SEVENTEEN-year-old Buddy Fuller of Mechanicsville, Md., was fishing aboard the charterboat Lisa-S out of Scheible's Fishing Center two weeks ago. While trolling small spoons through schools of breaking bluefish and stripers, Fuller set his hook on what later turned out to be a new state record Spanish mackerel.
His record-shattering mackerel tipped the scales at 8.45 pounds and measured 32.5 inches in length. "It felt like a regular rockfish to me, then after I got it in the boat, people were saying it was the biggest mackerel they've ever seen." Because the fish was originally weighed on non-certified scales, the record was not verified until Aug. 24 when it was weighed on certified scales. The previous Maryland record weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
POTOMAC RIVER -- Guide Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited said water levels in the river's upper reaches rose significantly because of the rain produced by tropical storm Dennis. Guide Butch Ward fished the stretch between Edwards Ferry and Whites Ferry, where pearl-colored jerkbaits lured bronzebacks up to more than 2 pounds from clumps of stargrass. Penrod tried his luck with tube baits in some of the deeper pools, which produced smallmouths up to 4 pounds. In the river's District segment, anglers caught keeper stripers in Washington Channel while trolling deep-diving crankbaits along the channel edge near Fort McNair. Penrod said the best action for quality largemouth bass took place near Columbia Island Marina, but if you were interested in catching both stripers and largemouths, the grass beds near Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant was the place to fish. Good numbers of largemouths were also found at The Spoils, bridge pilings of Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Occoquan Bay and the mouth of Mattawoman Creek, where buzzbaits and topwater plugs produced explosive action early and late in the day. Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said despite high winds, he was able to find large numbers of exceptional largemouth bass and a few keeper stripers willing to slam surface plugs fished near grass beds. "We used Chug Bugs, Man's Minus One's and buzzbaits all week long and they all caught lots of big bass. Just find a grass bed and you'll catch fish -- it's that easy," he said.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said the river is rapidly rising and muddy, however, it should settle down by this time next week. Prior to Dennis' rains, Kramer enjoyed incredible smallmouth bass action on topwater lures cast to the deeper pools near Duncannon, Pa.
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- John Marple at Johnny's Bait House said trout fishing remains good to excellent just above the dam, where live minnows suspended deep beneath small floats produced trout up to 3 pounds. Bass fishing remains somewhat slow.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Kevin McComas at Loch Raven Fishing Center said the water level is closer to normal than it has been all year. The improved water level produced excellent fishing conditions for northern pike, the largest a 17-pound, 42-inch monster that slammed a crankbait intended for a largemouth bass. McComas said white perch are plentiful throughout the impoundment's middle reaches and smallmouth bass seem to be coming on strong.
LAKE ANNA -- Dave Fauntleroy at Anna Point Marina said water temperatures have decreased significantly since the rains hit and the lake's largemouth bass have really become active. The bucketmouths are slamming surface plugs, shallow-running crankbaits and spinnerbaits fished in Pigeon, Mitchell, Hairfield, Marshall and Contrary creeks. Carlos Wood at Highpoint Marina said, "Schools of stripers seem to be popping up everywhere. Most of the better catches were made at Contrary Creek, The Splits, Rose Valley and Jett Island, where trilling with bucktails and Sassy Shad has been very effective." Guide Glenn Briggs said most anglers have no trouble catching limits of stripers, with most fish averaging 4 pounds or larger.
JAMES RIVER (Richmond area) -- Torrential rains produced flooding conditions through most of the week and fishing came to a screeching halt.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Trace Noel at Shenandoah River Trips said Labor Day weekend was somewhat of a washout, but that he anticipates outstanding smallmouth bass action as soon as water levels fall to normal. "We had several exceptional smallmouth bass taken just a few days prior to the storm," he said. "Water temperatures have fallen to the low 70s, which is ideal for catching the largest bass of the season."
UPPER BAY -- Herb Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop said, "We have rockfish, and lots of them. They're catching rockfish at Turkey Point, Charles Town Pier, North East Town Park and it all just started this week." Herb said at least a dozen stripers up to 24 inches were caught Town Park and most think the stripers have migrated into the area to feed on the swarms of small white perch that arrived a week earlier. Benjamin said there are still large numbers of channel catfish throughout the area and they'll hit bottom fished chunks of peeler crab, slam snout and night crawlers. Francis Toy at Toy's Outdoor Store said wind and rain curtailed most of last week's fishing action. But before the wind began gusting above 20 knots, croaker, Spanish mackerel and weakfish dominated the action near Rock Hall. Toy said bluefish up to 6 pounds slammed surgical hose eels trolled near Love Point and along Swan Point Bar.
BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Rob Jepson at the Angler's Sport Shop said windy weather made fishing among the pilings of the Bay Bridges twin spans all but impossible throughout most of the week. Some of the larger charter boats have been trolling surgical hose eels near Love Point and along lower Kent Island, where bluefish up to 10 pounds were taken early and late in the day. Scattered catches of stripers were made among the bridge pilings, however, most of these fish were much too small to keep. Steve Dunn at Island Hunting & Fishing said a few rockfish were caught by anglers casting bucktails and Sassy Shad among the pier pilings of Kent Narrows Bridge at night. Dunn added "There have been several 7- to 10-pound bluefish at caught by trollers using surgical hose eels and Tony Acetta spoons near the mouth of Eastern Bay and across the channel at Herring Bay." Most of the stripers caught at both locations have been small and quite thin.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Tommy's Sporting Goods reported scattered catches of bluefish were made from the fishing piers at night and a few stripers were mixed with the bluefish.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- The headboats Tom Hooker ventured out one day during the past week, loading the coolers with spot and croaker for the handful of anglers that decided to brave the elements. The Rod 'n' Reel Dock charter fleet has remained at the dock for more than a week, awaiting improved weather conditions.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said when the winds were some calmer, anglers battled 4-foot waves and ran slowly to the Gas Platform where they found large numbers of breaking stripers ranging from 18 to 24 inches. Good catches of spot were made inside the river's mouth, where bottom-fished squid strips and bloodworms produced good results.
POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center tried his luck at flounder fishing in Cornfield Harbor on Monday, the only location that was sheltered from a strong northeasterly breeze. Flatties up to 18 inches were taken on squid strips drifted over the shallow drop-offs near the point. A few spot, weakfish and small croaker were mixed with the flatties.
HOOPER ISLAND AREA -- Captain Mike Murphy of Tide Runner Charters fished the Honga River's sheltered waters, casting large streamer flies along the river's western shore. "We caught a mix of speckled trout to 22 inches, stripers to 24 inches and a few small croaker. Most of the fish were in depths of 2 feet or less," Murphy said.
TANGIER SOUND -- No reports because of bad weather.
CAPE CHARLES -- No reports because of bad weather.
No reports because of bad weather.
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.