- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2009

Largemouth bass that thrive in the tidal Potomac River between the District and western Charles County don’t care if it’s hot and humid. The “bite” continues throughout the upper tidal portions of the river, with the fish readily striking topwater lures in the early hours, followed by soft plastics after sunrise.

Surface poppers and buzzbaits attract strikes in the Wilson Bridge area and wherever else you can find submersed aquatic vegetation in that part of the river down to Virginia’s Aquia Creek and even southern Maryland’s Nanjemoy Creek. The Nanjemoy has been a stinker over the past several months but now is giving up a few good largemouths. Don’t forget to try a wacky-rigged “fat” worm, such as the Zero or Senko, along the shorelines or weed bed edges. Bonus catches from Dogue Creek to Occoquan Bay and into Maryland’s Pomonkey Creek include feisty northern snakeheads, all of them filled with teeth and some with lots of roe. Be sure to kill those you catch, and do not throw them back into the river.

In the Chesapeake Bay, a mix of bluefish and striped bass is available from the Northern Neck of Virginia up to Maryland’s Chesapeake Beach and beyond. More bluefish are hooked every day.

Have the snakeheads arrived in Riverdale? Reader Chris Flurer of Lanham fished in a tiny Riverdale creek that is probably a feeder to the Anacostia River when he saw a Chinese snakehead in less than 3 feet of water. Flurer stuck with casting a nightcrawler bait to the snakehead, and the fish eventually inhaled it. “The fight was so wild,” wrote Flurer, who included a photo of the tooth-laden 6-pounder. It was a female filled with roe. Flurer took it home and had the fillets for dinner.

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


TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: 0-35 miles (***) — At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) Ray Fletcher said: “We’re in the same summer fishing pattern as last week. Most of the catches involve catfish — some of them truly big ones — and once in a while someone comes in and shows us a walleye or two that was caught.” In the river below town, the largemouth bass fishing can range from good to fantastic. It all depends on how much you know about tidal movements (outgoing tides can be best) and how to use a wacky-rigged plastic worm, a spinnerbait or a topwater popper alongside or in the middle of weedbed pockets. The fishing has been fine, and there’s a good chance that you’ll hook a snakehead on a bass lure. I did it in Belmont Bay this week when a snakehead snatched up my wacky-rigged Zero worm. All the upper tidal Potomac’s feeder creeks are giving up bass. Use topwater poppers early in the day or when it’s overcast, then switch to soft plastics, spinnerbaits and occasionally a shallow-running crankbait. Around the Route 301 bridge and downstream of it, the trolling of small bucktails and spoons can result in keeper-size rockfish. I chatted with one fellow who trolled bucktails along a channel edge near Tall Timbers and said he had seven rockfish, all but two measuring well over the minimum 18-inch size. Meanwhile, there’s a chance of hooking small bluefish, occasionally some that weigh 4 and 5 pounds, from around the Smith Creek mouth to the river’s meeting with the Chesapeake. The Cornfield Harbor area continues to hold flounder, spot and a few croakers.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (**) — The white perch outnumber the croakers if you fish during bright light, but catches of croakers improve after sunset.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Grass beds and shoreline wood, as well as marsh bank drop-offs, hold bass. Finesse worms, wacky-rigged “fat” worms, various plastic craws in green pumpkin, or spinnerbaits will do the job. But don’t miss out on the surface action when the sun isn’t up.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) is showing the effects of hot weather. Even the bluegills aren’t all that cooperative. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) the early hours are fair to good for bass and sunfish, but it isn’t red-hot.

LITTLE SENECA LAKE: 30 miles (***) — Black Hill Regional Park (off Route 117 near Boyds, 301/972-9396) and the nearby Seneca Creek Lake (Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, 301/924-2127) will give up a few bass, plenty of sunfish and a feisty catfish now and then, but try to fish when the sun isn’t high up in the sky.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Deep-fished plastic worms around sunken rocks and wood will result in bites from bass. The crappies have not been in a biting mood, but sunfish can be caught.

BALTIMORE AREA RESERVOIRS: 50-75 miles (***) — Prettyboy Lake is on Route 137; Liberty is on Oakland Road in Eldersburg, Carroll County.) Fish early or late. Crank a crawfish-pattern lipped lure around either of the lakes’ rock formations and see if a smallmouth bass won’t pick it up. Largemouth bass like all brown or black/blue jig’n’craws or jig’n’pigs.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — Ken Lamb said spot, croakers, perch and rockfish are thick in the mouth of the river. Trollers using small bucktails and spoons are getting their limit of stripers. Some croakers and rockfish are taken in the river upstream of the Route 4 bridge and white perch are in all the creeks.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — Fountainhead Park ranger Smokey Davis said: “Get on the water as early as possible and throw surface baits on the flats bordering main-lake points. Some heavy fish were reported over the past week. Bluegill- and crawdad-color crankbaits worked well in the river section of the reservoir above the splits shortly after sunrise. Lots of small crappies are being taken on minnows off the pier. The water temperature in the main lake is between 77 and 82 degrees.”

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) The fishing for bass, crappies and sunfish can be good, but the fish (and anglers) are feeling the daytime heat. Try to start as early as possible.


UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — The upper river turns up smallmouth bass, even a walleye now and then, and of course you know that the tiger muskies don’t leave the country in the summertime, so always have a big spinnerbait ready on one rod and throw it to sunken rock piles or fallen trees. You never know what can happen in the waters from Dam No. 4 (above Taylor’s Landing) downstream clear to Lander and into Montgomery County waters.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (***) — Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) said summertime jet skiers and pleasure boaters make weekend fishing a chore now and then, but bass that like tubes skipped under floating docks all around the lake are always available. Night anglers do better on the walleyes.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (**) — Big catfish are biting clam necks or cut herring baits at the bottom of the Conowingo Dam’s spillway. The bass are looking at plastic worms or spinnerbaits in marina docks, underwater rock piles and the dense grass beds of the Susquehanna Flats.


MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — Reporting from his Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb said: “Flounder in good numbers and size are everywhere and the Spanish mackerel have shown up. Trollers of small bucktails and spoons are getting their limit of rockfish near the Gas Docks [above Cove Point] in a matter of minutes. Ditto for live-liners at the [Calvert Cliffs] nuclear plant.” That’s for starters. There are rockfish in the 22- to 24-inch class, along with snapper blues, trolled up as far north as the Love Point area of the Chester River on the Eastern Shore. Croakers and spot are found along the eastern side of the ship channel, but the croaker fishing is best after sunset. The stretch from Hooper’s Island Light down to the Middlegrounds can turn up action, and even the flounder might show up in the same waters. On the subject of flounder, quite a few of legal size, check out the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek, which is between Point No Point and Point Lookout, where rockfish and croaker can be found when the fish gods smile upon you.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — Northern Neck charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (www.captbillyscharters.com) reported that bluefish numbers have been slowly increasing. “Blues in the 2- to 3-pound range are feeding in chum lines between the Northern Neck reef and Buoy 62,” he said. Pipkin also said the bottom fishing has been good. Croakers up to 14 inches, even 18 now and then, are possible in the evenings. The flounder fishing has been strong in the lower Bay near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Closer to the Northern Neck, the best catches remain in the vicinity of the Buoy 42 and Cell area. The lower Tangier Sound also continues to produce some nice flatties. Spadefish are biting at the Cell, Wolftrap Light and some mid-Bay wrecks. Clam baits do well. A 14-pound, 14-ounce spadefish caught at the Cell in June now has been approved as a state record.


CHOPTANK RIVER:120 miles (***) — (Route 50 east to Cambridge) If the tides are right in the early morning or evening hours, you’ll catch croakers perch, spot, maybe even some rockfish, from the Cambridge fishing bridge down to the river mouth. A few nice bass are being hooked above Denton.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) Moving tides are the secret to bass cooperation. Crankbaits, small spinnerbaits and soft plastic worms and craws can work from Snow Hill down to Pocomoke City.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside Federalsburg) Pick the coolest hours of the day and fish with topwater poppers and hard or soft jerkbaits inside the Marshyhope Creek. A reader contacted us and told of a really productive trip, working his lures around myriad stumps and stick-ups in the creek.


LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Jim Hemby of the Lake Anna Striper Guide Service (540/967-3313) said the striper fishing is hotter than a steamy July day. Largemouth bass continue to look at topwater lures around main lake points, flats and humps. The lake’s catfish are found in water as deep as 40 feet. Live bait or cut bait works on the whiskered fish. The crappie picture isn’t as bright, because the speckled fish have gone down into deep water around bridge abutments and brush piles. Finding them can be a chore.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (***) — One tidal water report from a hardworking bass angler said he couldn’t even catch a cold downstream of Port Royal. The state biologists say the bass fishing should be good above Port Royal, and they’re right. Some decent catches are made on soft plastics, rattle baits and spinnerbaits. Upper river smallmouth bass will cooperate this weekend, especially upstream of the Rapidan mouth.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Slow going for all species this week. There’ll be a few bass and sunfish hooked, but it’s not very good right now.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left-turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Word has it that crappies can be caught in up to 15 feet of water alongside the fishing pier and in lake brush piles, while the bass are doing what all bass do these days. Fish topwater lures early and switch to soft plastics after the sun climbs high into the sky.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Topwater poppers do well in the wee hours if it’s largemouth bass you’re after, but switch to Senko or Zero worms as the sun rises and cooks the water. Hawtree Creek continues to deliver good bass action.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Soft plastics and crankbaits are delivering bass around lake points and sunken brush. The crappie bite, as always, is above-average, but be sure to fish in up to 25 feet of water wherever brush piles are found. The catfish jump on bottom-fished cut baits.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Fat, large blue catfish, some of them weighing well over 60 pounds, love to dine on bottom-fished cut bait, even chunks of eel.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) River’s Rest is the place to call if you need information. Call 804/829-2753. The past week has been slow for bass. The sun is baking the water.


SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (***) — (Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas) Front Royal angler Dick Fox said: “The water is low and clear, but in great shape. Lighter line and longer casts, using topwater poppers, spinners, flukes and tubes, are catching smallmouths.”

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) The shallow-water bass bite has been pretty good during the early and late hours, but daytime bassin’ isn’t the best.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Good smallmouth bass fishing is yours this weekend. Soft jerkbaits can do very well, but so can fly anglers’ Damsel patterns in blue or olive, as well as Closer Darters and Minnows.


MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Route 50 to Ocean City) You’ll find flounder in the backwaters of Ocean City, but fair warning: You’ll need to catch 20 before you ever hook one that is legal to keep. The resort city’s inlet shows a nighttime mix of rockfish, tautogs, snapper blues and flounder. Offshore boaters find some tuna, billfish and dolphin in the distant canyon waters, while inshore surf anglers connect on kingfish, snapper blues, skates and a few sand sharks.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association member Ken Neill said: “Bluefin tuna in the 150-pound class are enticing anglers to the Hot Dog, 26 Mile Hill and the Fingers. There are also plenty of bluefin in the 40- to 60-pound range.” These areas also turn up dolphinfish and king mackerel with yellowfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo, billfish and the occasional bigeye tuna coming along farther out. “The amberjack at the South Tower remain very plentiful and active,” said Neill, adding, “Spadefish have slowed down at the Chesapeake Light Tower.” For charter bookings, check with 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: gmueller>washingtontimes.com. Also check out Inside Outside, Gene Mueller’s blogs about outdoors happenings here and elsewhere. Go to www.washingtontimes.com/sports and click on Inside Outside.

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