- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

Heavy rains and thunderstorms visited mostly the area south of the District on Tuesday and during the early Wednesday hours, and that has not helped the fishing in certain waters. While the Potomac in the District looks fine right now, there will be some murky water coming down from the west. You can also bet that the Rappahannock River above and below Fredericksburg, Va., is going to be muddy and unproductive, which is a shame because we had reports from tidal bass fishermen who said that the catches had improved substantially above Port Royal.

Chances are, the waters above Fredericksburg will be swift and discolored as well. That isn’t good news for smallmouth bass anglers. The same holds for the Shenandoah River, where it’s muddy, but the upper Potomac has not yet been affected.

The one constant is the tidal Potomac south of the District, where the fishing for largemouth bass, fat catfish and ever increasing numbers of hefty northern snakeheads will go on even if rains inundate our region. The tidal creeks and the main stem of the river have been productive for bass boaters all week, and there appears to be no letup this month.

If it’s croakers and Norfolk spot you like, the Patuxent River from the O’Club to Hawk’s Nest at the mouth of Cuckolds Creek is the place to be, said Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box. Most of the spot tend to be small, but the croakers (aka hardheads) have been of good size. The best croaker baits have been bloodworm pieces, peeler crab (if you can find some), squid, clam snouts and shrimp.

The lower Potomac River from Point Lookout upstream to St. Clements also has delivered croakers along river ledges, as have portions of the Choptank River and Virginia’s lower Rappahannock. However, all that fresh water brought by the rains is not going to help the croaker fishing. In fact, it will slow things down.

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

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: 035 miles (***) —

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: 0/[Emp]35 miles (***) At Fletcher’s Cove (Georgetown, off Canal Road; call 202/244-0461) Ray Fletcher said the river looks fine and plenty of big catfish and a few stripers are being hooked. However, the upper river had some areas that received water color-changing rains, so be prepared to see some murky water coming over the Great Falls eventually. As you head downstream, bass, catfish, carp, white perch and scattered young stripers can make a day on the water memorable. Bass are taking soft plastics, Chatterbaits and topwaters from the Fox Ferry Point area down to western Charles County. Concentrate on open pockets in the weedbeds and you’ll score during moving tides. On the subject of snakeheads, Walt Noga of Olney, Md., fished with a friend in Massey Creek, inside Belmont Bay (on the Virginia side of the river), and before the day ended the two caught some smallmouth and largemouth bass and a 10-pound, 11-ounce snakehead. Noga said, He put up quite a fight, especially on 8-pound test line. Mr. Noga, if you fish the tidal Potomac, you’ll need to fish with stronger line than 8-pound test. What are you going to when a 30-pound blue catfish decides your lure looks good.

WICOMICO RIVER: 55 miles (**) The croaker fishing continues to be an up-and-down affair. More down than up since heavy rains came Tuesday and throughout the early morning of Wednesday. Some white perch are taking up station along shoreline rip-rap and weed lines.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) Bass catches are holding up nicely. It all depends if you fish sunken wood or in the dense milfoil beds that are found in the creek, as well as the marsh edge shore drop-offs in the upper creek. Soft plastic finesse worms, small green pumpkin craw imitations, Chatterbaits, Pop’R’s ? all can work when the tides moving, especially when the water drops.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6, east of La Plata) delivers sunfish for flyrodders and the hook-and-bobber set now that the bluegills are spawning. At St. Mary’s Lake (south on Route 5, past Leonardtown, to Camp Cosoma Road) visitors in johnboats or shoreline walkers can do well most days. Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box store said: ?The fishing is fabulous. Largemouth bass, bluegills, crappies and pickerel are all 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) Again this week, bedding sunfish can deliver fun outings for flyrodders using popping bugs. The bass like scented Berkley Power Worms, Paca Craws, or quarter-ounce spinnerbaits. Both lakes will be in good shape for the weekend.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) (Triadelphia, off Route 97, or Route 650, in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) Upper lake areas will be discolored, but by the weekend there’ll be bass, crappies and catfish caught. Some of the better bass catches now come off to the sides of lake points as female largemouths that have finished spawning are cruising and ambushing baitfish around such spots.

BALTIMORE AREA RESERVOIRS: 50-75 miles (***) A lake guide is available by calling the Baltimore City’s Reservoir office at 410-795-6151. A $50 annual permit is required from the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. Prettyboy Lake is on Route 137; Liberty is on Oakland Road in Eldersburg, Carroll County.) Good bass and sunfish opportunities, but some of the Liberty boaters now troll for stripers without too much success right now.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) Croaker and spot are biting in the river from the O’Club to the Hawk’s Nest (in the mouth of Cuckold’s Creek),? said Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park. He added that the Norfolk spot are small and medium in size, but the croakers are big. In fact, there are croakers on the oyster bars of the river all the way to the bridge in Benedict. The spot love bloodworms, as do the croakers, Lamb said. Of course, the hardheads also go for peeler crab pieces, squid, clam snouts and shrimp. Lamb also said that the flounder are biting at the three-legged marker No. 3 in the river. ?Successful drifters are using live minnows, strips of cut spot, whole spot and squid strips,? he said.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) In the Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) portion of the lake, ranger Smokey Davis said: ?We are at that time of the year where reservoir bass could be in any one of three modes. Main-lake flats produced well this week for both pre-spawn and spawning fish. Main-lake points and deep blow-downs turned up some bigger spawned out females. Plenty of male bass are still guarding the fry and will aggressively attack almost anything that comes near their nesting areas. The crappie bite remains strong and the bluegills are just beginning to make their spawning beds. The reservoir is a foot below normal pool, stained, with surface temperatures in the low to mid-70s.? If you read Wednesday’s outdoors column you saw that Occoquan rated as the top bass fishing spot in Northern Virginia, according to recent electroshock studies.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) This beautiful lake rated as the second-best bass fishing place in Northern Virginia in the electroshock studies. Besides, there many spawning bluegills for you flyrod and popping bug fans. –-

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MARYLAND

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (*) River conditions are not good in most of the mountain parts, which of course puts the brakes on catching smallmouth bass.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 179 miles (***) Lake guide Brent Nelson (240/460-8839) and the Department of Natural Resources’ Keith Lockwood say that the smallmouth and largemouth bass, as well as walleyes and fat yellow perch are biting up here in this beautiful Garrett County lake. Lockwood said the walleyes are holding close to rocky bottom where shiners will draw their attention. I’d also try a bright chartreuse or pink curly-tailed grub on a quarter-ounce jig hook.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (***) The DNR said that if you cast Rapala and Rat-L-Trap lures, you’ll catch schooled stripers in the channel stretches as you enter the mouth of the river. The Susquehanna Flats show quite a few chunky largemouth bass, while white perch are in good supply up inside the river.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

]MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) Christy Henderson of Buzz’s Marina in St. Jerome’s Creek (call 301-872-5887) said, “The big stripers are leaving and the little ones are taking over.”

She added that the bluefish are showing up and the croakers are increasing every day, but hardhead fishermen should concentrate more on night fishing for best results. Meanwhile, if it’s stripers (aka rockfish) in the 18- to 23-inch class you like, there are boaters, even some pier anglers and rock hoppers who score from as far up as the Bay Bridge near Annapolis south to the Gooses, Point No Point and all the traditional hangouts.

Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said, “The rockfish are just about everywhere in the bay and rivers. Bucktails with pork rind presented during moving tides will bring strikes from the stripers. Live-liners who use spot are catching rockfish at Cedar Point, the Gas Docks, and the discharge at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.”

Lamb also mentioned that chummers are starting to catch striped bass and bluefish on the Middlegrounds and at buoy 72A. Even the pier at Point Lookout State Park offers spot, rockfish, croaker, bluefish and flounder during high-tide periods.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) Northern Neck charter fishing captain Billy Pipkin (captbilly#<\@>captbillyscharters.com) says flounder action is picking up at the the cell where the Buoy 41 and 42 edge is located. Speckled sea trout are biting between Mobjack Bay and Ingram Bay. Pipkin also said he believes that the number of small rockfish is down this year, but they can be caught in the lower Rappahannock River, Windmill Point and the Northern Neck Reef. The same areas also will turn up snapper bluefish up to three pounds. In the lower Bay, Ken Neill, of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association reports that the spadefish bite is on.

“They’re being caught at theat the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel [and] there will be some caught at the Cell and at Wolftrap this week,” he said.

Into the fishing mix come the cobias. Some have been caught at the Rock Pile and Bluefish Rock.

“Flounder fishing has vastly improved. Good catches are being made at the bridge-tunnel, at Buoy 36A, and up around the Cell,” said Neill and he added that big black drum are still being caught at buoys 10, 13, and 16, but the bite has slowed considerably.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MARYLAND

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 miles (**) Route 50 east to Cambridge) Croakers and perch slowed at the Cambridge Fishing Bridge, but those fish are now hooked just at the edge of the mouth where some fair-sized rockfish hang out.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (**) From Snow Hill down to Shad Landing) It was slow going in the Snow Hill stretch for two of us a few days ago. Although the tides were perfect for bass fishing only three largemouths looked at our Chatterbaits and soft plastics, but I did catch four crappies on a dropshot shiner. However, the crappies were very small.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***)/[Emp] ? (Sharptown ramp off Route 313, or use the Marshyhope Creek ramp outside Federalsburg) Upper river from Maryland’s Marshyhope Creek to Seaford, Del., continues to turn up bass in shoreline wood or edges of spatterdock. A variety fo lures work, but we’d pick a Paca Craw soft lure or plastic worms.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

LAKE ANNA: 82 miles (***) Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Lake guide Jim Hemby (www.jimhemby.com) says the striper fishing is red hot and will be for the next two months. Hemby says some of his clients are catching up to 100 rockfish in one morning.

“The Stripers are migrating into the midlake regions of the lake and are feeding on points and midlake humps in lowlight conditions, falling back to to the river channel bends and flats in the 30-foot range during the day. Topwater baits will entice some explosive strikes early in the morning hours. Good baits to throw are Berkley Frenzy Poppers, Pencil Poppers, Redfins and Spooks in low light conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hemby says the bass are done spawning and they have retreated to deeper water near their spawning areas. During low-light conditions over humps and flats they’ll rise from as far as 20 feet down to strike popping lures. Bass can also be hooked in main-lake brush, rock piles and on primary points using large Berkley Power worms and Carolina-rigged worms or lizards.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (*) No good this weekend. Lots of muddy water.

]LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (***) Route 793, off Route 29) While it is not rated as being among the top bass lakes there are plenty of bass in this impoundment, not to mention panfish, such as crappies and bluegills.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; look for left turn sign on Route 20 before entering town of Orange) Early morning topwater lures cast to lake points and stickups will result in bass, but if you have a minnow a few feet under a bobber you’ll also catch crappies.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) Route 46, Gasburg) Hubquarter and Songbird creeks have turned up some decent early morning bass to anglers using topwater jerkbaits and various Chatterbaits and Shadalicious swim baits. Main-lake stripers are possible, but we haven’t heard of any great successes lately.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (***) Route 58, Clarksville) It’s mostly crappies and catfish, but serious bass hunters score all over this fine lake using jerkbaits, topwater chug baits and poppers, as well as plastic worms.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) Tidal Richmond area and downstream) Blue catfish are the talk of the river after that 102-pound-plus pending state record was caught at Dutch Gap.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 135 miles (***) Williamsburg area) Catfish are in ample supply, but bass hounds can score big-time on fish that average two pounds or a little more. Crappies and bass are taken in shoreline wood.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (*) Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas) Front Royal’s Dick Fox says the water is getting muddy and the fishing will probably be put on hold until next week sometime.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (***) Route 122, east of Roanoke) Good bass chances early in the day around lake points and stickups, as well as boat houses. Soft plastics, jig’n’craws and such, will find action.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (**) Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) It’s an iffy situation up here. Recent rain could discolor the water even more, but by Saturday things might be back in shape for smallmouth bass.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) Route 50 to Ocean City) Flounder drifters could score nicely in the backwaters behind the resort city. Theres also a chance of hooking small bluefish that swim in and out of the Ocean City Inlet in basically the same waters that some fat tautogs are hanging out in. Big rockfish are possible in the surf, but better get up here if you want to cash in on one. The big stripers won’t be here much longer. The headboats find sea bass over the nearby offshore wrecks and the blue-water boats connect on dolphinfish and big sharks.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association member, Ken Neill, says large red drum are very active on the shoals at the mouth of the bay and along the Eastern Shore beaches.

“Offshore, dolphin fishing is as good as it gets. Tuna fishing is slow. Some blue marlin, wahoo, and sailfish are being caught. The best fishing is still out of the Outer Banks though Virginia boats are getting in on the action with some long runs offshore,” he said. Eastern Shore flounder drifters score on the flatties, but not many keepers are seen. 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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