MORE than $1 million was paid out in winnings during the 26th Annual White Marlin Open held in Ocean City last week. Top honors went to Richard Benn, who boated an 81.50-pound white marlin while fishing with Captain Dave Spencer on the Anticipation. Benn received $685,373 for his fish. Top honors in the Blue Marlin division went to Stan Shapiro for his 578-pounder caught while fishing aboard the Lady-S, earning him a check for $279,107.

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

POTOMAC RIVER -- Though Maryland is suffering one of the worst droughts in history, Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited said smallmouth bass fishing in the river's upper reaches ranged from good to excellent. Penrod said pumpkin pepper tubebaits rigged to small leadheads produced outstanding results at Whites Ferry, Edwards Ferry and Lander, particularly when fished slowly in the deeper pools and downstream of underwater ledges. Downriver in the river's District segment, water temperatures have fallen to 82 degrees. Penrod said a mix of stripers and largemouths were found lurking along the edges of main-river grass beds near Blue Plains and inside Washington Channel. Both slammed big-mouth spinnerbaits fished during high and ebb tides. Penrod said the best largemouth action takes place downriver near the mouth of Pomonkey Creek and Mattawoman Creek, where buzzbaits and spinnerbaits both proved effective.

Pennsylvania

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service reported good to excellent catches of smallmouth bass, despite extremely low water conditions. "We're fishing the pools between Duncannon and Montgomery Ferry and catching large numbers of mid-size smallmouths."

Maryland

LOCH RAVEN AND LIBERTY RESERVOIRS -- John Forbes at Loch Raven Fishing Center said white perch and crappie were caught in depths ranging from 9 to 17 feet on shad darts trimmed with live minnows, while an inline spinner trimmed with a piece of night crawler lured perch to 12 inches.

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- John Marple at Johnny's Bait House reported outstanding largemouth bass action throughout the lake's lower reaches. Marple said bass up to 3 pounds slammed live minnows fished in the deeper coves, while bottom-fished night crawlers produced monster bluegills up to 12 inches at the same locations. Marple said there are still large numbers of big rainbow and brown trout being caught just above the dam, mostly on live minnows suspended 20 feet beneath a small float.

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE -- WSSC patrol officer Ray Hohl said good numbers of largemouths were caught by anglers fishing points and ledges with plastic worms, crankbaits and pig-n-jig combinations. Baltimore resident Jerry Sauter caught a 6-pound, 12.5-ounce largemouth bass and a 5-pound, 1.5-ounce smallmouth bass at Rocky Gorge. Hohl said catfish are taking bottom-fished night crawlers and cut bait and good numbers of white perch were caught on small jigs trimmed with a piece of worm.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Dave Fauntleroy at Anna Point Marina weighed several 5-pound largemouths during the weekend and a large number of stripers about the same weight. Fauntleroy said the best bass catches were made at Dike #3 and Fish Structure #5. Carlos Wood at Highpoint Marina said most of the stripers were caught near the Route 208 Bridge, where guide Glenn Briggs is trolling Redfins and Stretch 22s over depths ranging from 18 to 24 feet. This technique produced an 8-fish limit for Rodney and John Miller of Kenswick that weighed 43 pounds.

JAMES RIVER (Richmond area) -- Dozens of blue catfish from 25 to 39 pounds were weighed at Chester Ice House last weekend, most taken on cut herring baits fished downriver of Richmond's I-95 Bridge.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Trace Noel at Shenandoah River Trips said, "It's car keys time. You could virtually tie a car key on your line, attach a small hook and catch smallmouth bass with the rig . . . the fishing is the best we've seen in years."

KERR RESERVOIR -- Hugh Hamby at Castle Heights Grocery said good catches of stripers were made between the dam and Buoy #6 while trolling bucktails and small spoons along the channel edge in the early morning hours.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Mike Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop said, "They're catching bluefish off Turkey Point and a few locations to the south, especially near Worton Point, where we have breaking bluefish and rockfish mixed." Benjamin said spot, croaker and weakfish were also caught near Worton Point. Thirteen-year-old Nick Blevins of Havre de Grace caught a 24-inch shark while bottom-fishing with night crawlers from a local pier. The shark appeared to be a spiny dogfish, a species which reaches a maximum length of four feet at maturity. Francis Toy at Toy's Outdoor Store in Rock Hall reported breaking schools of snapper bluefish and stripers along the bay's eastern channel edge, however, most of the stripers were throwbacks.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Rob Jepson at the Angler's Sport Shop said croaker fishing ranged from good to excellent at Hacketts, where bottom-fished squid strips and bait shrimp produced croaker up to 16 inches. Jepson said snapper bluefish, some ranging up to 8 pounds, were caught by anglers casting mid-size streamer flies along the bay's eastern channel edge near Kent Island.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Captain Dave MacElree, skipper of the Summer Song, encountered schools of marauding 3- to 4-pound bluefish just off the channel edge near Sharps Island, where trolled yellow surgical hose eels produced excellent results. He later fished the Choptank River's mouth, where he found loads of 12- to 14-inch croaker, a few flounder and an occasional weakfish. All three species inhaled squid strips and chunks of peeler crab. David Elzey at Tommy's Sporting Goods said black drum up to 70 pounds were caught from the Choptank River Bridge fishing piers. A few were also caught at Sandy Hill, where weakfish and croaker were caught earlier in the day. Chunks of peeler crab and squid produced good croaker action, while Sting Silvers jigged close to the bottom produced weakfish up to 3 pounds.

DEALE -- Captain George Prenant, skipper of the Stormy Petrel, said the Deale charter fleet encountered mixed schools of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and stripers while trolling over depths of 32 to 45 feet south of Deale. Prenant said weakfish and larger stripers are frequently lurking beneath the schools of breaking fish and all can be taken on small spoons trolled at high speeds. Prenant said bottom-fishing in Herring Bay for jumbo spot, croaker and white perch has been outstanding, with the largest croaker frequently caught just after sunset.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- The headboats Tom Hooker and Lady Hooker are fishing near Cook Point and Sharps Island Flats, locations that have consistently produced good to excellent bottom fishing action for croaker and spot. The Rod 'n' Reel Dock charter fleet trolled the bay's western channel edge between the Gas Platform and Radar Towers with small spoons and surgical hose eels and caught limits of stripers and bluefish, as well as several Spanish mackerel.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said, "Rockfish, blues, and Spanish mackerel were caught at Cedar Point, Cedar Point Hollow, Mud Leads and the northwest Middle Grounds. There are big schools of undersized rockfish scattered throughout the region and weakfish are under the breaking stripers. Croaker are biting like crazy at night at the Chinese Muds in the mouth of the Patuxent and there are large numbers of trout are mixed with them."

POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center fished the Southwest Middle Grounds throughout most of the week, catching a mix of bluefish up to 3 pounds, similar size stripers, weakfish up to 24 inches and an occasional Spanish mackerel. Captain Eddie Davis, skipper of the Edith Rose, fished the bay's eastern channel edge near the Target Ship American Mariner, and caught limits of stripers and weakfish. Davis has also been fishing at night for croaker near Buoy 72, catching large croaker and weakfish while drift fishing with squid strips.

HOOPER ISLAND AREA -- Captain Phil Gootee on the Fish Magnet chummed for stripers near Buoy 72-A, where he quickly limited out on 22- to 24-inch rockfish and in addition, caught several bluefish ranging from 3 to 6 pounds.

TANGIER SOUND -- Captain Curtis Johns on the Karen Ray fished lower Tangier Sound where he found good numbers of croaker and weakfish. Captain Kevin Josenhans said the best fishing has been in the shallows, where he's catching a mix of rockfish and speckled trout.

CAPE CHARLES -- Chris's Bait & Tackle weighed several big cobia last weekend, the largest tipping the scales at 67 pounds. Red drum to 49 pounds were caught near Buoy C-13 by anglers drifting live spot on fish finder rigs, while up the bay at The Cell, a 9-pound, 9-ounce weakfish was taken on a live croaker. Croaker dominated the bottom-fishing action through the Chesapeake's lower reaches, however, at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, black drum up to 50 pounds, large flounder and Spanish mackerel provided lots of excitement for weekend anglers.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Captain Jeff Steward on the Restless Lady fished Baltimore and Poorman's canyons where he caught a couple white marlin, and a few dolphin. Later in the week Jeff fished south of the Jack Spot, where he caught good numbers of yellowfin tuna up to 60 pounds. Lynn Jarmon at Delmarva Sports Center said croaker fishing has been great both in the back bays and along the coast. Good numbers of weakfish were caught from the U.S. 50 Bridge at night, but stripers of legal size seemed to be somewhat scarce.

WACHAPREAGUE -- On days when the weather cooperated, the charter fleet running from Wachapreague Marina ran to the southern end of Washington Canyon and caught yellowfin tuna ranging from 45 to 85 pounds, dolphin up to 26 pounds and wahoo up to 41 pounds.

OUTER BANKS -- Early morning anglers fishing the ends of piers caught the lion's share of last weekend's cobia and Spanish mackerel, while surf fishing continued a bit slower than normal. Offshore, billfish action ranged good to excellent, yellowfin action was mediocre and there were a few wahoo in the 40-pound class reported. The best excitement came from the towers, where huge amberjack and cobia lurk among the supports.

Hear updates on this week's hottest fishing spots by calling Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and entering category 3474 (FISH). Fishing columnist Gary Diamond files audio reports weekly. The call is free wherever 202 area codes are free. From Prince William County call 690-4110.