A variety of fishing action near and far is promised if the elements cooperate. Locally, the Potomac River has been alive with runs of herring up to Chain Bridge. Bass, crappies and catfish also provide a good share of excitement.

On the subject of catfish, how about that whopping 52-pound flathead catfish landed by Alexandrian Dean Martin in Occoquan Reservoir?

Catches of black drum around Cape Charles, Virginia, are increasing. Bluefish and the first gray seatrout have been hooked in the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers. Trophy stripers aren't plentiful, but enough are taken on deep-trolled lures to keep Chesapeake boaters trying.

MARYLAND RIVERS AND LAKES

WSSC LAKES -- Northern-pike action seems at a standstill at Rocky Gorge (off Route 29) and Triadelphia (off Route 97). Bass and crappies, however, are a different story. They're hungry and will look at a variety of baits and lures.

POTOMAC RIVER -- "More herring than I've seen in 25 years," says Joe Fletcher of Fletcher's Boat House. Dippers and snaggers are finding them up to Chain Bridge. Sizable channel cats, crappies, carp and bass are stirring throughout the river.

EASTERN SHORE PONDS -- Leonards and Johnson ponds around Salisbury have been best for bass and crappies. Citation-sized sunfish are available at Urieville, Unicorn and Higgins Mill ponds along with some bass and crappies.

NANTICOKE RIVER -- Cambridge angler Dave Morgan found schooling pan-size rockfish, as well as largemouth bass, just inside where Marshyhope Creek meets the Nanticoke. Dockpiles above Sharptown (Route 313) turn up bass on crankbaits.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- A good chance of bass and schoolie rockfish from the Flats to Conowingo Dam. Use jigs, crankbaits or spinnerbaits.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND PONDS -- St. Mary's Lake (Camp Cosoma Road, off Route 5 south of Leonardtown) has zillions of small bass, plenty of sunfish and crappies. Keep your limit of 10-inch-and-over bass. The 10-inch rule is in effect until May 9. Gilbert Run Lake (off Route 6 east of LaPLata) may be the best spot for trophy bluegills if you fish bait at the edge of deep dropoffs.

BLACKWATER RIVER -- Fish white jigs or live minnows around the Route 335 bridge for fine crappies now.

CHESAPEAKE BAY

In addition to surf-caught bluefish the season's first gray trout have started showing up on the Bay side of Point Lookout State Park, as well as in the lower Patuxent River, from Town Creek Marina pier to the Naval Air Station. Cut bait or thawed chunks of frozen peeler crab have been the main method of catching them. Trollers and chummers are starting to connect more on big chopper blues over the Middle Ground, Buoys 52 to 50, Point No Point and a few spots above the mouth of the Patuxent. Rockfish successes aren't breaking any records, but the PR Buoy has given up trophy stripers, as has the Gas Buoy in the middle Bay. Warm weather this weekend will drive blues up to the Bay Bridges.

VIRGINIA RIVERS AND LAKES

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Bass are starting to take small plastic worms, jigs and crankbaits over many parts of the river. Catfish and sunnies are willing.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- White bass should start now, but many local anglers have complained about a general lack of bass and panfish action. A few hefty stripers are hooked.

OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR -- Alexandria's Dean Martin got a whopping 52-pound flathead catfish last week, had it weighed, then released it. It's not a record, but the angler knows how to battle a fish. It took a plastic worm on 14-pound testline. Crappies, channel cats, bass and some pike are active from Bull Run to Fountainhead.

BURKE LAKE -- Catfish will love a gob of chicken livers. Bass and crappies will jump onto various-sized jigs. Kids can catch sunfish galore. BACK BAY -- Plastic worms, spinnerbaits and jigs will draw largemouths now around shallows over most parts of the bay. Crappies are active.

CHICKAHOMINY RIVER -- Walker's Dam is the spot for herring lovers. Bass, crappies and rockfish catches have been fair. Adjacent Chickahominy Lake is best for sunfish of note.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Some shad can be hooked in Fredericksburg. Bass and crappies will bite during moving tides below Port Royal. Smallmouth bass action has increased above I-95 bridge.

LAKE ANNA -- Dick Moats of Washington had an 8-pound, 11-ounce largemouth bass. Crappies are everywhere.

ATLANTIC OCEAN AND INLETS

MARYLAND -- Ocean City's flounder can be taken by bridge anglers or boat drifters. Offshore action has been slow, but bluefish should start appearing.

VIRGINIA -- The Chincoteague-Wachapreague corridor provides off-and-on flounder catches. Some know how to find them, others have a difficult time. Black drum catches at Cape Charles are increasing with one captain hooking seven on Tuesday. Bluefish are everywhere, from ocean side on into the Bay.