Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- A few heavy downpours maintained the river's muddy conditions, but there were fair to good catches of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and channel catfish. Water temperatures are in the mid-70s, and large areas of the river contain blue-green algae blooms that are toxic to humans and animals. The bright-colored algae almost appears as if paint has been spilled on the water's surface and should be avoided. Mattawoman Creek provided anglers with good catches of largemouths to four pounds, most taken on spinnerbaits cast to grass beds within the 6 mph zone. A four-inch stick-bait rigged Texas style (without weight) and cast to spatterdock and grass bed edges results in arm-jolting strikes when fished early and late in the day. Chickamuxen Creek, Mallows Bay and Pomonkey Creek were also productive areas in the south. In the D.C. area, Washington Channel is still the best bet for a mix of stripers and largemouth from the grass beds along the Fort McNair wall. Most of the fish seem to be holding along the drop-off, where deep-diving crankbaits were most effective. During high tide, when fish are lurking in the grass beds, spinnerbaits and stickbaits are a good choice of lures.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- While most of the fish were quite small, there were a few exceptions found at Whites and Edwards ferries in the deeper pools, where tube lures rigged to one-eighth-ounce leadheads and worked slowly close to the bottom lured bronzebacks to two pounds.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- Lots of smaller bronzebacks caught near the Juniata River's mouth during the past week, while downriver near Three Mile Island and in Conowingo Lake, somewhat larger bass were caught from the mouths of clear, cool, spring-fed creeks. Most of the larger fish were taken on tube lures, but live minnows produced the best action and the greatest variety of fish. Channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, yellow perch and a few walleye were all taken on the minnows when fished along the rock-strewn shorelines in shaded areas.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Holiday weekend anglers had no trouble catching good numbers of bass and crappie from both WSSC impoundments. Thomas Chakalakis of Silver Spring caught a 1-pound 2-ounce crappie at Rocky Gorge while casting a small grub. Craig Walrath of Claytonville, Md., caught a 4-pound 5.5-ounce smallmouth bass from Triadelphia while casting a crankbait.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch ranging from eight to 10 inches were taken by trollers using inline spinners trimmed with a piece of night crawler and fished in the impoundment's open waters between Loch Raven Drive and Dulaney Valley Road bridges. A bass tournament that ran from Loch Raven Fishing Center last week resulted in several bucketmouths to 5.5 pounds, most taken from the edges of grass beds adjacent to steep drop-offs. Large bluegills, some weighing more than a pound, were also caught by trollers hoping to catch white perch, and there were a half-dozen big walleye taken on trolled crankbaits. Crappie can still be found in a few deepwater brush piles situated in major coves, but most seem to have migrated to deepwater haunts in the main lake.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Anglers fishing from the decks of Nicodemus Bridge caught a mix of white perch and small crappie, plus some bonus walleye to four pounds. Downlake, stripers to 29 pounds were caught 35 feet beneath the surface over depths of 80 to 100 feet a short distance uplake of Route 26 bridge. Most slammed deep-trolled crankbaits, but a few were taken on large, live shiners suspended beneath floats and drifted slowly with the currents.

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- The jet skis and water skiers made holiday weekend fishing nearly impossible. Just before the crowds arrived, anglers caught good numbers of big bluegills and yellow perch in the deeper coves while dunking night crawlers near the edges of drop-offs. Downlake, live minnows suspended 20 to 25 feet beneath small floats lured rainbow trout to two pounds, while the same rig fished in relatively shallow water closer to shore lured both largemouth and smallmouth bass to three pounds.


LAKE ANNA -- Good to excellent catches of largemouth bass were made throughout the impoundment's middle and upper reaches during much of the holiday weekend. Most were found lurking in relatively shallow water and caught early and late in the day when boating traffic was somewhat lighter. Crappie are stacked up in deepwater haunts, mainly beneath bridges where small live shiners lured slabsides to 12 inches. Stripers to 15 pounds were taken by trollers using a variety of deep-diving crankbaits trolled along the channel edges near the state park and Jett Island. Limit catches of smaller stripers to six pounds were made early and late in the day at the same locations by anglers casting small, topwater lures close to shore.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river is in great shape for both fishing and whitewater rafting. A few brief showers raised river levels a few inches, which for some reason put the fish on a feeding binge that lasted for much of the holiday weekend. Smallmouth bass to three pounds slammed tiny spinners, shallow-running crankbaits, madtoms and large shiners fished in the deeper pools downriver of Bentonville. Panfish action seems to be on the upswing as well, especially for fly rodders who used small nymphs and streamers.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- The upper bay's waters are beginning to clear somewhat, but underwater visibility is still less than a foot in most locations. The exception to this is some of the North East River's coves and the open areas of the Susquehanna Flats, where grass beds filter the sediment sufficiently to permit two to three feet of underwater visibility and relatively good fishing. Anglers fishing the edges of the grass beds found a mix of small stripers to 19 inches, and lots of small to mid-size largemouth bass. Most were taken on Tiny Torpedoes and Devil's Horse, lures that have been effective in this area for decades. Trollers managed to catch a few stripers in the lower Susquehanna River, but most were too small to keep. Channel catfish to eight pounds were found along the drop-offs and channel edges of the lower Susquehanna, North East, Elk, Sassafras and Bohemia rivers, where bottom-fished night crawlers, cut herring and chicken livers proved effective during periods of moving tide.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- Lots of small white perch showing up among the rocks of the manmade islands in deeper water adjacent to the twin spans. Most measure six to eight inches and smack bottom-fished bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab. While the perch are too small to eat, they make excellent bait for keeper-size stripers that can be found tight against the main pilings on both sides of the channel. Croaker action picked up again in Eastern Bay with many fish measuring 17 inches or more. Most inhaled squid strips and bait shrimp fished along both channel edges from the bay's mouth up to Parson's Island. Above the island is where white perch to 12 inches were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and razor clam strips drifted with the tide. Big perch were also found in the confines of Kent Narrows, with the best action taking place just after sunset.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The river's lower reaches are only providing anglers with a few keeper stripers and an occasional croaker. Most of the rockfish came from the shallows above Cook Point, where small bucktails trimmed with a chunk of peeler crab and cast into depths of just two to four feet lured fish to 20 inches. Most of the croaker were found at the mouth of Broad Creek and Tred Avon River, where squid strips were the best bait. Route 50 bridge anglers found a mix of small white perch and channel catfish lurking beneath the structure.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Chummers are catching mixed sizes of stripers at the Gooses, most ranging from throwbacks to 32 inches. Larger fish were generally caught early in the morning during the change of tide. Anglers jigging with Stingsilver and Strata Spoons late in the day and into the evening at the same location caught mostly large stripers, fish in the eight- to 10-pound range.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Striped bass are feeding along the river's shores, hitting topwater plugs and bucktails cast into the shallows during the early morning hours. Beaches and rock jetties of the Naval Air Station were the weekend hot spots, especially during high and ebb tides. For success, be on the water before sunrise, because most of the action ends by 10 a.m. Chummers continue to catch limits of stripers on the bay's eastern channel edge south of Hooper Island Light near Buoy 72-A, while above the light flounder to four pounds were taken on minnow-squid combos fished in depths of 15 to 25 feet near Punch Island Bar. A few bull sharks were spotted near the Patuxent River's mouth during the past couple of weeks, sharks that enter the bay to feast on newly hatched, cow-nose rays. White perch fishing remains good to excellent in most of the lower river's tributaries, where bloodworms, chunks of peeler crab and Beetle Spins lured perch to 12 inches from beneath piers and along the edges of creek channels.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Striped bass to 24 inches were caught from among Lower Hooper Island's bridge pilings while casting bucktails trimmed with a chartreuse twister during high and ebb tides. The river's mouth is still providing fair to good bottom-fishing action for a mix of spot and croaker, but the best croaker action is now at night along the bay's eastern channel edge in depths of 35 to 40 feet.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Lower Tangier Sound is where the Crisfield charter and headboat fleet spent the holiday weekend, most returning to the dock with bulging coolers filled to capacity with 12- to 16-inch croaker, eight- to 10-inch spot, weakfish to 16 inches, flounder to 18 inches, and even a few keeper rockfish.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Area charter boats enjoyed another great weekend of chumming for mixed sizes of stripers to 32 inches while at the Triangle, and there have been reports of flounder to 22 inches taken in Cornfield Harbor. Upriver, rental boats running from Bushwood loaded up on croaker to 16 inches, lots of spot and white perch, and even a few snapper bluefish. Nearly all were taken near the Wicomico River's mouth on bottom-fished squid strips and chunks of peeler crab.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Medium-size spot are available at the Spike and in deeper holes of the Piankitank River. Spot are also biting from piers and off Gwynn Island in 25 to 30 feet of water, where bloodworms are the favored bait. Small weakfish are showing up in the Rappahannock's lower reaches, where bottom rigs armed with bloodworms and jigs tipped with cut peeler crab proved effective early and late in the day. Spadefish at the Cell and at Wolftrap Light ranged up to eight pounds, with the largest fish caught during slack tide. Flounder action at Buoy 42 and the Cell was red hot, with many boats catching limits of flatties to six pounds. Victor Long of Kilmarnock, who, at 84 years old, had not previously caught a citation flattie, nailed a flounder that weighed seven pounds and measured 27 inches.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Flounder fishing ranged from good to excellent along the bay's eastern channel edge in depths of 12 to 20 feet. Most of the fish were taken along the shores between Plantation Flats and Kiptopeke Flats on live minnows and squid strips. Cobia to 75 pounds were caught at Lattimer Shoals and the Inner Middle Grounds by anglers drifting live and cut bunker into their chum slicks of ground menhaden.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Another hot weekend at the resort city. Offshore, trollers loaded up on a mix of both yellowfin and bluefin tuna, with some fish topping the 60-pound mark. A few white marlin were caught, tagged and released, and there were several dolphin boated that weighed 25 to 28 pounds. Closer to shore, sea bass action is still somewhat slower than anyone would have anticipated for this time of year, but there are loads of slammer bluefish lurking over most of the inshore lumps. Beach anglers caught a mix of kingfish, skate, small shark and flounder from Assateague's surf, while at night Route 50 bridge anglers caught weakfish to seven pounds, striped bass to 10 pounds and a few keeper flounder. Back bay anglers drifting live minnows and squid strips caught lots of flounder, most too small to keep.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Flounder action picked up just inside both inlets, while offshore, the 26-Mile Hill was the hot spot for a mix of bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, small dolphin and a few big mako sharks. Nearly all the offshore catches were made on trolled cedar plugs and rigged ballyhoo.

OUTER BANKS -- Surf and pier anglers caught a mix of sea mullet, snapper bluefish, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, spot, small pompano and grunts while dunking bloodworms and cut bunker baits. Inlet anglers found some keeper flounder and specks just inside the sound, where squid strips and bloodworms were effective. Offshore, the charter fleet reported limit catches of yellowfin tuna, a few gaffer dolphin, lots of small dolphin and king mackerel. Headboat anglers caught a mix of sea bass, triggerfish and grunts from the inshore wrecks while bottom-fishing with squid strips.