Thursday, July 15, 2004

Want to have some fun? Go catch yourself a bunch of tasty Norfolk spot, fish that on average weigh a pound. They’re easy to hook on bloodworm or crab-baited bottom rigs. We received word that Patuxent River rental boaters have done well around Solomons Island in Calvert County. Bunky’s Marina has rentals and everything you will need for a good outing. Call 410/326-3241 and check with them about current success rates and boat availability.

The same Patuxent River areas also offer fine catches of fat croakers, but some of those rascals won’t bite well unless it’s in the early morning or late evening.

The Atlantic Ocean offers wonderful fishing opportunities for those who can afford to hire a charter vessel. In the mix are tuna, some marlin, lots of dolphin (the fish, not Flipper) and inshore catches of spadefish and Spanish mackerel, especially in Virginia waters. Rental and private row-boaters find some willing flounder in the coastal backwaters.



The tidal water bass fishing can be very good indeed. You need to fish when cloud cover is available; other than that, simply get out early in the morning. In the case of the Potomac River, for example, you don’t have to wait at a state park entrance until the gate is opened by a grumpy looking employee. No, you can launch your boat from a free public ramp, such as Marshall Hall in Charles County, and get going by 5:30 a.m. Then have a rod ready with a topwater lure, another with a spinnerbait and a third with a plastic worm. That’s all you will need. Work the weed edges on the river or in the feeder creeks. You will score.

EVENTS

Freestate Flyfishers meet — Sept.1, 7:30p.m., Davidsonville (Md.) Family Recreation Center. Joe Evens presents photos and anecdotes from a week-long trout trip in the southern Andes. Information: Mike Price, 410/230-0080.

Surf fishing school — Sept.9-12, Oct.21-24, Outer Banks, Nags Head, N.C. Each session is scheduled to coincide with productive fishing periods. Pro guides Joe Malat and Mac Currin are instructors. Cost: $250. Contact Malat, 252/441-4767; joemalat.com.

AREA 1: D.C. AND VICINITY

0-35 miles (***) — In the District, the area near Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road, 202/244-0461, fletchersboathouse.com) will turn up catfish, occasional bass and even walleyes. River guides Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and Dale Knupp (301/934-9062) score nicely on largemouth bass using topwater poppers like the Rico, Pop-R and Skitter-Pop. Scented plastic worms also do the job in creeks and main-river grass bed edges, underwater rock piles, stone breakwaters and bulkheads. White perch are everywhere. Try retrieving a 1/8-ounce spinnerbait without feeling a hit from a perch. It can’t be done if you’re near grass or shorelines. Catfish like clam snouts, liver strips or cut fish pieces on weighted bottom rigs. In the Route 301 bridge area, pontoon boat captain Steve Riha (804/224-7062) has had on-and-off success with croakers this week, yet croakers are seemingly everywhere else from the Wicomico down to Point Lookout. Lots of Norfolk spot are showing up. In the Piney Point area of the river, as well as Virginia’s Coan River, some decent flounder are seen now and then.

MATTAWOMAN CREEK: 40 miles (***) — Early hour bass are possible if you work topwater poppers and small buzz baits along weed edges. Plastic worms are better after the sun cooks the water a while. Spinnerbaits, fished slowly in a lift-and-drop fashion, have taken bass along spatterdock edges above Slavins boat ramp.

SO. MARYLAND LAKES: 40-50 miles (***) — Gilbert Run Park’s Wheatley Lake (Route 6 east of La Plata) is a fine place for shore walkers or cartoppers in search of sunfish and average size bass. St. Mary’s Lake (Route 5 south of Leonardtown, Camp Cosoma Road) offers a variety of sunfish, some widely scattered crappies and bass and even a few feisty chain pickerel. Worm pieces and bobbers do well with bluegills. Early hour topwater poppers can result in bass. Check out the dam’s rock line.

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) are fine for bass, sunfish, catfish and a few scattered crappies. Noon-time sun can be brutal.

WSSC RESERVOIRS: 20-30 miles (***) — (Triadelphia, off Route 97 or Route 650 in Montgomery County; Rocky Gorge, off Route 29 in Montgomery County) The lakes will give up bass to plastic worm and topwater lure users, but you must show up early and leave early. Senko and Zero “fat” worms should be dropped alongside a rock ledge or a lake point to attract a good bass. Sunfish are in the coves, and they will attack any tiny lure or worm bait.

PATUXENT RIVER: 25-60 miles (***) — The upper river was not productive for us this week. However, anywhere below Hall’s Creek, expect white perch. They’re along grassy edges, shorelines, boat docks, insides of creeks and fallen trees to Greenwell State Park. Use eighth-ounce spinnerbaits or Beetlespin lures. A mixed bag of Norfolk spot, croakers, perch and a tiny number of flounder is available around Solomons Island, Solomons Pier, the Hawksnest Buoy and every river point’s dropoff waters in that part of the Patuxent. Bunky’s in Solomons (410/326-3241) has day rental boats.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR: 25-30 miles (***) — From Fountainhead Park (Route 123, Fairfax County) to Bull Run, there are a few willing bass that like early hour poppers and other surface lures, but plastic worms are the way to go after the sun gets up. Catfish like clam snouts or liver strips. The coves are best for bass and bluegills now but be sure to check out points that jut into the lake.

BURKE LAKE: 29 miles (***) — (Ox Road, Route 123, Fairfax County) Bass fishing has been slow but fairly consistent with the largemouths preferring scented worms or small spinnerbaits. Bluegills are plentiful. Flyrod poppers will get them or pieces of nightcrawler on a small hook, fished under a bobber.

AREA 2: CENTRAL, WESTERN MD.

POTOMAC RIVER: 35-100 miles (***) — DNR biologist John Mullican says smallmouth bass action in the mountain parts of the river has been fairly steady near river riffles and along the rock ledges. Topwater lures, such as the Pop-R from Rebel, can work well, as will small tubes, worms, crankbaits and spinners.

DEEP CREEK LAKE: 210 miles (***) — Night fishermen find walleye action with drifted night crawlers on a jig hook. Bluegills and yellow perch oblige on worm-and-bobber rigs. Live shiners do well on bass, but so do tubes and plastic worms.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER: 65-100 miles (..) — Some decent bass and young stripers have been hooked on the Flats on topwater poppers or soft plastic jerkbaits in white or white/blue. Channel catfish bite well between Lapidum and Deer Creek, but the bass fishing toward Conowingo Dam hasn’t been good.

AREA 3: CHESAPEAKE BAY

MARYLAND: 45-75 miles (***) — In the lower Chesapeake, chummers are scoring on the Middle Grounds, as well as the western side of the Bay, from Point No Point to Point Lookout. Ken Lamb of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box reports that lots of snapper bluefish are seen all over the Bay and some 4-pound blues are hooked now and then. Lamb says the flounder fishing has been up and down along the edges of the shipping channel. Tangier Sound fans can expect large numbers of croakers, spot and a few sea trout in the evening hours. In the middle parts of the Bay, the striper catches remain consistent. Chummers and trollers can score from the Diamonds to the Bloody Point area, as well as down around the Gooses. Croakers and spot are taken in the mouth of the Choptank, but tides and times of day have a lot to do with success rates. In the upper Bay, above the Route 50 bridges, some rockfish are hooked, along with scattered croakers, but white perch are pretty much everywhere where the water is less than 15 feet.

VIRGINIA: 75-150 miles (***) — The Northern Neck’s Billy Pipkin (804/580-7292) says flounder catches are fine in the Cell and Buoy 41 waters. Skirted hooks with a big bull minnow are ideal when drifting along for the flatfish. Bluefish, says Pipkin, are more plentiful now either trolling or chumming. Some catches include 4-pounders. Croaker and striper catches are good but not great. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association says the flounder fishing has been good throughout the lower Bay, with Spanish mackerel seen and hooked where the Bay meets the Atlantic. Cobia catches are also holding up well, and bluefish are flitting over areas between Cape Charles and Cape Henry.

AREA 4: EASTERN SHORE/MD.

CHOPTANK RIVER: 120 MILES (***) — (Cambridge) In the upper river between Greensboro and Denton, bass fishing continues to be fair, but at the Cambridge fishing bridge, expect channel catfish, white perch and croakers and spot in the evening. Bring a handline and a chicken neck and you might get enough crabs to fill a pot.

POCOMOKE RIVER: 140-170 miles (***) — (Snow Hill to Shad Landing) The bass catches can be good, but few big specimens are seen. Crankbaits and plastic worms have been best.

NANTICOKE RIVER: 120 miles (***) — (Sharptown ramp off Route 313) The DNR’s Keith Lockwood says the river has been running a bit stained, but the fishing can be good. Bass are waiting in hard cover in feeder creeks and main-stem blowdowns.

AREA 5: CENTRAL VIRGINIA

82 miles (***) — (Route 208, Spotsylvania County) Trolled or jigged lures can turn up striped bass from around the Route 208 bridge area to the Pamunkey. The largemouth bass are in their summer pattern, and deep-fished grubs and plastic worms around brush piles and lake points are the way to go.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER: 47-100 miles (***) — (Fredericksburg to Leedstown) The upper river should deliver some smallmouth bass this weekend unless it pours. Down in the tidal portions, blue catfish are possible along with plenty of channel catfish. The bass fishing hasn’t been bad. One five-bass catch weighed nearly 13 pounds, and at Hicks Landing a 33/4-pounder was seen.

LAKE BRITTLE: 59 miles (**) — (Route 793, off Route 29) Bass catches have slowed, but some decent numbers of sunfish and catfish are taken.

LAKE ORANGE: 75 miles (***) — (Concessionaire: 540/672-3997; left on Route 20 before Orange) Earlybird bass hounds will find action with surface poppers around any stickups or weed edges. Catfish like clam snouts or cut fish chunks.

LAKE GASTON: 179 miles (***) — (Route 46, Gasburg) Be sure to get there as early as you can and work loud surface poppers and buzz baits along weed edges in any of the feeder creeks. Plastic worms will do OK inside boat docks and around pilings.

KERR RESERVOIR: 185 miles (**) — (Route 58, Clarksville) Mostly flathead, blue or channel catfish here. Slow going for bass these hot summer days.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER: 160 miles (**) — (Williamsburg area) It’s mostly catfish. Visiting bass fishermen say the fish are not cooperating as well as they should.

JAMES RIVER: 115 miles (***) — (Tidal Richmond area and downstream) The river is red-hot for blue catfish fans. The blue cats are turned on big time, and many are hooked on bottom-fished baits.

AREA 6: WESTERN VIRGINIA

SHENANDOAH RIVER: 75-85 miles (***) — The Route 340, Front Royal, Luray and Bentonville areas have plenty of bass, but not many are trying apparently. Sunfish are big and sassy.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE: 210 miles (**) — (Route 122, east of Roanoke) Catfish, maybe. Not much of anything else right now.

UPPER JAMES RIVER: 130 miles (***) — (Route 6, south of Charlottesville, Scottsville) Smallmouth bass are there, but not many fishermen are out there trying for them.

AREA 7: ATLANTIC OCEAN

MARYLAND: 153-175 miles (***) — (Ocean City) Some sea trout and rockfish are possible in the inlet at Ocean City, with flounder a good possibility in the backwaters. The surf turns up kingfish, a few small bluefish, croakers and even trout. Offshore catches in the blue waters of Baltimore and Washington canyons include tuna, scattered marlin, dolphinfish and big sharks. Closer to shore, expect big bluefish.

VIRGINIA: 210 miles to Virginia Beach (***) — The yellowfin tuna bite has slowed a bit for trollers, but tuna chunkers (bait users) are doing well now. Dolphinfish, big blues, some billfish and an occasional king mackerel make offshore fishing good. Inshore opportunities include spadefish at the Chesapeake Light Tower and some amberjacks. For charter boats, call the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, 757/422-5700.

Reach us via e-mail at gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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