- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb said special cash awards for the first 10 big stripers brought into the store during Saturday’s opening day of the Maryland trophy rockfish season were paid out by 11 a.m.

“Great weather and an abundance of big rockfish made for a great opening day,” Lamb said.

The large stripers, which must be 28 inches or longer, showed up in fine numbers not only in the St. Mary’s County portions of the Chesapeake Bay but also in the lower Potomac River as far up as Stewart’s Pier and the St. George’s Island. Even the public Point Lookout State Park pier proved productive, as did the PAX River Naval Air Station’s shorelines.

Up and down the Chesapeake, trollers used umbrella rigs, parachute lures, bucktails and chrome or white spoons on long leader lines that forced the lures to ride fairly high in the water column.

Lamb also said the croakers are increasingly hooked in the Potomac’s Wicomico feeder river. At Quade’s Store in Bushwood (St. Mary’s County), George Quade said boaters within earshot of the launch ramp have been finding the “hardheads” along with catfish and white perch. Meanwhile, the Patuxent’s main stem outside Clark’s Landing has turned up croakers and a few decent white perch.

Reader Mike Mattia, who spends his fishing time in the middle and upper Chesapeake, said the start of rockfish season was one of the most crowded he can recall.

“A long-legged fellow could have walked across the Bay from boat to boat if he had a mind to,” said Mattia, who agreed that long after daybreak the rockfish finally began to cooperate. Mattia and Co. returned to home port smiling. There were fish fillets on the “barbie” that evening.

Excellent tidal bass catches — Anybody willing to sling a lure known as a Chatter Bait or Strike King’s Pure Poison (they look the same) will get strikes from bass that hang out among emerging aquatic grasses in the upper tidal Potomac and any number of its feeder creeks.

If the vibrating, wobbling lures — the best colors have been blue/black — don’t produce quickly enough, switch to a plastic craw or fringed tube in brown or dark blue, or maybe a shallow Baby 1-Minus crankbait in red or blue/chrome. We’ve done very well on all these lures in the Mattawoman Creek while other anglers report fine catches from as far up as Broad and Piscataway creeks on the Maryland shore down to Virginia’s Aquia Creek. Some of Potomac’s bass now are spawning, but many haven’t even started yet.

Upper Potomac fishing on hold — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ upper river biologist, John Mullican, says this week’s fishing in Washington County and below should be put on hold. The river is high, muddy and not the safest body of water to be on. But the DNR reminds trout anglers that Friends, Fishing and Owens creeks in Frederick County are well stocked.

Occoquan bass spawn stops — From Fountainhead Regional Park along the Occoquan Reservoir, ranger Smokey Davis said the bass had just begun to pair up in the creeks and coves to begin spawning when heavy rains arrived.

“After 3-plus inches of rain the reservoir is currently high and muddy and full of debris. These conditions will slow the bass bite, but the catfish could really fire up,” Davis said. He knows clam snouts, chicken livers or cut bait will find the “cats.” Crappies are scattered all over, but bluegills consistently take wax worms off the pier and boardwalk.

Gaston and Kerr bass bite — Marty Magone has been whipping up on the bass at Lake Gaston, even hooking two bass at the same time when he popped a Chug Bug surface lure this week. Bass boaters at the neighboring Kerr Reservoir (aka Buggs Island Lake) are finding bass in flooded brush, or on lake and creek points. Spawning is almost over for many.

Oceanside fishing picks up — In Ocean City, Md., flounder catches are noticed, as they are in Wachapreague, Va., and down inside the Chesapeake at the Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Offshore catches of sea bass, tautog and snowy grouper are delighting Virginia boaters. It’s time for black drum catches in Cape Charles.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.


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