Steady anglers have high hopes for the fall fishing season, especially bass fishermen who have suffered the summer. Their frustration with the poor freshwater fishing of 1981 in the mid-Atlantic surfaced recently during a meeting of a Montgomery County bass club. One of their members, Howard Bloom, was distraught after a fling at Smith Mountain Lake. One evening, he said, schools of baitfish were literally jumping to shore to escape the ravenous stripers. But the fish refused all lures. To a man, the club members complained of poor outings at Back Bay where they blame excessive salinity for the stunted vegetation and rotten fishing. True, Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge have been splendid. Lake Anna has not. Some blame the profusion of bass anglers for the blight. Others curse Mother Nature.

CHESAPEAKE BAY -- News from the front: "Bluefish are the mainstay of angling activity as cooler weather has sparked feeding frenzies in all areas of the bay and rivers," writes Ken Lamb from Lexington Park. "Average size for blues is three to four pounds." He urges trollers to use hose lures throughout the Bay. Lamb's brother Howard said the real hot spots are in the mouths of Bay rivers, particularly the Patuxent. Even hotter is right at the top of the Potomac, near Smith Point. Elsewhere, Howard suggests trolling on the surface with bucktails and spoons in the mouth of St. Mary's River. The fish are breaking on the surface. This is the time of year we throw away the heavy tackle and get out the light gear: use plugs or popping lures, anything that churns up the surface and you'll catch fish. At deeper levels, boat captains are working hard to raise trout and rockfish from 65 to 70 feet with a pound or more of weight. Try the ship's channel near buoy 57 in the mouth of the Potomac, or in the Patuxent by Brooms Island and Benedict, Maryland. It's inconsistent, but surprises abound in the fall. Said Ken Lamb, "Shoreline fishing for rockfish can be good in the Potomac and St. Mary's Rivers, but be patient, for they don't hit every day."

LAKE ANNA -- The Virginia Outdoor Report says bass fishing is much improved at Lake Anna. The bass apparently are in the shallows where they are taking spinner baits, topwater lures, Speed Shads and Lunker Lures. An eight-pound, 14-ounce bucketmouth was recently caught by Roger Hanna of Fredericksburg. Bill Snyder from Manassas nailed his 15-pound striper on a blue Rebel, which suggests that the striper drought is over.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- The hot spots are in the tidal creeks. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass are striking in the river, above the town. Below Fredericksburg, crappie and catfish are active.

OCCOQUAN -- The small stripers are rumored to have moved back into the creek. Use bloodworms exclusively.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER -- Bass fishing is improving at Riverside Camp 2. Jack Randolph said unusually high tides brought by northeast winds may hamper the fishing. In the Lake, a half-hour from Richmond, recent catches include a 13-pound bowfin, a 12-pound channel cat and a bass that weighed more than seven pounds.