AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) things are slow, but a few catfish and bass are hooked. As you head downstream into the Wilson Bridge area and to the Maryland and Virginia feeder creeks, things are beginning to perk up. I watched from my boat as fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) had two out-of-town clients aboard his 22-footer. The visitors did fine, hooking a number of bass, including some in the 3-pound-plus range. Their lures: soft plastic worms or 1/4-ounce crawfish-color crankbaits, cast and retrieved alongside weed bed edges and narrow cuts in the vegetation. Below the Route 301 bridge, the chance for trolled-up catches of rockfish and blues increases with every mile you head downstream. Trollers and live-liners connect on fish particularly well from Tall Timbers south to Point Lookout.
WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (**) — This river has seen better fishing days, but perch and catfish are sure things. Rental boaters should check with Quade’s store in Bushwood (301/769-3903).
MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Bass catches have increased. Retrieve small red/brown crankbaits along edges of weed beds or sunken wood. Four-inch finesse worms also do well.
SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (**) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6 east of La Plata) still suffers from heavy algae infestation, says the park’s Anthony Hancock. The fishing has not been good. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5 past Leonardtown to Camp Cosoma Road) an increase in crappie catches has been seen. A few good bass are hooked.
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) are suffering from a lack of rain, but panfish, bass and catfish are taken every day.
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 reports are not good during the low-water dam repair period. You can call Brighton Dam’s visitor center at 301/774-9124 for the latest progress report. Triadelphia’s Green Bridge Road ramp is open, but that’s about it. The water is way down, and so is the fishing.
PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Lexington Park’s Ken Lamb says stripers are breaking at Cedar Point during dusk or dawn. About one in 20 makes the required 18-inch minimum, but live-liners who use spot bait are finding bigger fish above Cove Point. “Speckled and gray sea trout have shown up in the river from the mouth all the way up to Sheridan Point,” Lamb said. “Bottom fishermen using peeler crab baits have caught as many as a dozen per outing.” Don’t forget the perch. You will hook plenty of them in the feeder creeks, plus some puppy drum and tiny speckled trout.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (**) — At Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis said, “The bass bite is picking up. Shaky-head jigs, drop-shot rigs and Texas-rigged soft plastic worms are producing bass in deep blowdowns and in the mouths of long, deep coves. Crappie and catfish are biting well, but there’s one major problem: If the rain stays away, the Fountainhead ramp will be closed to all but canoe/kayak traffic. You can call the Fountainhead marina @ 703/250-9124 for ramp information before going there. The Bull Run and the Lake Ridge ramps are already closed.”
BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (**) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) The lack of rain and low water levels are hurting the fishing, but some bass and crappies are hooked, as are channel catfish.
AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (**) — Low water and heavy weed growth keep many anglers away, but some of the deeper holes do hold smallmouths. They’re as far up as Knoxville and Brunswick in Washington County and as far down as Edwards Ferry in Montgomery County.
DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (***) — Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) says you can hook bass at the edges of grass beds. Use jerkbaits or plastic grubs. Maryland DNR biologist Alan Klotz and his crew have been surveying lake fish populations, and he says you should get out now for good yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed and walleye action along the outer edges of submersed vegetation. He also said a 5-foot draw-down will begin Monday to allow powerhouse turbines be repaired. The work will be done Oct. 21.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) — The DNR’s Keith Lockwood reports low flow conditions in the river, but anglers find a few rockfish at the base of Conowingo Dam and in deep river holes. Try casting topwater lures or Sassy Shads and Bass Kandy. Live-lined perch and eels also work.
AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY
MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — From St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, Christy Henderson (www.buzzsmarina.com) said, “Anglers brought in many 7- to 10-pound bluefish. Large schools were found on Holland Bar and from Buoy 72 down to the Target Ship. Live-lining for rockfish is improving at the Point No Point lighthouse. In fact, the stripers are schooling up in 17 feet of water from Point No Point to Point Lookout. There were some good catches of trout at Kedges Straits up to 22 inches, and some croakers also were mixed in. The flounder are in Cornfield Harbor, and the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek in pretty good numbers.” From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb reported that schools of big channel bass (red drum, redfish) have been found below and east of the Target Ship and in the Mud Leads. Trolled spoons can do the job. You can keep one redfish a day that measures between 18 and 27 inches. Heading up the bay as far as the Chester River’s Love Point, expect bluefish from two to eight pounds that will attack a trolled surgical tubing lure or chrome spoons. Small rockfish also cooperate.
VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — In the Northern Neck, charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (www.captbillyscharters.com) continues to whack the bluefish and even some Spanish mackerel. From Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, we hear that large spot, puppy drum, bluefish, croakers and rockfish have taken up position inside the James River. The fishing has been great. In fact, puppy drum (juvenile redfish) seem to be everywhere this year. Around the Bay Bridge-Tunnel’s pilings and islands, expect flounder and some spadefish. Virginia’s fall striper regulations have been set, with the Chesapeake opening today. Two rockfish a person will be legal with a “no-take” slot limit between 28 and 34 inches. One of your two fish may be over 34 inches. From Dec. 10 through Dec. 31 you will be allowed only one fish a person.
AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.
CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Plenty of bluefish and sub-legal rockfish action in and around the mouth. Denton region shows bass that like spinnerbaits and soft plastics.
POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Outgoing tides have been kind to bass anglers using shallow crankbaits and Senk-style worms.
NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313 or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside Federalsburg).
AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA
LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) The lake water level is down about three feet, and some of the bassboaters bust their props if they cut a corner too sharply. Jim Kundreskas and his wife caught more than 60 crappies in an area known as the Horseshoe up in the North Anna branch, which is loaded with brushpiles. The crappies struck jigs; minnows weren’t needed. The bass, meanwhile, are taking jig’n’craws, plastic worms and grubs on underwater humps and long points.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (**) The upper river continues to be low and slow, with bass bites few and far between. The tidal parts below Fredericksburg aren’t much better, but the catfish are willing if you are.
LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (*) — (Route 793 off Route 29) Low water means low fishing success.
LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Bassboaters like early and late hours when the fishing is good with topwater poppers and buzzbaits around creek corners and uplake grass edges. Soft plastics work after the sun rises.
KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Deep-running crankbaits have been the better lures to find a good largemouth now and then. Even the crappies are deep — in up to 25 feet of main-lake water. Water levels are down by as much as six feet.
JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (**) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) There’s catfish around Dutch Gap but not much else right now.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) Not much happening right now, but the catfish often save the day. They like cut fish baits or liver strips.
AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA
SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (..) — (Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas) We need rain up here. Smallmouth bass catches are slow, but sunfish and catfish are hooked.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122 east of Roanoke) Water levels are down, and some boat ramps are iffy. The banks of feeder creeks, as well as the lower lake area, are good for rockfish and bass. The stripers like trolled umbrella-rigged Sassy Shads.
UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6 south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Hard or soft jerkbaits do the job on smallmouths. Even topwater poppers and prop baits work.
AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN
MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) Changing tides can be good for flounder seekers, but that won’t last much longer up here in Ocean City. The inlet shows scattered blues, tautog and a few flounder, while surf fishermen find bluefish on mullet baits. Matthew Hamilton won the recent Harbor Tackle catch-and-release red drum tournament with a 47½-pound redfish caught on a menhaden head in the Assateague surf. Wind has been tough on offshore boaters, yet there are false albacore and yellowfin tunas out there.
VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Julie Ball reports that the fall red drum fishing is gaining momentum in the lower bay and coastal waters. Big channel bass are taken by surf and pier anglers from the Little Island Fishing Pier and the Seagull Fishing Pier, where a Norfolk angler caught and released a 49-inch red this week. Speckled trout are in Rudee Inlet, with scattered fish averaging 22 to 24 inches. Offshore action includes white and blue marlin, with swordfish on the upswing near the northern side of the Norfolk Canyon. Some tuna also are available. For more information go to www.drjball.com. For charters, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/491-8000.
Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.