- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The super rockfish catches of recent weeks in the lower Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Beach area slowed during sudden cold snaps and a full moon period. So Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association and wife Tricia are going after tautogs in parts of the Atlantic that are not far from their home port. Neill has been fishing some wrecks south of the Chesapeake Light Tower.

He describes a recent outing: “It was a pretty day on the water, slick calm, snowing and not another boat in sight. On the first drop [of the baits], Tricia hooked a 22-inch tog. I caught a 14-incher. The tog fishing was good. Five of the fish we caught were from 20 to 24 inches long. Of course, Tricia caught the largest.”

Neill said Tricia’s tog would have been big enough for a citation, but he tagged and released it and all the others they caught. They used chowder clam pieces as bait on their bottom rigs.

Locally, nothing is happening in the Chesapeake, but some of its feeder rivers and creeks are seeing a bit of action with yellow perch. The annual perch spawning run does not seem to have started, but a few are taken in the Potomac River’s mid and upper Aquia and Potomac creeks. A perch is hooked now and then along with scattered bass and crappies in the Spoils Cove upstream of Wilson Bridge. Some perch show up in the Mattawoman and Nanjemoy creeks, as well as the Occoquan River, but it hasn’t been red-hot.

Virginia’s Kerr delivers action — The huge Kerr Reservoir (also known as Buggs Island Lake) has been great for crappie fishing. The lake, located on the North Carolina-Virginia border, had a crappie tournament recently that was won with 10 of the speckled fish weighing 161/2 pounds. The crappie fishing in this reservoir has simply been outstanding. And if it’s bass you’re after, some of them also are beginning to cooperate, striking deep-fished crankbaits, grubs and jig’n’pigs. As far as bass are concerned, they can also be hooked in the adjacent Lake Gaston, but you need to find sharp drops or deep ditches and slowly crawl a grub or jig to find willing fish.

Want a blue cat? — The tidal James River anywhere between Dutch Gap and the Appomattox River again is delivering the goods if it’s blue catfish you’re after. As we’ve said all along, a 20- and 30-pounder doesn’t raise an eyebrow, but last week’s topic of conversation was a 541/2-pounder caught by a fellow bottom-fishing with cut baits around the Dutch Gap area, not far downstream of Richmond.

Anna delivers — Bass continue to be caught at Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, Va. Fish sharp dropoffs and jutting creek points that are surrounded by deep water and you can score using slow-moving lures and baits. I prefer plastic grubs, loaded with crawfish or garlic scent, but others score on Silver Buddy lures or jigged Hopkins spoons. Fish in 10 to 12 feet of water from around the state Route 208 area and down-lake a bit. By the way, rockfish show up occasionally, but you really have to be there when they pop up on the lake surface. You can’t just get in your car and say you’re going to Lake Anna to catch freshwater rockfish. It doesn’t work that way. But if you’re on the lake in a boat fishing for bass or crappies, have at least one rod ready with a Rat-L-Trap or some kind of jerkbait tied on. If the stripers suddenly erupt nearby in a feeding spree, you will be ready.

Trout fishing show coming — Mark your calendar. The National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited will have its annual fishing show March 25, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Landon School in Bethesda. Fly-fishing guru Gary Borger will be there. Plus there will be panels of other experts speaking about Pennsylvania trout fishing, fly-fishing the Chesapeake Bay and spring fishing on the Potomac. Casting and tying clinics, as well as many vendors, will keep you busy. For more information visit www.ncc-tu.com.

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

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