THIS is the last Fish Lines of the season. Fish Lines will return in mid-March, when area trout streams have been stocked with millions of feisty rainbow and brown trout, the mackerel have begun migrating up the coast and the Chesapeake Bay's tributaries should be swarming with white perch and yellow perch. This is also a great time to plan a trip to the sunny south and fish the warm waters of Key West, Fla. Within the next few weeks, this tropical paradise should be swarming with Atlantic sailfish, king mackerel, tarpon and hundreds of other species that provide almost nonstop fishing action.

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

POTOMAC RIVER -- Guide Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited said the river's upper reaches are very clear, water temperatures have fallen to the low 50s and smallmouth bass fishing is great. The best action was found at Whites Ferry and Edwards Ferry, where large numbers of 12- to 16-inch bronzebacks slammed tube jigs rigged to 1/8-ounce leadheads. Downriver, water temperatures in the river's tidal segment currently ranges from 55 to 58 degrees, with the warmest water found in Washington Channel and Blue Plains, both of which provided great bass and striper action last weekend. Penrod also found good numbers of largemouths lurking among the rip-rap in Pentagon Lagoon as well as the railroad bridge foundations. Several locations near Woodrow Wilson Bridge provided great weekend largemouth bass action, including. Fox Ferry Point, The Barges, The Spoils and most locations where there were remaining beds of milfoil. Little Hunting Creek, Belle Haven Marina, Hog Island, Piscataway Creek and the pilings of Fort Washington Marina all provided good to excellent catches of largemouths for anglers casting spinnerbaits and buzzbaits near grass beds and pier pilings. Guide Bill Kramer of Potomac Guide Service said the mouth of Mattawoman Creek and upstream through the narrow channel provided good catches of largemouths and an occasional striper. The rip-rap wall of Leesylvania State Park, and grass beds at the mouth of Powell, Nanjemoy and Potomac creeks continued to produce good largemouth bass action as well as an occasional striper.


SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Kramer said river levels continue to fall, and at this point, the only smallmouth bass action is in the lakes created by the hydroelectric dams. Below the dams, Safe Harbor and Holtwood, good catches of walleye up to 6 pounds, smallmouth bass up to 3 pounds and channel catfish of similar size were made by anglers drifting live minnows in the tailrace waters.


LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Kevin McComas at Loch Raven Fishing Center said great weekend weather was complimented by excellent catches of largemouth bass and chain pickerel in the shallows of Hampton, Pierces and Dead Mans coves, where shallow-running crankbaits produced the best results.


LAKE ANNA -- Dave Fauntleroy at Anna Point Marina said, "Striper fishing has really taken off during the past week, with some fish ranging up to 10 pounds." Fauntleroy said largemouth bass action held up well with good catches made at rocky points of the impoundment's North Anna and Pamunkey River arms. Carlos Wood at Highpoint Marina said if you're looking for topwater striper action, you'll find it at Rose Valley and Jet Island just before sundown. Wood said the stripers are foraging during the day among the submerged stumps in Contrary Creek, Stubbs Bridge and the Route 208 Bridge, where pearl Sassy Shad rigged to 1/4-ounce leadheads produced linesiders up to 16 pounds last weekend. Large, black crappie can be found lurking among the bridge and pier pilings, where live shiners lured slabsides up to 2 pounds. Channel catfish are plentiful throughout the lake, with the best catches made near the warm-water outlet of the nuclear power plant.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Mike Benjamin at Herb's Tackle Shop said scattered catches of stripers were made at a half-dozen locations of the Susquehanna Flats and the head of north East River. Benjamin said most ranged from 18 to 21 inches and were taken while trolling Rat-L-Traps along the channel edge, however, a few were also taken while casting Atom Poppers over the shallow pockets near Turkey Point, Red Point and Carpenter Point. Most of the catfish have migrated to deeper water, where they'll spend the winter and a few small yellow perch were caught in the shallows of the Elk River by anglers dunking live minnows. Clyde Blamberg at Clyde's Sport Shop said, "Finally, after a long summer without many stripers, we're seeing good numbers of keeper-size fish in the Patapsco River." Weekend anglers casting Zoom Flukes along the Fort McHenry rocks caught stripers up to 22 inches. Similar-size stripers were also caught among the rocks of Fort Carroll and the mouth of Bodkin Creek. Big white perch arrived among the old pilings near Fort Smallwood and the north end of Key Bridge, where bottom-fished bloodworms and pieces of clam snout produced excellent results. Scattered catches of yellow perch were reported at the mouth of Bush River, Gunpowder River and Saltpeter Creek by anglers suspending live minnows beneath small floats.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Rob Jepson at the Angler's Sport Shop said large white perch were found lurking beneath piers in both the Severn and Magothy rivers, where small shad darts trimmed with a chunk of peeler crab or live minnow lured perch to 13 inches. Small stripers are frequently mixed with the perch and they'll take the same baits. Anglers jigging with jigging spoons near the manmade islands of the Bay Bridges caught good numbers of keeper weakfish up to 22 inches over the weekend. Fair catches of stripers were reported by anglers casting the same lures among the span's eastern shore finger piers, however, most were too small to keep.

DEALE -- Captain George Prenant, skipper of the Stormy Petrel, said the Deale charter fleet enjoyed great weekend striper action while chumming at The Hill and West River Lumps. Stripers and weakfish were schooled along the bay's western channel edge over depths of 38 to 70 feet, where jigging with spoons and bucktails proved effective. Prenant said white perch fishing has been red hot between the mouth of South River and Hacketts Point in depths of 23 to 31 feet over patches of hard bottom.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Bill Davis at Tilghman on Chesapeake said weekend anglers managed to find good numbers of legal stripers at The Diamonds, False Channel and Stone Rock. Large parachutes trimmed with six-inch Sassy Shad and umbrella rigs trimmed with somewhat smaller Sassy Shad produced the best results when trolled relatively deep. Weakfish, some weighing up to four pounds, were caught in the lower Choptank River near the mouth of Broad Creek and the drop-off near Cook Point. Half-ounce bucktails trimmed with chartreuse twister tails were quite effective during the late afternoon and early evening hours.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH -- The Rod 'n' Reel Dock charter fleet chummed for stripers at The Diamonds, Stone Rock and Winter Gooses, areas that provided limit catches of stripers up to 22 inches. The headboat Tom Hooker is also chumming for stripers and loading the coolers with similar size fish while fishing near Sharps Island Light.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said, "Indian summer boosted fishing as rockfish, flounder, and trout were all caught this week in good numbers. The rockfish are in the ship's channel for trollers working the 40 foot edge from Punch Island south to buoys 76, 74, Hooper's Island Light, buoy 72 and south to the Virginia line." Lamb said the fish ranged up to 40 pounds. The larger fish are mainly pre-spawn females that will spend the entire winter in the bay, spawn next spring, and spend next summer migrating along the coast to New England. Small rock are breaking every morning and evening at Cedar Point and in the mouth of the Patuxent at the swimming beach off the Officer's club. Lamb said weakfish catches were good for trollers in the Patuxent River with some fish ranging up to 4 pounds.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Captain Henry Gootee on the Striker continued to make limit catches of stripers ranging from 18 to 24 inches while chumming just south of Buoy 74. Gootee said this has been an outstanding season for light tackle fishing and chumming action and he hopes to see a repeat performance next spring. Captain Mike Murphy of Tide Runner Charters reported excellent striper catches from the shallows of the Honga River and there are still good numbers of speckled trout mixed with the rockfish. Murphy said on calm days he's finding breaking schools of stripers a few miles south of Hooper Island Light and, more often than not, there are large schools of migrating weakfish lurking deep beneath the stripers.

POINT LOOKOUT -- Captain Bruce Scheible at Scheible's Fishing Center chummed at the Southwest Middle Grounds, where he had no trouble catching his limit of stripers up to 24 inches, then moved a few miles to the north and continued to chum, catching bluefish up to 6 pounds. Scheible said he anticipates a significant run of weakfish within the next week or two as water temperatures fall below 55 degrees.

TANGIER SOUND -- The Crisfield charter fleet chummed about two miles south of the Target Ship American Mariner where limit catches of striped bass and bluefish were reported by most captains. Inside Tangier Sound, breaking schools of bluefish and stripers were mixed at The Puppy Hole Buoy, located within sight of Crisfield. Captain Kevin Josenhans found large numbers of stripers lurking in the shallows of Fox, Smith and Janes islands, where streamer flies worked in depths of 2 to 5 feet proved highly effective.

CAPE CHARLES -- Captain Jim Jenrette on the Buccaneer said tautog action continues to hold up well at the Mussel Beds and the flats near Kiptopeke. Jenrette said increasing numbers of weakfish and stripers are showing up at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel's manmade islands, with some weakfish topping 6 pounds. The shallows of Plantation Creek and Hungars Creek both provided good action on speckled trout up to 4 pounds, mainly for anglers casting bucktails trimmed with chunks of crab.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Good weekend weather provided excellent striped bass catches for anglers casting bucktails and Gotcha plugs in Ocean City Inlet and from the U.S. 50 Bridge over the backbay. Tautog fishing remained good to excellent among the inlet's boulders and the 3rd Street Bulkhead, where sand fleas and green crabs lured tog to 3 pounds. Offshore, the headboat fleet hammered sea bass and larger tautog while dunking a variety of baits at the wrecks.

OUTER BANKS -- The Hatteras surf provided good to excellent catches of speckled trout, snapper bluefish, puppy drum and kingfish. Anglers fishing from the piers and bridges caught a mix of Spanish mackerel and speckled trout.

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.