Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- The entire river is muddy because of heavy runoff from recent thunderstorms. While there is some clear water near grass beds, much of the river resembles Bosco with sticks and debris. The best bet for weekend anglers hoping to hook up with a chunky largemouth bass is to fish some of the smaller creeks, where water quality is a bit better. Woodrow Wilson Bridge anglers continue to catch an occasional fish to four pounds, but the action is anything but consistent. Oxen Run Cove, Belle Haven and Hog Island piers and grass beds may provide some action if the weather remains dry, and don't overlook the mouth of Four Mile Run -- there's always a few big fish lurking in the grass beds here as well. Slightly clearer water may be found in Washington Channel and Pentagon Lagoon. Fletcher's Landing is still the hot spot for big channel and flathead catfish. Shorebound and boating anglers alike caught good numbers of catties to 15 pounds, most taken on bottom-fished cut herring and chicken liver baits.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches remain high, muddy and unfishable.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- When the river clears, look for smallmouth bass in the mouths of creeks and in main river grass beds situated relatively close to shore and behind islands, locations where eddies provide some shelter from the current and a good supply of food.

Maryland

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Loch Raven Fishing Center had a busy weekend when a local bass club conducted its one-day tournament. "They caught a lot of big bass, the largest weighed about 51/2 pounds, and I believe the winning total, combined weight, was nearly 18 pounds," center manager Kevin McComas said. Most of the bass were taken from the edges of grass beds situated relatively close to shore, while just outside the beds, trollers caught large numbers of chunky white perch while dragging inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler. Trollers also caught a few big chain pickerel, lots of chunky bluegill, and a few crappie from the mouth of Pierce's Cove.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Anglers fishing with live shiners and chunks of chicken liver from the decks of Nicodemus Bridge caught a mix of white perch and crappie, both of which averaged about 10 inches in length. Just a short distance downlake near Oakland Mills Point, trollers using large, live shiners and deep-diving crankbaits managed to sink their hooks into a few hefty stripers to 10 pounds. Most of the stripers were caught just after sunrise. Largemouth bass action ranged fair to good in some of the mid-lake coves, where shallow-running crankbaits cast among the submerged trees and stumps lured bucketmouths to five or more pounds. Trollers using small shad darts trimmed with a morsel of night crawler caught a mix of white perch and crappie that were suspended just beneath the lake's surface uplake of Route 26 bridge and downlake of Route 32 bridge.

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Most of the impoundment's largemouths were found in shoreline grass beds between Turkey Neck and Green Glade, and downlake near the town of McHenry. Big bluegills, some measuring up to 12 inches, were caught from depths of four to 10 feet, most taken from the back ends of larger coves on weekdays when boating traffic was relatively light. A few walleye were caught from among the huge, submerged boulders near the state park, where live minnows and leeches suspended beneath floats were the keys to success.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Most of the week's largemouth bass action took place early and late in the day, with the best catches made from depths of two to seven feet by anglers casting a variety of tube lures, plastic worms and deep-diving crankbaits near pier pilings, along drop-offs and near the mouths of small creeks. Some of the bass were exceptionally large, but the average fish tipped the scales at less than three pounds. Peyton White and Frankie Sipe of Fluvanna, Va., caught three fish that had a combined weight of 14 pounds 5 ounces. Their largest bass weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces. Striped bass continue to dominate the big fish action. The fish are concentrated along the main lake channel edges from the Splits to Stubbs and Holiday bridges. Drift-fishing with live bait and trolling works best during the mid-day, while topwater action has been good morning and evening. The secret to catching the largest fish while plug casting is to stay in the main lake and use topwater Redfins, Zara Spooks and Sassy Shad, silver and pearl colors. During the heat of the day, fish the same areas in depths of six to 15 feet using Sea Shad, Sassy Shad, Boss Baitfish or Storm Wildeyes, mostly pearl color patterns. Troll with Normans DD-22 or Cordell Redfins. Local angler Earl Devers had a nine-fish day of catfish and stripers, with a combined weight of 35 pounds. Water temperatures ranged from 82 to 86 degrees during the week, which is warm for this time of year, but not too warm to drive crappie to deep water. Most of the lake's shoreline brush piles and pier pilings continue to provide anglers with crappie to 13 inches while suspending live minnows four to six feet beneath a small float.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- While the river is perfect for taking an exciting float trip downriver from Bentonville Bridge, fishing action continues to be considerably slower than normal, and no one seems to have an explanation as to why. Water temperatures are in the mid-70s, the grass beds have all emerged, and water quality is high, but the fish just are not there. In the meantime, you can take advantage of the whitewater rafting opportunities.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Another week of muddy, fast-flowing water and poor fishing conditions throughout much of the upper Chesapeake. Just about the time the Susquehanna, North East, Elk, Sassafras, Bush, Gunpowder and Bohemia rivers began to clear, the region was hit with a gully-washer that dumped several inches of rain. Lowland flooding has been the norm lately, but there was at least one bright spot on days when it was not raining. A cold front passed through the region last Saturday, which triggered a catfish feeding binge. Channel catfish to 15 pounds ate just about anything that was within range, including bucktails cast along the river's channel edges for stripers. The largest fish were caught in the C&D Canal and Elk River, where bottom-fished cut herring and chicken liver baits were gobbled down by catties averaging eight or more pounds. Trollers found a few legal-size striped bass while dragging bucktails trimmed with white twisters and pearl Sassy Shad near Love Point Light, Peach Orchard, Belvedere Shoals and just east of Bodkin Point. While most of the fish were 18 to 20 inches in length, there were a few exceptional stripers that tipped the scales at 12 to 14 pounds. White perch and channel catfish are the main staple in the Chester River's lower and middle reaches. Bottom-fished bloodworms were best for the perch when fished along the river's channel edges, while cut herring and clam snouts lured catties near Chestertown's Route 213 bridge.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- Chummers found pods of small stripers lurking along the drop-offs between Kentmoore Marina and Bloody Point Light, but keeper-size rockfish were quite scarce. Inside the mouth of Eastern Bay, scattered catches of croaker were made while drift-fishing with squid strips, razor clam, bait shrimp and chunks of peeler crab. Recreational crabbers found good numbers of blue crabs lurking in Eastern Bay near the mouth of Crab Alley Bay and Wye River. Most measured 51/2 to 61/2 inches point to point and were taken in collapsible traps baited with chicken necks and small white perch. White perch remain plentiful in Kent Narrows at night, but most of the fish caught during the past week were too small to keep.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Croaker action dropped off after the passage of the weekend cold front, and only a handful of keeper-size stripers were found in the river's confines. The channel edge between Todd and Cook points was the lone hot spot in the river's lower reaches, with stripers ranging from throwbacks to 27 inches, and a few croaker to 18 inches. Both species were taken on bottom-fished chunks of peeler crab during the first few hours of afternoon ebb tide. Anglers fishing from the decks of the Route 50 bridge piers caught a mix of small white perch, throwback stripers and lots of big channel catfish. Most of the catfish were taken on cut herring and chicken liver baits fished near the channel edges.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Another good weekend of striped bass action for both chummers and trollers. Limit catches of stripers to 24 inches were made at the Gooses, Gas Docks and several locations between the Radar Towers and mouth of Parker's Creek. Headboat anglers did not fare as well on croaker, but they did manage to find a few spot and white perch lurking in the mouths of the West and Choptank rivers.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Croaker action varied, likely the result of rapidly changing weather patterns. They seem to have adopted nocturnal habits a few weeks earlier than usual. Night fishing has been good for a mix of croaker and spot near Hog Point and inside Cedar Point Hollow, with the majority of the larger fish being caught on bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips. Mixed sizes of striped bass were seen breaking near Cedar Point Rip, most measuring just under the 18-inch minimum size limit. Scattered catches of flounder to 20 inches were made directly across the bay from Punch Island Bar to Hooper Island Light, where minnow/squid combinations proved deadly early and late in the day.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth was still the spot for croaker at night, particularly along the channel edges near Richland Point and HS buoys. Squid strips and chunks of peeler crab lured croaker to 17 inches, and when conditions were ideal, most anglers reported catching two at a time just as fast as their baits touched bottom. Stripers to 22 inches continued to come into the chum slicks, and most of the charter boats reported limit catches were made within a few hours.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- The lower reaches of both Tangier and Pocomoke sounds were alive with headboat and charterboat anglers despite weekend winds. Most caught good numbers of spot and croaker, plus a few bonus flounder and weakfish. The drop-offs just above Tangier Light and an area known locally as California provided the best action.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Most of the local charter boats ventured out to the bay's eastern channel edge, where they chummed for stripers and limited out on fish to 26 inches. After a few hours, they switched to bottom fishing and caught limits of big croaker to 18 inches while drifting squid strips and bait shrimp at the same location. Up in the Potomac, large numbers of spot were found just inside Cornfield Harbor, while anglers fishing the mouth of the St. Mary's and Wicomico rivers caught croaker to 16 inches on bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Most of the larger croaker seem to have migrated out of the river, leaving 12- to 15-inchers behind to keep anglers busy on days when it's too windy to fish the bay's open waters. Big croaker to 20 inches were found along the bay's western channel edge from Smith Point Light south to Windmill Point Light, where squid strips were extremely effective.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- The Cell was the place for big flounder, the largest tipping the scales at more than six pounds. Several anglers reported sighting huge schools of spadefish at the same location, but only a few smaller fish were caught. The same was true with Wolftrap Light and the CBBT's man-made islands, where large spadefish were sighted, but only a few caught. Flounder action picked up at Plantation Flats and down the bay near Kiptopeke Flats, where limit catches of flatfish to four pounds were made on days when the wind was calm.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Capt. Sean Welsh, skipper of the Justified, may have a new state- and world-record shark, caught by an angler fishing with him last week during the Ocean City Shark Tournament. The 375-pound hammerhead, if confirmed, should eclipse the current record by several pounds. Sean's crew won the three-day event, with total earnings of $24,690, which includes payouts from various skill-level entries as well. Offshore, anglers continue to catch good numbers of yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds while trolling cedar plugs, rigged ballyhoo and Green Machines at Washington and northern Norfolk canyons. A few dolphin have been mixed with them as well, most weighing 10 to 12 pounds. Closer to the beach, a few bluefin tuna were boated by trollers at the Lumpy Bottom and Parking Lot, but only one bluefin tuna per boat may be kept until National Marine Fisheries Service decides what the season size and bag limits will be. (If officials don't make up their minds soon, it could affect the Ocean City Tuna Tournament, which kicks off July 8.) Headboat anglers managed to catch modest numbers of sea bass, but the action is a bit slow because of spawning. Trollers using large spoons, surgical hose eels and Hoochy Trolls caught slammer bluefish to 12 pounds at the Jack Spot, Parking Lot, Hotdog and Hambone. While most of the blues went into anglers' cooler chests, a number were put in live wells and used for shark bait. Blue shark to 150 pounds, mako shark to 200 pounds, dusky shark to 125 pounds and some monster hammerheads gobbled down the live bluefish during the weekend tournament. Shorebound anglers found good numbers of striped bass, large weakfish and an occasional tautog lurking in Ocean City Inlet and beneath the Route 50 bridge. Small boat anglers fishing north of the bridge caught good numbers of flounder to four pounds.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Lots of flounder caught at both ports just inside the inlets, but keepers were limited to just one fish in 10. Inshore, headboat anglers caught a mix of sea bass and tautog at the wrecks, while farther east at the 21- and 26-Mile hills trollers found a mix of slammer bluefish and bluefin tuna that slammed cedar plugs and rigged ballyhoo.

OUTER BANKS -- Offshore anglers found a good mix of yellowfin tuna, king mackerel, small to mid-size dolphin and an occasional billfish. Closer to the beach, smaller king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and swarms of snapper bluefish provided action for light tackle anglers fishing just a few hundred yards beyond the surf line. Surf and pier anglers caught lots of sea mullet, snapper bluefish, a few speckled trout, and, at times, keeper-size flounder.