Thursday, October 2, 2008

After the weekend rain and wind, you might have expected the Potomac River to become murky and the fish to get lockjaw, but nothing could be further from the truth. The largemouth bass of the tidal Potomac have tied on the feed bag, so to speak. If you can’t get a bite, you’re using the wrong lures or you’re fishing in the wrong area.

On Wednesday, two of us began the morning in the Mattawoman Creek amid a high tide, which normally is not recommended. Yet we found some 20 bass using 3/8-ounce Thin-Fin crankbaits in chrome with a blue back. All we did is cast the lures toward a flooded shore or open lane in the hydrilla and milfoil beds, turn the reel handle three times, then allow the lure to rise to the top. If nothing happened, we repeated the three handle turns. By the second or third time, a bass had slammed into the lure.

The same thing happened in Belmont Bay over on the Virginia side of the river and back across in Maryland inside the Chicamuxen Creek, where we also had a buzzbait and wacky-rigged worm bite.

From here on, the fishing only will get better until several hard frosts arrive and the weeds and spatterdock die. Then we will work lures around boat docks, sunken wood and shoreline drops along creek marsh banks. Either way, the fishing in the tidal Potomac, Virginia’s Rappahannock and Chickahominy or the Eastern Shore’s Choptank, Nanticoke and Pocomoke rivers never comes to a complete halt.

-Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box said, “The bluefish are just about everywhere, biting anything in sight. Trollers have found bluefish from 5 to 10 pounds from Buoy 72 to below the Target Ship. Surgical eels are effective and durable lures for the bluefish. There are many big red drum swimming around with the blues in the lower bay.”

Lamb also said surf-casters have found good action off the beaches and piers in the bay and up in the lower ends of the rivers like the Patuxent, where falling tides in the mouth near the West Basin of the Naval Air Station produce bluefish and some rockfish.

If it’s flounder you want, they are fairly abundant on the ledges and dropoffs along the ship channel, the Potomac’s Cornfield Harbor and at Point Lookout.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Keith Lockwood said Chesapeake Bay anglers find a mix of bluefish and striped bass chasing baitfish from above Cove Point toward the Susquehanna.

“Fishermen are either casting to breaking fish or jigging underneath [them] with excellent results,” he said.

-Ranger Smokey Davis said medium-depth crankbaits in shad or crawfish patterns will attract bass up to 3 pounds in the Fountainhead Park area of the reservoir.

“Some fine crappies were taken off the pier and boardwalk on medium-size minnows under a bobber, but you must get there early,” Davis said. “The catfish bite remains strong, with chicken livers, cut bait and clam snouts doing the trick. The reservoir is still at full pool, slightly stained, with surface temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s.”

-Dick Fox of Front Royal sent an e-mail that said: “Just got drenched on the river. However, the fish are biting and starting their fall migration. We caught smallies where there were very few bites a couple of weeks ago. Tubes with chartruese dye on end has been best for us. The river is up about a 1 1/2 feet, and it’s stained.”

-The crappie fishing has seen a bit of an upswing in the upper lake, and largemouth bass are willing to look at jigs, grubs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits pretty much all over the impoundment. The Jetts Island and Rose Valley areas have been good starter spots for those seeking stripers. Topwater poppers and Zara Spooks will see action if you happen to run into a feeding school before the sun rises.

-Starting Saturday, fishermen who troll or cast lures in Virginia’s part of the Chesapeake Bay will be allowed to keep two rockfish a day from 18 to 28 inches long. One of the two fish may be 34 inches or longer, but no fish between 28 and 34 inches in length may be kept. Those stripers right now are stacked along the James River crossings.

cLook for Gene Mueller‘s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: Also check out Gene Mueller’s more detailed Weekend Fishing Report and his Inside Outside blog at

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