If you would like to polish your fishing skills, Fountainhead Regional Park's first bass fishing clinic of the season is Saturday from 3 to 5 in the picnic shelter near the park's upper parking lot. The workshop will provide an introduction for beginners and a refresher course for experienced anglers. This event is sponsored by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. The park is located on Occoquan Reservoir and offers fishing licenses, boat and motor rentals, boat launching and accessible boardwalk dock fishing from spring through fall. Call 703-250-9124 or visit www.nvrpa.org for more information.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
POTOMAC RIVER -- Tubes accounted for bass up to 41/2 pounds, caught mostly from wood cover between Marsh Island and Slavins Launch in Mattawoman Creek. The spatterdock is currently about seven inches tall, and large numbers of bass have taken up residence in the submerged vegetation. Shallow-running crankbaits and spinnerbaits produced incredible results. The points at Chickamuxen Creek and the mouth of the Mattawoman Creek are loaded with chunky largemouths; Sugar Shad produced arm-jolting strikes for weekend anglers. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge area improved dramatically. Four-inch, green/pumpkin tube lures cast with spinning tackle were the key to success there.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- Smallmouth bass action was poor at Whites Ferry but should improve somewhat as water levels fall.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Northern pike up to 17 pounds were caught in many of the lake's deeper coves, mainly on large, live minnows and shallow-running crankbaits cast from shore. Boating anglers caught large numbers of chain pickerel from the edges of emerging grass beds. White perch can be found spawning at the mouths of most small, midlake tributaries, and crappie are beginning to spawn near submerged brush piles and stumps.
LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Several stripers up to 28 inches were caught near the Route 32 bridge by anglers dunking extra-large shiners near the structure.
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Yellow perch, chain pickerel and a few scrappy bluegills were caught by anglers dunking live minnows and night crawlers in some of the warmer coves. Aquatic grasses are just beginning to emerge in the shallows, where a few hefty largemouth bass were caught and released.
ST. MARY'S LAKE -- Crappie at St. Mary's Lake have migrated into the lake's shallows to spawn; most are relatively large. Catches of 30 or more fish are not uncommon, with 10- to 13-inchers considered average size. Live minnows and chartreuse jigs are the ticket to success.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER -- Erick Tovar managed to catch a couple of fine bass on tube lures near the Juniata River's mouth, the largest measuring 181/2 inches long with a 141/2-inch girth. Call 888-881-7555 for river conditions.
LAKE ANNA -- Some monster largemouths were caught between Duke's Creek and Dyke III last weekend, many tipping the scales at six or more pounds. Most were taken on spinnerbaits fished over depths of four to 10 feet early and late in the day. Stripers up to 15 pounds were caught from the confines of Sturgeon Creek, and uplake in a stretch from Terry's Run to Stubbs Bridge. Sassy Shad rigged to half-ounce leadheads produced the best results when cast in depths of four to 10 feet. A few larger fish were also taken on topwater plugs when fished early and late in the day. With water temperatures currently hovering just above 60 degrees, crappie have moved into the submerged brush piles, beneath piers and anyplace they can find shallow structure, where the spawning run is in high gear. Live minnows, grubs and tiny twister tails have all proved effective at luring crappie to 15 inches.
JAMES RIVER (Richmond area) -- The river is still high and muddy, but falling water levels over the past weekend provided anglers with some hefty blue catfish weighing up to 25 pounds. Most were taken on cut herring baits fished along the river's channel edges. White perch arrived at several locations, some crappie were caught near Richmond's I-95 Bridge, and swarms of herring and hickory shad have been providing lots of action just above the bridge.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Shenandoah River Trips has reopened for the season and reported high water at its Bentonville headquarters. Scattered catches of smallmouth bass up to three pounds were made by shorebound anglers dunking live minnows in some of the back eddies, but overall fishing is still slow because of high water conditions. For river conditions, call 540-635-5050.
UPPER BAY -- Stripers up to 50 pounds were caught from the murky waters of the Susquehanna Flats last weekend, most slamming Bass Assassins rigged to one-ounce leadheads and jigged slowly close to the bottom near Rocky Point. The largest fish hit a pattern known as Opening Night, which is a clear-blue/metal-flake worm measuring about six inches. While 50-pounders raised lots of eyebrows, most of the fish caught were small- to medium-size males weighing two to three pounds. Channel catfish up to 15 pounds inhaled cut herring baits fished along the shore of Elk Neck State Park in both the North East and Elk rivers. Similar-size catfish were also found in the lower Susquehanna River just above the I-95 Bridge. Most of the catties caught in the Susquehanna were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms intended for white perch. Chunky white perch were caught from Turkey Point in the lower North East River, the C&D Canal and the mouth of the Sassafras River, mainly on bottom-fished bloodworms and grass shrimp. A bit farther down the bay, white perch began showing up in the lower Patapsco River near Key Bridge and Fort Carroll, the warmwater discharge canal of Carroll Island Power Plant at Saltpeter Creek and Eastern Neck Island Bridge. Channel catfish up to six pounds were caught from beneath the Route 213 bridge at Chestertown by anglers dunking chunks of cut herring and night crawlers. Upriver, there are still fair numbers of white perch lingering near Millington, but most were small males that measured less than 10 inches.
BAY BRIDGE AREA -- The upper reaches of the Magothy and Severn rivers were both good bets for weekend anglers searching for chunky white perch. Perch to 12 inches inhaled morsels of bloodworm and grass shrimp fished beneath piers and floating docks.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- White perch continue to dominate the action at Red Bridges in the Choptank River's upper reaches, and while most caught this past weekend consisted of small males, there were a few perch up to 15 inches weighed at local tackle shops. Channel catfish up to five pounds were caught from the decks of the Route 50 Bridge fishing piers, mostly on cut herring baits.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Nasty weather during the weeks prior to opening of Maryland's striped bass season had area charter captains scrambling to ready their boats. Captains all said they were confident the striped bass action should be as good as or better than the previous year's when the season begins.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- A few days of warm weather was all it took to raise water temperatures in the river's shallows, which in turn attracted small numbers of big croaker, speckled trout and some hefty stripers. A few light-tackle charter captains took full advantage of the situation and cast small bucktails trimmed with twister tails into depths of just two to four feet.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- The waters of Tangier and Pocomoke sounds continue to be quite murky, but there have been a few croaker caught from the shallows of Fox, Smith, Tangier and Janes islands by anglers casting bloodworms into the shallow guts and sloughs during the last hour of ebb tide.
SOLOMONS AREA -- The Solomons Charter Captains are about to go "Catch Rocky" and his friends. Local charter captains and their guests intend to catch 50 fish and tag them before the season starts. One will have a tag worth $5,000. The others will have tags worth $250 to $100 each. If you fish from a charter boat that is a member of the Solomons Charter Captains Association and catch one of the tagged fish, you win.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- A few croaker were caught from Point Lookout State Park's public fishing pier last week. Croaker up to 15 inches hit bottom-fished bloodworms for a brief period Sunday, which caused a flurry of activity at the popular pier. A few area charter captains have ventured out and tried their luck pursuing stripers, and some reported catching and releasing fish to 30 pounds while trolling just above Smith Point Light.
LOWER RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER -- Croaker have migrated into the mouths of several lower bay rivers, and anglers are catching the largest fish at night and in depths of 15 to 20 feet in the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers. While the best action has been on bottom-fished bloodworms, fish will respond to squid strips as water temperatures rise above the 60-degree mark. Several very large flounder were brought to the docks by crab dredgers, but none were caught by hook and line.
CAPE CHARLES -- Scattered catches of flounder were reported at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel during the past week, and another black drum was decked from the CBBT's fishing pier. Flounder were also reported near the concrete ships at Kiptopeke State Park, while Magothy Bay anglers casting for redfish and black drum along the surf line reported seeing several fish, but none were caught.
OCEAN CITY -- A few stripers were caught from the decks of the Route 50 bridge by anglers casting bucktails trimmed with six-inch white twisters. The rockfish measured 29 to 33 inches and were taken just before sunset. A few stripers were also caught from the Assateague surf on bottom-fished bloodworms. Headboat anglers managed to sink their hooks into a few tautog and sea bass, but the action is still a bit slow.
CHINCOTEAGUE AND WACHAPREAGUE -- Flounder up to five pounds continue to dominate the action at both locations, with the best action taking place along channel edges just inside the inlets. Large, live minnows produced the best results, followed by minnow-squid sandwich rigs.
OUTER BANKS -- Most of the surf activity continues on Hatteras Island, but the fish are slowly migrating north. Sea mullet, small blues and weakfish were caught as far north as Salvo, but most of the surf action continues on South Beach. A handful of big bluefish up to 12 pounds were beached at the Point, along with small blues, sea mullet, weakfish and a few puppy drum. Big drum were caught near the False Point at the southern end of Hatteras Island, and from the South Point of Ocracoke. Some big blues were also beached at Ocracoke, with the best bites coming after dark on the rising tide. Lots of bluefish in the one- to three-pound range were decked on Kitty Hawk and Avalon piers, along with some shad and croaker. Nags Head, Jeanette's and Outer Banks piers reported shad, blowfish, skate and dogfish, while the Hatteras Island Piers reported small blues, sea mullet, blowfish and a handful of puppy drum. The weather has been nasty for the offshore fleet, but on days when the weather cooperated, good catches of yellowfin tuna and king mackerel were reported by the Oregon Inlet-based boats, while the Hatteras boats had a mix of tuna and wahoo.