- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

Yes, the wind blew terribly over the weekend and many anglers never bothered to go fresh- or saltwater fishing. But while so many sat at home waiting for it to calm down, hordes of Atlantic croakers moved into all areas of Southern Maryland, says Ken Lamb, who owns the Tackle Box in St. Mary’s County’s Lexington Park.

According to Lamb, the creeks and rivers that empty into the lower Maryland parts of Chesapeake Bay are finally seeing a good croaker bite. In fact, the croakers (also known as hardheads) appear to have an all-day appetite, being willing to feed even when the sun shines. That’s a big change over recent weeks, when croakers were caught only after sundown.

Good news also comes from the flounder anglers who find action in the usual flatfish hangouts. The three-legged marker in the mouth of the Patuxent River has been a good spot for flounder drifters who prefer to use live minnows along the 40-foot ledge along the No. 3 marker. If it’s rockfish you want, the insides of the Patuxent, clear up toward Benedict, show plenty of trolling action. But before the sun rises, you could catch a striper with a surface popper around long sandy points where they go to chase bait.

In the fish record department, let us salute Margaret Taylor of the District who caught a 13-pound sheepshead to establish a Maryland record for the species. She caught the big sheepshead while fishing for croakers in Tangier Sound over the weekend.

Then comes Joseph Berberich II, who might be the newest Virginia state record holder for the whopping 109-pound cobia he caught at York Spit in the lower Chesapeake Bay nearly a week ago. Berberich of Hayes, Va., used an eel to attract the huge cobia. An application for a record has been filed and most likely will have been granted by the time you read this.

E-mail Gene Mueller at [email protected] regular type

(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), you’ll catch catfish and a few leftover stripers. Below the District, river bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) find action in and alongside grass beds and on creek ledges. Whenever the tide is rising and provides plenty of water, topwater chug baits and poppers find willing bass as long as the sun isn’t high in the sky. The earlier you do the surface popping, the better it is. Some of the topwater-caught bass are fine specimens, up to 5 and 6 pounds. Dropping tides call for plastic worms fished without slip sinkers in the weed pockets in no more than 4 or 5 feet of water. Andrzejewski also reports that good catches are made on small spinnerbaits that have chartreuse/white skirts and gold willow-leaf blades. in the lower river, flounder are found in Cornfield Harbor and the croakers are plentiful as well. Croakers are found heading up the river in holes and channels all the way to the Wicomico.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (…) — Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) on the St. Mary’s County side of this Potomac tributary reports that boat renters are limiting out with 25 croaker a person.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — The bass like soft plastics with or without slip sinkers. It all depends how deep the water is. In shallow weed-infested flats, a wacky-rigged floating worm or a scented Zero worm often does the job. Catfish are in the deeper holes, and they’ll suck in a clam neck on a weighted bottom rig.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) offers sunfish that likes worm baits under a bobber or a fly-rod popping bug. Surprising numbers of bass will look at a small crankbait or spinner. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown on Camp Cosoma Road), the low water continues. Shore walkers can find some bass and crappie action. Standard boat ramp launches are not yet possible.

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) are great for fly-rod poppers that draw strikes from fat sunfish, even a few bass. Catfish like bottom worm or clam neck baits.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Rocky Gorge provides decent bass chances if you fish soft plastics on light slip sinkers along fallen wood or around lake points before the sunlight gets too bright. Lots of sunfish, catfish and crappies are available.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — Ken Lamb says boat renters at Bunky’s on Solomons Island are doing well with tasty croakers near Drum Point and upriver trollers find beautiful rockfish on the river ledges and wrecks. Try small bucktails and spoons with up to 8-ounce inline weights. If you fish early or late enough, check out the river sand spits that hold stripers, but forget it if the sun hits the water. Use topwater poppers on 10- or 12-pound testline. Lots of skates are available. White perch are taken on spinnerbaits and Mini-Traps inside the lower feeder creeks. Flounder are caught at the 3-legged marker in the mouth of the river and along the channel ledge that runs into the river. Drift with live minnows.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis says: “The bass bite has really picked up, as evidenced by a local club tournament winning weight of 19 pounds, 3 ounces for six fish. Four other boats recorded weights of more than 17 pounds. Topwater lures accounted for some heavy bass early in the morning but spinnerbaits and Texas-rigged worms did most of the damage. The biggest bass weighed 5.67 pounds. The crappies are still hitting small minnows under a bobber in brushpiles or beaver dams, and the catfish love chicken livers or clam snouts. The reservoir is slightly stained with water temperatures in the mid-70s. Bluegills abound.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) There are plenty of sunfish and even bass when the sun doesn’t bake the water. Catfish are hungry most anytime. Give them a nightcrawler or a chunk of liver.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (…) — Keith Lockwood says the upper river provides good fishing. Low, clear water in the near 80-degree range has smallmouth bass striking topwater poppers and little buzzbaits. Tubes and grubs work well after the sun bakes the water for a while in the Knoxville to Point of Rocks stretch.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) reports that fishermen who can skip a fringed green pumpkin or junebug color tube under one of the many boat docks probably will be rewarded with a largemouth bass. Spinnerbaits and jerkbaits also produce along weedbed edges, where a mix of largemouth and smallmouth bass sometimes hang out.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — The tidal Susquehanna and the Susquehanna Flats show discolored water, but a mix of largemouth bass and small stripers is available. The bass like plastic worms in grass or along sunken shoreline trees, while the Flats stripers go for soft jerkbaits like a chartreuse Bass Assassin pierced onto a 1/4-ounce jig hoook.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports that tons of croakers have moved into all areas of Southern Maryland. All the creeks and rivers are loaded with big, hungry hardheads, and they are biting all day long. The bay has croakers up as far north as Buoy 76 on the western edge of the ship channel in big schools. They bite hooks baited with squid, peeler crab pieces, bloodworms, shrimp and artificial Fishbites. One captain found croaker at the HS Buoy and loaded his fish box with them. Croakers are also caught by small boaters off the “Hotel” just above Point Lookout. There is no longer any hotel, but you might still see it identified on maps. Flounder have been in the area as well. Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, www.buzzsmarina.com) on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County said the fishing priest, the Rev. Jerome Daly, was casting his baits around the mouth of the creek and tearing up the croakers in about 12 feet of water when a school of porpoises came right up to his boat. He told Mrs. Henderson that there were about 12 to 15 of them. “He had a ball watching them watch him,” she said. She also reported that those who braved the wind and waves last weekend caught croakers, rockfish and bluefish in the Triangle area and Buoy 72A. Bluefish also cooperate at the Target Ship and the Davidsonville Wreck. Moving up the bay, trollers actually have had an easy time picking up 18-inch-plus rockfish from above Hooper’s Island Light clear up to the Deale area. Stay in 35 to 40 feet of water and you’ll score with a variety of trolling lures. The black drum at Stone Rock and Sharps Island Light have been tough to find Very few were caught earlier this week. Upper bay rockfish efforts came to a halt over the weekend and the first days of this week because of powerful winds.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — In the northern parts of Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, chummers and trollers will get a mix of rockfish, croakers and bluefish. Recent winds have made fishing a chore, but the fish are in good supply from Smith Point Light down to the Windmill Point stretch of the Rappahannock River. In the lower parts of the bay, expect strikes from huge cobia. A possible state record 109-pounder was hooked a week ago at the York Spit. Spadefish, bluefish, rockfish, croakers and flounder also are available, with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel being good choices.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) There’s a good chance for croakers and small rockfish at the mouth, with croakers and white perch possible in the river around the Cambridge fishing bridge. Bass catches aren’t as good as they are in the Potomac up past Denton, but fish are caught on a variety of lures.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Better fish in the early and late hours. Water is warming quite a lot, and the bass are already acting sluggish after the sun “cooks” the water for three or four hours in the upper river.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp of the Marshyhope Creek) There’s a chance of hooking a bass now and then, but you won’t set any records here. The creek delivers some chunky bass on plastic worms and topwater poppers.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) The Sturgeon Creek area has seen unusual striped bass activity. It seems the largemouth bass are available everywhere. Use early-hour topwater baits, then switch to plastic worms, especially along rocky points or in brush piles.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (…) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Check out the white perch in the upper tidal waters. The Fredericksburg sector also shows sizable catfish. Bass catches have seen better days downstream. The upper river, from the Rapidan to near Remington gives up smallmouth bass. Use tubes, grubs, streamers, spinners or small topwater lures.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass chances are good. Early hours coupled to plastic floating worms around obstacles or topwater chug baits can bring good results. Catfish and sunfish are hungry.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) The bass like to hang around brushy points or stumps and a smartly retrieved spinnerbait will get them. If that doesn’t work, try a 4-inch scented Power Worm. The catfish like clam snouts.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) There was wicked weekend jet-ski traffic — what a nuisance to bass fishermen. Start early and work jerkbaits, topwaters and soft plastics in the creeks around points and weedbeds and you’ll score.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) The lower end of the lake shows rockfish, and they’ll hit trolled Redfins and the like. Crappie and bass fishing can be very good in sunken brush, but remember that crappies will go deep when the sun bakes the water.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) Few decent bass are seen, but catfish, crappies and sunnies are easily caught.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish in the 20- and 30-pound range are plentiful from Dutch Gap down to Colonial Heights.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas provide some smallmouths and largemouths, but the fishing could be a lot better.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Scattered striped bass action is reported, but the bass fishing should be a lot better. Some largemouths are caught, but we haven’t heard of any decent smallmouth bass catches lately.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Good fishing for smallmouth bass is reported. Soft white jerkbaits, such as a Zoom Fluke, will do the job.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Terrible wind conditions last weekend made fishing a real chore, and there might see a repeat this weekend because of the tailwinds of the storm that’s heading north. If it’s not too bad, expect to catch nice gray sea trout in the Ocean City Inlet. The surf is showing signs of summer: Sand sharks and kingfish, plus occasional stripers, are hooked. If you can get out to the canyon waters, there’ll be tunas and some dolphin, maybe a billfish.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — From the Virginia Beach area, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association says: “What a difference a week makes. Last week we were fishing the 100-fathom curve south of the Norfolk Canyon, and we could not keep our baits in the water. We caught 17 yellowfin tuna, plus gaffer dolphin and a bunch of bonito. We went back out there [Sunday], and we could not buy a bite.” But he said fishing action was had by boats congregating on the Fingers, where anglers were picking through mostly small bluefin tuna trying to catch one big enough to keep. Neill, meanwhile, switched from tuna to tilefish. He and some friends soon caught a bunch of blueline tilefish, a couple of snowy grouper and sea bass. One of the blueline tilefish weighed 16.02 pounds, a potential all-tackle world record. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at 757/422-5700.

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