The news came too late for last week's Fishlines, but last week C.R. Joseph of Orange, Virginia, who likes to fish with live shiners in Lake Orange, caught a 16-pound, 8-ounce northern pike -- a pound over the 1972 lake record.
Then comes Southern Maryland angler Luke Weeks, who prefers bottom-fished pieces of peeler crab to attract the sea trout of the lower Patuxent River. Just as September bade farewell, in the mouth of Little Kingston Creek -- a Patuxent feeder stream -- a 98-pound black drum inhaled Weeks' bait and tested his tackle for 45 minutes. The huge drum is one of the biggest ever hooked in Maryland.
Elsewhere, flounder not only cooperate along the Eastern Shore of Virginia, they also hop onto hooks baited with minnow, bloodworm or squid in the lower Maryland Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of St. Jerome's Creek and inside the Potomac at Cornfield Harbor. Sea trout and bluefish are still active in many areas of the Bay, and freshwater bass hunters score in nearby lakes and rivers.
MARYLAND RIVERS AND LAKES
POTOMAC RIVER -- Smallmouth bass and channel catfish provide plenty of action for waders or jonboaters from around Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, down to and past Knoxville in western Maryland. Surface buzz lures, smoke jigs, spinners and shortlipped crankbaits turn the trick on smallmouths, with catfish preferring cut fish or worm baits. In Montgomery County and Washington, crappies and largemouth bass will go for live minnows. Of course, plastic worms and crankbaits also work well on bass. Bonus stripers show up on occasion.
WSSC RESERVOIRS -- Triadelphia's upper end, to the left of the Triadelphia Road boat ramp, gave up a 51/2-pound largemouth bass to Skip Ronson of Baltimore. Ronson used a motor oil-color plastic worm. Rocky Gorge, meanwhile, was good to a Silver Spring angler who found a quick limit of early-morning bass on a Devil's Horse lure. Bass and crappies are becoming more active now.
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- This Garrett County beauty was good to two Oakland fishermen who found several northern pike up to 10 pounds on their jointed Rapala lures last week. The pike crashed the lures in flooded shore brush. Bass and walleye fishing is warming up with lower water temperatures.
EASTERN SHORE PONDS -- Wye Mills (Route 213), Tuckahoe (Route 480), Unicorn (Route 313), Smithville (off Route 404), and Urieville (Route 213), all show increased catches of crappies and bass, and in some cases, pickerel. Short Rebel, Rapala or Redfin minnow imitators work like the dickens.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND LAKES AND CREEKS -- St. Mary's Lake (Route 5, south of Leonardtown at Camp Cosoma Road) is ready for shorewalkers and boaters with bass, sunfish and scattered pickerel very willing. Gilbert Run Park Lake (Route 6, east of LaPlata) is better for bait-loving catfish and sunfish. Try fishing for slab-sided shellcracker sunfish with a short piece of nightcrawler attached to a size-8 hook and light line. A piece of splitshot will give it casting weight; never use a float. And here's a surprise: The Zekiah Swamp creek, crossed by Route 6 east of LaPLata, gave me yellow perch, crappies and pickerel earlier this week -- all on a No. 1 squirrel-hair spinner.
NANTICOKE RIVER -- Bassboaters coming out of the Sharptown (Route 313) ramp and heading up toward Delaware do very well during outgoing tides along the edges of weedbeds. Largemouth bass (and a few rockfish) hit chartreuse/coachdog crankbaits. The Marshyhope Creek ramp area just outside of Federalsburg is good for crappies and some bass.
CHOPTANK RIVER -- Greensboro to Martinak State Park sectors have been good for pickerel, bass and crappies. Minnows work well for pickerel and crappies; plastic worms and quarter-ounce crawdad-color crankbaits are the thing for the bass.
PATUXENT RIVER -- Upper river, above Wayson's Corner, has been fine with largemouth bass jumping on crankbaits. Wayson's Corner (Route 4) holds a good population of yellow perch. That's right -- yellow perch.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- The river, just below the dam, and Conowingo Lake offer above-average bass and crappies outings. Some scattered schoolie stripers are taken on the Flats.
CHESAPEAKE BAY A lot of activity, here. Sea trout are hooked either on trolled, heavily weighted bucktails or still-fished peeler-crab pieces, in 35 to 40 feet of water at The Diamonds, Sharps Island, Stone Rock, Hooper's Island, inside the Patuxent River (as far up as Broome's Island) and the Potomac (especially Cornfield Harbor), as well as the channel ledges at buoys 50, 52 and 54. Bluefish appear in places too numerous to list, but often-choppy seas have made surface-breaking bluefish chases a chore. Continuously productive areas have been the ledge dropoffs between Point No Point and St. Jerome's Creek and the Targets area south of the Patuxent's Cedar Point. Don't overlook Smith Point, Virginia, directly opposite Point Lookout and the mouth of the Rappahannock River, two spots where sea trout and blues have made steady appearances. For landlubbers, night surf-fishing from the Point Lookout State Park beaches has been good. Cut slabs of fresh spot or alewives on weighted bottom rigs are recommended. The Kent Narrows and Eastern Bay near Bay Bridge hold snapper bluefish and perch.
VIRGINIA RIVERS AND LAKES SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Smallmouth bass chances are good if you can get hold of a few helgrammites or crayfish. If not, use small crankbaits or spinners.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Striper action, after a little slowdown, has perked up again along with large- and smallmouth bass catches. A variety of jigs and crankbaits attracts the bass.
LAKE ORANGE -- This 200-odd-acre impoundment (Route 20, west of Fredericksburg) has seen the lake record shattered with a 16-pound, 8-ounce northern pike by C. R. Joseph, of Orange. Joseph used a live shiner. Poppers and shallow crankbaits will turn up keeper bass, while crappies like minnows or small jigs under a bobber in the stickups.
LAKE GASTON -- Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms will draw a few lunker bass from deepwater boatdocks and the backs of deep coves. Overall action is somewhat disappointing.
KERR RESERVOIR -- Bass and striper catches are down, but not so with the crappies. Any flooded brush, dock pilings or bridge abutments will turn up the specks on a variety of jigs or live baits.
LAKE ANNA -- Even if the bass fishing was slow for some during weather changes last week, the bass should cooperate now. Crankbaits, plastic worms and surface buzz baits (early in the day) are the way to go in upper lake waters.
OCCOQUAN RESERVOIR -- The fishing should be much better, considering the time of year. All the same, a few keeper largemouth bass and quite a number of small crappies and sunfish are taken around Fountainhead and Bull Run.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Upper river, above Fredericksburg, gives up smallmouth bass on live or artificial lures. The tidal waters around Leedstown, especially the feeder creeks, are good for largemouth bass. In saltwater, from Moratico to Deltaville, snapper bluefish and some decent sea trout can be had.
CHICKAHOMINY RIVER -- Some of the bass hounds have complained about a lack of action. But there are increased catches this week, along with more crappies and catfish.
BACK BAY -- It always depends on the wind. If a northeaster blows, the water levels decline and the fishing along with it. The best action has come from the edges of narrow grass beds on Johnson Silver Minnows or plastic worms. Last week's biggest bass: a nine-pounder.
OCEAN AND INLETS MARYLAND -- Kingfish an come as no big surprise for Virginia Beach anglers. Flounder still hold up well, especially in the Wachapreague to Oyster backwaters. Sea trout are massing close to the shores of Chincoteague, Wachapreague, Metomkin and Oyster on the Eastern Shore. Some boats hook up to 200 per day on slivers of squid -- alas, they're usually small. A few monstrous flounder are taken on the rockpiles of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's third and fourth islands.
NORTH CAROLINA -- Surf fishing for yearling channel bass should be fine this weekend on Hatteras Island, especially in the waves near Hatteras Village (close to the inlet). Offshore boaters find king mackerel clear down to Wilmington, with bluefish migrations on schedule for surf anglers. Mid- to late October should provide a bluefish bonanza.