What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

POTOMAC RIVER -- Silver Spring resident Raymond Helmuth was fishing beneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge with a chunk of cut bait last week when he set his hook on a monster, 34-pound blue catfish, which is quite large for this particular species in the Potomac River. Guide Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited said, "River levels are relatively high in the upper river, but floating grass is an aggravation and detriment to lure retrieval. We are catching quality smallmouths at Edwards Ferry, Whites Ferry and Lander on Cabin Creek tubebaits and plastic jerkbaits." Downriver, the District segment of river continues to provide good to excellent largemouth bass action. Penrod said anglers casting bridge foundations and submerged rocks managed to catch huge numbers of largemouth bass during the past few days. Penrod said the Blue Plains outfall was extremely productive, particularly for anglers fishing for striped bass at night. Linesiders up to 15 pounds were taken on a variety of topwater lures at this location. Good catches of largemouths up to 5 pounds were reported at Smoot Cove, the shoreline rocks at Fox Ferry Point and just about anywhere you can find a partly submerged tree or pier piling. Downriver, the rip-rap jetty of Leesylvania State Park and submerged trees near the mouth of Mattawoman Creek both produced good numbers of largemouth bass and even a few keeper-size stripers. Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said, "Most of the river's bass population seems to be migrating to submerged rock piles and wood cover. There are still lots of grass beds left, but only a few fish were holding on them." Kramer found good numbers of bass taking refuge among the pier pilings and bridge supports from Woodrow Wilson Bridge downriver to Leesylvania State Park. Kramer said the fish will likely remains in these areas throughout most of the winter.

Pennsylvania

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said, "There were lots of good size smallmouth bass in every pool between Duncannon and Harrisburg, as well as the deeper water above Safe Harbor Dam." In the tailrace waters of the dam, walleye up to 7 pounds were caught by anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits. The best walleye catches were made from sundown till midnight.

Maryland

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- WSSC patrol officer Ray Hohl said largemouth bass action ranged from good to excellent during the past week in both impoundments. Steve Lenker of Baltimore checked in a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth and William Clatterbuck, also of Baltimore, weighed in a 6-pounder. The bass were taken on a variety of lures and baits including: plastic worms, crankbaits, leadheads, live minnows and even live crayfish. Hohl said catfish are quite active and they're hitting chicken livers, cut bait, crayfish and chunks of hotdog. Ralph Meadows of Silver Spring weighed in a 12-pound, 14-ounce channel catfish last weekend. Good catches of white perch were made by anglers dunking night crawlers from Triadelphia's shores, while large numbers of chunky bluegills were caught from the shores of Rocky Gorge on the same bait.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Kevin McComas at Loch Raven Fishing Center said several northern pike were caught from the back ends of large, mid-lake coves, where live minnows and shallow-running crankbaits lured pike up to 12 pounds. Scattered catches of largemouths up to 5 pounds were made at the same locations. White perch seem to be disappearing into the deepwater haunts where they spend most of the winter, but crappie action seems to be improving beneath both the Dulaney Valley and Loch Raven Road bridges.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Dave Fauntleroy at Anna Point Marina said jumbo minnows lured some very impressive largemouths during the past week, the largest an 8-pound, 2-ounce behemoth caught by Don Waite of Stafford, Va. The week's largest catfish was an 11-pound channel cat caught by a local angler, while another local angler caught the week's biggest striper, one that tipped the scales at 8 pounds even. Carlos Wood at Highpoint Marina said the stripers seem to be slowly migrating uplake where they'll spend the winter feeding on schools of gizzard shad in the shallows. Guide Glenn Briggs said anglers fishing for both bass and stripers should concentrate on wind-blown banks and shallows, particularly early and late in the day. Briggs said the stripers seem to be somewhat scattered, but they tend to feed best in the murkier water close to shore.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Edith Appleton at Shenandoah River Trips said the river is clear, levels are near normal and fishing during the past weekend was excellent. Several anglers returned to the facility raving about great catches of panfish and smallmouth bass throughout the area. Appleton said the vast majority of the fish were taken on live minnows, though a few exceptional smallmouth bass were taken with Rapala's shallow-running crankbaits and Mepps Spinners.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Mike Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop said Rocky Point, Red Point and the Susquehanna Flats provided fair catches of stripers for anglers casting small surface plugs. Mike said some of the rockfish were 23 inches long. Crappie are plentiful at Town Park, where live minnows, shad darts and tube jigs produced good results when fished beneath a float. Channel catfish seem to be everywhere you dunk a chunk of bait and some huge carp were taken during the past few days. Bob Phillips at Sarge's Market said the rivers are loaded with channel catfish, some weighing up to 5 pounds. Tidewater largemouths are plentiful in the Elk and Sassafras Rivers, where shallow-running crankbaits produced good results. A few crappie have migrated to the marinas and have schooled among the pier pilings. Live minnows, small jigs, shad darts, Swedish Pimples and Kastmasters all proved effective when cast beneath the piers. Clyde Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop said a few legal stripers were caught among the old pier pilings adjacent to the north end of Key Bridge by anglers casting Rat-L-Traps and Sassy Shad. Scattered catches of stripers were made by chummers at Love Point and just inside the Chester River's mouth, but the vast majority of these fish measure less than 18 inches and must be released.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Rob Jepson at the Angler's Sport Shop said the majority of the keeper-size stripers caught over the weekend were taken from the shallows of the Severn River and Magothy River, locations where anglers armed with shallow-running crankbaits and streamer flies caught stripers up to 26 inches. Jepson said most fish caught in the chum slicks were significantly smaller.

DEALE -- Captain George Prenant, skipper of the Stormy Petrel, said the Deale charter fleet chummed The Hill, The Diamonds and Stone Rock with ground menhaden and baited the lines with razor clam, a technique that resulted in limit catches of larger stripers. Prenant said trollers working the deeper water between Buoys 82 and 83 caught stripers up to 20 pounds. Prenant said trolling and jigging has produced "some of the best weakfish action in years," and there are still good numbers of bluefish up to 5 pounds being taken using the same technique. White perch up to 11 inches were caught between Hacketts and the mouth of West River while bottom-fishing with bloodworms.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Keith Turner at Tommy's Sporting Goods in Cambridge said a mix of striped bass, white perch and bluefish were caught from the river's U.S. 50 Bridge Fishing Piers over the weekend. Downriver, anglers casting bucktails trimmed with white twisters caught striped bass up to 24 inches at Castle Haven and Cook Point. Jigging spoons worked in depths of 30 to 45 feet, and lured weakfish up to 22 inches during high and ebb tides.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- The Rod 'n' Reel Dock charter fleet chummed at The Diamonds and various nearby locations along the bay's eastern channel edge, where most caught a mix of striped bass, bluefish and weakfish.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said, "Big rockfish approaching 40 inches have been taken by both chummers and trollers from Hooper Island Light south to Buoy 72 on umbrella rigs." Mixed with these rockfish are bluefish ranging from 6 to 8 pounds. The blues have sea lice in the gills, indicating recent entry into the bay from the ocean. Big rockfish were taken trolling near Punch Island Bay and in mid-channel areas from the Gooses to the Gas Plant. The chumming at the Gas Plant produces rockfish up to 26 inches. Live spot fishing there can bring in some whoppers. Great catches of weakfish were made on Sunday on the western side of the channel off Point Lookout. They're mixed in size, but some weighed 5 to 7 pounds.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Captain Mike Murphy of Tide Runner Charters chased breaking schools of striped bass and bluefish near Buoy 72 on days when the weather cooperated. "I had to work a little harder to catch them, but most of the fish were relatively large." Murphy said he also caught good numbers of speckled trout in the Honga River's shallows while casting streamer flies and bucktails. "This time of year, every speckled trout you catch could be the last one of the season, but so far, they seem to be hanging around."

POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center fished the Northwest Middle Grounds where he caught stripers up to 24 inches and bluefish up to 4 pounds. Captain Paul Kellam, skipper of the Patty Lee, fished the same area, caught his limit of stripers, then moved to the Mud Leads, where he found good numbers of weakfish up to 4 pounds.

TANGIER SOUND -- The Crisfield charter fleet has been chumming south of the Target Ship American Mariner over depths of 25 to 30 feet. Most captains reported limit catches of stripers up to 22 inches, bluefish up to 7 pounds and good numbers of weakfish. Bottom-fishing in Tangier Sound was a hit or miss situation. Most the croaker and spot have migrated out to the bay's eastern channel edge, but there are good numbers of stripers and speckled trout lurking in the shallows of Smith and Fox islands.

CAPE CHARLES -- Cris's Bait & Tackle reported good numbers of big croaker still linger among the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel's pilings and man-made islands, where bottom-fished squid strips lured fish to 3 1/2 pounds. While large numbers of flounder were reported at Cape Charles near Plantation Flats, most of these fish measured less than the current 16-inch minimum size. Weakfish up to 5 pounds are plentiful near Kiptopeke and a few tautog were reported among the nearby concrete Liberty ships.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Captain Bob Gowar at Ocean City Fishing Center said anglers fishing aboard the Ocean City Princess caught large numbers of sea bass up to 4 pounds while fishing the inshore wrecks with squid strips. Scattered catches of tog were also made, however, most of the tog are still lurking among the inshore jetties and wrecks. Bob said anglers should call ahead to make reservations this time of year, just to be on the safe side. The boat will continue operation until the week before Christmas. Barbara Baker at Delmarva Sports Center said a 40-inch, 22-pound striper was caught from the U.S. 50 Bridge by Darryl Kowaleziocz of Willards, Md., while casting a bucktail. Baker said more stripers than weakfish were caught during the past week, and there are still tog and sheepshead in the inlet. Sue Foster at Oyster Bay Tackle and Fenwick Tackle said the surf is still loaded with bluefish and a few puppy drum. However, kingfish, weakfish and flounder may be somewhat scarce after the passage of our latest hurricane.

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.