George Matthews has never been able to rid himself of the habit of rising early, even though, at 72, he's been retired for a year or so; he hops out of bed, fixes a box lunch and heads from his Anacostia home for Hains Point, where he fishes with the same gang day after day.

Recently, Matthews was the only one not catching fish; he changed his bait and bought a new rod. His first day back on the banks, an 11-pound catfish struck his line and took off like a jet out of National.

Matthews reeled it in, to the excitement of the nearby tourists, who took photos of angler and catch. But not everyone's so eager to look at the cat. Gloria Matthews, George's granddaughter, mixes her pride with a certain reservation: "It's an ugly-looking thing. You know, iths got these whiskers and everything. My grandfather wants to give it away. But my husband wants to have a taxidermist preserve it. I told him that the only way he can preserve it is if he puts it somewhere where we can't see it."

CHESAPEAKE BAY -- Finally. "Flounder have moved in to southern Maryland waters in good numbers in most areas, with some heavy concentrations in Cornfield Harbor in the mouth of the Potomac and in the regular spot locations in the Patuxent River," writes Ken Lamb. The average size is 12 to 14 inches. But Lamb said a few of the flatties are larger. Crab, bloodworms, flounder belly or squid slices will work.

"Jumbo spot are still biting in the mouth of the Wicomico in the Potomac," Lamb notes, "but the spot have become more scarce. The only thing available in the Patuxent are miniatures. Trout have become hard to find in most areas. The Bay has held rough going for nearly two weeks and the trout that have taken up permanent residence haven't been tried out for some time. When the Bay smooths out this week, we hope the trout will still be here."

Snapper blues are inconsistent. most weigh two or three pounds. Chummers have had the most success, which is not unusual. Judy simplins pulled in a 20-pound blue -- that is unusual -- while while fishing out of Scheible's fishing center.

More from Lamb's letter. "The salty water of late summer has produced some unusual catches including a rabbit fish, a specie of jack cravelle, pompano and sea robins. We have also had reports of shark sightings."

POTOMAC RIVER -- "Fantastic" was Don Mace's word for the a bass tournament on the upper Potomac. Mace, of Woodbridge, and a companion arrived at their destination, five miles above Great Falls, at 9:30 in the morning. "The area has sloping, hundred-foot banks. It was very slippery, I fell halfway down getting there." Because of the morning rain, the water was rising. During one feeding frenzy, they were averaging six hits with each seven or eight casts -- all in the riffles at the head of pools. In short, the smallmouth bass fishing is great up river, though the weekend conditions may be muddy.

LAKE ANNA -- Improving daily with the cooler temperatures. But the best fishing is a few weeks off.

SHENAHDOAH RIVER -- The river is low and muddies quickly after a rain. Still, the smallmouth population is healthy. Eddies and pools often harbor a worthwhile catch. Use spinners in free-flowing water, but donht scoff at topwater lures, even in swfit currents.

GOOSE CREEK -- A twisting and turning stream that's a full-blown river in some segments, Goose Creek can be an ideal location for new and experienced anglers. Carl Roath of Fairfax County took his wife, Miki, and friends Bill Ogden and Gay Tiffay fishing recently. They used live bait: minnows, worms and crickets. "We caught a ton of little fish," said Roath. Except for one catfish, the mark was brim, small brim, all caught above the dam. Below the dam, fish from the shoreline or wade, carefully. Above the dam, cast out from the bank, but a boat affords flexibility. Goose Creek runs through Loudoun County and crosses Route 7.

CAPE CHARLES -- Jack Randolph, spokesman for the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries, said a channel bass run is in progress and should last until the end of September, when the red drum move into the surf off the Barrier Islands.Use cut mulelt or fatback and fish the evening flood tide.One boat brought home nine in one evening.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Muskie action is improving throughout the region. J. D. Bryant's 31-pound, 6-ounce monster is one of the largest taken from the lake. As fall beckons, so will all members of the pike family.

LAKE BRITTLE -- Falls Church resident Jeff Louis joined the fray and landed on 8-pound, 12-ounce muskie, well above the 6-pound citation mark.