There's some good news for anglers who fish the Potomc river between Chain Bridge and the Little Falls dam: Soon you will no longer need a Maryland Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing License to fish this stretch of the river.
That's because the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is probably tired of enforcing the saltwater license law on that small stretch of the river. So the department is in the process of reclassifying it as freshwater by moving the tidal boundaries south to Chain Bridge.
Presently, the license is required because the Little Falls dam is the tidal boundary. That means the stretch of river between the District of Columbia line above Chain Bridge and the Little Falls dam is the only stretch of the tidal Potomac where the Maryland saltwater license has been required. The District of Columbia an the Potomac River Fisheries Commission control the rest of the tidal Potomac, and neither requires a fishing license.
The proposed change in the law is being published in the Maryland Register. It is expected to take effect after public hearings, according to a Maryland Tidewater Administration spokesman. ROCKFISH, CONTINUED
Here is yet another episode in the continuing saga of changing rockfish regulations. According to Roy Edwards of the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries, the state has extended the minimum size for striped bass and hybrid striped bass in the state's tidal waters. Keepers now must be at least 18 inches. That law is already in effect.
Virginia does make allowances for foul hooks. It lets you keep two rockfish under 18 inches, out of a daily creel limit of five. THE TANGLED ANGLER SAYS:
The term drag does not mean dressing up in clothes of the opposite sex before going fishing. And a star drag is not Boy George.
Drag is the resistance of a reel to the unspooling of line. Most reels have adjustable drags that should be set well below the rated breaking test of the line. That's because the amount of drag increases as the line goes out owing to the decreasing diameter of the spool, which means that the spool has to spin faster to unspool the same amount of line. Also, the movements of a struggling fish often exert forces greater than their weight.
To set the drag properly, tighten it all the way down. Run the line through all of the guides and tie it to an immovable object. Now pull back on the rod until it is bent into the shape that it would be if you had a big fish on your line. Loosen the drag until the line begins to unspool slowly and smoothly. That's all there is to it.
A star drag, by the way, is a type of drag used on some trolling and casting reels. It is distinguished by a star-shaped wheel on the crank handle that is turned to tighten or loosen the drag. SAFETY TIP OF THE WEEK
When trailering a boat, be sure that the tires of the trailer are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended pressure. Under- over-inflated tires will overheat and possibly blow out. WHAT'S THE CATCH?
POTOMAC RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES
UPPER POTOMAC -- The smallmouth bass are hitting in the late afternoon and early evening from Little Falls on up, says Rob Guilford of The Rod Rack in Frederick.
In the heat of the day, the only baits that work are live baits. Very few "keeper" (12 inches or longer) bass are caught in the daytime, he says. But in the evening, the action picks up and artificial lures such as plastic ringworms, crayfish-patterned lures and crankbaits begin to be effective, he says.
The smallmouth bass are just inhaling the plastic worms, Guilford says. "When the worm hits bottom, the fish just suck it up and take off," he said.
The largemouth bass, on the other hand, are "machine- gunning the bait," Guilford says. "They just come up and tap, tap, tap the worm several times real fast," he says. "Normally, you would ignore this because that's what bluegill often do. But then, if you keep your eye on the line, you'll see it start to pay out. That's when the fish has finally taken it in his mouth and is swimming off. That is when you strike." DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -- The rockfish (striped bass) action is still holding up, mainly for trollers using deep- diving plugs, reports Ray Fletcher of Fletcher's Boat House. For still fishermen, cut bait such as spot will also work, Fletcher says.
Jose Calvino of Shepherd's Live Bait and Tackle in Alexandria also recommends cut bait for the stripers. He says grubs will work, too.
Both Fletcher and Calvino report the catfish are biting on everything from chicken livers and night crawlers to clam snouts and fresh cut bait.
Calvino says the largemouth bass action is slow, but a few -- up to four pounds -- are being taken at Roaches Run near National Airport.
SMOOT BAY -- We saw several largemouth bass taken out of here in the early afternoon Sunday by two anglers wading off the southern point. It was very hot and the sun was shining strongly. Both waders were using crankbaits in about two to four feet of water.
For catfish, eel and even some white perch, fish the deep holes just inside the southern point, about 75 feet offshore. The water there goes from 20 to 30 feet deep at high tide. Fish the outgoing tides when the current sets up a natural chum line of debris being carried out of the bay.
MATTAWOMAN CREEK -- Some largemouth bass are being taken by anglers using plastic worms near the lily pads, but action for anglers who are "flipping" worms into the submerged trees has reportedly died off.
LOWER POTOMAC -- Trollers are catching rockfish over the grass beds near marker 30 off Cedar Point, just bew the U.S. 301 bridge over the Potomac, reports Bob Muscolino of Newburg Marine in Newburg, Md. And there are a lot of white perch everywhere, off Cobb Island, Swann Point and up the Wicomico River, Muscolino says.
WICOMICO RIVER -- "Jumbo spot from 10 to 11 inches" are being taken in the Wicomico and below Cobb Island, Muscolino says. MARYLAND
FARM PONDS -- For largemouth bass, the best action is in the farm ponds both east and west of the Chesapeake.
"We've had some fairly large bass brought in this week from the farm ponds on the Eastern Shore. Trouble is, nobody's saying which farm ponds. Just farm ponds, that's all," says John DiMitro of Angler's in Annapolis. VIRGINIA
LAKE ANNA -- The fishing for largemouth bass "has been pretty decent lately," says Phil Norris of Sturgeon Creek Marina. "They have been catching a lot of six-pounders and some seven-pounders, mainly on plastic worms. Most of them have been caught in 12 to 22 feet of water off the channel and where the channel swings in near points," Norris says.
"Some big stripers are coming up and feeding on the surface, but nobody's having any luck catching them," Norris says. "They will come up and feed just about anywhere on the lake, chasing the redfin, which are all over."
Norris says the catfish are biting, but not the crappies.
OCCOQUAN -- "Stripers have slowed down a bit," reports Phillip Mello of The Lynn Co. in Occoquan. Otherwise, fishing in both the reservoir and the river has been about the same as last week: catfish galore, as well as crappie, bluegill and bass. "Quite a few people are fishing, but nothing spectacular" is being caught, Mello says.
Bass fishing in the reservoir is potentially very good -- "for those who know something about it," Mello says. The largemouth are striking early and late in the day; cloudy and rainy days are the best times to catch them, he says.
RAPPAHANNOCK -- Smallmouth bass fishing has "perked up quite a bit," says Karl Gentry of Chesley's Tackle Shop in Fredericksburg. Gentry weighed in two citation smallmouth last weekend -- one was five pounds, the other just over four pounds. Both were caught on live minnows upriver from Fredericksburg.
A lot of smallmouth are being caught, Gentry adds, and most are in the 11/2-a whole lot of throwbacks."
Catfishing is "excellent," he says, adding that one angler caught three biggies -- two 22-pounders and a 25- pounder -- using Ivory soap. We're not making that up. Gentry says the fisherman always comes in with big catfish caught on Ivory soap, but no one else has any luck with it. Most people are using cut herring, Gentry says.
Largemouth action is good in the tidal water downriver from Fredericksburg. Striper action "is pretty much dead," he says. CHESAPEAKE BAY
CHESAPEAKE BAY BRIDGE TUNNEL -- Pier fishing here has seen better days. "We're not doing anything today. There's only been one bluefish caught all day," said Judy Jeffrey at the Sea Gull Fishing Pier on Monday. "The weekend was a little better, with some blues and some flounder being caught," she said.
POINT LOOKOUT -- "The bluefish are biting like crazy," says Pat Raley of Sister's Place. "I thought we were going to run out of citations Friday and Saturday," she says. A citation-size bluefish is 14 pounds or over. "We had some weigh in at 19 pounds," she says. "That's all they are catching off the causeway. They aren't catching any trout at all now."
And out on the headboats, they are also catching lots of bluefish, but not many trout, says Norman Bishop of The Lucky Lady. "Right now, there are lots of live minnows around. This makes for very good trolling, but not for very good chumming," Bishop says. Trolling off a headboat requires a lot of coordination, he says, especially when you have up to 20 lines out at a time.
"The other day, we had 15 bluefish on at one time and it was a circus, let me tell you. When these dang silver- sided minnows leave, we can get back to chumming," Bishop says.
The bluefish, running from 12 to 18 pounds, can be found in 20 to 30 feet of water in the morning. Later, as the water warms up, they come up into the shallows. At night, before it cools off, they come right up to the beach, Bishop says.
UPPER BAY -- Some big bluefish are around, up to 14 pounds, but you have to work at it to get them, says John DiMitro of Angler's in Annapolis. They are being caught by anglers using cut spot. The blues are scattered all over, from the dumping grounds north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Hackett's Point and Thomas Point on the western side and at Gum Thicket on the Eastern Shore. THE ATLANTIC
CHINCOTEAGUE -- "We are doing fairly good on sea bass, tautog and ling by anchoring over the wrecks," says Capt. Arthur Birch of the "Doris" charter in Chincoteague. "There are also bluefish around, and inshore they are catching some flounder," he says.