- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

If it’s largemouth bass you seek and the upper tidal parts of the Potomac River usually deliver the goods for you, forget it this weekend. A large Bass Anglers Sportsman Society tournament, headquartered in Charles County’s Smallwood State Park, will be under way. The participants, many of them driving bass boats that show so much advertising from bow to stern they look like NASCAR stock cars, will beat the local waters to a froth. Not to be outdone, following on the heels of the BASS contest, there’ll be a large FLW/Wal-Mart bass tournament coming to Charles County. It’s enough to make local anti-tournament bass hounds want to cry.

Meanwhile, in the Chesapeake Bay, rockfish, bluefish, croakers, spot, flounder and white perch are holding court. They’re biting from the Northern Neck of Virginia clear up to the Maryland’s Eastern Shore beyond the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The best fishing, according to charter boat customers we’ve spoken with, hands down is found in the waters between Calvert County’s Cove Point south to Point Lookout in St. Mary’s County and Virginia’s Westmoreland and Northumberland counties.

The lower portions of the Potomac and Patuxent rivers can be great choices for small-boaters who hope to hook a fat flounder or a couple of keeper rockfish. The Cornfield Harbor sector of the Potomac and the waters around Point Lookout deliver the goods as far as the tasty flatfish are concerned. A small group of us that enjoys casting rattling lures to rock piles that surround river buoys in the Potomac is rewarded with rockfish. This type of fishing demands that you sling the lures before sunrise.

Finally, Flotilla 7-10 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, offers a boating safety course required by Maryland for all motorboat operators born after July1, 1972. The course is also open to parents and friends. There’ll be two sessions at Boat/US?West Marine in the Loehmann’s Plaza Shopping Center on Randolph Road in Rockville on Sunday and again on Aug.20 from 1-5 p.m. Information: Meredith Horan, 301/926-1054 or e-mail [email protected]

E-mail Gene Mueller at [email protected].

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461), Ray Fletcher said, “The river is in good shape, and those who come to fish will find catfish, largemouth bass, even some smallmouths.” It’s the time of year when things naturally slow up a bit because of the heat, but fish can be caught. As we head downstream, be warned that the big BASS tournament is under way, with Smallwood State Park in Charles County serving as headquarters. I’m staying away until after they’re gone and the place settlers down a bit. Guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are doing the same thing again this week. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record, but start with topwater lures when low light is present, then switch to soft plastics along marsh edges and in spatterdock fields in the main stream or feeder creeks. If an open pocket of water is available between the weeds, a shallow-to-medium depth crankbait also will do well. Rockfish are showing up in the river now, and in the last week we’ve caught some as far north as Maryland Point in Charles County, and other anglers are doing well from the Route 301 bridge down to Tall Timbers and the Point Lookout area. While I prefer to fish during the dawn hours, casting Rat-L-Traps to rock piles and buoys, most boaters are trolling spoons and bucktails almost any time of day. They sometimes run into schools of snapper bluefish along with the stripers.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (…) — From Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) on the St. Mary’s County side, rental boaters variously enjoy good luck with croakers, spot and white perch, but there are days when things look meager as far as catches are concerned. However, Jake and Lane Jewell of Helen, Md., whacked the Norfolk spot a few days ago, and all they used were pieces of plain nightcrawler worms.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (.) — This place is going to be a zoo during the big BASS tournament headquartered here in Smallwood State Park. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a spot to fish in.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) delivers enough sunfish to make an outing worthwhile, but not many bass are seen. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) shows a good mix of bass, sunfish and scattered crappies.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (…) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117, near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and the nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) have been fine for visiting fishermen as fat bluegills, some feisty bass and catfish co-operate. The bass enjoy 4-inch rib worms, dipped in a bit of fish attractant, such as Smelly Jelly. Catfish like bottom-fished clam necks.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Triadelphia is down and closed to the public during dam repairs. Rocky Gorge bass anglers can score early and late as they use scented plastics or slowly retrieved spinnerbaits around rock ledges or lake points. Worm bits on a small hook, fished under a bobber, will find plenty of sunfish around brushy waters.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (….) — The Tackle Box’s Ken Lamb says you can find flounder around the three-legged marker (day marker No. 3) in the mouth of the river. This marker shows the location of a sand bar that shows a deep ledge that jumps from 18 to 40 feet in a matter of yards. Lamb points out that the flounder hang around the edge of that dropoff. “If you can present a live minnow at about 27 feet in the right spot, you will catch a flounder,” he added. Meanwhile, white perch, spot and some croaker are well distributed in the lower river. Expect also to find a mixed bag of blues and rockfish now.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Slightly cooler weather seems to have improved the bass bite over the weekend. Crawdad or shad color medium-depth crankbaits fished over points in the main lake have produced some fine stringers of fish. The crappie catches returned as well, with some nice fish caught off the [Fountainhead] pier on small minnows under a bobber. Channel catfish up to 7 pounds were taken on chicken livers or clam snouts, and as always the bluegills were plentiful. The water is still low and slightly stained, with the surface temperature showing 85 to 90 degrees..”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Early birds find some bass action in brushy spots and on the sides of lake points. Crappie fishing has been slow.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — DNR biologist John Mullican said the upper Potomac River is running low and clear, ideal for wading its many shallow stretches. Water temperatures run between 83 and 85 degrees. “The fish seem to be feeling the heat as well, and the action has slowed considerably,” Mullican said. “The best action continues to be early and late and in the vicinity of riffles. Smallmouth bass have been taking topwaters, particularly during the evening hours. During the day, bounce tubes on the bottom in the deeper pockets in and below riffles.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) said, “Bass fishing is hot now on Deep Creek. My clients had about 16 fish on Monday, with most fish being largemouths in the 2½- to 3½-pound range. Most fish came from under docks and pontoons after the sun was high in the sky. We had a few smallmouths on topwater lures and hard jerkbaits in the morning but not much as size goes. There is more submerged vegetation in the lake then I can remember. Some coves near Hazelhurst are choked with duck weed, wild celery and milfoil. This is great cover for fish but hard for fishing.”

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — The Conowingo Dam people are doing midday water releases, producing good water flow in the lower tidal river later in the day. Catfish and a few rockfish are hooked by fishermen live-lining perch or sunfish near the dam base. Bass hounds find largemouths and stripers on the Flats, but the fishing is not red-hot.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports, “Spot, spot everywhere. Bloodworms, Fishbites, squid, and most anything else you want to bait your hook with, will bring the big, hungry spot. Croaker are good at dusk and into the night most everywhere, eager to take peeler crab baits, shrimp, Fishbites and bloodworms. Most agree that peeler crab is best. Rockfish are taking trolled lures [spoons and Sassy Shads on umbrella rigs] from Cove Point to the Power Plant on the western side of the channel. Breaking stripers can be seen feeding in the mornings from Cedar Point Hollow all the way to the Point No Point Light.” Even the chummers are finding rockfish now, said Lamb, but the fishing with chum still appears to be a bit slow. Meanwhile, live-liners who use a whole kicking and wiggling spot are getting plenty of good-sized rockfish from Breezy Point to Buoy 72. The flounder fishing is hot at Point Lookout Bar. Reports of good flounder fishing also has come from the Flats above Buoy 76. Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, www.buzzsmarina.com), on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, said, “We had another great week of fishing. There were acres of breaking bluefish and rockfish at the Holland Bar and Buoys 68 to 70., and from Point No Point to Point Lookout as well. The croaker fishing is fair during the day and excellent at night at the Holland Bar and also on the Middlegrounds. Anyone who has been waiting to get out there should do it now — the fishing is hot.” Elsewhere on the Chesapeake, the majority of the middle- and upper-bay boaters are trying to hook rockfish while trolling spoons, bucktails or Sassy Shads. They do quite well some days but also have to put up with small bluefish that can tear plastic baits. Shallower inshore waters find spot and a few croakers.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association says, “Flounder fishing is good if you are fishing structure. Wire-liners are having a field day along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Live bait fished around any of the wrecks has also been effective. Anglers chumming for cobia are still finding them although many anglers are turning to sight-casting around buoys and along the bridge-tunnel. Red drum fishing remains excellent on 9-Foot-Shoal and in the surf along Fisherman’s Island. Spadefish and sheepshead are also being caught at the bridge-tunnel.” Closer to the Maryland line, trollers, sight casters, jig bouncers and chummers score on bluefish and rockfish, particularly around Smith Point and south toward the Rappahannock River. The Rappahannock River mouth shows plenty of croakers, spot and undersized bluefish, along with a few flounder.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (..) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The Cook Point area turns up spot and white perch, but even the Cambridge fishing bridge delivers perch and some spot. Upper-river bass anglers score now and then, but it’s no Potomac River, that’s for sure.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The bass fishing simply hasn’t perked up in a couple of weeks, but it will with the arrival of cooler night temperatures around Shad Landing and Snow Hill.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313 or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) Rockfish are hanging around marshy river points early and late in the day, and a loud popper or chug bait will draw strikes from Vienna downriver for many miles. The bass picture is not as bright, but weather changes definitely will help.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Cooler nights have helped, but early hours are still recommended. Use poppers and buzzbaits in the usual hangouts, such as Rose Valley, the Splits and others where you might catch bass and stripers all in the same area. A lot of visitors here are using Carolina-rigged plastic worms for their bass, especially around lake points where water quickly drops from shallow to deep.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) The Hicks Landing people say the bass fishing has improved up and down the tidal waterway. Big catfish continue to co-operate from Leedstown to Port Royal, but deeper channel water is a must when you drop herring or clam neck-baited bottom rigs.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (..) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass and catfish chances are getting better, but crappies are widely scattered.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Best bet is the catfishing, with bass coming in a poor second. Sunfish fly-rodders score at will with popping bugs.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass fishing is surprisingly good in the main lake and in the feeder creeks. Plastic worms, topwater lures and spinnerbaits are all you need to fish weed edges, rip rap and rock piles.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) I never thought it would happen, but what used to be one of the premier bass lakes in the country now is better known as a top catfish location. This includes blue and flathead catfish that can grow to gargantuan sizes. Bass are possible now, but the crappies are more predictable if you drop a small minnow into brush piles sitting in 15 feet of water.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) If you enjoy night fishing, this is the place because whopping big blue catfish are possible from Dutch Gap down to the Appomattox River.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (…) — (Williamsburg area) Some of the bass fishermen are finding good-sized largemouths. One bassboater reported catches of bass that weighed three and four pounds. Lots of vegetation is present, which helps

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — From the Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretches, local Front Royal angler Dick Fox said, “The river is still low but very fishable and also still stained. The largemouth bass were more aggressive this week than the smallmouths. Bluegills are always willing.”

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Slow going for large numbers of bass, but night anglers find good striper action.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Good smallmouth bass fishing now. River levels are at a 3-foot medium level.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Decent croaker and flounder fishing can be had now behind the resort city and Assateague Island, while surf anglers up and down the beach will hook sand sharks, kingfish and a few small blues. The headboats are out and they’re finding sea bass, triggerfish and occasional flounder. The distant offshore fishing fleet will find yellowfin and bluefin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and widely scattered billfish from Washington Canyon to Baltimore Canyon.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — “Plenty of sea bass are over the ocean wrecks, such as the Powell, Ricks, and the Triangles,” says Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association. Neill adds that these same locations are holding flounder, spadefish and amberjacks. He said offshore tuna fishing is slow but there are some out there, including decent numbers of bigeyes. Wahoo and dolphin are hooked, as are some blue and white marlin and sailfish. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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