’re out on the lake, somewhere down around the “S” Curve and carry a topwater popping lure on your rod, be prepared for rising, feeding striper schools. The fishing has been pretty good.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (..) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Wear your warm woollies when fishing up here now. It’s chilly, but the smallmouth bass should bite well this weekend. Tubes, crankbaits, jigs and short worms are the ticket.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles () — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The DNR’s Keith Lockwood reports: “Oceanside anglers who wish to venture offshore … have been taking some knocks lately due to windy weather. There were just enough breaks in the wind to allow several boats to head out to the Washington, Poorman’s Canyon area and they caught fish. The boats that reported in had catches of longfin albacore, along with a mix of yellowfin tuna and dolphin. Surf fishermen are beginning to see more and more striped bass in the surf lately and a lot of bluefish. A few red drum have also been caught and released. The fishing inside the Ocean City Inlet for tautog has been excellent this week. Many anglers are catching limits from the bulkheads and jetties just inside the inlet. Fishermen are also enjoying good fishing for striped bass and bluefish from the mouth of 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, “Offshore fishing has been pretty much nonexistent out of Virginia. The few boats that got out did not catch much. Good catches of tuna were made both to the north and south of us, so there should be some fish out there to be caught. We just need some weather and boats to give us a chance to find them.” For charters call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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