The over-all winner of the WJLA TV-7 Potomac Fishing Derby was a 30-pound carp caught by local angler Mark Odell. Odell won a boat, two motors, rod, reel, depth-finder and assorted lures and line. Not bad for a day's fun, and not bad for our reviving river.
The biggest rockfish was 141/2 pounds and the champ largemouth bass 53/4 pounds, both caught by Max Elias, who would only divulge that he took them "somewhere within sight of Cabin John Bridge, on a Rebel lure."
Elsewhere, if the Chesapeake's winds let up long enough to permit trolling or bait- drifting, the sea trout will cooperate just inside the Potomac and Patuxent rivermouths. If nothing else, snapper bluefish will tear into a variety of lures, including early-morning topwater buzzbaits.
MARYLAND RIVERS AND LAKES
POTOMAC RIVER -- Cooler nights have turned on bass from western Maryland to Washington. Try wading or drifting for smallmouths anywhere from below Shepherdstown to Dickinson in Montgomery County. Live crayfish or helgrammites are tops, but small crankbaits or smoke-color grubs will turn the trick, too. Catfish and largemouth bass are quite willing in the dark in Washington.
WSSC RESERVOIRS -- The best fishing of the year is coming if the weather continues to cool. Deepwater dropoffs, meanwhile, are best for keeper bass on plastic worms or bucktail/porkrind jigs.
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- For the umpteenth time, a nine- pound-plus northern pike won the weekly fishing contest; the lake must be crammed with them. Bass-hunters score with diving crankbaits or plastic worms around landpoints and brush cover.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND CREEKS AND PONDS -- Nanjemoy Creek (Route 425, at Friendship Landing Road) has given up bass during outgoing tides. Chartreuse spinnerbaits and crankbaits are the min draw upstream from the boat ramp or in the tributaries across from the ramp. Mattawoman Creek at the Potomac is good for plastic wormers early or late in the day when tides are moving. St. Mary's Lake (Camp Cosoma Road, Route 5, south of Leonardtown) is producing bass and sunfish by the numbers. Surface buzzers work well early in the day. Gilbert Run Park Lake (Route 6, east of LaPLata) holds some willing lunker catfish and mixed bluegills.
EASTERN SHORE PONDS -- Urieville Lake (Route 213, north of Chestertown) has turned up keeper crappies and a couple of fine largemouths. At Unicorn (Route 313, near Millington), things have been surprisingly slow as far as bass are concerned. Bluegills of note are another story.
CHESTER RIVER -- Upstream near Millington is good for bass and perch. A boat is helpful, although there's some walk-in access around Route 291. At the mouth, around duckblinds and weedbed dropoffs, the white perch are wild about bloodworm baits. Snapper bluefish are also there.
CHOPTANK RIVER -- From Greensboro to below Martinak State Park, the river holds tidal-change bass, sunfish, crappies and some white perch. The fishing can be fantastic one day, miserable the next. Tidewater streams will do that just to keep you from becoming over-confident. Bluefish, spot, perch and some sea trout are inside the mouth and out to the bay.
NANTICOKE RIVER -- Our favorite on the Eastern Shore, especially around Delaware state line where outgoing tides coupled to Firetiger crankbaits along weedbeds have turned up good numbers of largemouth bass. Scattered rockfish also cooperate now and then.
PATUXENT RIVER -- It starts with Drum Point at the mouth, where sea trout and snapper blues have been fairly plentiful during moving tides. Upstream toward Benedict, the spot and some perch are still around. Here, too, the baby bluefish can drive you bananas. Farther up above Wayson's Corner, catfish, carp and some bass can be found.
CHESAPEAKE BAY The best place on the Bay may be hard to pick this weekend, but let's start with Tangier Sound's Puppy Hole and other sharp, deep-water dropoffs where peeler-crab baits, fished from anchored boats, will draw sea trout. The same holds for Tangier's flounder and bluefish. North of the sound above Hooper's Island, the Stone Rock and general Sharps Island areas have turned up consistent catches of bluefish and unusually large sea trout. The problem here is that the trout won't stick around much longer. The Potomac River in Maryland, at Cornfield Harbor, Tall Timbers, as well as dozens of locations on the Virginia side toward Smith Point, is good for sea trout on bottom-fished crab baits. Hungry snapper bluefish are everywhere, it seems, even at the beaches of Point Lookout State Park. Elsewhere on the Bay, small bluefish are the mainstay in most sectors, with white perch available in northern Bay rivers and eastern bay.
VIRGINIA RIVERS AND LAKES
CLAYTOR LAKE -- Located in the southwestern part of the state near Dublin and Pulaski, Claytor is turning up striped bass and some muskellunge on live minnows. Catfish are plentiful.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Unusually slow going here for bass and stripers. A few of the big landlocked striped bass are hooked in the evenings.
LAKE GASTON -- Should be great for bass hounds now, but it isn't. Everyone around Peahill Creek and other tributary marinas is awaiting the beginning of the autumn striper run.
KERR RESERVOIR -- Great catches of crappies are made in waterlogged brushpiles. Striper action is only so-so. Try Speed Shad lures now for bass in early morning in the shallows.
LAKE ANNA -- "Come on down," said bass guide Bill Mathias a few days ago, "I'm catching nice bass, not to mention a chance for rockfish." Mathias and other local bass boaters are doing quite well and will grind into high gear by first frost.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Above Fredericksburg the river will give up smallmouth bass worth talking about in the next few weeks. Just pray against heavy rain. The deep holes from non-tidal to tidal sectors are always producing catfish on liver, worm or cut-fish baits.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER -- With cooler nights, the first citation bass are starting to show, including an eight-pounder by a Marylander who fished a black plastic worm earlier this week near Walker's Dam. Lots of schooling stripers and crappies.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR -- "More bass than I've seen this year," said one Fairfax County angler who was delighted with a sudden turn-on of largemouths, not to mention continuing chances of northern pike. Catfish and crappies are willing from Fountainhead to Bull Run.
BACK BAY -- Windy weather has frustrated bass anglers, but a few trophies are weighed in along the big backwash every day. Hiding behind some of the grassy spits around Knotts Island is one way for the topwater lure slingers to connect.
OCEAN AND INLETS
MARYLAND -- Even the biggest booster of Ocean City fishing, the town's public relations department, won't brag about the fishing. Winds have played havoc. Flounder may bite at the Route 50 bridge and Thoroughfare -- or they may not. Surf catches from Ocean City to Assateague have been fair, mostly snapper blues and small kingfish. The best bets: Bluefish a few miles east of town and sea trout on outgoing tides at the inlet jetty and the deep channels inside. Channel bass will stir soon.
VIRGINIA -- There was scattered, often highly productive, offshore billfish action to be had the past few days. The winds, however, messed up many an outing. Small sea trout and flounder are available all along the Eastern Shore seaside inlets and in the waters close to the Atlantic shore. The trout will increase in size very quickly, as new arrivals chase out the little ones. Channel bass still offer a jolting experience in the Che