THE NAVY's underwater explosive test in the lower Chesapeake Bay last week caused one of the largest recorded kills of sea trout. The test was originally proposed for earlier in the year when the bay was full of many species but biologists from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources strongly opposed the tests, claiming that it would result in a massive fish kill. An investigation by several governmental agencies rescheduled the blast for late October, a time when they claimed only a few fish would be affected. Similar tests last season killed only three fish, nothing near the reported 3,000 or more sea trout that were destroyed in last week's test.
The likelihood of other species being involved in the kill is extremely high. Flounder have been roaming throughout the test area during the past several months and blues were being spotted breaking in the same vicinity. These fish will often lie on the bottom for extended periods until decomposition finally causes them to surface. The full extent of the damage done by the blast may not be known for another two weeks.
WHAT'S THE CATCH?
WASHINGTON AND VICINITY
POTOMAC RIVER --
Guide Glenn Peacock is still knocking the bass dead in the Washington Channel, using a pig-and-jig combination with deadly success. Peacock says the bass are holding in 12 to 15 feet of water and range from 2 to 5 pounds. Peacock has also been fishing at The Spoils just above the Woodrow Wilson Bridge where similar-sized fish are coming from deep structure. Guide Charlie Taylor has been fishing downriver near Piscataway Creek, finding good-sized largemouths holding in wooded structure along the edge of drop-offs. Taylor says these fish will stick around throughout the entire winter, but as the water temperature drops, you'll have to work your baits slower than normal. Upriver, guide Mark Kovach found outstanding smallmouth fishing while using a pig-and-jig combo in the deep pockets between Dam No. 3 and Brunswick. Kovach says the bronzebacks are running from 1 to 3 pounds and often hit when you least expect.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE --
The balmy weather last weekend brought lots of fishermen to the shores of both WSSC reservoirs. Anglers casting small spinnerbaits and large minnows found largemouths in the shallow coves. Crappie fishing has been steadily improving with slabsides of 10 to 12 inches now being common catches. Live minnows and small jigs are the bait of choice.
CONOWINGO LAKE --
Butch Young at Glen Cove Marina reports outstanding catches of crappies along the Harford County shoreline. These fish have migrated into the shallower brush piles and will hit tiny chartreuse jigs trimmed with a live minnow. On the Cecil County side of the lake, anglers are hooking up with lots of largemouths while casting crankbaits and live minnows among the rocks and submerged trees. Fish larger than 4 pounds are feeding mainly during the late afternoon.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER --
Butch Young at Fisherman's Park says the smallmouths are migrating upriver. Anglers casting a variety of small crankbaits and spinners have landed bronzebacks weighing up to 4 pounds. Catfish action has dropped off at the base of Conowingo Dam, but some larger fish can now be found in the deeper holes downriver near the I-95 bridge. Nightcrawlers and cut bait have proven best for the catties.
LAKE OCCOQUAN --
Park Ranger Monroe Parker reports bass fishing has been good to excellent. Scott Vincent of Fairfax nailed two bass weighing 4 and 5 pounds while fishing along the deep water dropoffs. Vincent also won first place in the lake's recent bass tournament. Several other largemouths of 3 to 5 pounds were also caught in the same vicinity last weekend, but the most unusual catch goes to Marc McGlade of Fairfax, who nailed a 12-pound, 8-ounce northern pike while fishing for bass with a white spinnerbait. West Cogan is catching large crappies while fishing the brush piles with live minnows. Fishing should be good here until the ice arrives sometime in late January.
LAKE ANNA --
Guide Gene Hord has been fishing uplake for stripers and hooking up with loads of 5- to 9-pounders with bucktails and sassy shad along the flat drop-offs. Hord says he has also been successful using a variety of top-water plugs such as Zara Spooks and Pencil Poppers. Hord says fishing should be good to excellent for at least another two months. Guide Bill Mathias says bass fishing has been good throughout the entire lake. Mathias has been tossing deep diving crankbaits along the wooded structure. Sherri Sprague at Lake Anna Sporting Goods in Mineral reports several huge stringers of crappies have been caught lately. These tasty fish are holding tight among the pier pilings, brush piles and near beaver huts. Live minnows and small jigs have produced well.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER --
Carl Gentry at Chesley's Sporting Goods in Fredericksburg reports excellent smallmouth bass fishing right in the middle of town. The 2- to 3-pound fish are taking pig-and-jig combos fished in the deeper pools. Gentry says catfish are still active in the same areas and hitting live minnows and cut bait fished on the bottom.
JAMES RIVER --
The upper reaches of the river have been outstanding for smallmouths. Rob Arthur of Richmond was fishing with live minnows on light spinning tackle when a whopping 6-pound, 4-ounce trophy hit his bait. Several other 3- to 5-pound smallmouths were taken last weekend within the city limits of Richmond. Lots of 5-to 6-pound catfish are also being caught in the same vicinity.
SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE --
The surface water temperature of the lake is now 62 degrees and decreasing. This means the stripers are now holding in deep water where they're taking white bucktails and live shad. Cecilia Bowman at J&W Sporting Goods in Moneta says the stripers range from 6 to 30 pounds and can be found along the edge of dropoffs and the mouths of creeks. Bass fishing has been a hit-or-miss situation for the past several days, but a few in the 5-pound category have been caught by striper fishermen.
KERR RESERVOIR --
Guide Henry Wilson reports striper activity is still good from Goat Island to Bluestone Creek. The stripers are scattered and you'll have to work the submerged rock piles with live shad and white bucktails. Outstanding catches of crappies are being made throughout the lake, with the shallow brush piles being most productive. Live minnows and small jigs cast among the debris are best. Some of the fish weigh up to 2 pounds.
SUSQUEHANNA FLATS --
Herb Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop in North East reports good catches of big catfish are still being made in the shipping channels surrounding the flats. Benjamin says the catties tip the scales from 3 to 9 pounds and will take cut bait or nightcrawlers fished on the bottom.
GUNPOWDER AND DUNDEE RIVERS --
Bass fishing has been outstanding in both rivers. Largemouths ranging from 1 to 6 pounds have been taking spinners, live minnows and pig-and-jig combinations fished close to pier pilings and wooded structure. At the mouth of the rivers, good catches of white and yellow perch are now being made by anglers dunking live minnows close to the bottom.
UPPER BAY --
Clyde Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop reports several huge yellow perch are being caught in the tidal ponds at Belgrove Road. The perch measure 12 to 15 inches long and are feeding on live minnows fished under a float. With the water turning colder, white perch action should pick up within the next few days at the mouth of the Patapsco River near Key Bridge. However, there are now fishermen currently trying their luck at this location.
BAY BRIDGE AREA --
Charlie Ebersberger at the Angler's Sport Center says there are still a few sea trout being caught at Hacketts Bar, but the weakfish should migrate out any day. Inside the Severn and Magothy rivers, good catches of white and yellow perch are being made by anglers casting small shad darts trimmed with live minnows and fished under a float.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH --
Mary Tyler at Tyler's Tackle Shop reports there are still good catches of blues being made just out from the radar towers, but the fish are migrating south quickly and may be gone by the weekend. Calvin Tyler went fishing with Captain Mike Sullivan on the Dolly Diesel at Punch Island. They hooked up with more sea trout than they could handle while trolling with yellow bucktails trimmed with pork rind.
George Lauterbach of First Marine says outstanding catches of sea trout, 6 to 13 pounds, are being made at the Airplane Wreck just above Buoy 54. Small bucktails slowly trolled near the wreck have devastated these fish. Captain Lou Snyder on the Julie-Lynn says bucktails are the only way to go simply because the trout are no longer feeding on crabs.
POINT LOOKOUT --
Surf fishing is holding up well at Point Lookout State Park. Rick Ince at Rick's Marine reports several large blues were taken by anglers casting cut spot and Hopkins spoons. Scattered catches of flounder are also being made from the causeway and an occasional trout has been taken. Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center was drift fishing with strips of cut spot when he loaded up on 1- to 3-pound flounder. Scheible was fishing along the edge of the main shipping channel just west of Point Lookout. Captain Paul Kellam on the Patty-Lee trolled wire line, heavy sinkers and small bucktails just west of the Mud Leads where he located a huge school of sea trout and a few flounder, ranging from 5 to 8 pounds.
SMITH POINT --
Bill Bond at Jet Hardware says there are still loads of breaking blues near Buoy 48 and the Davidson Wreck. The blues are feeding on the southerly migrating menhaden and weigh from 5 to 15 pounds. Under the blues, you'll find good concentrations of sea trout and flounder, but it's tough to get a lure past the blues.
CAPE CHARLES --
Outstanding catches of tautog, flounder and sea bass are being made just a mile west of Cape Charles Harbor. The tog weigh from 2 to 12 pounds and are taking chunks of crab fished on the bottom. The secret is to locate a rocky bottom and set the hook at the slightest indication of a bite. Sea trout are in the area also, but the only ones caught have been in commercial nets.
Nate Atkinson at Wachapreague Marina says there are still a few flounder lingering in the back bay, but the best fishing has been offshore about a mile or two. Atkinson says sea trout from 2 to 5 pounds are concentrated along the edge of the dropoffs and taking squid strips drifted along the bottom. Chopper blues are roaming the offshore lumps and some of these will hit the 20-pound mark. Surface plugs and large spoons tossed to the choppers cause lots of excitement.
VIRGINIA BEACH --
Karren Feller at Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports fishing has been excellent for speckled sea trout inside Rudee Inlet. Feller says the trout are hitting Mirro-lures and live minnows at depths of 12 to 15 feet. Offshore, huge schools of blues are roaming the lumps just southeast of the Towers. Captain Pete Bregant of Fish Virginia reports some of the blues tip the scales at nearly 20 pounds. Bregant says you don't have to run far to find good concentrations of sea bass and flounder, which are being caught in large numbers near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
LYNNHAVEN INLET --
Nancy Cobb at Cobb's Marina reports outstanding flounder fishing throughout the area with catches of 3- to 5-pounders being common every day. The flatties are hitting live minnows and squid strips fished in 12 to 25 feet of water.
DELAWARE COAST --
For some unexplained reason, fishing here has been sporadic. Sea trout are being caught just a mile from the beach, but it's a hit or miss situation at best. Inside Indian River Inlet, anglers are hooking up with 6- to 8-pound blues by casting large bucktails and working them slowly across the bottom. Scattered catches of tog are also being made in the same vicinity.
CAPE HATTERAS --
The first of the big eye tuna have arrived offshore and several in the 150- to 200-pound category. Great catches of king mackerel, wahoo, dolphin and yellowfin tuna are also being made. Inshore, the red drum run at Cape Point was spectacular for two nights, but elsewhere along the beach, only a few reds were taken. Chopper blues weighing from 12 to 15 pounds blitzed the beach near Oregon Inlet, but the foray only lasted a few hours at best. While the action took place, every fisherman on the beach was hooked up with a feisty blue.