UNSETTLED weather kept many anglers closer to home instead of at one of those exotic fishing places last week. The fishing was as unpredictable as the weather.

Fortunately, the tournaments went relatively unscathed -- especially at Reedville, Virginia, where more than 2,500 anglers in 500 boats competed for thousands of dollars in the annual Bluefish Derby. The top five winners, Richmond residents all, won $16,500 -- $8,000 of that to first-prize winner Robert Fulton.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring two free boating-safety courses in July and August. Classes are limited to 20 students and will be taught at the Tawes state office building in Annapolis. Nowadays no licenses are required to operate a boat, but as of July 1, 1988, Maryland will require anyone born after July 1, 1972, to take a mandatory course to legally operate a boat. All students must be preregistered. For more information call Phil Deitehman at 301/549-2573. WHAT'S THE CATCH?

WASHINGTON AND VICINITY

POTOMAC RIVER --

Fishing has made the normal summer transition to the grass beds. In Washington Channel, anglers are hooking lots of largemouths using spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms. Guide Charlie Taylor says the best action is amid the vegetation in early morning. At midday, try such deep water structure as The Spoils just above the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Upriver, catfish action is still hot near Fletcher's Boat House and there are still a few white perch in the vicinity. Smallmouth anglers near Dam No. 4 will do best on live bait combinations; Rev. Bill Zimmerman of Silver Spring and his fishing partner Shorty Fridinger of Shepherdstown last weekend loaded up on smallmouths with a combination of small shad darts trimmed with live minnows. Although most of the bronzebacks were only about 10- to 14-inchers, a few came in near 3 pounds.

MARYLAND

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE --

Bass fishing's holding up in both WSSC lakes. Bob Griffith at Fishing and Archery Outfitters reports largemouths on the edges of the drop-offs taking a variety of bait and lures, particularly large live minnows. Crappies are still plentiful at the bridges, but the sizes have begun their normal decline.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR --

Doug Lyons at Old Reisterstown Bait and Tackle reports good fishing for largemouths and crappies. Most of the larger fish have taken refuge in deeper water and are hitting a pig-and-jig combination worked slowly on the bottom. Crappies are suspended in depths of six to eight feet and taking small jigs trimmed with a twister tail.

VIRGINIA

LAKE OCCOQUAN --

Scattered catches of largemouths and a few hybrids are still being made in some of the deeper coves. Deep diving crankbaits and live minnows have worked well on both. Crappies are being caught in deep water, but most average only 7 or 8 inches. LAKE ANNA --

Water temperature is now in the lower 80s, which means you'll have to fish the deep water to catch anything. Delmas Moon at Sportsman's One Stop reports amazing numbers of good-sized walleyes taking white bucktails worked along the edges of the drop-offs. There are still lots of largemouths being caught in the same areas, says guide Gene Hord, on plastic worms and crankbaits in early morning and late afternoon. Hord says striper activity is good considering the high water temperature.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER --

Good catches of blue cats are now being made in the Fredericksburg area. Billy Sheets of King George nailed a 20-pound, 10-ouncer on a chunk of peeler crab. Smallmouth catches upriver have been outstanding, the bronzebacks taking spinners, small topwater baits and live minnows fished in fast water. Downriver, good catches of largemouths are being made on small jigs trimmed with chartreuse twister tails.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE --

Striper fishing has been hit-or-miss unless you don't mind night fishing. Guide Bob King says stripers are taking Rebel Redfins and some topwater lures between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.

CHESAPEAKE BAY

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER --

"We're seeing typical summertime fishing here," says Terry Rhudy at Conowingo Bait in Darlington. Loads of catfish, carp and small white perch are being caught the length of the river, the best action coming at the Conowingo Dam base, where anglers fishing cut bait and whole bluegills have hooked catties up to 8 pounds. Some larger white perch are also being taken when the turbines are running.

GUNPOWDER AND DUNDEE RIVERS --

"Other than the catfish, fishing has been on the slow side here," says Sonja Anderson at Stonewall Sports. Catfish up to 6 pounds are being caught on cut bait, peelers and nightcrawlers fished on the bottom.

UPPER BAY --

White perch action is picking up again in most of the feeder creeks and rivers. Clyde Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop says the best locations are Stoney Creek, Key Bridge, Curtis Creek and some of the upper bay lumps. Tony Tochterman at Tochterman's Sporting Goods says anglers have been buying bloodworms and catching white perch in the mouth of the Patapsco.

BAY BRIDGE --

The Severn and Magothy Rivers have taken off this past week with good catches of white perch. These fish are ranging up to a pound or more and taking chunks of peeler crab hooked to the back end of small jigs and cast near the pier pilings. Barry Ebersberger at The Angler's Sport Center says bluefish have dropped off around the bridge; near the mouth of Eastern Bay a bit south, good catches of blues are being made by trollers using red surgical hose eels.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH --

"There's lots of blues breaking from the Radar Towers to Parker's Creek nearly every afternoon," says Calvin Tyler at Tyler's Tackle Shop. The charter fleet, trolling small silver spoons and red surgical hose eels for the blues, was hooking 3- to 5-pounders there. Overnight and early morning, a few anglers have hooked 40- to 50-pound black drum at the Stone Rock, just east of Chesapeake Beach.

SOLOMONS --

Trollers located good concentrations of blues this week at Drum Point, Cedar Point and just out from the Hotel at Point Lookout. But most of the charter fleet was after sea trout and blues, for last weekend's Budweiser Pro-Am Tournament. Pam Wiblitzhouser of Solomons, aboard the Classie Lassie, bagged the winning trout: 11 pounds 9 ounces, worth $4,500. On the Miss Dollie, Calvin Tyler of Chesapeake Beach hooked the largest bluefish: 8 pounds 5 ounces, $2,000.

POINT LOOKOUT --

Good concentrations of summer-sized blues arrived at the Middle Grounds last weekend. Captain Eddie Davis on the Edith Rose has been running to the Mud Leads for a mixed bag of blues, sea trout and flounder. Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center reports excellent catches of large spot inside the creeks, and breaking blues at the mouth of the Potomac. Captain Doug Scheible on the Bay King II says he'll be dedicating Tuesdays to bottom fishing for croaker, spot, trout and flounder since these fish have become abundant in the nearby Potomac. Captain Paul Kellam on the Patty-Lee has been chumming and bottom fishing about four miles east of Point Lookout for fair to good numbers of trout and blues. Captain Phil Langley on the Tracy Ann reports good catches of trout are being made just out from Saint Jeromes Creek and some jumbo spot are now at the mouth of the creek. Rick Ince at Rick's Marine says the flounder are showing up in good numbers in shallower water and a few extremely early sea bass, weighing nearly 2 pounds, were caught in the crab pots.

EASTERN BAY --

Fair catches of white perch have been made in Kent Narrows during the past few days and good concentrations of blues are at the mouth of Eastern Bay. Roger Dyer at the Sportsman's Service Center says the hot weather seems to have turned the blues on, and both trollers and bait dunkers have been hooking choppers weighing up to 6 pounds. Scattered catches of sea trout also are being made at the mouth of Eastern Bay by anglers fishing the edge of the Bloody Point drop-off with bloodworms and peelers.

CHOPTANK RIVER --

The upper reaches of the Choptank have been running fair to good for white perch and catfish. According to the folks at Tommy's Sporting Goods in Cambridge, anglers on the old U.S. 50 bridge have been hooking a combination of catfish, perch and even a few sea trout. The mouth of the river has been the best bet for the weakfish. Most are spikes and range from 12 inches to 2 pounds. Bloodworms and peeler crab baits fished on the bottom have worked best.

TILGHMAN ISLAND --

The charter fleet running from captain Buddy Harrison's Chesapeake House has been hooking black drum, blues and trout for the past two weeks. The drum weigh in at 40 to 55 pounds and are taking peeler crabs fished on the bottom. Most productive area has been just above Sharps Island Light at the Stone Rock.

HOOPER ISLAND --

Captain Henry Gootee on the Striker has been loading the coolers with trout, flounder, spot and a few croaker, as he concentrates near the mouth of the Honga River.

NANTICOKE RIVER --

"Trout fishing has been great at the mouth of the Nanticoke River and we're now seeing quite a few flounder," says Dave Watson at Dave's Sport Shop in Royal Oak. These are running up to 2 pounds and taking bloodworms and peelers on the bottom. Good catches of spot also are being made in the same vicinity using top and bottom rigs baited with bloodworms.

CRISFIELD --

Captain Leroy Yingling on the Doris K III reports good catches of sea trout at Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. Captain Curtis Johns reports good catches of trout, spot and some nice-sized flounder. Captain Bud Thomas on the Lar Joy II and Captain Joe Asanovich on the Barbara Ann report good catches of trout weighing from 1 to 3 pounds. Captain Tim Tawes on the Shutterbug was out for flounder last weekend with his dad and found a few big flatties in shallow water. Tim Carson at The Pines Motel reports a few anglers came back early because of the heat, but their coolers were bulging with sea trout and a few croaker.

CAPE CHARLES --

Don Stiles at King's Creek Marina reports outstanding catches of sea trout and spot just out from the mouth of the harbor by anglers dunking bloodworms in 35 to 55 feet. Also, huge schools of cobia have been sighted on the surface, plus loads of big sharks, kingfish and some fair-sized flounder.

ATLANTIC OCEAN

OYSTER --

Bluefin tuna are here in big numbers. Captain Otis Asal on the Buccaneer has been hooking the limits at the 26 Mile Hill nearly every day. The fish range from 25 to 60 pounds and are taking cedar plugs, feathered jigs and skip baits. Because the weather here has been reasonably calm, an armada of boats has been seen fishing here on weekends, some from as far away as Virginia Beach. The first yellowfin tuna have also arrived at the 20-fathom fingers and a few dolphin are now at the weedlines.

VIRGINIA BEACH --

Captain Pete Bregant of Fish Virginia reports he is now fishing for trophy king mackerel since the water temperature is above 70. Bregant runs inshore trips for the kings, which often top 40 pounds and should appear in the next few weeks. Captain John Cobbs with Screaming Eagle Charters reports excellent tuna fishing just beyond the Towers and some catches of six to 10 bluefins per boat. Pier anglers are still hooking loads of small spot, flounder and kingfish while night-fishing with squid and bloodworms.

WACHAPREAGUE --

Flounder fishing has been holding steady at 20 to 30 per boat, says Bob Fate at Wachapreague Marina. They're taking live minnows and squid strips fished on the bottom. Offshore wreck fishing has been excellent for sea bass, ling, tog and kingfish. Tuna catches are outstanding at the 21- and 26-Mile Hills for anglers trolling cedar plugs and feathered jigs.

CHINCOTEAGUE --

Flounder fishing continues to be good here also, with catches of 12 to 25 per boat. According to Bill Robbins at R&R Boat Rentals, anglers using live minnows and squid strips have hooked some good-sized flatties weighing up to 6 pounds. The best area has been in Back Narrows. Inlet anglers have been hooking an occasional sea trout weighing more than 5 pounds. Yellow bucktails trimmed with a squid strip have been providing the better catches of weakfish.

OCEAN CITY --

DELAWARE COAST --

The first of the tuna have arrived at the 20-fathom fingers; several charters have hooked all they could handle. Mako shark fishing is all but over with and most of these fish have migrated up toward New Jersey. Wreck fishing has been excellent, but you'll have to pick good-weather days to get to the better areas, which are at the deep-water wrecks about 25 miles from the inlets.

CAPE HATTERAS --

Anglers who can tolerate the wild weather have managed to hook some big tuna. Bluefin, yellowfin and big eye tuna have been concentrated about 25 miles from Oregon Inlet and hitting most skip baits trolled at high speeds. Inshore, up to 60-pound cobia are plentiful at the inlets. Shark fishing is excellent, as usual, but few anglers have bothered. Good catches of spanish mackerel, spike trout, croaker, spot and puppy drum are being made throughout the area in the surf. The best action has been at night.