- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Even though other parts of the tidal Potomac River can turn up fishing action, it’s that time of year when bassboaters and even shoreline anglers begin to visit the tidal Potomac River above Wilson Bridge, particularly the Spoils Cove, the Fox Ferry rock line and the Blue Plains area. The Spoils, for example, has been turning up some feisty bass on plastic grubs, finesse worms and crankbaits.

Many fishermen prefer to use some type of braided or fused line for this kind of fishing, such as 20-pound-test FireLine, because these waters are home to bottom snags, rocks, metal discards and the like. It helps to be able to force a hook to straighten and pop free when it becomes lodged in one of the obstacles.

Our little group uses avocado color Sting Ray grubs, made by the Mann’s Bait Company, which find bass and crappies equally well. We dab the lures in garlic-flavored fish attractant, and use 1/4-ounce and 1/8-ounce ball head jig hooks, with the hook point inserted into the head of the grub, pushed down about half-way and then allowed to come back out of the lure body. You’ll be fishing the grub with an exposed hook, so don’t be surprised if you get hung up on the bottom. Be patient, free the lure, bend it back into proper position, maybe sharpen the point with a small file, then resume your casting.

In the case of long-lipped, diving crankbaits, cast out the lure, crank it down fairly quick, then slow your retrieve. The lure will stay down a good while and a bass will have a chance to get a good look at it. Remember, in colder-than-normal water, the fish react far slower than they do during summer.

Shenandoah fishing poor — Our Front Royal, Va., fishing pal Dick Fox says, “I hit the Shenandoah this week. Water temperature was only 33 degrees, but clear and average height. Never got a bite. Plenty of fish showed on the depth finder. Maybe next time.”

This comes from a fellow who normally outfishes all his pals.

Smith Point delivers stripers — A few days ago, local angler Ed Dombek was fishing aboard the party boat that comes out of Bunky’s Marina on Solomons Island. “We fished [in Virginia waters] below Smith Point from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” he said.

Dombek’s party caught its first rockfish at 2 p.m. when the birds started working, giving away a feeding school of Chesapeake stripers. In all they caught nine keepers — four that measured from 24 to 28 inches, and five from 30 to 37 inches.

“They hit white and chartreuse umbrella rigs and parachutes,” said Dombek. “I was worried we were going to get skunked especially since I was responsible for holding off till December to book the trip.”

Apparently you didn’t wait too long, Ed. Good show!

Heavy rockfish near Bay mouth — Not far from the lowest parts of the Chesapeake and in the adjacent Atlantic, Virginia fisherman David Brabrand fished three miles north of the inshore Atlantic Ocean’s 4A Buoy on Sunday. In roughly 50 feet of water, using a green-and-yellow Mann’s Stretch 25, Brabrand caught a 43-pound striper. Then he trolled south, back to the 4A Buoy, hooking five more rockfish that measured up to 40 inches. “We also caught several nice bluefish from 10 to 15 pounds west of the 4A,” he said. Brabrand added that you’ll see gannets and plenty of rockfish under the birds from the 4A to Cape Henry. The 4A Buoy, by the way, is a bit southeast of Sandbridge, which is part of the general Virginia Beach area.

Ocean City action possible — Keith Lockwood, of the Maryland DNR, says depending on the weather, boaters find some decent action on large striped bass and bluefish around the Gull Shoals area, east of Ocean City. “Anglers are reporting the area is often thick with diving birds and the fish are easy too find,” said Lockwood. Successful fishermen have been jigging for their stripers, but even trollers connect.

Carolina waters show tuna — Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association member John Hunt fished east of Oregon Inlet, N.C., Sunday and came up with nine yellowfin tuna, not to mention five others that broke off as he worked the offshore waters along the 50- to 100-fathom curve. The water temperature that far out stood at 73 degrees.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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