Hunting in Virginia and Maryland is forbidden on Sundays, but fish enjoy no such respite. Jack Randolph, a religious hunter in the fall who dreams of bagging doves, deer, squirrel, rail and waterfowl, likes the once- a-week stopper on his gun. "This way I have a compulsory day of fishing." A dedicated outdoorsman, he keeps a month-to-month chart that tells him when the most fish, and the largest, are caught. Spring, his records show, is tops. Fall is second. "That's probably due to the increase in hunting, not the availability of fish. There are fewer people on the water, which is the way I like it." Amen.
LAKE ANNA -- The predictions of great things with cooler water are holding fast. At Sturgeon's Creek Marina, Campbell Edenton reports that 11 anglers recently caught 125 pounds of bass, slightly more than 11 pounds per person. Quite a few were in the five- and six-pound range. Doug Moore, of Alexandria, found a four-pound bass that liked his chartreuse lunker lure. Speed shads and jelly worms are popular. Striped-bass fishing is still poor. Brim are plentiful.
WSSC -- George W. Rippeon Jr. of Woodbine, Maryland, caught a four-pound, six-ounce smallmouth in the Triadelphia Reservoir, the third-largest bronzeback taken this year. Paul Hodges of Rockville hooked a six-pound, 15-ounce catfish on a minnow.
OCCOQUAN -- Ira Russell has a fishing hole near a red buoy where the river joins the Potomac. During one recent outing in a small boat, he caught 28 catfish that weighed 188 pounds. He's lucky the boat stayed afloat. If we were talking about bluefish, those numbers would seem commonplace; but for catfish, they're numbing. This year alone, Russell has accepted 22 citations from the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries. Bass fishing in the reservoir is slow: an occasional two-pounder swallows a plastic worm. Catfish like large shiner minnows and cut bait. The water is muddy.
LAKE MANASSAS -- Walleye catches are on the upswing. So far, scrawny one- and two-pounders are active; as fall progresses, so should the size of the fish.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Lots of small bass and catfish. Use spinners and minnows.
CHESAPEAKE BAY -- The weakfish have begun to scatter. The bluefish are still rampant, especially near the Gooses and Poplar Island.
CHOPTANK RIVER -- Accurate reports of rockfish are pretty rare, but Frances McFaden, spokesman for the Maryland Tidewater Administration, said anglers claim a school of rockfish has been visiting near Oystershoal and Chancellor's Point near the mouth of the river. If there are more fish than rumors, try live eels.
PATUXENT RIVER -- Trolling is popular in the Cedar Point Hollow and Cove Point area. Most anglers prefer yellow bucktail lures, and the fish seem to agree.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Slow.
SOUTHERN VIRGINIA -- Some of the state's best fishing is four hours away, near the Carolina border. At Lake Gaston, Jerry Burley said striped- bass fishing is good to excellent. Bill Duff and C.W. Dawson brought home 53 pounds of fish in one day. Crappie fishing at Bugg's Island Lake produces a hundred or more strikes per outing. In Suffolk, the triplet lakes of Lake Prince, Burnt Mills and Western Branch are teeming. Younster Peter Gizara caught an eight-pound, 10-ounce largemouth with a minnow. Stripers are active. Local fishermen say it's worth the drive.
OUTER BANKS -- Fish for trout near the Cape Point lighthouse. The average catch is seven or eight pounds. Surf fishermen report puppy drum aplenty, some as large as 15 pounds. Don Pollock at the Red Drum Tackle Shop in Buxton, North Carolina, said spot and croaker are all around Cape Point and in Hatteras Inlet. Flounder fishing is fair. The annual surf frenzy begins in October when huge drum and blues crash the shore, but the current fishing is a good preliminary.