- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This is a terrific time of year to fish in the Chesapeake Bay. The week’s top catches include Spanish mackerel.

“They’ve arrived,” said Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina in St. Mary’s County. “They were mixed in with schools of rockfish and bluefish from Point No Point to Point Lookout.”

The tasty mackerel also were hooked in the bay from Buoy 68 to Buoy 72. There also are large schools of bluefish roaming about, and some lucky anglers even found redfish (red drum) on the bay’s Southwest Middlegrounds.

During Maryland’s ongoing tourism promotion, the Second Annual $1 Million Fishing Challenge, you might want to head up to Garrett County’s Deep Creek Lake. If you visit the mountain lake, remember that a batch of specially tagged fish were released there yesterday, including bass, catfish, walleyes and bluegills. If you hook a tagged fish, follow the instructions on the tag. Who knows, you could be the winner of cash or prizes.

Speaking of bluegills, how about local angler Derrick Shack, who proudly told us about a true trophy bluegill he caught in Hoos Run on Occoquan Reservoir. Shack watched his bobber go down as something snatched up the baited hook below the float Sunday. It turned out to be a bluegill that weighed one pound. That’s a whopper and can be compared to hooking a bass that weighs at least six pounds.

Then comes Glenn Ross, who sent an e-mail wanting to know if bass fishing in the tidal Potomac was recommend for this weekend. I told him to go elsewhere because the weekend once again will be a busy one because the $262,000 FLW/Wal-Mart bass tournament will be conducted through Saturday. The Smallwood State Park’s Sweden Point Marina in Charles County serves as the launch site. “Last week was a mess,” Ross wrote in regards to the big Bass Anglers Sportsman Society event held then. Things are not going to get any easier for local bass hounds who are not interested in competition fishing.

E-mail Gene Mueller 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) Ray Fletcher said, “The river continues to be in good shape. It’s very clear and catfish are being caught, along with a few bass.” Downstream the weekend once again will be a busy one as the FLW/Wal-Mart tournament launches its many boats at Smallwood State Park in Charles County. I don’t know about you, but I’m staying away from the upper tidal river until the money hunters leave. Local bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) find good action with soft plastics, shallow- and medium-depth crankbaits and topwater lures around the edges of hydrilla and milfoil beds up and down the river and in the feeder creeks. Downstream, from the Port Tobacco River area down to the Wicomico and St. Clements, you might troll up a rockfish now and then, but it’s hit or miss with the stripers. A few croakers are hooked in deep holes and the later in the day, the better it is, but you won’t catch a lot of fish either way. From Piney Point down to Cornfield Harbor, you’ll find decent flounder — in fact some are whoppers. Drift slowly and use fresh baits, cut bluefish, spot strips, or live minnows.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (..) — Around Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) on the St. Mary’s County side, rental boaters are not having an easy time with the croakers. A few are hooked, but Quade’s has seen better days (or nights). However, the white perch are biting, and some fat spot are hooked now and then.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (.) — Once again this place is going to be a zoo during the big FLW/Wal-Mart tournament that is being launched daily through Saturday here in Smallwood State Park. You’ll have plenty of high-powered company if you plan to go bass fishing here.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) was good to Danny Haught, who said in a phone call that he caught and released four nice bass on 4-inch Powerworms in green pumpkin color. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road) has been pretty good for johnboaters who are after bass, sunfish and pickerel.

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) will deliver sunfish, catfish and some fine bass.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Triadelphia continues to be shut down to fishermen. Rocky Gorge gave up a 6-pound largemouth to Jerry Hufnagel of Howard County. Hufnagel said he fished the drops found on each side of a jutting lake point. He cast a 5-inch scented worm and let it flutter down. “It never made it to the bottom,” he said. The fish was weighed on a hand-held digital scale and released. Sunfish and some small crappies are found in side deep-water coves.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (….) — The Tackle Box’s Ken Lamb says the mouth of the river has lots of flounder biting on live minnows. Fish around the Three-Legged Buoy, either the dropoff or up the shelf toward the Chinese Mud. Norfolk spot infest the mouth of the Patuxent and range several miles up the river. They’re getting bigger every day in the deep holes. The shallows contain tiny spot and hardheads. “Rockfish are on the points and rocky shorelines in the river, and they continue to break in large schools at Cedar Point Hollow off Cedar Cove. The breaking fish range from 15 to 19 inches. One out of 10 is a keeper if you cast to them with Sassy Shads or surface poppers,” Lamb said.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), ranger Smokey Davis reports, “Carolina- or Texas-rigged plastics, fished around main lake points or the mouths of deep coves, produced some nice catches of bass over the weekend. Sandy Run, Hoos Run and Ryans Dam were the most productive areas. The catfish bite remains strong, with chicken livers and clam snouts the most popular bait choices. Some nice crappies were taken off the pier on small jigs tipped with minnows. Fly-rodders are having a ball catching good-sized bluegills. The reservoir remains quite low, and the Bull Run launch ramp is only available to canoes and kayaks. Water is clear with surface temperatures in the low- to mid-80’s.” Congratulations to Derrick Shack for his 1-pound bluegill caught on bait under a bobber at Hoos Run on Sunday. That’s a whopping sunfish!

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bass catches have perked up a bit, Shallow crankbaits and plastic worms can produce the goods. Sunfish delight fly-rodders.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (…) — DNR biologist John Mullican says river conditions continue to be typically summerish: low and warm. Stressed tiger muskies have been noted, so please leave them be. Don’t target them. They don’t like this hot weather, but fishing for a variety of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and even a few walleyes can be good.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) says you can catch smallmouth and largemouth bass, even walleyes along deep grass beds or floating docks.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — Topwater poppers and various crankbaits fished at the base of the Conowingo Dam can deliver rockfish before the sun bakes the water. Live-lining white perch also bring in the stripers. Catfish are everywhere. The Susquehanna Flats shows some stripers and largemouth bass.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports, “It has been a glorious week in Southern Maryland for fishermen. The flounder fishing is as good as it gets in Cornfield Harbor, and the Point Lookout Bar. Flounder are at Buoys 74 and 76 and at Cove Point. Hardheads (croakers) are active at Point No Point Light and the Middle Grounds. Crabs are very plentiful.” Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, buzzsmarina.com), on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County says the Spanish mackerel came in, mixed in with schools of rockfish and bluefish from Point No Point to Point Lookout. They were also caught around Buoys 72 to 68. “We saw big schools of bluefish up to five pounds,” she reports. “The croaker fishing was good at the Southwest Middlegrounds, with some red drum [also] mixed in. The flounder are still running hard at Point Lookout and almost any drop-off in the area. In the middle and upper bay portions, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and small rockfish are taken mostly by trolling methods.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Near the Maryland line, expect strikes from Spanish mackerel that can’t resist a small silver spoon trolled on 4-ounce inline sinkers. Along with the delicious mackerel you’re sure to hook 2- to 5-pound bluefish and some decent rockfish. Bait users find croakers, even redfish, during low-light hours. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay says, “Cobia fishing remains excellent. Both sight fishing and chumming can produce a lot of fish. The 9-Foot-Shoal area is an excellent place to set up a chum slick. This same area continues to be hot for red drum. Anglers using live and cut fish for bait on the shoal at night are catching all of the big red drum they can handle. Doormat flounder continue to be caught along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Any wreck or structure is likely to hold flounder, but the Bridge-Tunnel is where most of the really big fish are being caught. Wire-lining a strip bait or live baiting [with spot] are the two most successful methods for catching big flatfish. If cobia, flounder, and red drum are not enough for you, sheepshead are still being caught along the Bridge-Tunnel.”

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The mouth of the river shows spot, some croakers, perch and small bluefish, mixed with occasional rockfish schools. The Cambridge sector shows perch and spot, and some bass are found in the upper waters around Denton and Greensboro.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass boaters here say that the catches have improved a bit, with some saying that the Shad Landing vicinity turns up medium bass that love 4-inch Powerworms in blue fleck or junebug colors.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) Slow going on the bass in the upper river, but some decent stripers jump on Rat-L-Traps and Sassy Shads below Vienna.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Locals say water temperatures have gone as high as 90, but stripers are caught very early and late in the day. Check out Pigeon Creek up to Stubbs Bridge and also Rose Valley. Bass are possible on topwater lures during the early hours, but if it’s a good fish you want, learn how to drag a plastic worm with a heavy slip-sinker through structured water that is at least 20 feet deep. Deep-water crappies are possible.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) The Hicks Landing area sees a few tidal water bass that like shallow crankbaits and soft plastic worms. Catfish are always available up and down the river. Upper freshwater parts above Fredericksburg show fair to good smallmouth bass action. Use tubes, grubs and spinners.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (..) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Still not back to par, but some bass and sunfish are caught. Crappies are tough to locate.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Nothing has changed as far as chances of decent catfish, but a few more bass have been noted by users of plastic worms.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bass hunters are surprised in deep-water holes on the main lake and in the creeks when they suddenly hook a toothy critter — a walleye. The bass prefer plastic worms or slow-rolled spinnerbaits now.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) The lake’s bridge abutments deliver crappies, but more and more boaters are looking for huge blue and flathead catfish. Bass will check out almost any plastic worms. The lake levels are down nearly five feet.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Not many blue catfish are seen, but fine flathead catfish are hooked on cut baits.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (…) — (Williamsburg area) Bass fishing continues to be fairly good, although it has slowed compared to last week.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — From the Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretches, Front Royal angler Dick Fox reports, “The water cleared up quite a bit this week but dropped another few inches. Last Saturday, a friend and I caught more than 30 smallmouth bass, but on Sunday we caught only eight. The fishing is still good, along with a good largemouth bass bite.”

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Slow going for all species.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (..) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Low water stands at 2.7 feet, with water temperatures warming to 80 degrees.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says some of the best flounder fishing is found in the backwaters behind Ocean City. Good-sized keepers and croakers are hooked. Surf anglers find kingfish, croakers and small bluefish. Offshore anglers have seen a slowdown in their tuna catches, but small to medium dolphinfish are hooked. A few billfish and some large sharks are caught in the canyon waters.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — “Offshore action is centered around a very good billfish bite. Plenty of dolphin are around, and there are good numbers of wahoo. The tuna bite is real slow, but the few being caught are of a large size,” says Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association. On the Eastern Shore, flounder drifters from Chincoteague down to Wachapreague and Oyster find plenty of willing fish, but not many are big enough to keep. Occasional sea trout and some fat croakers are taken in the inlets. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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