- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wind and rain late last week and during parts of this week slowed the overall fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and in most of the rivers and lakes. Despite the weather, however, rockfish were caught in the Chesapeake and the largemouth bass of the tidal Potomac and Rappahannock cooperated. Better days lie ahead as spawning chores will come to an end and the fishing will settle into a more predictable pattern.

What worries some of our saltwater anglers is the lateness of the black drum fishing that should be going great guns around Cape Charles, Va., down in the lower parts of the bay. Late also are the croakers. Although quite a few are caught in Virginia waters, they are lacking in many of their usual hangouts in Maryland, especially in the Potomac River’s Wicomico tributary.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will have a series of public meetings regarding proposed regulations for freshwater fishing in 2007. Some of the meetings have been held already, but closest to Washington, the next meeting will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the visitors center of Cedarville Natural Resource Area, in southern Prince George’s County. On Wednesday at 7 p.m., the discussions will move to the Natural Resources Police Eastern Region Office, Route 309 and 404, in Hillsboro, Queen Anne’s County.

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; call 202/244-0461) Ray Fletcher reports, “The river is in beautiful shape and there are still white perch around that like bloodworms or small, live minnows. The shad are slowly leaving, but some can still be caught and the same is true of the stripers. If someone comes here to fish, they won’t be disappointed.” The river bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are finally finding a bit of a topwater bite around submersed grasses, but it’s the soft plastic worms and craws in the weedy pockets that are responsible for most bass catches. Spawning beds are empty now in most cases. Heading downriver, rockfish are taken by trollers, especially after you pass St. George’s Island. The lower Potomac on the Maryland side continues to be poor for croaker, reports the Tackle Box in Lexington Park. The store reporter, Ken Lamb, suggests perhaps the large rockfish who hang out in the deep troughs of the river could be keeping the croakers from crossing over from the Virginia side where croakers are caught daily.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (..) — Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) on the St. Mary’s County side of this Potomac tributary, reports only slight improvement from last week, although one rental boater said he caught seven nice croaker one day, but others only caught white perch. The pier at Bushwood reports a handful of fish a night. But the big schools of croakers in the lower Chesapeake might come up this way within the week.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — With a plethora of tournaments every weekend, the areas around the Sweden Point Marina hold plenty of bass and some of the pier walkers cash in. Boaters find action in the many grassbeds, using soft worms but increasingly also blunt-nosed poppers.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows some sunfish bedding, which are suckers for fly-rod popper. Small bits of gardenworm on a light line, small hook and a split shot a foot or so above the bait will attract what’s left of the shellcracker sunfish here. Small bass are cruising the dam’s rocky waters. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) the lake continues to be filled.

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 good for sunfish, catfish and bass that in many cases have finished their spawning chores.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (…) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Triadelphia Reservoir continues to be down, but Rocky Gorge bass are active enough to make an outing worthwhile. Many are done spawning. Some fine crappies are hooked and the bluegills are beginning to enter their spawning nests that are scattered in honeycomb patterns.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — From Lexington Park, the Tackle Box’s Ken Lamb says rockfish will be caught around most points and rocky outcroppings in the mouth of the river up to Point Patience, but that part of the rockfish season doesn’t open until May 15. The entire Patuxent and other Chesapeake tributaries do not open for rockfish until June 1. Croakers are inside the river mouth and they bite especially well after sunset.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis reports, “The bass bite remains strong and will only get better as the majority of the big females get on the beds this coming week. Jig ‘n craws and soft plastics, especially lizards, will work well. Several nice stringers of crappie were brought in this past week. Small minnows remain the bait of choice. Catfish are going for cut bait or chicken livers and bluegills are active off the pier and boardwalk. The reservoir [water level] is slightly down but it remains clear with the surface temperature around 68 to 70 degrees.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Good crappie fishing is possible and the bass catches also are increasing. Even some scattered walleyes are possible. Sunfish are bedding.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — Rain and wind earlier this week kept anglers away, but smallmouth bass should cooperate from Knoxville to Point of Rocks and below.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (office: 410/799-9326, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) says smallmouth bass are spawning on main lake rocky flats that show five to eight feet of water. Check out the state park shoreline and the Stump Point sector. Largemouth bass are still in the pre-spawn mood, with fish staging under docks and on wood near the first and secondary points of spawning coves. The guides are taking quality fish on hard jerkbaits, Senkos and jigs, but remember: It’s catch-and-release only until June 15. Walleye fishing has been excellent on 1/8-ounce ball-head jig heads with motor oil or green pumpkin color grubs. Fuzzy grubs tipped with a flathead minnow work well also. The state park shoreline, Beckman’s Cove and North Glade Cove all hold post-spawn walleyes. Crappie fishing has been good with nice specimens taking minnows or marabou jigs suspended under a bobber. Don’t overlook the trout near the state park’s shore. Cast fast-moving spoons and in-line spinners to take these stocked trout.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — Bass guide Karl Bunch (cell phone 410/459-7445) is finding bass on craws and medium-depth crankbaits along gravel shorelines that also have plenty of downed wood in the water. You won’t have to travel far from the Havre de Grace boat launch to find fish, but recent days have been tough with wind and a high pressure system to contend with.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reported, “The weather forecast of rain and cool temperatures all this week may bring back the really good rockfishing for a few more days, but the change of regulations to two fish per day with an 18 inch minimum that comes in on May 15th pretty much signals the end of the big fish run. However, the shallow water fishing for the smaller rockfish should be excellent at the Nuclear Power Plant outfall. The croaker fishing continues to improve nightly in the bay at Point Lookout, Point No Point, Cedar Point, and into the mouth of the Patuxent. The croakers bite best at dusk and into the night on bloodworms, squid, shrimp, clam snouts, and even cut spot or alewife.” Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, www.buzzsmarina.com) on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County said, “We finally had somebody go bottom fishing with FishBites artificial bloodworms and he caught our first sea trout of the season. We also saw some 10- to 14-inch croakers come in from Point Lookout.” Henderson said rockfish were caught last week in all the usual hangouts, such as Buoy 72A, the Point No Point Lighthouse and along the channel edges, but by weekend the bite slowed dramatically. Sunday morning started out windy, but those who went out were rewarded.” As the big rockfish slowly leave the Chesapeake, there will be plenty of action on smaller specimens up and down the bay, from Calvert County’s side clear up toward Kent County’s Chester River.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Check out the channel bass (aka red drum or redfish) on the shoals inside the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The black drum still aren’t biting in any dependable fashion around Cape Charles, but there’s word of speckled trout taking colorful grubs and small spoons in Mobjack Bay, while gray trout are hooked at the Cell. The croakers are embedded in the lower tidal rivers and Marylanders are crying the blues. They wished some of them would travel north. Northern Neck charter boats are out hunting rockfish in wind and rain.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (..) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The bass fishing was hampered by rain and wind. Perhaps the weekend will see an improvement.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (..) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Look for bass to jump on a Mann’s Baby 2-Minus lure around shallow, waterlogged roots and growing spatterdock fields.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) The Vienna area has seen rockfish chasing baitfish around river points. (Get your Rat-L-Traps out, but let the fish go after snapping a picture). The largemouth bass like plastic worms and craws around fallen timber, but overall numbers have been only fair.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Many small male bass are taken in the flats, coves and stump fields where spawning has taken place. The smaller fish are usually the males, but some post-spawn females are also taken on soft plastics, often on drop-shot rigs and finesse worms. Contrary Creek has been the place for rockfish.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (..) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) A local tournament out of Hicks Landing in the tidal parts of the river was won with five bass that weighed a little more than 16 pounds. But watch out from Port Royal to Fredericksburg — the stripers are spawning and you could see some tacklebusters. Upper river might still be discolored by the weekend.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass are off the beds and some are hungry. Use a shallow-diving crankbait, but go to the plastic worm or spinnerbait along lake drops.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (…) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Crappie, catfish and some nice bass are available.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) A few bass are still on their beds, but plenty are in a post-spawn mode and they’re looking for a meal. Give it to them by way of a spinnerbait or scented plastic worm. Many bass are taken on uplake flats.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Catfish are practically guaranteed and some are whoppers, up to 50 pounds and more. Now add the fine chances for crappies and the beginnings of fair to good bass fishing and this lake might be the place to spend a weekend.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) Small catfish are everywhere, but the good news is that a 1/4-ounce crankbait can induce bass to strike. Jigs under bobbers can result in fat crappies.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish in excess of 50 pounds have been hooked on bottom baits in the Dutch Gap stretch. The shad up around I-95 are almost gone.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas slowed a bit after the rain, but bass and sunnies should be back on by the weekend.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Rockfish have been hooked by the dam, but they’re a bit on the small side. Bass are on the beds and some nice specimens have been hooked.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (..) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Bass catches have been slow, but that was caused by rainy weather. Things are OK now. Get going.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (..) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Wind and more wind, plus the rain, made fishing tough last weekend and earlier this week. Rockfish and some errant blues should come into the surf.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (..) — Wind and rain have made offshore fishing a chore, but tuna are possible. The flounder fishing on the Eastern Shore are still in flux because of strong winds. That will change quickly as it lays down. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at 757/422-5700.

E-mail Gene Mueller at gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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