- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

Good news for croaker fans. Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box says the hardheads finally have crossed the Potomac from Virginia to Maryland. One of the area’s favorite croaker fishing spots, the Wicomico River in Charles and St. Mary’s counties, has delivered the goods on several occasions. Says Lamb, “Boat rentals at Quade’s Store in Bushwood scored on Saturday. Bottom fishermen using squid, bloodworms and shrimp got about 20 fish per boat.” Mother’s Day was a wipeout, but some of the people who fished thereafter have connected on the tasty croakers.

If you’re a tidal river bass fishing fanatic, you couldn’t be in a better place than the Potomac right now. “They’re munching,” said ace river guide Andy Andrzejewski, meaning they’ll jump on a variety of lures on mainstem, or in the feeder creeks. Some decent bass catches are also made in the Rappahannock River downstream of Fredericksburg. Don’t overlook the big Virginia lakes where good fishing is enjoyed. Check out Kerr, Gaston, Anna and Smith Mountain lakes and you probably won’t regret it.

It’s now official. The 57-pound, 6-ounce striped bass that was hooked and landed in the Assateague surf on May 6 by Gary Smith of Keedysville, Md., has been approved as the latest state record in the Atlantic division. (Maryland keeps records in three categories: Atlantic, Chesapeake Bay, and freshwater.) Smith’s big rockfish beat the old Atlantic mark by more than four pounds. He used cut menhaden bait on 17-pound test monofilament. The Chesapeake Bay rockfish record stands at 671/2 pounds.

E-mail Gene Mueller at [email protected]

(Ratings key: ….=excellent fishing; …=Good; ..=Fair; .=Poor.)


POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461), one of the regular customers reportedly caught a 7-pound, 2-ounce walleye. That’s big even if you’re fishing in Minnesota. The white perch are just about done, but stripers are still available and there’s a chance the shad bite will resume when a fresh swell of water arrives from the river’s western Maryland portions. The tidal river bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are doing very well on largemouth bass as they use various makes of craws in green pumpkin color, or plastic worms in junebug and blue fleck. Shallow-lipped crankbaits worked for me in Dogue Creek a few days ago, but a garlic-scented junebug Zero worm was the best of all. The bass are hooked from the Arkendale Flats and Aquia Creek up toward Chicamuxen and Quantico creeks, as well as portions of Occoquan Bay and river, Pomonkey Creek and Greenway Flats, Piscataway, Swann and Broad creeks. There’s always a chance you’ll hook a good bass on the Fox Ferry rockline or inside the Spoils or the Belle Haven Cove.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (..) — George Quade, of Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) on the St. Mary’s County side of this Potomac tributary, says he has seen croaker catches. The Tackle Box in Lexington Park also reports the croakers have finally crossed the Potomac and are on the Maryland side. Boat renters out of Quade’s have been using squid strips, bloodworms or shrimp to hook somewhere around 20 hardheads per boat last Saturday. Sunday wasn’t very good, but persistent croaker anglers got their fish. Says Quade, “Some of these fish have been in 6 to 8 feet of water, but temperatures have been up and down and some days they’ll bite, while other days they might not. What we need is more fishermen. Not enough people are out here trying to catch fish.”

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Slavins ramp on Mattingly Avenue in Indian Head is not yet open, so you must use the Smallwood State Park ramps. If you do, get ready to be in the company of a gaggle of tournament boats. Will it ever stop? I don’t think so. Short plastic worms fished with slip sinkers or from a dropshot rig will find a “bite” inside the creek anywhere with declining water depths near a marsh bank and also inside the massive milfoil beds around Marsh Island.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) shows decent numbers of sunfish, a few crappies, and surprisingly willing bass, although most are small. Try a 4-inch Rapala jerkbait around the upper lake end, or a medium-depth crankbait at the rockfilled lower end. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) the lake continues to be filled, but shore walkers find sunfish and small bass or crappies.

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) hold fine numbers of sunfish and channel “cats,” and more than a few largemouth bass (never mind the tiger muskies that sometimes tear into a spinner bait).

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 water levels are down. Rocky Gorge seems to be OK with bass now leaving beds and starting to strike jigs and smartly fished plastic worms. If you’re comfortable with a dropshot rig and finesse worms, try it. It can do wonders around the edges of long lake points and fallen trees.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — The mouth of the Patuxent shows croakers being caught from some of the shorelines and also from boats that sit anchored on the Chinese Muds. Of course, with constantly varying temperatures, the croaker fishing will be up and down. We need steady hot weather for things to be more predictable. Haven’t heard of any decent hardhead catches from the Solomons Pier.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) and areas up the lake toward Bull Run you can expect better bass catches now that most of the spawning chores are done. The crappies and bluegills are willing if you are and channel cats are looking for worm or cut fish baits on the bottom.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Crappie and bass chances are very good now. This is an excellent public lake that has better than average fish populations. It even contains muskies and walleyes.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — Rain fell again and raised the water levels, but most locals figure the western Maryland parts will be fishable by the weekend. Smallmouth bass and sunfish will cooperate from Knoxville to Dickerson.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) says walleyes, largemouth and smallmouth bass are pretty much guaranteed if you fish hard. Yellow perch and crappies have not been bashful.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — Bass guide Karl Bunch (cell phone 410/459-7445) does fine on the bass for his clients. Only sudden wind and rain squalls will change that. Bass like soft plastics inside weedy milfoil pocklets, but shallow crankbaits and spinnerbaits can work around gravel shorelines and fallen trees.


MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said, “The rockfish bite is still on. Cloudy, rainy days produce plenty of big fish for trollers. We had trophy rockfish brought in daily for photos and citations this week. The [lower] Potomac continues to be good, and Point Lookout and Cove Point are good in the bay. The big fish activity has slowed, but trophy sized fish will be caught through June.” We also need to point out the 2-rockfish-per-day season is now open. Minimum size is 18 inches, but only one of your two keeper stripers can be more than 28 inches long. Many of the trollers will slowly begin to switch to chumming or simply casting for the fish. Surfcasters at Point Lookout continue to do well with croaker at night, Lamb said. Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887, www.buzzsmarina.com) on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County said, “We had one party do a bottom fishing trip Tuesday night. They got croakers and stripers. The biggest striper measured 37 inches. It was caught using an alewife head on the bottom. The rest of the party was using bloodworms. Capt. Jeff Popp’s (410/790-2015) party limited out before 8 a.m. on Saturday. The fish were all over the place.” Henderson said she believes the rockfish trolling is coming to an end. Most of the people she has talked to are going to switch to chum this week. Heading up the bay, from the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant on up toward the Bay Bridges, trollers continue to pick up rockfish, but sizes have declined. Look for the chumming to begin pretty fast now in the upper bay. Warmer weather would help the chum boats.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Along the Maryland and Virginia state lines a lot of the trolling boats now are switching to chumming. They find rockfish and hardheads. Down the bay, Ken Neill and wife, Tricia, last weekend tried for black drum near buoy 13. “We used chowder clams and peeler crab,” he said. “Cow-nose rays really like chowder clams and peeler crabs. We caught at least 20 of those things. I told Tricia that it was good practice. We managed to find a few black drum mixed in with all of the rays. Tricia caught four including one long enough to register for a release citation. It was her first citation drum.” Flounder fishermen are finding a lot of short fish and they have to work hard to get a limit of keepers.


CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (..) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Look for scattered perch and some croakers this weekend. The bass fishing should perk up around Denton and Martinak where a Manns Baby 1-Minus lure or a plastic worm could do well.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) The bass have been striking slowly retrieved spinnerbaits and scented worms in the many spatterdock fields and around fallen trees and roots. Catfish are plentiful.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) Bass fishing has been unusually slow, although a few Delaware fishermen score up around the Seaford stretch of the river.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Bass fishing is getting better every day now that most of the females are off the beds and some are seeking food. Give it to them by way of scented Power or Zero worms, along with spinnerbaits and jerkbaits of various types. The Splits sector delivers rockfish occasionally.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (…) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Bass fishing can be quite good, but as the biologists who have done electro-shocking studies have shown, the bass in many cases are taking up new habitat. That could explain why your old “honey holes” are not producing some days. Catfish are hungry all through the river.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill fishing can be very good, although heavy rains can stain this lake.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (…) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Catfish have been taking clam snouts and liver baits. The bass are hanging around sunken brush and lake points where a plastic craw or worm will be looked at.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Peahill and Hubquarter creeks have been producers as far as bass are concerned. Main lake grass beds will give up early hour bass to soft jerkbaits.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Bass are in flooded brush and around creek points where dropshot rigs and finesse worms will get them. Hard and soft jerkbaits also work. Catfish would rather have cut baits on the bottom. Some of the “whiskers” are huge.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) Upper river crappies and bass have been cooperative. Crappies like a soft curly-tailed jig under a bobber. Bass go for most plastics, especially garlic-scented types.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Catfish, catfish, catfish. This river is quickly becoming the blue catfish capital of the United States.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas will deliver bass and sunfish barring unforeseen heavy rains.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Bass fishing has improved over last week, but the wind has kept a lot of boaters close to land. The rockfish have taken cut bait or jigged Sassy Shads from the “S” Curve to the dam.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (..) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Look for better smallmouth bass action this weekend. If it doesn’t pour, the smallies will leap onto in-line spinners, grubs, tubes or streamers.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (..) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The 57-pound, 6-ounce striped bass that was recently hooked and subsequently accepted as a state record in the Atlantic division came out of the Assateague surf. Naturally, now surf rodders from Fenwick down to Assateague are slinging baits into the ocean. Some fish are caught, too. Good for the anglers. Offshore boats find some seabass, but warmer weather is needed to turn fishing up a notch.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (..) — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sportfishermen’s Association says those anglers who are targeting redfish (channel bass, red drum) are having the most luck on 9-Foot-Shoal and along the beaches of Fisherman’s and Smith islands. Sea bass are all over the near shore wrecks, he reported. “Places like the Triangle Wrecks, Ricks, and Hanks have been producing limits of nice sea bass. Boats running further offshore are finding big sea bass along with tilefish,” Neill said. “My dockmate, Bill Fisher, just made a trip to the 50-fathom line and came back with tilefish to 14 pounds and sea bass up to 5 pounds. The tuna bite out of Hatteras, N.C., has been replaced by a gaffer dolphin bite.” Meanwhile, boats looking for bluefin off the Virginia coast have been finding chopper bluefish. Rumors are plentiful about cobia, spadefish, and sheepshead. The bay water temperature is warm enough for all three. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at 757/422-5700.

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