- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

From the Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, proprietor Ken Lamb says you can catch rockfish in deep and shallow water as they’re feeding and breaking atop the water, tearing things up most everywhere. Even shorebound anglers have connected with Sassy Shads, surface plugs and spoons. Either way, stripers can be found in Southern Maryland waters during the falling tides in the mouth of the creeks. One of the producers nowadays also is the rock pile at the old Cedar Point Lighthouse. Some of the rockfish hooked there have measured 30 inches or better. They, too, like moving tides, early hours, and large surface plugs — as long as the sun isn’t baking the water.

Live-lined whole spot are finding striped bass up and down the Chesapeake Bay’s ship channel from below Thomas Point Lighthouse to the Virginia state line. With the rockfish, expect bluefish to travel with them. Both species, Lamb says, seem to be getting bigger every day.

In the tidal and freshwater rivers of our area, it’s bass fishing time. The smallmouths in the mountains and the largemouths in the lowlands are cooperating nicely. This is a great time of the year to be fishing.

Only the Atlantic Ocean has been a disappointment and that can be blamed on strong recent winds.


POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (…) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) expect slowly improving largemouth bass and catfish chances, perhaps even a few smallmouth bass and walleyes up toward the rocky edges of the falls. Downstream tidal water bass guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) are doing very well on bass, pitching grass frogs and other plastics atop the watery vegetation, then “crashing” soft plastics through the greenery. The edges of spatterdock fields and marsh banks in the creeks also produce, even if you use crankbaits now and then, but soft plastic worms are still best. An interesting side note came from Mike Forsht who said he has been catching bluefish inside Virginia’s Aquia Creek. “I’ve caught them anywhere from 4 inches up to 18 inches,” he wrote, wondering if increased salinity had something to do with that. Bluefish as far up as Wilson Bridge are not unheard of. They usually do not stay long. But another catch that amazed us came from veterinarian Peter Malnati. Last week he hooked a 16-inch-long redfish (red drum) inside the Port Tobacco River. The main stem of the Potomac, by the way, currently is home to lots of small bluefish and slowly increasing keeper rockfish, especially downstream of the Route 301 bridge. Meanwhile, some flounder have shown up again inside the Cornfield Harbor, near Point Lookout.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (..) — Around Quade’s Store in Bushwood on the St. Mary’s County side and on the Charles County side of the river you’ll find some fat white perch and small rockfish, maybe tiny bluefish.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (…) — Good bass catches are made in the grassy pockets of the creek, as well as the edges of marsh banks up and down the creek. The Mattingly Avenue boat ramp is open.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (…) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) delivers sunfish, some scattered crappies and small bass. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) expect increased good bass fishing, with the crappies slowly cooperating in brushy spots. Large sunfish are possible here.

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) give up some hefty bass, catfish and sunnies. These are great places to come with the kids.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (..) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) It’s all about Rocky Gorge and the bass are willing if you are. Remember, this reservoir has bass in it that are dying of old age. Don’t ever think there’s a shortage. Plastic worms and crankbaits, retrieved around underwater obstacles, are the way to go.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (…) — Rockfish are in the river from Sotterly to Sheridan Point and trollers working the edges and dropoffs are getting plenty of action on small spoons and bucktails, says Lexington Park’s Ken Lamb. White perch are taking spinners and Beetlespins in rip-rap and in fallen wood. Small spot and fat perch (maybe an errand rockfish) can be hooked from the Solomons Pier.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (…) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis says, “Things were pretty much the same as last week. Fish soft plastics in deep blowdowns and you’ll find the bass. Same goes for the crappies that hang out in brushy waters. They’re beginning to bite well, too.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (…) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bass are surely in a feeding mode. Visitors in small boats report good action with 4-inch scented worms or small spinnerbaits cast around brushy spots.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (…) — Upper river DNR biologist John Mullican says river flows are low and clear, typical for this time of year. Aquatic vegetation is still abundant, though it is beginning to slowly die. Mullican says walleye and smallmouth bass catches are holding up well. Grubs, jigs, crankbaits and spinners do the job.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (…) — Guide Brent Nelson (410/799-9326, office, or check out fishdeepcreek.com) agrees with the DNR’s Keith Lockwood who said the temperature at the lake is now in the 60s and the fish are starting to enter their fall feeding phase. The largemouths are still hooked under floating docks and moored boats during. Skip various makes of “fat” worms, such as the Senko or the Zero worm from Strike King under the shady hideouts. The deep milfoil weed beds deliver more bass with each passing day and, of course, the northern pike and chain pickerel hang out there as well.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (…) — The Conowingo Dam has been following a fairly consistent schedule of afternoon water releases, said the DNR’s Keith Lockwood. Bass fishing has been fine inside the river, around blowdowns and marina docks and dropoffs. Soft plastics are the top attractors. Catfish, however, enjoy a chunk of cut spot or clam snout. This is especially true above Port Deposit near the Conowingo Dam where plenty of channel cats hang out.


MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (…) — Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina on St Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County (www.buzzsmarina.com) said, “The Point No Point lighthouse has been a great spot for rockfish and blues, as have the Middlegrounds and the Point Lookout area. Live lining spot has been the key this week for the bigger stripers and blues. We’ve been selling live spot and can barely keep them in stock. Everyone who has tried it has had a great time and caught a lot of fish. The flounder are still here, especially in the St. Jerome’s Creek mouth where live minnows can do the job, but drifted bucktails or even artificial Fishbites catch some. Meanwhile, Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, agrees and he adds that bluefish and rockfish appear to be getting bigger every day. In fact, some of the live spot drifters connect on fish along the edges of the ship channel from below Thomas Point clear down to the Virginia state line. The fishing has been wonderful, but one charter captain told me he and his fellow captains aren’t getting nearly as many bookings this year than they did in years past.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (…) — Virginia boaters find breaking schools of bluefish and rockfish almost anywhere in their portion of the bay, especially between the Potomac’s Smith Point and the Rappahannock’s Windmill Point. Topwater lure casters can connect, as do trollers and live-liners who use small, live spot. In the lower parts of the bay, around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, it’s spadefish, sheepshead and bluefish, maybe some flounder, mostly around the bridge-tunnel’s islands and bridge abutments.


CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (…) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) The Cambridge area has been slow, but not so in the mouth of the river where rockfish and bluefish hold court at various times of the day and night.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (…) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Bass catches have been fine from Snow Hill to Pocomoke City. Use shallow running crankbaits wherever you see sunken brush, trees that have fallen into the river, or the edges and open pockets in the spatterdock.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (…) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Federalsburg ramp on the Marshyhope Creek) The Marshyhope Creek and main-stem waters give up good catches of bass. Use 4-inch scented Power Worms in dark colors and you’ll do fine. Mann’s baby 1-Minus also does a good job around stumps, pilings and blowdowns.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (…) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Earlybird boaters find roving bands of rockfish around the Splits during some mornings and large topwater poppers or sub-surface jerkbaits do the job. The largemouth bass love soft plastics on Carolina rigs or standard Texas rigs in brushpiles and around lake points and rocks.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (…) Tidal water delivers fair to good catches of largemouth bass. Check out the Port Royal to Fredericksburg stretch, but also try it below Port Royal, such as Potobago Bay and Green Bay. Upper river’s smallmouth bass will bite. Waders are scoring with white or chartreuse 1/8-ounce and 1/4-ounce Roadrunner lures, also small crankbaits, one fellow told me.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (…) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Good bass, sunfish and catfish catches are made. Even the crappies are waking up.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (…) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Upper lake has shown bass of note that liked floating worms (no slip sinkers) as well as sub-surface jerkbaits.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (…) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Peahill, Jimmy’s, and Hubquarter creeks have given up some fat bass and a few hefty walleyes, of all things. Early mornings sometimes produce breaking stripers in the main lake.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (…) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Brush piles and other sunken wood have resulted in fine bass catches as jerkbaits, plastic worms and willow-leaf spinnerbaits have scored. Of course, the big catfish continue to willingly take cut baits or whole sunfish.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (…) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Catfish and more catfish. What else can be said about the stretches between Richmond, Dutch Gap, Appomattox, and Walker Creek. Some bass are taken in the creeks below the Appomattox River mouth.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (…) — (Williamsburg area) A few good bass are seen, mostly caught on Power Worms and the like, but there are a lot more small bass than big ones. Catfish and white perch are hungry, too.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (…) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville stretch is fishable. Front Royal angler Dick Fox said, “I got out on the river for several hours Tuesday night and it was on fire; caught nine smallmouth bass between 13 and 16 inches; also had one 18-incher. The water is crystal clear and the water temperature was 64 degrees. Use crankbaits and tubes and make long casts with light line.”

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (..) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Rockfish bite is fair to good, but it’s the bass that have excited locals. The bass are jumping on topwater lures and shallow crankbaits anywhere you can see a stump, old dock, or brushy spot.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (…) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Good smallmouth bass chances now. Get going. The riffles and slow pockets behind rocks are great for casts with tubes or small crankbaits.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (…) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Wind has been a steady problem and last week’s fishing often depended on a small window when boats could head out to offshore canyon fishing grounds where tuna, dolphin, maybe billfish and wahoo are possible. Closer to shore, the wreck fishermen find plenty of seabass, but surf fishing hasn’t been very good because of strong wind and occasional pelting rain.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (…) — Wind has not been kind. It kept a lot of boats from trying the offshore waters. If they go as you read this, there will be tunas, billfish, king mackerel, dolphinfish and sharks. Closer to land, especially around the Chesapeake Light Tower (11 miles east of Rudee Inlet), there will be some amberjacks, bluefish and heaven only knows what else. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

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

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