Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Grass beds up and down the river continue to produce good numbers of largemouth bass. Topwater plugs worked well early and late in the day, but midday anglers resorted to tube lures and plastic worms to draw strikes from fish in somewhat deeper water. The cicada hatch is in high gear, which is good news for fly anglers casting large black popping bugs. Black buzzbaits also mimic the cicada's movements when twitched over the surface close to shore. The most effective topwater plug was a black Tiny Torpedo. The secret to success is to cast the lure close to shore, allow it to sit motionless for a few seconds, then twitch the rod tip enough to make the propellers spin and churn the water's surface. Deep-diving crankbaits fished along the dropoff at Fort McNair, and among the submerged boulders of Pentagon Lagoon continued to provide anglers with mid-size largemouths to three pounds. The Spoils, Smoot Bay, Oxen Run, and the grass beds of Piscataway Creek and Bryan's Cove relinquished significant numbers of larger bass. The mouth of Pomonkey Creek, Gunston Cove, Hallowing Cove, Mattawoman Creek, Chickamuxen Creek and bridges at Neabsco and Powells creeks continued to provide anglers with good catches of both largemouth bass and a few keeper-size stripers.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- High, muddy and unfishable.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA) -- Heavy rains pushed some of the smaller creeks over their banks and caused lowland flooding during the past few days. The river is above the safe level for boating anglers.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Ronald Huffman of Catonsville, Md., nailed a 2-pound, 12-ounce crappie while dunking live minnows at Rocky Gorge. His fish measured 18 inches long and had a girth of 14 inches. Robin Rupp of Westminster, Md., caught a 1-pound, 1.5-ounce crappie at Triadelphia that measured 133/4 inches with a girth of 93/4 inches while casting a crankbait. Scattered catches of largemouth bass were made in both impoundments over the holiday weekend, and channel catfish seem to be everywhere you drop a night crawler.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Hatching cicadas provided anglers with great fly-fishing and topwater plugging opportunities for nearly every species of fish in the lake. Swarms of cicadas blown off trees were gobbled down as soon as they hit the water. Small topwater plugs, those measuring just over an inch long and sporting small propellers, drew explosive strikes from largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, white perch, chain pickerel, and even some monster carp to 25 or more pounds. "There have been a few landed this week, but not many. These are really big carp and they're lots of fun to catch, but you have to be ready for them with heavier-than-normal tackle," said Loch Raven Fishing Center manager Kevin McComas.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Similar conditions exist at Liberty Reservoir, where hatching cicadas provided the impoundment's piscatorial residents with a high-protein diet for the past two weeks. The lake's upper reaches provided anglers with a good mix of white perch and crappie, especially above Nicodemus Bridge. "During the past week, there were more walleye caught than anyone has seen in more than 20 years. The fish are holding along the edges of grass beds in muddy water," said Doug Gies at Old Reisterstown Bait & Tackle.

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Largemouth bass action kicked in during the past week, mainly in the shallows of the lake's upper reaches. Most were found lurking near large, submerged boulders or partly submerged trees in depths of two to five feet, where live minnows and small crankbaits proved effective. Crappie are stacking up at the mouths of most of the deeper coves, and there were good numbers of big bluegills taken from the cove's shallows. Rainbow trout fishing has been somewhat slow, but should improve as water temperatures rise into the mid-60s and these fish begin to congregate just above the dam.


LAKE ANNA -- Larry Olson of Spotsylvania was fishing the lake's shallows with a shallow-running crankbait last week when he caught a 5-pound, 7-ounce largemouth bass. Luray resident Earl Embrey found a six-pounder lurking the shallows that slammed his lure like a freight train. Most of the bass are in post-spawn mode, which essentially means they'll hang around the spawning area for a week or two before migrating to deepwater haunts throughout the impoundment. Striper action ranged from good to excellent for weekend anglers willing to get out of bed and be on the water at the crack of dawn. Hunter's Landing, Holiday Bridge, The Splits and all locations in between held stripers to 12 pounds, most of which were taken on Sassy Shad and topwater plugs fished in depths of four to 10 feet. Paul Rider of Spotsylvania had four fish with a combined weight of 38 pounds, 5 ounces. Shallow brush piles, bridge supports and pier pilings hold good numbers of crappie to 15 inches, most taken on live minnows fished four to six feet beneath a small float.

KERR RESERVOIR -- The lake is again quite muddy. Striped bass are scattered between Clarksville and the dam, and largemouth bass fishing has been slow at best.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river is still a bit high, but relatively clear. Smallmouth bass action was mediocre at best and fisheries biologists were at a loss to explain why. A few bronzebacks were caught downriver of Bentonville Bridge on live minnows and night crawlers, but not in the number that normally are found this time of year.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- The Chesapeake's upper reaches continue to be a sea of muddy water from Conowingo Dam down to the Chesapeake Bay Bridges at Sandy Point. Muddy water continuously flows down the Susquehanna on a daily basis, often loaded with various forms of flotsam that range from large sticks to logs the size of telephone poles. Scattered catches of white perch were made in the river's muddy waters just above I-95 bridge by anglers drifting night crawlers and bloodworms along the bottom. White perch and an occasional keeper-size striped bass were found lurking just inside the North East River's mouth at Turkey Point, Rocky Point and the deepwater trough situated in front of the VA Hospital at Perry Point. Channel catfish are everywhere you drop a piece of cut herring or night crawler, and they range in size from 12 to 24 inches. Trollers caught a few stripers just below Pooles Island, where tandem-rigged bucktails trimmed with chartreuse Sassy Shad lured fish to 20 inches. Chummers at Love Point, Swan Point Bar and Belvedere Shoals caught significantly more stripers, but the percentage of keepers is quite small. One angler talked of catching more than 200 fish during a single chumming trip, but between the six anglers aboard his boat, they were only able to keep two fish. Similar reports were heard from the Dumping Grounds, Man-O-War Shoals and the Patapsco River's mouth -- lots of fish, but nothing big enough to keep. White perch to 10 inches and a few large croaker were found just inside the Chester River's mouth near the entrance to Kent Narrows. Bottom-fished bloodworms proved to be the best bait here. Upriver, anglers fishing with night crawlers and cut herring baits beneath Chestertown's Route 213 bridge caught a mix of small stripers and channel catfish while fishing the river's channel edges.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- A few croaker are being taken from Mattapeake Pier at night, but more often than not baits are being gobbled down by throwback stripers before the croaker have a chance of reaching them. Large croaker were found in Eastern Bay and along the channel edge near Parson's Island. Most were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips. Scattered catches of white perch to 10 inches were reported by anglers fishing between pilings of the old Chesapeake Bay Bridge and there were a few keeper rockfish mixed with them.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The river's lower reaches between Cook and Chlora points, especially along the southern channel edge, provided anglers with a mix of small stripers and big croaker. Upriver, anglers fishing from the Route 50 bridge fishing piers caught a mix of white perch and channel catfish. Some of the catties ranged up to six pounds. Bottom-fished cut herring baits lured the largest catfish, while bloodworms were effective for perch.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Most of the charter boats are still fishing locations south of Chesapeake Beach, mainly near the Gas Docks, where chummers caught large numbers of rockfish to 22 inches during the past week. Again, the throwback ratio has been quite high, with more than half the fish caught measuring less than 18 inches. Few if any exceed the 28-inch size limit for the second fish. Some captains are still trolling the bay's western channel edge with small bucktails and spoons and reported somewhat larger fish.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- The river's lower reaches are loaded with various sizes of croaker, small stripers to 22 inches, and even an occasional flounder. Most anglers had no trouble catching their 25-fish limits of croaker to 18 inches while fishing the river's southern channel edge down to Cedar Point. Cedar Point Hollow, and the bay's western channel edge, provided anglers with good-to-excellent catches of croaker as well. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips fishing late in the day and into the early evening.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Croaker up to 20 inches were found lurking along the bay's eastern channel edge between Punch Island Bar and Richland Point Buoy, locations where bottom-fished bloodworms, bait shrimp and squid stripers were extremely effective when drifted over the bottom in depths of 20 to 25 feet during the first few hours of ebb tide. Plug casters found legal-size stripers to 20 inches lurking among the pilings of Lower Hooper Island Bridge, where topwater plugs and small bucktails trimmed with four-inch pearl and chartreuse twister tails were hit with arm-jolting strikes.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- The headboat and charter fleet running from Crisfield continues to catch good numbers of big croaker in both Tangier and Pocomoke sounds, some measuring up to 20 inches or more. The fish are congregated along the sound's eastern channel edge in depths of 25 to 40 feet, and they're frequently mixed with large spot and an occasional weakfish. Most of the weakfish are still quite small, but a few caught at night tipped the scales at nearly three pounds.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- If you head upriver from Point Lookout State Park to the Wicomico River's mouth, just drop something in the water and you'll get an immediate hit from a broad-shouldered croaker. That's what anglers that returned to Quade's Store in Bushwood claimed. Nearly every boat returns to the docks after a couple of hours with their 25 fish-per-angler limit of croaker, plus a bonus of white perch and spot. At the point's public fishing pier, a mix of croaker, spot, snapper bluefish, striped bass and throwback flounder are caught both day and night. Nighttime anglers usually end up with the largest fish, plus a few keeper rockfish as well. Charter boat anglers chummed along the bay's eastern channel edge and caught rockfish to 26 inches, plus several big croaker.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth and upriver to White Stone Bridge continue to provide anglers with a good mix of big croaker, spot, flounder and a few pan trout. Most are taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips. Scattered catches of small- to mid-size stripers were reported at Windmill and Stingray points, locations where schools of small breaking fish had keeper-size rockfish lurking just beneath them.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- The Cell was the holiday weekend hot spot for just about everything that swims in Chesapeake Bay. Croaker to 20 inches, flounder to six pounds, similar-size weakfish and some monster spadefish were all caught at this single location near Buoy 42. Spadefish to 10 pounds were also found lurking among the CBBT's submerged boulders at the Third and Fourth islands, where pieces of clam drifted into a chum slick of ground clam proved extremely effective. Scattered catches of both black drum and red drum were also reported just above the bridge at Lattimer Shoals, while at Kiptopeke's concrete ships, tautog to six pounds gobbled down pieces of hard-shell crab fished tight against the wrecks.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- The season's first yellowfin tuna were found at the south tip of Washington Canyon, and while there were no billfish caught, two white marlin were seen trailing behind skipbaits intended for the tuna. Closer to shore, headboat anglers caught good numbers of sea bass to five pounds, a lone seven-pounder being the pool winner on Friday. Shorebound anglers had no trouble catching keeper stripers from the Route 50 bridge, some tipping the scales at more than 30 pounds. Most were taken on small bucktails trimmed with varying soft plastics. Scattered catches of tautog to three pounds were made on chunks of peeler crab. Flounder to seven pounds were taken from the shallows above Route 50 bridge, mostly on frozen shiners and squid strips fished in shallow depths along the back bay's channel edges.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Flounder action picked up a bit since last week, but there are still a fair number of throwbacks being caught for every keeper-size fish. Offshore, the north tip of Norfolk Canyon provided trollers with a mix of yellowfin tuna, small dolphin and the season's first wahoo.

OUTER BANKS -- Surf anglers fishing between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head reported fair catches of snapper bluefish to three pounds, small spot and sea mullet while dunking bloodworms. Pier anglers fared a bit better with a mix of bluefish to five pounds, Spanish mackerel, spot, weakfish and an occasional striped bass. Most of the stripers ranged up to 24 inches, but there were lots of throwbacks as well. Offshore, trollers using rigged mullet baits loaded up on yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds, gaffer dolphin and several big wahoo. There were a number of blue marlin tagged and released. Hatteras boats fishing near shore caught a mix of cobia, king mackerel and bluefish just outside the inlet.