- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina, along St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, a few days ago wrote that live-lining spot was still the ticket to catch rockfish and bait-robbing bluefish. But that was before the deep-freeze occurred.

OK, so it wasn’t a real nasty hard frost, but I’ll wager it was good enough to chase out whatever remained of Norfolk spot schools. If so, there goes the best bait for live-lining rockfish.

Either way, now is a great time for catching stripers and quite a few blues up to six pounds. Charter fishing captain Greg Buckner, who comes out of Calvert Marina in Solomons, called to say he’s into so many rockfish and blues it’s almost unbelievable. Meanwhile, Christy said the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek and the not-too-distant Point No Point Lighthouse have been good producers. The St. Jerome’s Creek mouth, as a matter of fact, has also delivered flounder. They shouldn’t be around much longer, though.

The tidal Potomac River’s bass hounds will encounter ever-increasing patches of floating marine grasses now as the wild celery, milfoil and hydrilla dies off in many areas. Don’t let that stop you from going after the largemouths, however. River bass guide Andy Andrzejewski has been catching feisty bass on soft plastics, including Zoom finesse worms in red bug or red shad colors. When the sun begins to warm the water, there’s still a chance to get them on topwater poppers and spinnerbaits, but also Norman’s Baby N crankbait. Whatever grass beds are still around, they continue to hold quality bass, but look for a good many of the fish to move to sunken wood and rocks now.

In the mountain rivers, smallmouth bass fishing will be impeded by dying weeds and falling leaves, but Shenandoah River fan Dick Fox over the past weekend was hooking smallmouth bass, including one that measured 19 inches. Similar successes are had in the upper Potomac, Rappahannock and Susquehanna.

E-mail Gene Mueller at [email protected]

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461), expect good catfish and bass action while the tidal water bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) still find aggressive largemouths along slowly disintegrating weed beds, but increasingly also in sunken wood, blowdowns and rock piles. Finesse worms, some topwater lure fishing, as well as medium-depth crankbaits can deliver the goods from the Fox Ferry rockline near Wilson Bridge down to all the feeder creeks and bays, including the Piscataway, Pomonkey, Pohick Bay, Chicamuxen, Powell, Quanitco, Potomac and Aquia. In the slightly more brackish waters around the Route 301 bridge south to the St. Clements Island area and on to St. George’s and Blackistone islands, Tall Timbers, Smith Creek area and finally the Point Lookout stretch on the Maryland side of the river, and the Virginia side from Coan River to Smith Point, all turn up some rockfish now and then. Many can be cast for with spinning or casting rods loaded with 12- to 14-pound line and holding a Rat-L-Trap lure.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (..) — Not many fish are seen, but the buoy rocks at the river entrance have been holding a few hungry rockfish.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Blowdown trees in the creek, along with sharply dropping marsh edges, are the secret to catching bass. Plastic worms or small crankbaits work well.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (..) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) and St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) have seriously slowed up in the fishing department.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (…) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117, near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) have bass that are trying to fatten up for the coming winter, so get going. Use soft plastics and spinnerbaits, as well as small crankbaits.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (..) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Triadelphia is still closed; Rocky Gorge water levels are down. Boating has been tough for car-topper users. Crappies are biting, however. Find a bit of waterlogged brush and dangle a small white shad dart or grub in the maze. The crappies will do the rest.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said rockfish have been very active in the river. Trollers who use silver, gold, or white Tony 15 spoons were catching plenty of rockfish up to 25 inches. “We had a 24-inch rockfish caught off the beach at Cedar Point last Sunday,” said Lamb, who also pointed out that snapper bluefish have been active on the Cedar Point Rip. Lamb also reported that good white perch fishing is possible in the creeks during high tides. “The perch were in the deeper dropoffs along sandbars instead of in the shoreline cover,” he said. Lamb uses orange, green or black 1/4-ounce Beetlespin spinnerbaits tipped with a small piece of bloodworm-flavored artificial Fish Bites.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (..) — At Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis says, “There’s nothing earthshaking to report about the bass over the past few days. The catfish bite has been good and the crappies have schooled up again and are being taken on small minnows around brush piles and in blowdowns. All of the action seems to be in the main lake. The coves have not produced much.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (..) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bass fishing slowed a bit, but that’s not to say it has stopped. Sudden cold snaps sometimes put a damper on the fish for a day or two, then they will perk up and go nuts about a spinnerbait or a hard jerkbait, such as a Rapala or Rebel minnow.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (…) — Expect good smallmouth chances from Knoxville to Dickerson, but casting and retrieving lures might be a chore because of slowly dying weeds and falling leaves.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) reports that water temperatures are changing quickly now, but in many cases that can actually improve walleye smallmouth bass and even some largemouth bass fishing. The yellow perch are inhaling nightcrawler chunks fished a couple of feet under a bobber. The DNR’s Keith Lockwood reminds us that anglers in the Deep Creek Lake area and the western regions streams and rivers have been enjoying good trout fishing. Fall trout fishing is in full swing now. Several streams managed as Put and Take Trout Fishing Areas have been stocked with rainbows, including Bear Creek, upper Savage River, Wills Creek and Evitts Creek. The Delayed Harvest Areas of Town Creek, the Casselman River, and the North Branch Potomac River also have been stocked recently and should provide good fishing right through the fall season.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — A few rockfish are showing up at the mouth of the river, but numbers still leave a little to be desired. White perch, largemouth bass, a few smallmouths, and channel catfish are found from Port Deposit down to Havre de Grace. The Susquehanna Flats shows a smattering of stripers and some bass.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — From the Virginia state line on up to and beyond the Route 50 Bay Bridges, near Annapolis, the fishing for striped bass and fat bluefish has been fine. Christy Henderson (www.buzzsmarina.com) reminds us that Southern Maryland hot spots include the Point No Point Lighthouse and the sunken barges where Woodrow Wilson Bridge rubble was dumped, also an area below Buoy 72, and the Southwest Middlegrounds. Bluefish are averaging four to six pounds, especially when you fish in a chum slick. Even Henderson’s own St. Jerome’s Creek has seen rockfish and flounder catches at the mouth where it joins the Chesapeake Bay. “This has been a great fall so far for fishing, unlike last October when you could rarely find a day the wind wasn’t blowing,” she said. In the upper bay, anglers working the area from Baltimore to the Bay Bridge are finding a good mix of rockfish and snapper blues. The same holds for bay areas that include Deale, Chesapeake Beach, Tilghman Island’s deeper water and the dropoffs near Poplar Island.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Down in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay, the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association’s Ken Neill says, “Before the blow, fishing was excellent. As the waters clear up, the speckled trout bite should pick back up. Striped bass fishing will do nothing but continue to get better. Flounder fishing along the channels at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay should be good by this weekend. Flounder fishing around the ocean wrecks should be productive as well.” Meanwhile, in the upper Chesapeake parts in Virginia, rely on plenty of rockfish, including soon-to-arrive ocean stripers. That will happen especially in November, but some can arrive this month.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The mouth of the river holds plenty of rockfish, although not every day is very productive. The fish are here and all it takes is a bit of work. Bass anglers in the upper Choptank can do quite well around Denton and above.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Good bass fishing now in all portions, from Snow Hill to Pocomoke City. Shallow and medium depth crankbaits, as well as scented plastics, will do the job.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) Bass fishermen score in the Marshyhope and other river creeks. The rockfish are also willing if you work a hard jerkbait or Rat-L-Trap below the Vienna area. Look for river points early in the day and start zipping those lures toward the edges of the points — and hold on.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (..) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) With the arrival of a bit of a frost, we expect the striper and bass fishing to perk up. The bass will move into blowdowns and around heat-holding rocky edges of lake points where jerkbaits, shallow crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms will find them.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (…) The water looked a little murky when I drove across the Port Royal Bridge a few days ago, but reports of bass catches continue from up above the Hicks Landing sector. Plastic worms still are the best bet. Smallmouth bass catches will be fine above Fredericksburg this weekend unless heavy rains arrive. I think you’ll do fine.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Crappies, bass and catfish are willing if you are. Even fat sunfish are biting well if you present them a bit of worm bait under a cork.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (…) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass have been frisky around lake points and blowdowns, also edges of grassbeds. Plastic worms and shallow crankbaits are called for. Catfish like clam necks.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bassboaters are happy as the largemouths are chasing after crankbaits and spinner baits in the upper lake. Watch for dying grass now as many of the bass will leave the oxygen-depleting erstwhile greenery and move to wood or stones in the creeks.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Crappies, catfish and bass — in that order. Local fishermen are quite satisfied during those cool October days.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) The blue catfish bite is still on, never fear. The Dutch Gap area and portions of downstream waters around the Appomattox River mouth can deliver.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (…) — (Williamsburg area) Catfish and bass are biting in the upper river. Some scattered rockfish have been seen inside the river as they jumped on bass jerkbaits and such over the past several days.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretch can deliver the goods. Front Royal’s Dick Fox said, “The fishing should be fine if we don’t get a lot of rain by the weekend.” Fox had a 19-inch smallmouth take a bottom-fished grub a few days ago. That’s a good “brown fish” anywhere.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (…) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Rockfish catches are holding up and so is the bassin’, say local boaters. Colder weather put them in a biting mood.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (..) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Slowly, the smallmouth bass catches are getting better.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Ocean fishing hasn’t been much to write home about. Because of strong winds a lot of the outings were cancelled, but now the sea bass will be hooked on the nearby ocean wrecks and offshore waters will see one last hurrah as dolphinfish depart, but tunas and wahoos are still around. Surf catches have been poor because of powerful winds.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association said, “Flounder fishing around the ocean wrecks should be productive [along with sea bass]. Big red drum should be available in the Sandbridge area. Offshore, I expect the excellent tuna and wahoo fishing that we were having will be right back [after recent heavy winds].” For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.


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