What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

POTOMAC RIVER -- Guide Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited said last week's rains from hurricane Dennis caused the river's upper reaches to rise approximately three feet, however, this produced excellent smallmouth bass fishing conditions. Penrod said the fish merely migrated to the dense aquatic grass beds and took refuge out of the current behind large boulders, locations where spinnerbaits and jerkbaits produced outstanding results. Penrod says the best locations were the long stretches of relatively calm water at Lander, Point of Rocks, Nolands Ferry and Whites Ferry. He highly recommends calling 703/260-0305 to check river conditions before venturing out. Last week's exceptionally high tides, which were the result of prolonged northeasterly winds, produced good largemouth bass fishing conditions at dozens of locations close to shore. The grass beds of Washington Channel proved to be a good bet for anglers casting spinnerbaits along the vegetation's outer edges, a tactic that produced a mix of largemouth bass and an occasional striper. Grass beds downriver of Blue Plains outfall and those near Woodrow Wilson Bridge were also productive locations for anglers casting spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits, producing several exceptional largemouths over the weekend. Penrod says Belle Haven Cove, which is now a "no outboard motor zone," provided outstanding largemouth bass action for anglers casting Sugar Shad and working them slowly, close to the bottom. Broad Creek's grass beds and the barges at Hog Island were equally productive while casting the same lures. Grass beds at Little Hunting Creek and the boat docks in Dogue Creek, particularly during low tide, produced excellent topwater action. Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service found lots of chunky largemouths lurking in the grass beds of Aquia Creek, Chickamuxen Creek and Powell Creek, Nanjemoy Creek and most nearshore beds along the river's Virginia shore.

Pennsylvania

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said smallmouth bass fishing was red hot from Liverpool downriver to Duncannon earlier in the week. While the river was near normal level on Monday, no one was quite sure what effect this week's storms will have on river conditions.

Maryland

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- John Marple at Johnny's Bait House said fall fishing conditions arrived a bit early this year, however, good catches of yellow perch, chain pickerel, smallmouth bass and trout continue. Marple says the best trout action continues to take place just above Deep Creek Lake Dam, where live minnows suspended approximately 20 feet beneath a small float lured both rainbow and brown trout to two pounds.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Kevin McComas at Loch Raven Fishing Center says water levels are within a foot of normal and largemouth bass catches ranged from good to excellent during the past week. McComas says the secret to success was to cast shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits to the recently inundated shallows behind the grass beds. This technique was extremely productive early and late in the day. When the sun gets high, switch to Carolina rigged plastic worms and fish the outer edges of grass beds. Scattered catches of northern pike were reported by weekend anglers trolling inline spinner trimmed with a chunk of night crawler for white perch.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Dave Fauntleroy at Anna Point Marina said local anglers seem to be concentrating their efforts on striped bass lately. Several linesiders ranging up to eight pounds were caught by anglers trolling near Rose Valley and Jetts Island. Lower water temperatures produced good to excellent largemouth bass action at several locations in the impoundment's upper reaches. Fauntleroy says the bass have migrated into the shallows, feeding heavily on small baitfish that have taken refuge among the partly submerged trees and boulders near shore. Carlos Wood at Highpoint Marina said anglers casting small topwater plugs and Zoom Flukes caught largemouths to five pounds, mainly during periods of low light. Once the sun gets high, Wood recommends trolling for striped bass near the mouth of Contrary Creek, Sturgeon Creek, The Splits and Jetts Island, locations where most anglers had no trouble catching limits of stripers to 10 pounds.

JAMES RIVER (Richmond area) -- Look for another week of high, muddy water and poor fishing conditions.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Trace Noel at Shenandoah River Trips said: "We still have high water, but last weekend's smallmouth bass action was red hot. We had lots of fish in the 18-inch category and most were taken on live minnows fished in the deeper pools." Noel says he's hoping high water from this week's storms recede rapidly and fishing conditions return to normal.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Mike Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop says bluefish and rockfish, both of which are small, are breaking at the mouth of the Sassafras River. Worton Point was the hot spot for chummers who managed to catch large numbers of small stripers and bluefish and an occasional keeper rockfish of 18 to 28 inches. Benjamin added, "There are still large numbers of channel catfish being caught at dozens of upper bay locations and a few keeper stripers to 26 inches were caught from the Charlestown Pier in the North East River." Clyde Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop in Baltimore says large schools of undersize stripers were found at a half-dozen upper bay locations, however, keeper size fish remain quite scarce. Blamberg says anglers live-lining white perch and spot at Love Point and just inside the mouth of Chester River managed to catch stripers to 30 inches. Dennis Hogans at Chester Marine Services said rockfish seem to be migrating upriver and can now be found between the route 213 Bridge and Langford Creek. While the best catches seem to be made while casting Rat-L-Traps along the Chester River's shoreline, a few keeper size fish were taken while drifting chunks of cut menhaden. Catfish remain plentiful upriver of the Route 213 Bridge, where bottom-fished night crawlers produced channel cats to five pounds.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Rob Jepson at the Angler's Sport Shop says there are lots of small bluefish and Spanish mackerel breaking near the bridge's eastern rock pile. Trollers using small spoons, silver and gold, enjoyed excellent weekend catches of both species. A handful of anglers are live-lining spot among the bridge's eastern shore pilings and catching stripers to 26 inches. Some anglers were reportedly using live croaker for bait, which under both state and federal law, is illegal. Kevin Jacobs at Sportsman Service Center says Eastern Bay and Chester River produced good striper action and a couple of citation weakfish to 24 inches were taken at the mouth of Eastern Bay. Steve Dunn at Island Hunting & Fishing says windy weather has been a problem for the past several weeks, however, there are still good numbers of weakfish and stripers being caught at Parson's Island, just outside of Kent Narrows. Some of the stripers ranged up to 30 inches and both species were taken on chunks of peeler crab, which will soon be in short supply.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Schools of surface feeding striped bass and bluefish were reported at Chancellor Point and Cook Point, with the best action taking place early and late in the day. Much of this depends on wind conditions, which lately have not been conducive to topwater action. Upriver, anglers fishing from the U.S. 50 Bridge caught a mix of small stripers, snapper bluefish and white perch while dunking bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab.

DEALE -- Captain George Prenant, skipper of the Stormy Petrel, said the Deale charter fleet chummed at The Diamonds and The Hill, locations that provided good action on striped bass, bluefish and weakfish last weekend. Anglers live-lining spot caught the largest fish. Prenant says trollers caught bluefish ranging up to five pounds using fluorescent red and green surgical hose eels at the Clay Banks. Herring Bay anglers caught a mix of bluefish and stripers while casting small spoons and surface plugs to breaking schools of both species.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- The headboat Tom Hooker fished the mouth of the Choptank River near buoy No. 12, where patrons are catching a mix of jumbo spot, croaker, weakfish, bluefish and stripers. At night, bluefish ranging three to six pounds, stripers ranging 18 to 24 inches and croaker. The Rod "N" Reel Dock charter fleet is primarily trolling small spoons, catching a mix of bluefish ranging three to six pounds and stripers of two to 12 pounds.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Md., says croaker and weakfish can be caught at several locations near the river's mouth, mainly in depths of 30 to 40 feet. Within the next few weeks, the croaker will have migrated out of the Chesapeake and school in the inshore waters of the Atlantic coast before migrating south to the offshore waters of North Carolina. The weakfish will follow sometime in late October or early November. Lamb says the bay's surface at Cedar Point is churning with snapper bluefish and undersize stripers, however, larger rockfish, some measuring up to 30 inches, were caught by trolling umbrella rigs and live-lining spot near the Gas Docks.

POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Paul Kellam on the Patty Lee has been fishing the Southwest Middle Grounds during the past week, where he caught a mix of stripers to 24 inches and bluefish ranging up to 5 pounds. Kellam said the action had been slow earlier in the week, but when the weather stabilized, things seemed to quickly return to normal. Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center found large numbers of weakfish schooled at the Mud Leads and Northwest Middle Grounds, where squid strips and chunks of peeler crab lured fish to 20 inches. Scheible says striper and bluefish action was slow on Saturday, but conditions improved by Sunday and everyone caught lots of fish.

HOOPER ISLAND AREA -- Captain Mike Murphy of Tide Runner Charters ducked out of the wind and fished the Honga River's shallows last week, catching a mix of striped bass and speckled trout ranging from 18 to 24 inches. Murphy says most of the fish were schooled in depths between two and four feet, and the best action occurred during high and ebb tides.

TANGIER SOUND -- Captain John on the Barbara Ann II fished Tangier Sound's upper reaches, where they reported good catches of spot, croaker and a few weakfish. The Barbara Ann III, skippered by Captain Joe Asanovich Jr. ventured out to the Middle Grounds, where he chummed for stripers. After a few hours, he returned to Tangier Sound with limit catches of rockfish to 22 inches, fished for croaker and weakfish and loaded the coolers.

CAPE CHARLES -- Wind, rain and generally nasty weather prevented most boats from venturing out to the lower bay's open waters.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Most of the bluewater fleet fished an area known as the Tea Cup, where yellowfin tuna to 55 pounds were caught by trollers and chunkers alike. Inshore, weakfish were taken from the U.S. 50 Bridge at night by anglers casting Gotcha Plugs near the channel edge. A few stripers were caught from Ocean City Inlet, but most were too small to keep.

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.