- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

Some of the people whose lives were changed forever by the recent hurricanes that devastated portions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama include fishing guides and captains.

Chesapeake Bay charter fishing captain Sonney Forrest ([email protected]) is one of the Maryland fishing pros who wants to help. He said a number of magazines are doing online auctions to raise money for families and individuals in the recreational fishing industry affected by the hurricanes.

Sponsored by Fly Fishing In Salt Waters, Marlin, and Sport Fishing magazines, the Hurricane Relief Auction for Fishermen lets online users bid on various saltwater fishing goods and services, including gear, fishing trips, apparel and merchandise autographed by fishing celebrities. All of the proceeds go to Guide for the Gulf, a nonprofit foundation set up to help affected charter captains and guides of that region.

The auction runs through 5 p.m. on Nov. 30. All winning bids are tax-deductible. To bid on items or to donate products and services, visit FlyFishInSalt.com, SportFishingMag.com or MarlinMag.com.

Back here, meanwhile, the fishing is oh so fine.

It begins with the Chesapeake Bay, where Spanish mackerel, rockfish and bluefish are running up and down from Virginia into Maryland and back again. Trollers score nicely. The rivers show plenty of spot and white perch, with a resurgence of croakers noted in the Northern Neck and inside the lower bay’s feeder rivers.

The tidal Potomac bass fishery shows no sign of letting up. Plastic worms, topwater poppers and buzzbaits and shallow to medium-diving crankbaits can score from Washington into western Charles County.

…. =Excellent … =Very Good .. =Good . =Poor

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — The crew from the Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) reports someone caught a 30-pound catfish but couldn’t verify it. If it was a 30-pounder, it had to be a blue “cat.” By the way, channel catfish and occasional bass make up the bulk of catches. River bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) spend their days catching largemouths along dropoffs adjacent to marsh banks, using various slender finesse worms but also scented 5-inch Strike King Zero worms with a 1/16-ounce slip sinker. Some mornings a buzzbait or blunt-nosed popper does a fine job of drawing strikes in open pockets between hydrilla or milfoil beds up and down the main stem. However, they also are starting to find better success now when they use medium depth crankbaits in baby bass or firetiger colors. Downriver, you can expect some strikes from roving bands of bluefish and usually undersized stripers. Begin trolling at St. Clements and head south past Tall Timbers and on toward Point Lookout. For spot and croaker bottom fishing, many locals apparently are filling coolers at Ragged Point and also down around the Coan River mouth. In the Wicomico River, rental boaters who start at Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) hook mostly perch and spot.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Despite strong winds, Dale Knupp and I hooked more than 20 bass a few days ago, fishing topwater Rico poppers and 5-inch Zero worms in green pumpkin/red flake. The Zeros reek of garlic, but the bass love ‘em. Catches are made from the Smallwood boat ramps clear up the creek beyond Slavins. Find a sharply dropping marsh bank and use the sinking worms with an additional 1/16-ounce slip sinker. Bass also are found when topwater lures are cast across dense weed carpets.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) is turning up bass and sunfish for shore walkers and john-boaters. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) has been giving up unusually good bass catches despite the drawn-down water.

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) have been fine for catfish, sunfish and some fat channel catfish. Cooler night temperatures will awaken bass, and catches will be great.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) should be a place of choice for bass hounds. Early hour topwater lures will work around any possible hiding spot, such as fallen trees, shrubs or lake points, but if they don’t, perhaps a plastic worm or crankbait is called for.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — From Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park: “Spot and croaker mixed together are filling the coolers of bottom fishermen in the mouth of the Patuxent. White perch fishing is excellent. Lure casters in the creeks can catch them on every cast when the tide is right. Bottom fishermen using crab and bloodworm baits in the deep holes of the river are getting perch of spectacular size [11 to 13 inches] and lots of them.” The upper river around Jug Bay and portions above are good for a smattering of bass and unusually fine resident yellow perch that like spinnerbaits.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From the area of Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), park ranger Smokey Davis reports: “Despite low water conditions and warm temperatures, bass are becoming more active and have moved from deep sections of the reservoir up on shallow flats and tapering banks. Topwater baits work early and late, and medium running crankbaits are catching plenty of keepers. The catfish are biting well, but the crappies have gone south for some reason. As the weather cools the crankbait bite will improve daily.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Billy Zimmermann called to tell of three bass he hooked on a scented Berkley Power Worm. Each of the bass would have gone more than three pounds. I do not doubt the man because Burke is home to some nice bass, as well as catfish, muskies, crappies, catfish, sunfish and even walleyes and white perch.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — John Mullican, a biologist with the Maryland DNR, says the river is extremely low and clear, but smallmouth bass can be caught. To check it out, the DNR’s Keith Lockwood fished in the upper river and found smallies on topwater and sub-surface lures. He didn’t say where he fished, but it was likely in Washington or Frederick counties.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, www.fishdeepcreek.com) and his pal, Otis Oakum, say things are calm up this way, but the bass act as if it’s still July or August. Soft jerkbaits and wacky-rigged worms can do a number on the fish around weed edges or under floating docks.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — There’s still not much water coming through Conowingo Dam. Some early morning stripers are taken in the few deep holes inside the river, but bass are definitely striking the baits around the massive weed bed edges of the Susquehanna Flats. Think weedless lures when fishing there.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, www.buzzsmarina.com) on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, Christy Henderson reports: “Early in the week, the Mud Leads were again on fire, producing a very large flounder, jumbo croakers, bluefish in the 6- to 7-pound range and a few red drum. The chumming was very successful on the channel edge between buoys 70 and 68 and trollers did well almost anywhere they tried from Point Lookout to Point No Point across to Buoy 72 for bluefish and Spanish mackerel. If you’re interested in lots of action with light tackle, Capt. ‘Walleye’ Pete Dahlberg [703/395-9955] is your man.” Meanwhile, Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301/863-8151) said Spanish mackerel are all over from Cove Point south to Smith Point. You can catch them blind-trolling at fast speeds using small, gold Clarke, Drone or Tony spoons. Trollers are also limiting out on rockfish and bluefish daily (10 blues and two stripers). These fish are breaking in mid-bay from the Gooses clear down to Virginia’s Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Anglers told us of good catches of croakers (six to 10) mixed with big spot while surf fishing at Point Lookout State Park on the pier, rocks and causeway. Live liners using spot are catching fine rockfish on the Middle Grounds. Chummers are doing better with blues and rockfish at 72A and 72. In the middle and upper Bay, trollers work best, finding a wide assortment of stripers, bluefish and Spanish mackerel from above the Gooses up to Poole’s Island and beyond. Quite often, the fish come to the surface and stay a while feeding, and that’s when even the small-boaters can have a ball as they cast spoons, topwater chuggers or Rat-L-Traps at the piscatorial melee.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Don’t forget, Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay rockfish (striped bass) season runs Oct. 4 through Dec. 31. The minimum size is 18 inches; maximum size can’t exceed 28 inches. Two a day are legal. Northern Neck charter captain Billy Pipkin (www.captbillyscharters.com, 804/580-7292) reports: “Striped bass [catch-and-release] fishing continued to show improvement again this week. Both numbers and size appear to be on the rise. The rockfish are running 18 to 25 inches in length. The Northern Neck Reef has begun to attract some striped bass, mixed in with bluefish. Trolling remains good along the channel edges from Buoy 68 down to Buoy 64 where a mix of stripers, bluefish and Spanish mackerel has been available during the mid and late daytime hours. The lower Potomac River and the mouth of the Rappahannock have also held fish this week. Bottom fishing has slowed in some places but continues along the deeper edges of channels and inlets. Large quantities of croakers and spot are in all the lower rivers and most bay waters.” Down the bay, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, said large Norfolk spot are all the rage. They’re caught from the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel to the York and Poquoson rivers, as well as all over Lynnhaven Inlet. Neill also said flounder fishing is picking up along the Baltimore Channel near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Big croakers are hanging around the bridge-tunnel as well, and some cobias have shown up for hard-working bait drifters.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Norfolk spot and white perch are hooked in the mouth, while the upper river from Denton on up is running clear as a bell with bass hooked on plastic worms at the ends of fallen trees during outgoing tides.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass have jumped on plastic worms and, if you can find a little open water next to sunken wood or spatterdock, on Mann’s Baby One Minus crankbaits.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The Marshyhope Creek’s deeper areas where wood is dotting the waterscape is fine for bass that like soft plastic jerkbaits or slowly sinking, scented worms. I can’t get any information on the upper river near Seaford, but I’d bet a fair sum that the bridge abutments and spatterdock edges hold bass.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Even though nighttime temperatures have fallen and it’s beginning to feel like autumn, the water temperatures are still quite warm, and that means fishing fairly deep now and then, although the earliest morning hours can find bass cruising shallow areas around lake points, looking for a snack. Jerkbaits and plastic worms ought to do the job.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Recent tidal water bass tournaments were won with 10 to 12 pounds of bass for five fish. Not great, but not bad, either. Big blue catfish and plenty of channel catfish round out local catches. The tidal river is full of bait right now, including young shad and perch. The upper river is low and clear, and if it doesn’t rain this weekend you will find cooperative smallmouths from above Fredericksburg to beyond the Rapidan.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Lots of catfish, sunfish and occasional bragging bass are available. The water temperatures are slowly declining, so that will help.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (…) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) One bass hound found action on a broken-back Rapala jerkbait that was busily “worked” around stickups. Others are scoring on plastic worms. Catfish are taken on cut fish baits or clam necks.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (..) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass catches have been down this week, but that could be the result of enough boaters trying for largemouths. Some decent sunfish and catfish are hooked in the backs of creeks.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (..) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Big catfish are easily hooked, and even the bass play fair. Jerkbaits, plastic worms and early morning topwater buzzbaits and chuggers could get their share.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (..) — (Williamsburg area) A few bass and large catfish are taken. Things have been slow.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Outstanding blue and flathead catfish catches are possible. Even the bass catches have perked up a little, with the Graveyard and the stickups and weed edges of the Appomattox River tributary giving up bass.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas are low. Rain is needed. But little smallmouth bass and sunfish are possible. The same holds for channel catfish.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Striper chances are fair early and late in the day. Slow-trolling Sassy Shads or Redfin lures can do the job. The bass are around boat houses and shoreline stickups. Plastic worms are best.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Water levels are low, but the smallmouth bass fishing can be good if you use short Zoom jerkbaits in white or chartreuse. Tube baits and small surface poppers can score, too.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Lots of dolphinfish are reported by offshore boaters who are after tuna, wahoo and small numbers of billfish. Remember that as of Saturday, the National Marine Fisheries Service will limit fishermen on a tuna charter boat or if you have a permit to one bluefin tuna a vessel per outing. Sea bass headboaters have found their fish, along with a few flounder and spadefish. Rough surf conditions in Ocean City kept the long-stickers indoors earlier this week, but now they’re catching small bluefish, and there’s a chance of hooking a trophy red drum. Flounder fishing is fair in the backwater, and a few stripers are available in the inlet.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association said, “There’s a good run of red drum [channel bass] going on down at Sandbridge. Nice Spanish mackerel, and some king mackerel are found in the area of the Chesapeake Light Tower. Offshore action is excellent. Plenty of dolphin and wahoo are around, along with good numbers of yellowfin tunas. Billfish, longfins and bigeyes are all good possibilities. More bluefin tuna should be showing on the Fingers as we move into October.” For charter boats call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center (757/422-5700).

E-mail Gene Mueller at [email protected]

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