What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Grass beds from Piscataway to Potomac creeks continue to produce medium-size bass during periods of tidal exchange. At high tide and during midday, tube lures and stick baits fished painfully slow produced the best results. The dropoff at Fort McNair wall in Washington Channel was a good bet for monster carp, an occasional bass and even a legal-size striper on days when the weather cooperated. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms, night crawlers and cut herring baits fished along the outer perimeters of grass beds. Pentagon Lagoon was the weekend hot spot for anglers casting tube lures near submerged riprap and pilings. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge area was slower than normal over the weekend, possibly because of weather changes. The same was true for The Spoils, but prospects improved in Oxen Run Cove, where a couple of five-pound largemouths were caught. Other productive areas include the grass beds of Piscataway Creek and those found on the Virginia side between Hog Island and Mount Vernon. Bulltown Cove, the mouth of Pomonkey Creek, Gunson Cove and Hallowing Cove are loaded with mid-size largemouth bass, most of which seem to be congregated along the edges of grass beds. Mattawoman and Chickamuxen creeks, and bridges at Neabsco and Powell creeks held a few exceptionally large fish until the front passed through and lowered water temperatures nearly five degrees. The mouth of Aquia Creek proved productive for anglers casting buzzbaits early and late in the day.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches are finally clearing, though not substantially at this point. Most of the fish caught earlier in the week were somewhat small, and many were taken on black surface plugs that resembled cicadas. The best action was at Lander, followed by Whites and Edwards ferries.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river's water temperature fell to 55 degrees after the passage of the cold front, and river levels rose at Harrisburg shortly after the rains hit. Just before the changes in river conditions, anglers caught good numbers of smallmouth bass to three pounds at a half-dozen locations between Fort Hunter and the Juniata River's mouth. Nearly all were taken on tube lures fished slowly, close to the bottom.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Another slow week here, with mixed catches of channel catfish, bluegill, crappie and a few largemouths. Most were taken on live minnows fished in the impoundment's upper reaches, but some of the largest catfish were taken close to the dams.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Another great weekend for white perch anglers -- catches to 12 inches slammed slow-trolled, in-line spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler and fished at the mouths of major coves. The lake's grass beds continue to give up a few chain pickerel, largemouth bass and lots of bluegill. Bridge anglers managed to catch a few crappie from Dulaney Valley Bridge, but the action was slow at best.
LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Anglers fishing above Nicodemus Bridge from shore found good numbers of white perch, an occasional striper and even a few trout lurking along the edges of drop-offs. Live minnows were the key to success when fished four to six feet beneath small floats. Bridge anglers caught a mix of white perch and crappie while dunking chicken livers close to the pilings, while downriver, trollers using deep-running crankbaits continue to reel in lunker walleye. A few big stripers were reportedly taken just downlake of Route 32 bridge and just above Route 26 bridge, again, with live minnows producing the best results.
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Weekday anglers were able to load up on big bluegill, yellow perch, chain pickerel and a few big crappie while dunking live minnows in the deeper coves. Downlake, near Deep Creek Dam, live minnows lured a few big rainbow trout to three pounds from 20 feet beneath the surface. Scattered catches of both largemouth and smallmouth bass were made along the lake's rocky shorelines while casting shallow-running crankbaits in depths of just two to four feet. A few big largemouths were also pulled from beneath floating docks using live minnows suspended a few feet beneath floats.
LAKE ANNA -- The lake's upper reaches continue to provide anglers with excellent catches of striped bass to seven pounds. Hot spots included Jett Island, The Splits, mouth of Sturgeon Creek, Dike No. 3 and the upper lake's main channel edges. Trollers scored best using a variety of deep-diving crankbaits and large, live minnows, but early and late in the day plug casters enjoyed good topwater action on somewhat smaller fish. Bass fishing ranged good to excellent in the deeper coves and major creeks, where tube lures, plastic worms and deep-diving crankbaits lured a number of largemouths to four pounds. Crappie are beginning to migrate to deeper water, but you can still find some lurking beneath docks.
UPPER BAY -- Scattered catches of legal-size stripers were made at the base of Conowingo Dam during the past week, most taken on four- to six-inch white and chartreuse twister tails rigged to half-ounce bucktails and cast into the tailrace waters. A few anglers used surf rods to heave whole, live bluegill into the swirling tailrace, which resulted in catches of substantially larger rockfish. Downriver, just below Lapidum Landing, anglers trolled small, red, surgical hose eels in depths of four to 12 feet, which produced a few stripers to 22 inches and lots of throwbacks measuring 12 to 15 inches. Channel catfish to 10 pounds smacked cut herring baits fished in the same vicinity, mostly from depths of 15 to 20 feet on the Cecil County side of the river. The Susquehanna Flats gave up a few keeper stripers to anglers casting bucktails trimmed with Bass Assassins along the channel edges in depths of four to six feet near the North East River's mouth. Water conditions here are still quite murky, but a week of dry weather could trigger a good run of striped bass here. Channel catfish are just about every place you drop a piece of cut herring, night crawler or chicken liver. Catties to eight pounds were caught in the North East, Elk, Sassafras and Bohemia rivers nearly every day last week. The same was true for the Chester River's upper reaches, Bush River, Dundee Creek, Gunpowder River and the cut behind the Hart/Miller Island complex. Trollers fishing last weekend's Rock Hall Rockfish Tournament found tough conditions in the upper bay, so some opted to run to more productive southern locations in an attempt to catch a prizewinner. At the time of this writing, the largest striper weighed in tipped the scales at 14 pounds and was caught south of the Bay Bridges. Trollers found a few keeper-size rockfish lurking tight against the submerged boulders of Love Point Light, while just a short distance up the Chester River, pods of white perch were found along the river's southern channel edge near the entrance buoy to Kent Narrows.
BAY BRIDGES AREA -- White perch and small schools of croaker were found lurking in the mouth of Eastern Bay. The croaker were primarily caught along the channel edges near Parson's Island, while the perch seemed to be concentrated at creek mouths and the southern end of Kent Narrows. Bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips produced the best action when fished just after sundown during periods of moving tide. Trollers found a few stripers lurking among finger pilings of the Bay Bridges, where bucktails trimmed with white twisters were effective early and late in the day.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Croaker are scattered along the river's southern channel edge between Cook and Chloras points, where squid strips and bait shrimp lured fish to 16 inches from depths of 12 to 20 feet. The river's shallows near the mouth provided some light tackle rockfish action for anglers casting bucktails trimmed with four-inch, chartreuse twisters and fished in depths of two to five feet. White perch and channel catfish remain plentiful beneath the Route 50 bridge fishing piers, where bloodworms, clam snouts and cut herring baits all proved effective at night.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- The local charter fleet is primarily chumming for stripers just above the Gas Docks, and across the bay at The Gooses, locations that produced fair numbers of stripers to 20 inches. Headboat anglers caught a mix of spot, white perch and big croaker while fishing the Choptank River's mouth at night.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- The river's lower reaches have experienced an invasion of big croaker, some measuring up to 22 inches, which is huge by any standard. Several exceptionally large fish were found at Hawk's Nest near the mouth of Cuckolds Creek late in the week, with the best action taking place during high tides. Many anglers reported catching two at a time on double bottom rigs. Croaker averaging 17 inches were caught by shorebound anglers at TPS Pier, West Basin and Hog Point on the Naval Air Station. Spot and flounder have also arrived in the Patuxent River's confines, with most found lurking along the drop-off near the Three Legged Marker. The spot are frequently mixed with croaker and are best taken with bottom-fished bloodworms.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- Big croaker were caught at the river's mouth at night, some measuring up to 21 inches and tipping the scales at nearly three pounds. The largest fish were found just a short distance from Lower Hooper Island near Richland Point Buoy and the HS Buoy in Hooper Straits. Lower Hooper Island Bridge's pilings and some of the nearby sloughs and guts held a few keeper stripers to 20 inches, but the speckled trout just have not materialized. Flounder to 21 inches were found along the bay's eastern channel edge, primarily in depths of 20 to 30 feet between buoys 74 and 76. Large, live bull minnows sandwiched between squid strips proved to be a deadly combination.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Most of the past week's bottom-fishing action centered on croaker and spot, both found in abundance in lower Tangier Sound near a location known by locals as California. Croaker to 17 inches were commonplace and spot to 10 inches were mixed with them. Lurking nearby were a few monster black drum weighing just over 60 pounds. A few weakfish and flounder were also caught at the same location.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Most of the local charter fleet headed across the bay to chum along the bay's eastern channel edge just below Buoy 72A, where stripers ranging from 15-inch throwbacks to 27-inch keepers were boated by anglers using light tackle. Westover, Md., resident John Jordan tried his luck casting streamer flies into a chum. Jordan boated a hefty 25-inch striper on the fly rod, a fish that Capt. Dave Stone says put up one heck of a battle before being landed. You don't have to be on a boat to catch big croaker at Point Lookout State Park. Anglers fishing from the park's causeway and public fishing pier caught good numbers of big croaker at night while bottom fishing with squid strips and bloodworms. Upriver, big croaker were found just off St. George's Island, Brenton Bay, St. Mary's River and the Wicomico River, locations where limit catches were the norm with many fish measuring 18 inches or larger.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Chummers caught good numbers of stripers at the Asphalt Pile, Northern Neck Reef and the lumps just north of Smith Point Bar. Nothing exceptionally large, but the vast majority were keeper size. Croaker fishing ranged good to incredible at many locations, including the confines of the Rappahannock, where croaker to 15 inches and spot to 10 inches seemed to cover the entire bottom just downriver of White Stone Bridge. Larger croaker were found outside the river's mouth just east of Windmill Point and across the bay at the lumps southwest of Tangier Light. A few keeper-size weakfish were caught at the remains of the Davidson and Tangier wrecks by anglers casting bucktails trimmed with chunks of peeler crab, most tipping the scales at three to four pounds. Scattered catches of flounder were made on the flats south of Windmill Point and just outside the Little Wicomico River's mouth near the north jetty.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Good numbers of keeper-size flounder were found lurking near buoy 42, The Cell and down the bay at Plantation Flats. Minnow/squid combinations were the most effective at both locations. Spadefish to eight pounds arrived in relatively large numbers at The Cell, the CBBT's Third and Fourth islands, and Chesapeake Tower. Croaker are plentiful throughout the area in mixed sizes ranging from 10 to 18 inches, with the largest fish caught at night along the bay's eastern channel edge in depths of 25 to 35 feet. A fair number of dusky sharks were caught and released by weekend anglers at the same location. Scattered catches of cobia were reported at Lattimer Shoal, the Inner Middle Ground and Plantation Flats, the largest tipping the scales at 70 pounds. Several red drum ranging from 40 to 55 inches were also caught and released at the same locations and from the shoals surrounding Fisherman's Island.
OCEAN CITY -- Most charterboat anglers enjoyed fast and furious yellowfin tuna action while trolling rigged ballyhoo and spreader bars at Washington Canyon, where limit catches of tuna to 55 pounds were made on days when the weather cooperated. Closer to shore, an occasional bluefin tuna to 80 pounds was caught from some of the lumps and bumps near the 20 Fathom Curve. Sharkers caught lots of blue and mako during the past week, with the largest makos topping 150 pounds. Headboat anglers enjoyed great wreck fishing for sea bass and tautog, with many of the sea bass weighing three or more pounds. Shorebound anglers caught good numbers of striped bass and big weakfish from the Route 50 bridge at night while casting bucktails trimmed with twister tails. Back bay anglers enjoyed good to excellent catches of flounder to 22 inches while drifting live minnows along the channel edges. Surf catches consisted mainly of kingfish, small shark and snapper bluefish.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Flounder fishing was somewhat like the past week's weather -- hot and cold. There were days when many of the boats returned to launch ramps and docks with limits of flatfish to 20 inches, while the following day the same people found it difficult to catch a single keeper-size fish. Offshore, slammer bluefish can be found at most of the traditional tuna fishing hot spots, including the 21 and 26 Mile Hills, Parking Lot and Ammo Wreck.