Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This will be the year’s first truly all-around productive fishing weekend. The croakers are biting in the Patuxent River. Rockfish and black drum are in the Chesapeake. In the lower bay, you’ll find spadefish, flounder and redfish. Our area’s tidal rivers deliver largemouth bass, while the mountain rivers promise smallmouth bass. In the Atlantic, yellowfin tunas are in the deep offshore canyons and bluefish are closer to shore.

While there’s still time to make plans, check out the following fishing events tailored for young people:

Northern Virginia angling ace Michael Hall wants kids to learn all about the top recreational sport in the land: fishing. He’ll be involved in the Family Fishing Day & Casting Kids Contest on June 10 at Franklin Park in Loudoun County. There’ll be a fishing tournament for children 10 a.m. till noon, followed by a picnic and cookout, then a “Casting Kids” competition at 1 p.m. geared for ages 7 to 14.

Says Hall: “There’ll be trophies and some great prizes. We’ll be teaching all interested children and adults about the joys of fishing.”

So bring your own tackle, or borrow a “loaner” outfit.

To reach Franklin Park, drive on Route 7 and take the Round Hill exit; go towards Purcellville on East Loudoun Street, then look for the Franklin Park sign on the right. The park address is 17501 Franklin Park Drive in Purcellville. Need more information? Call Hall (571/236-1918) or park manager Mike Horner (540/338-7603).

The Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia will play host to a youth fishing tournament June 11 from 9 a.m. to noon at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax County. The tournament goal is to introduce children 16 and under to the joys of fishing and being outdoors. Rods and reels are provided for those who do not have fishing gear, and club members will be on hand to share their angling knowledge. The event is free; even the bait is provided at no charge. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the tournament, and each child will go home with at least some kind of gift. Burke Lake Park is located at 7315 Ox Road in Fairfax Station. For more information, call Arnold Aspelin (301/567-3030).

E-mail Gene Mueller at

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


POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; 202/244-0461) Ray Fletcher says ever-increasing numbers of blue catfish are showing up and they, along with good-sized stripers that remain, love cut herring baits on the bottom. That’s pretty much it, although some bass are hooked, as well. In the tidal waters below town, river bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are hooking willing largemouths on early morning topwater poppers and buzzbaits. Most of all of the feeder creeks that show milfoil and hydrilla beds will provide topwater bass action. When the sun clears the trees and begins to bake the water, simply switch to scented Power worms or garlic-flavored Zero worms and you’ll do well. Senko baits dabbed with Smelly Jelly also will be hammered. Catfish are hooked by bottom fishermen in almost every portion of the river where deep channel waters meet the shallows. What is bothersome is that not nearly the numbers of white perch that should be here this time of year are around. In the lower Potomac, around Cornfield Harbor, we got word that one boater who drifted with minnows caught some keeper flounder

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (..) — Quade’s Store in Bushwood (301/769-3903) on the St. Mary’s County side of this Potomac tributary reported that the holiday weekend was disappointing, with only a few croakers caught, but Tuesday the fish came back and bit even under a hot noon sun. “Grandma Quade” said they saw the first Norfolk spot but only a couple. She has no explanation why the croakers are playing so hard to get while over on the Virginia side of the river the hardhead fishing has been fine.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Good bass fishing if you use short plastic worms, dipped in fish attractant, and cast along marsh banks or milfoil bed edges. We caught a number of bass near the Slavin’s ramp (which, by the way, is far from being finished). Our bass were caught alongside a marsh edge that quickly dropped from two-foot shallows to seven and eight feet of water during an outgoing tide.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) has fly-rodders and bait dunkers take sunfish and a few bass. At St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, on Camp Cosoma Road) the re-filling of the lake continues. Some small bass and crappies are hooked by shore walkers.

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) Fisheries biologist Charlie Gougeon said he electro-fished the lake in Black Hills and noticed that many largemouth bass already had moved to deeper water, but he “shocked” up a few bass up to 18 inches long. The bass have been feeding on panfish and crawdads. Gougeon saw one tiger muskie. He noted that the large bluegills were off their nests, done with spawning, and that the lake showed excellent black crappie numbers over wood debris along the entire shoreline in the shallows.

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 bass hunters are scoring nicely with plastic worms and lizards around lake points and the few blowdowns you’ll see here. Bluegill fishing with fly-rod poppers can be wonderfully productive.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — Ken Lamb reports the croakers are invading the river. Catches have been made near Marker 7 at the Hawk’s Nest, but evening hours are definitely best. Croakers also have been taking baits at the Three-Legged Buoy and off Second Beach as the sun disappears in the west. Surfcasters at the Naval Air Station are getting big croakers every evening at West Basin, Fishing Point, Hog Point and Goose Creek. The fish known locally as hardheads like bloodworms, squid strips, shrimp, artificial FishBites (in bloodworm flavor), even and pieces of cut fish. Big rockfish are also available during the dark hours, as was shown by local angler Tony Barrett. who last week cast a Sassy Shad while fishing from shore at Goose Creek at around 11 p.m. He caught an 18-pound rockfish.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County), ranger Smokey Davis said, “Memorial Day weekend produced lots of fishermen but few quality bass. The largemouths have recently moved into the post-spawn phase and are now much more difficult to catch. This will change in a week or so, and some excellent fishing will be available to those who go out early or fish in the late evening. Crappie action slowed also, but catfish and bluegills are readily available.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) The Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia will have their annual youth fishing tournament June 11, 9 a.m. to noon. Free bait for the participants, and when it’s over prizes will be awarded. Call Arnold Aspelin 301/567-3030. Meanwhile, crappies, bass and bluegills galore are available.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (..) — Memorial Day weekend was very busy in the western mountain portions of the river though the water is low. Biologist John Mullican said flows continue to be well below average, but water temperatures have climbed 15 degrees in the past week. Enterprising anglers can find enough smallmouth bass and channel catfish to make an outing worthwhile.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out agrees that the Memorial Day weekend was a zoo up this way, but visitors now can hook walleyes around lake points if they use minnow-tipped jigs or Lindy rigs. The bass are in coves and around blowdowns. The big bluegills are biting now.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — Conowingo Dam water releases are now done during late afternoons, helping bass fishermen and rockfish hunters on the Flats. Don’t forget that tomorrow you can start chasing after keeper rockfish once again.


MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reports trollers are still catching big stripers in the ships channel, but it can take a while before you hook a good fish. He mentions that lots of smaller rockfish are found just outside the crab pots near Buoy 77. These mostly legal 18-inch-and-up striped bass readily strike small bucktails and spoons. The same type of action is had at the Cedar Point Rip and at the Targets, south of Cedar Point, Pink Bass Assassin plastic lures on jig heads see action at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant. Christy Henderson, of Buzz’s Marina (301/872-5887,, on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, reported that the rockfish chummers did very well if they remembered the basics, such as location, underwater structure and of course water depth. She also said, “The croaker fishing is really picking up now. Drifting in 20 to 25 foot of water between Point No Point and Point Lookout produced quite a few. The larger ones we found near the channels edge below 72 drifting between 30 and 38 feet of water. The Mud Leads were also good this week, and chummers did well between buoys 68 and 70 in 50 feet of water on the western side. There were plenty of stripers. The biggest ones being around 28 inches. One man reported catching lots of croakers in his chum slick with blues mixed in.” Heading up the bay and across to the eastern side, you’ll find that the black drum are showing up near the mouth of the Choptank River, such as Stone Rock and Sharps Island Light. Rockfish catches, however, in the mid- and upper Chesapeake have been sporadic, to put it mildly.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles () — In the lower Chesapeake, the cobia have arrived, but numbers are spotty. There’ll be many more caught now that the water is getting warmer. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association said, “A few large gray trout have been caught at the Cell and at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Smaller trout can be found along the northern span of the bridge-tunnel. The flounder bite, which frankly has been the pits the past couple of weeks, is showing signs of heating back up. There has been decent action at the Cape Charles area of the bay. Spanish mackerel have made their first showing in the lower bay. Sheepshead are at their usual spots along the bridge-tunnel.”


CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Just outside the wide mouth of the river, looking toward Sharps Island Light, the black drum have arrived, while inside the river a lot of the boaters are wondering where the croakers are. Upstream beyond Cambridge, the Denton area turns up a few largemouth bass, but this is no Potomac. Remember that if you come over here.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Tree roots and the back pockets of river water where weeds and spatterdock thrive also contain largemouth bass that like plastic finesse worms and shallow crankbaits.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (..) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp of the Marshyhope Creek) Fair bass catches are made as bassboaters use plastic worms and 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits to get the fish to bite. A few early morning rockfish are taken on Rat-L-Traps or loud topwater poppers around the grassy points from Vienna on down.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) The spawning chores over, largemouth bass now hang in the brush piles some crappie anglers have dumped near and under boat docks and piers, as well as in the stump fields in the backs of coves and creeks. Soft jerkbaits and scented 4-inch worms do the job. Topwater lures will begin to work real well, what with the warmer day and night temperatures. Rockfish are available in the Splits and Rose Valley. A live shiner or herring is far quicker to see results than artificials will.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (…) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) Barring unforeseen rains, the upper river is good for smallmouth bass around the Rapidan and even upstream toward the narrow ends in Remington. In tidal water, bass catches have been slow.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Crappies, bluegills, catfish and bass can be caught, but try to do it in the early or late hours. Daytime heat has not helped the fish catches.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (..) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass catches have slowed for some reason, but sunfish and catfish hookups are holding up, while fly-rod poppers can do a number on the sunfish that are still around the spawning beds.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Spawning is over, and the bass are beginning to look at soft plastics or jerkbaits of all types. Take your fly-rod along and do some popping for fat bluegills.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Blue catfish and flathead catfish are very active. One recent blue “cat” weighed 66 pounds. If it’s crappies you’re after, you could find the going tough because they’ve gone deeper, to 15 feet or more. That makes catching them more difficult. By the way, you could run into a school of white bass. Grassy Creek showed some that liked Little George tailspinners or any kind of flashy, easy-casting lure. The bass fishing is perking up now after tough spawning chores are over.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles () — (Williamsburg area) Baby 1-Minus crankbaits and 4-inch plastic worms have resulted in bass along marsh banks and sunken shoreline trees. Bluegill and crappie fishing can be very good.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Whopping blue catfish continue to be taken, including several in the 50-pound range. One recent flathead catfish weighed 35 pounds, but bass hookups are not as easy.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas are active with catches. For example, angler Luis Torres fished on the banks of the South Fork of the river near VFW Post 1860, when he hooked and landed a 27-pound, 37½-inch-long carp. Front Royal’s Dick Fox says, “There are some nice walleye available. I caught a 4-pounder and the smallmouth bass fishing has been good.”

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Stripers continue to hang around the dam, and the largemouth bass are slowly coming off the beds.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Smallmouth bass will look at tubes, jigs and inline spinners, as well as fly-rod streamers. The weekend will offer great fishing.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says surf fishermen find some impressive striped bass along the beaches, although it is generally agreed that this kind of fishing is slowing down now. Inside the Ocean City Inlet, anglers connect on flounder when clear water is present. Good flounder fishing now stretches from the inlet up to the Route 90 bridge, reports Lockwood. Drifting along the channel areas inside the inlet with a bottom rig baited with squid can bring some surprises. In the waters behind the Ocean City inlet, flounder, sea trout and croakers are possible, while offshore wrecks turn up sea bass. The Hot Dog area east of Ocean City gives up various sizes of bluefish. Distant offshore runners are looking for action at the Baltimore and Washington canyons, but thus far have not done well while yellowfin tunas and small bluefin tunas are hooked around Poorman’s Canyon.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Spadefish are caught at the Chesapeake Light Tower, 11 miles east of Virginia Beach’s Rudee Inlet. Red drum (channel bass) fishing is on fire, says Ken Neill, with the best location being the seaside of Fishermen’s and Smith Islands. Offshore action at the Norfolk Canyon is good. The area is loaded with bluefin and yellowfin tuna of mixed sizes, and a few dolphinfish are also hooked. Closer to land, chopper bluefish are available. Flounder fishermen from Chincoteague to Wachapreague are doing only fair. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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