- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2008

It all depends on whom you ask when you want to know whether Tropical Storm Hanna and its sometimes heavy rains affected the local fishing.

If it’s a bass angler who prefers the upper tidal Potomac River, you’ll receive generally good reports. In fact, some of the Potomac bass catches are as good right now as they were before dour predictions of Hanna’s damaging rain and wind.

On the other hand, Chesapeake Bay fishermen on one side say the catches of bluefish, rockfish and Spanish mackerel are holding up well, while a few charter fishing captains say the mackerel are on their way out, along with croakers and Norfolk spot.

The fact of the matter is that the weekend will deliver good to excellent Bay fishing, but if nights turn seriously cooler, yes, there’ll be a small exodus of the warm-water species, like the mackerel. But they haven’t really disappeared yet.

If you happen to find kind winds and fairly smooth boating in the Atlantic, which is possible, you’ll also find offshore action, including false albacore, blackfin and bluefin tunas and a good number of dolphins, with inshore and backwater catches of flounder and an assortment of sand sharks, kingfish and a few bluefish in the surf waters from Delaware to Virginia Beach.

On a separate, but equally important note, if you didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting in Annapolis regarding the draft management objectives for the recreational yellow perch fishery and draft recreational management options for 2009 and beyond you can still provide input that the DNR says it will consider. You may request a list of management options and send your recommendations by Sept. 24 to Rick Morin, [email protected] If you have questions, call 410/260-8272.

Here is this week’s fishing outlook:

(Ratings key: ****=excellent fishing; ***;=Good; **Fair; *;=Poor.)


POTOMAC RIVER: *** — Ray Fletcher of Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) said the rain really didn’t amount to much as far as upstream runoff is concerned. “The river looks good and there are largemouth and smallmouth bass caught along with the always present catfish,” he said. Downstream it’s much of a similar story. The weed-infested waters of the Potomac are fishable and show few signs of recent heavy rains, but in a few open water areas there is some discoloration. Bass, however, can be caught on soft plastics and topwater grass frogs or poppers from the Piscataway down to the Aquia creeks. If it’s rockfish you’re after, there have been legal-size stripers hooked by trollers and lure casters from outside the Port Tobacco River mouth downstream to St. Clements and beyond. Reader Rick Roselle said the flounder fishing was fantastic around Piney Point’s Steuart loading pier before Hanna blew into town, but there is no reason why they should not still be there. The same holds for the rockfish, blues and flounder from Tall Timbers to Point Lookout. I believe the weekend will be fine if the wind allows a small boat out onto the water.

WICOMICO RIVER:** — A few rockfish are taken by slow-trollers using relatively small bucktails and light weight just outside the mouth of the river. White perch are plentiful inside.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: *** — Wacky-rigged or straight Texas-rigged plastic worms will find bass along marsh bank dropoffs during outgoing tides. Try also grass frogs and surface popper lures when the sun is hidden in the clouds.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: ***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) will provide decent sunfish catches, but also a few good bass.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: ** — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127). If there’s water discoloration it should be good and fishable by the weekend — unless more heavy rain comes along. Either way, bass and catfish will be hooked by skilled anglers.

WSSC RESERVOIRS:**(Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) There’s some murky water in the upper ends of the lakes, but bass will take plastic worms, medium depth crankbaits and occasionally even topwater lures in the backs of deep coves and around lake points, as well as sunken wood.

PATUXENT RIVER: *** — Lexington Park’s Ken Lamb reports that spot are still in the mouth of the river at Sandy Point, the “SE” marker out of Solomons and on the Chinese Muds, while white perch and small puppy drum can be found in most of the creeks. There’ll be some legal stripers in the river channel above the Route 4 bridge.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: **From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) ranger Smokey Davis said, “The severe weather left the reservoir 5 to 6 feet above normal pool and full of debris. It was so bad we did not even rent boats over the weekend. For the next few days fishermen should use extreme caution when launching and running their [own] boats. Many objects, slightly below the surface of the water, are present and can cause major damage to boats and motor props. It will take a few days for things to settle down, but then I expect the bass fishing to be very good.”

BURKE LAKE: ** — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) There’ll be some nice bass taken on medium crankbaits and soft plastics this weekend. This lake is not nearly as affected by heavy rains as some other bodies of water.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: ***Good chances for hooking a smallmouth bass, channel catfish or red-breasted sunfish this weekend. Tropical Storm Hanna did not seriously affect the river. Lots of grass is in the river from far western Maryland down to Montgomery County, but tubes and short plastic worms will get them.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: *** — Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) says the bass fishing has improved with the arrival of cooler night temperatures. “I’m finding some well-fed smallmouth and largemouth bass,” he said. By the way, the Deep Creek Lake State Park boat ramp will be closed to the public from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sept. 21 because of the SavageMan Triathlon at the Deep Creek State Park boat ramp area. You might as well skip the whole deal because there’ll be all kinds of delays and congestion even after the ramp opens again.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: **There was some water released through the Conowingo Dam when Tropical Storm Hanna passed through, but the fishing below the dam has seen better days. Again, check the Susquehanna Flats for a fair presence of largemouth bass. Use soft jerkbaits, weedless plastic worms and grass rats.


MARYLAND: ***The Bay above the Route 50 bridges offers fair to good fishing for bluefish and rockfish. Yes, some of these fish are on the small side, but they’re willing to strike trolled lures or bottom-fished bloodworm or crab baits, as well as live-lined spot. From Thomas Point and Poplar Island on down the Bay toward Chesapeake Beach and Deale, expect much the same action, but you’ll also haul in Spanish mackerel that like those twirling Clarke spoons. Croakers continue to be found in the deeper holes of the Bay, including some parts of the Choptank River mouth. In the lower Maryland parts of the Bay, Ken Lamb, of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box, says, “Tropical Storm Hanna turned into a rainy, windy day that spoiled all fishing on Saturday. Sunday was lovely and rockfish, bluefish and mackerel were active just east of the Gas Docks where trollers found 2- to 4-pound bluefish, mackerel up to 24 inches long, and rockfish up to 28 inches.”

/b75-150 miles ()

*** — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) Pretty much the same story as last week, even after the storm came through. There’ll be snapper bluefish and stripers in the mouth of the river, but upstream waters are not showing much of anything and that includes the bass.

>b/b140-170 miles ()

*** — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside Federalsburg) There was discolored water earlier this week; don’t know how it will affect weekend bass catches, but bet the fishing will be OK along fallen brush and trees, spatterdock fields, and bridge abutments up near Seaford, Del.

>b/bb/b82 miles () —

***There’ll be some discolored water, but we’re told that the rains could have done a lot more damage than they did. Smallmouths might cooperate around the Rapidan junction this weekend, with tidal water largemouth bass going after finesse worms and spinnerbaits in the general Hicks Landing area.

>b/b59 miles ()

*** — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Bass are possible in stained water; so are the catfish.

>b/b179 miles () —

*** — (Route 58, Clarksville) Water is stained, but large catfish and bass up to 4 pounds are definitely possible here. The Clarksville area is very fishable.

>b/b115 miles () —

***— (Williamsburg area) A few good stringers of bass are seen now and then, but too many bass boaters complain that bass sizes leave a lot to be desired.

>b/bb/b75-85 miles ()

*** — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Some of the nighttime rockfish have turned on and bottom-fished live shiners, herring, perch or sunfish are doing the job. The bass like scented 4-inch worms and even a smartly retrieved medium diver crankbait.


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