On Saturday he saw the fish cruising in the shallows, a muscular Great Northern Pike, long of snout and sharp of teeth. Tim Keller tried to woo him with artificial lures in the Triadelphia reservoir. No luck. He tried again Sunday; same result.

The fish seemed as intent on staying put as Keller was on removing him. All he could think about was the pike. "I had trouble concentrating at work," said the 28-year-old engineer.

Monday, after work, he renewed his attack. Live bait, he thought, might do it. Keller offered a plump bluegill to his adversary, which took it and digested it, after biting Keller's line in two. Then, for the second time in one day, Keller hooked the pike; for the second time, it got away.

Another miserable day on the job. Another day of plotting his kill.

On the fourth day, a Tuesday, near 7, he served a third bluegill from the shoreline.

The fish weighed more than nine pounds; the better part of it now in Keller's freezer. "I started to eat him, but it will be a long time before I finish." Why not? It was a long time before he caught him.

WSSC -- James Storey, of Wheaton, caught a three-pound, seven-ounce smallmouth bass in Triadelphia with a Rebel "Teeny-R." Silver Spring's Chris Ciliberti hooked a two-pound, 11-ounce bronzeback with a black jig. The reports from Triadelphia are more encouraging than last year, when Duckett's Reservoir, its sister lake, was more productive.

POTOMAC RIVER -- What won't politicians do to get their name in the paper? Conrad Marshall is sponsoring the first annual Bass Challenge Cup a week from Sunday, from 9 to 2, with check-in at 8. Marshall is angling for a seat on the Democratic side of Virginia's House of Delegates, and the event's a fund-raiser: $15 for 16 or older, $5 for under 16. Call 703/790-1522. Elsewhere: catfish; Pohick Bay, south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, beyond Occoquan. Leonard Riffle of Alexandria toppped the 10-pound citation marker by eight ounces. Woodbridge resident James Bowman carried two channel cats into The Lynn Company where the scales tipped at 10 pounds, 15 ounces, and 12 pounds, four ounces.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR -- No word on bass. Crappie action is steady near fallen trees, rock piles and wharf piers.

LAKE ANNA -- The bass are biting again. Don Reynolds fooled 16 bass in two days with plastic worms; according to Rosamond Edenton at Sturgeon Creek Marina, most were in the three-HO to four-pound class, and one weighed more than six pounds. "Now that the weather is cooler, we expect the fishing to really pick up," said Edenton. Bass should begin to leave their deep haunts once again, before their fall retreat, entering creek-fed coves where surface strikes are thrilling. But plastic worm fishing is tedious at best, especially for those without knowledge of the lake's bottom, or without a depth finder. Is anyone catching stripers at Lake Anna? Let us know.

RAPPAHANOCK -- Charley Wingard lives on the riverbank. "It's crystal clear," he said. "It's in beautiful shape. They're catching smallmouth and catfish, anywhere from right below the dam, and on up river." Striper action seems to have subsided. "There might be a few strays still up in there."

CHESAPEAKE BAY -- A reader called to inquire where the gooses are, and stone rock, two locations often mentioned as hangouts for weakfish. The gooses, winter and summer, are actually oyster bars. The summer gooses are near the mouth of the Little Choptank, in the center of the Bay, in the ship's channel. The winter gooses lean toward Calvert Cliff. Stone rock is near the mouth of the Choptank, close to Sharp's Island light. Both should be on Bay navigational maps. Trout and bluefish action has quieted. But the gooses and stone rock are yielding nice catches. The fishing ahead will depend, in part, on tropical storm Dennis. If it moves up the coast and this area is weathered in, forget the angling