What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

POTOMAC RIVER -- Smallmouth bass fishing came to a screeching halt last weekend as Potomac River levels rose. Guide Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited did manage to get a few days of smallmouth bass fishing in before the rains came, reporting good catches of bronzebacks up to 18 inches at Whites Ferry and Lander. By late Sunday afternoon, rising water combined with dislodged vegetation and mats of floating leaves made fishing all but impossible. Penrod found good numbers of largemouths lurking in the remaining grass beds near Roosevelt Island, The Spoils and the Naval Research Lab, where topwater lures and buzzbaits proved effective during periods of low light. Penrod also found good numbers of largemouths lurking in isolated patches of grass at Fox Ferry Point and the mouth of Broad Creek, locations that provided bucketmouths up to 5 pounds. "Don't give up on the vegetation until there is none," added Penrod. Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service fished grass beds from Woodrow Wilson Bridge downriver to Leesylvania State Park, each producing excellent catches of largemouth bass and a few similar size stripers. "All you need to do is find a small grass bed and cast to it, it's that easy." Kramer said some of the more productive locations included: the rip-rap wall at Leesylvania State Park, the mouth of Chickamuxen Creek, Arkendale Flats and Nanjemoy Creek.

Pennsylvania

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said, "Weekend rains caused the river to rise a bit, but not to the point where it was unfishable." Kramer said smallmouth bass were holding fairly close to shore in the stretch of river between Duncannon and Harrisburg, mainly in the back eddies of large boulders.

Maryland

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- John Marple at Johnny's Bait House said as water temperatures fell, fishing action seemed to have improved. Marple weighed dozens of citation size fish over the past week, including a 3-pound, 9-ounce chain pickerel, a 9-pound northern pike, a 5-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass and a 3-pound, 9-ounce smallmouth bass. Marple says yellow perch and walleye action also improved and several exceptional fish of both species were taken on live minnows last Saturday.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Kevin McComas at Loch Raven Fishing Center said the weekend's rain helped stabilize the river's water level, and fortunately, didn't put a damper on fishing. White perch still inhabit the mouths of most mid-lake coves, where trolled in-line spinners trimmed with a chunk of worm lured perch up to 12 inches. Several largemouths up to 5 pounds were caught and released by anglers fishing the remaining grass beds and chain pickerel up to 3 pounds were taken from behind the grass beds on live minnows. Anglers fishing from the decks of Dulaney Valley Bridge managed to catch a few crappie, but most only measured about 8 to 10 inches.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Dave Fauntleroy at Anna Point Marina said cooler water temperatures resulted in improved largemouth bass fishing, particularly in the shallows of creeks and coves. Carlos Wood at Highpoint Marina weighed in several largemouths of 5 pounds or more during the past week and said he anticipates the action will continue until mid-November. Guide Glenn Briggs said stripers are also active in the shallows, feeding heavily on swarms of gizzard shad. Briggs said the best catches were made early and late in the day, mainly while casting shallow running crankbaits and topwater plugs. Crappie have also migrated back into the shallows, congregating near pier pilings and beneath bridges.

JAMES RIVER (Richmond area) -- High, muddy and nearly unfishable. Only a handful of catfish were caught during the entire week.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Trace Noel at Shenandoah River Trips says spinners produced good catches of smallmouth bass ranging from 10 to 15 inches and river conditions remain good to excellent. "This past week's soaking rain will be highly beneficial to the river and keep levels fairly constant," Noel said.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Eleanor Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop said an angler who regularly frequents her shop has been tossing Atom Poppers at the Susquehanna Flats, where he reported limit catches of stripers to 22 inches. Largemouth bass fishing ranged from good to excellent at several shallow water locations where bucketmouths up to 5 pounds have been taken on spinnerbaits and Berkley Power-Bait spring lizards. Scattered catches of white perch have been made in the Elk, North East and Bohemia river. Clyde Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop said there have been schools of small stripers seen throughout the upper bay, however, fish measuring 18 inches or larger are scarce. Blamberg said a few anglers have been chumming near Love Point and Swan Point Bar with ground menhaden and using chicken livers for bait. This technique seemed to consistently produce larger stripers, however, the bait also attracted the attention of channel catfish to 5 pounds.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Jeff Sansburry at the Angler's Sport Shop reported scattered catches of legal stripers among the bridge pilings and weakfish continued to provide good action for anglers working jigging spoons along the channel edges and close to the bridge's manmade islands. Breaking schools of snapper bluefish were reported off Hacketts Point and while these fish were relatively small, they provided excellent action for flyrodders casting small streamers and cork poppers. Beneath the topwater melee, weakfish up to 2 pounds foraged on the scraps and were easy pickings for anglers working Sting Silver and Crippled Herring lures. White perch remain somewhat scarce throughout the area.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Keith Turner at Tommy's Sporting Goods in Cambridge said trout (weakfish), bluefish and stripers are scattered throughout the Choptank River, between the U.S. 50 Bridge and the river's mouth. "These are the biggest trout we've seen in a long time," Turner said. Channel catfish are schooled beneath the U.S. 50 Bridge and there were lots of small white perch lurking among the pilings. Last week, a 33-inch striper was taken on a live-lined white perch fished from the bridge.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- The Rod 'n' Reel Dock charter fleet reported good weekend catches of bluefish and stripers while trolling bucktails and surgical hose eels along the bay's western channel edge between the Radar Towers and the Gas Platform. Chummers at The Diamonds and The Gooses also reported good striper catches, however, the largest fish were mainly taken while trolling those locations. Good weakfish action was also reported by captains drift-fishing with chunks of peeler crab and squid strips along the eastern channel edge.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park reported good catches of stripers at a half-dozen locations near the Patuxent River's mouth. The Gas Docks, Cedar Point Rip, Cedar Point Hollow, The Targets were among the many locations where stripers ranging from sub-legal to 22 inches were caught by chummers and trollers alike. Good catches of weakfish were made along the bay's channel edges, where jigging spoons lured trout up to 24 inches. Flounder action seems to be picking up again, particular on the flats between Holland Island and the Honga River's mouth. Squid strips and live minnows produced the best results when fished in depths ranging 15 to 25 feet.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Captain Mike Murphy of Tide Runner Charters reported excellent catches of speckled trout and stripers while fishing the river's shallows and the flats near Holland Island. Murphy said last weekend's warm rains caused the surface feeding action to again turn on near Buoy 72, where topwater plugs and streamer flies provided non-stop action even during the heaviest rain storms.

POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center said, "We're beginning to see fish on the surface again, but the largest rockfish seem to be a bit deeper and holding in depths of 25 to 35 feet. We're catching good numbers of trout in the same area, mainly the channel edge at the Southwest Middle Grounds." Captain Paul Kellam, skipper of the Patty Lee, has been chumming at Point No Point Light for nearly three weeks and reports limit catches of stripers ranging from 18 to 22 inches. Kellam said on days when he catches his limit of stripers early, he motors across the bay to the Mud Leads, where weakfish of similar size have been caught using squid strips and chunks of peeler crab.

TANGIER SOUND -- Crisfield charter boats chummed for stripers two miles south of the Target Ship American Mariner, mainly along the bay's eastern channel edge. Captain Curtis Johns, skipper of the Karen Ray said, "Most days we catch our limit of rockfish in just a couple hours, then fish for trout on the way home." Inside Tangier Sound, stripers ranging 18 to 26 inches are schooled in the shallows of Janes, Smith and Tangier Islands, where shallow-running crankbaits and streamer flies produced good results. Captain Kevin Josenhans said, "We fished the shallows of the Big Annemessex River and caught all the rockfish and speckled trout we could handle. Shallow water fishing has been just fantastic." Josenhans said most of the fish were taken from depths of just two to four feet.

CAPE CHARLES -- On days when the weather cooperated, anglers caught good numbers of tautog up to 5 pounds while drift-fishing with chunks of crab at the Mussel Beds, Plantation Rocks and among the submerged of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel's manmade islands. Scattered catches of red drum (channel bass) were made along the bay's eastern channel edge by anglers live lining spot on fish-finder rigs. Some of the reds topped 45 pounds. The shallows of Hungars and Plantation creeks both hold good numbers of speckled trout, some weighing in excess of 5 pounds.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Ocean City's bluewater fleet continued to hammer yellowfin tuna at Washington Canyon while chunking with butterfish. Schools of small dolphin were mixed with the tuna and they also slammed the butterfish baits. Most of the billfish have migrated south, however, one blue marlin was sighted near the Rock Pile. Inshore, anglers fishing aboard the Ocean City Princess caught good numbers of sea bass while drift-fishing over open patches of bottom a few miles east of Ocean City Inlet. Inside the inlet, tautog up to 3 pounds, mid-size stripers, weakfish to 6 pounds and hordes of snapper bluefish dominated the action.

OUTER BANKS -- The bluewater fleet enjoyed great catches of yellowfun tuna, out of both Oregon and Hatteras inlets, while along the beaches speckled trout and snapper bluefish dominated the action.

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.