"I've had it up to here with the rain," said one thoroughly disgusted angler on the boat ramp of St. Mary's Lake. Poor fellow. Little did he know his favorite waters weren't nearly as affected by recent downpours as the Potomac, Shenandoah and Rappahannock rivers.
Despite a mixed bag of freshwater catch results in the Washington area, the news from Chesapeake Bay can be good. It all depends on a boater's willingness to search for deep channel ledges where sea trout and bluefish roam in search of food.
Along the Atlantic Ocean, the offshore shelves from Virginia to North Carolina by far were the most productive this week. A smorgasbord of blue-water species, from yellowfin to bluefin tuna, albacore to cobia, and king mackerel to billfish, is virtually guaranteed when the weather cooperates.
MARYLAND RIVERS AND LAKES
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Largemouth bass are willing, but tend to measure on the small side in reasonably clear water. Dark plastic worms and deep-running crankbaits are favored by anglers.
WSSC LAKES -- Rocky Gorge Reservoir (Route 29, near Burtonsville) is showing the aftereffects of rain. Cloudy to muddy in some parts, fishable around Route 29 bridge. Triadelphia Lake's upper portions are stained; lower sectors are in good shape thus far. Plastic worms are drawing hits from bass in deepwater coves and around landpoint dropoffs.
POTOMAC RIVER -- A good many areas are four feet above normal. Cloudy to muddy water is the rule throughout almost the length of the river. Quiet, protected coves from western Maryland to below Washington will be okay for catfish or carp, but that's about it unless we're spared additional downpours. Here in town, Washington Channel around the War College has been giving up school- size rockfish on chartreuse crankbaits. Boating in the upper river can be treacherous.
EASTERN SHORE PONDS AND RIVERS -- Forget muddy Urieville (Route 213, Kent County). Sunfish and little bass are the rule at a stained Tuckahoe Lake (Route 480, Caroline County). Wye Mills (Route 213, Queen Anne's County) is cloudy to muddy with a few bass and plenty of willing sunfish. The Choptank River around Greensboro is muddy with a few crappies and sunfish taking worm baits. The Blackwater River (Route 335 bridge sector) shows cloudy water and some hungry crappies and bass. The Nanticoke River (Route 313, Sharptown) is discolored, with surface lures drawing bass early and late in the day.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND PONDS AND CREEKS -- St. Mary's Lake (Route 5 south to Camp Cosoma Road, St. Mary's County) is in good shape. Bass, pickerel, sunfish and crappies are there, but they are scattered now and you must hunt a little. Gilbert Run Lake (Route 6, east of LaPlata, Charles County) is quite fishable. Sunfish, catfish and small bass are available on lures or bait. Nanjemoy Creek (Route 425, near Hilltop, Charles County) is muddy; not much doing there.
BALTIMORE RESERVOIRS -- Loch Raven anglers find crappies, sunfish and occasional bass in cloudy water. Prettyboy Reservoir is in fair shape with scattered large-and smallmouth bass striking Beetle-spin lures or plastic worms. Liberty Reservoir is clear in most parts, good for smallmouth bass on crawfish (if you can get them), or small deepwater crankbaits. Largemouth bass prefer plastic worms.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- The Flats have been good to dawn and dusk plug casters or trollers; roaming rockfish schools are looking for food. Inside the rivermouth, more catfish are hooked than bass.
CHESAPEAKE BAY Point No Point on the western side of Chesapeake Bay in St. Mary's County has been as good a spot as any to start looking for sea trout, bluefish -- even black drum. Menhaden chummers are finding trout and blues from inside the lower Potomac at Cornfield Harbor on out to the Middle Ground. It's the bucktail/porkrind trollers who've been stymied in recent days. Don't fret. Ken Lamb of Lexington Park's "Tacklebox" recommends you slow-troll in about 40-50 feet of water along the sides of the ship channel. The trout or blues will do the rest, eventually. Rockfish fans still can connect on small trolled silver spoons or porkrind-trimmed bucktails inside the Choptank River near Chancellor and Howell points, while Eastern Bay, around the corner of Bloody Point, still has bluefish schools. White perch like bloodworm pieces on bottom rigs in the various holes of Eastern Bay, as well as the Kent Narrows, mouth of Chester River and down at Bushwood in the lower Potomac, where some decent spot also are taken.
TROUT NOTE -- The Maryland Wildlife Administration has announced the passage of an emergency regulation expressly allowing blind persons to fish in "Special Trout Management Areas" previously limited to children and anglers over the age of 65. Such special areas are listed in the Maryland freshwater sportfishing guide on page 10, section D. Blind persons are entitled to free licenses, but must purchase a trout stamp.
VIRGINIA RIVERS AND LAKES
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Most feeder streams are muddy. The South Fork is only in fair shape, and the North Fork quite discolored. Little action.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- High and muddy waters can still be the rule even if the rains stay away this weekend. Catfish, maybe; little else.
BURKE LAKE -- Despite recent rains the lake is in good condition. Catfish, sunfish, small crappies and bass are available in the quiet parts (this Fairfax County beauty is popular with the kids).
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR -- Cloudy to muddy. Not much doing unless it's catfish you're after. Use chicken livers or cut fish.
LAKE ANNA -- In good fishing shape, particularly in the lower reaches of the lake. Catfish, crappies, bass and some stripers are taken. Early morning topwater plugging will take some fine bass in deepwater coves. Weekends bring waterskiers.
BACK BAY -- Bass fishing with surface buzzers, live minnows, or plastic worms has been productive, never mind the water color.
CHICKAHOMINY LAKE AND RIVER -- Fair catches of bass, crappies and sunfish. The river may give up occasional stripers up to five pounds. Crankbaits and plastic worms are the favored lures.
LAKE GASTON -- Cloudy to muddy in many parts. Little to report. May clear over the weekend.
KERR RESERVOIR -- Rising, discolored lake levels have kept many anglers from trying. Catch reports are hard to come by.
OCEAN AND INLETS
There's scattered surf action for sea trout and bluefish on cut fish or squid-strip baits at Assateague Island. The Route 50 bridge area of Ocean City, as well as the Thoroughfare, has been good to flounder drifters. Fenwick Shoals, Bass Grounds and the Jackspot are the offshore haunts of bluefish trollers. The headboats connect on a few sea bass, ling and tautog when the winds are down.
VIRGINIA -- Bluefin and yellowfin tuna, some albacore and king mackerel are providing plenty of action for bluewater offshore trollers. Billfish crashes and hookups are increasing. The Virginia Beach fishing pier has seen a few king mackerel taken on live, bait- size bluefish or spot. Inside Chesapeake Bay, the sea trout are available at the Bridge-Tunnel, especially at night, while some cobia have been hooked at the Cabbage Patch, south of Kiptopeke. Flounder catches are up and down at Chincoteague, Wachapreague, Oyster and Metomkin. Some flounder drifters do very well; others fare poorly.
NORTH CAROLINA -- Yellowfin tuna, billfish, wahoo and scattered dolphin are around for offshore boaters. Early mornings on the various Outer Banks piers are good for small bluefish and some sea trout, perhaps an errant cobia, such as the 74-pounder taken from Avalon Pier at Kill Devil Hills recently.