Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Overall, largemouth bass fishing in the tidal Potomac River ranges from fair to poor, depending on the location. The blue/green algae problem seems worse than at any time in recent history, and reports from some local fishing guides confirmed that large quantities of the toxic algae can be found from the mouth of Mattawoman Creek downriver to well below the Route 301 bridge. A few largemouth bass were caught from the confines of Washington Channel, but much of the gains in aquatic grasses made during the two year drought have been negated since the heavy rains began last spring. If you are lucky enough to find grass beds, you'll likely catch a few tidewater largemouths. The mouth of Pomonkey Creek provided scattered catches of largemouths to six pounds during the past week, while the grass beds of Mallows Bay produced good numbers of much smaller fish. The few grass beds located within the confines of Broad, Piscataway and Little Hunting creeks also provided weekend anglers with modest catches of largemouth bass to five pounds, most taken while casting tube lures and spinnerbaits. Good catches of channel catfish to 12 pounds were made from the river's shores near Fletcher's Landing, where bottom-fished cut herring and chicken liver baits produced the best results early and late in the day. Some monster carp were also found in the same vicinity, many tipping the scales at 15 or more pounds. Bottom-fished, whole-kernel corn was the secret to catching big carp.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches continue to provide anglers with lots of tiny smallmouth bass. On a good day, 10 to 15 percent of the fish will measure 12 or more inches; most are caught from the grass beds near Whites Ferry and Lander on small tube lures, live minnows, hellgrammites and crayfish.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA) -- The river remains high and muddy after heavy rains hit the area on Sunday and Monday. The best smallmouth catches prior to the rains were made at Three Mile Island and downriver at the upper end of Conowingo Lake. Small tube lures and live minnows were effective at both locations.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Brooke Coffman of Silver Spring caught a 2-pound, 1.5-ounce crappie at Triadelphia Reservoir last week, an exceptionally large fish for the species. Justin Behrens of Leonardtown, Md., caught a 3-pound, 9.5-ounce walleye while fishing the same location.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch are scattered throughout the impoundment's middle reaches, and if you are fortunate enough to locate a tightly packed school, you can quickly fill the cooler with 10- to 12-inchers. Most are taken while trolling small, inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler. Good catches of largemouth bass were made above Dulaney Valley Bridge near the Log Jam , where tube lures and spinnerbaits were effective.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- A few more big stripers were taken from the lake's lower reaches just above the Route 26 bridge by anglers trolling with deep-diving crankbaits and large, live shiners. Rockfish to 12 pounds slammed these lures when fished in depths of 30 to 35 feet over drop-offs where the bottom fell away to nearly 75 feet. The shallows above Nicodemus Bridge continue to provide those using small shiners a mix of crappie, white perch and big bluegill, while downlake near Oakland Mills Point, a few walleye were taken on trolled crankbaits.

DEEP CREEK LAKE -- Early morning anglers found good numbers of big bluegills, yellow perch and chain pickerel lurking in the deeper coves, where bottom-fished night crawlers lured bluegill to 12 inches and perch to 15 inches. Most of the pickerel were too small to keep, but there was at least one that weighed in at four pounds.


LAKE ANNA -- Summer heat caused the lake's largemouth bass to switch to typical summer patterns. Anglers enjoyed limited topwater action very early in the morning, and again during late evening while casting around boat docks and stumps. Most of the bass migrated to deep water haunts near main lake points, piers, bridge pilings and drop-offs. Plastic worms measuring seven to nine inches, mainly dark colors, seem to produce the best action. Barry Priddy of Unionville, Va., caught a four-pound largemouth last weekend. Striped bass action has been good for nearly three weeks. Most anglers reported great topwater action in the mornings using XPS Slim Dog, and Cordell Redfins. During the day, troll deep-diving Cordell Redfins, DD-22's or Bagley DB3's and stay in the main lake.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Smallmouth bass action is still much slower than normal for this time of year.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- The bay's upper reaches have once again been transformed into a sea of muddy water. Recent rains slammed the mid-Atlantic region, dumping up to two inches of rain in an hour, which produced lowland flooding and significant damage to shoreline properties. Just prior to the storms, anglers fishing with live white perch at the base of Conowingo Dam caught stripers to 22 inches. Trollers caught stripers from the Susquehanna River near Lapidum Landing while dragging small red surgical hose eels, with fish ranging from throwbacks to 20 inches. Channel catfish remain plentiful in the Susquehanna, North East, Elk and Sassafras rivers, where bottom-fished cut herring and chicken liver baits produced catties to 12 pounds. Scattered catches of stripers to 10 pounds were made from the mouth of Furnace Bay in the North East River on surface plugs just prior to the onset of muddy water. Since then the only thing available has been channel catfish and small white perch. Trollers caught stripers to 28 inches while dragging small bucktails trimmed with a four-inch white twister tail near Hickory Thickets, Love Point Light, Swan Point Bar and Belvedere Shoals.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- Scattered catches of small stripers and white perch were made from among the submerged boulders of the old span's manmade islands by anglers bottom-fishing with bloodworms and squid strips. While keeper-size stripers were rare for bait dunkers, the few anglers working jigging spoons at the same locations caught stripers to 22 inches. Croaker were found lurking along the bay's eastern channel edge at Brickhouse Bar and inside Eastern Bay from the bay's mouth up to Parson's Island. White perch remain plentiful throughout Eastern Bay and the southern end of Kent Narrows, locations where bloodworms and bait shrimp lured perch to 13 inches.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The river's shallows hold good numbers of small stripers, but fewer than one in 10 measure larger than 18 inches. A few anglers reported good nighttime action for croaker near the mouths of the river's larger tributaries, most taken on bait shrimp and squid strips. Bridge anglers caught a mix of small white perch, channel catfish and throwback stripers while dunking bloodworms from the Route 50 bridge at night.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Local charter boats have been running across the bay to the Gooses, where they're trolling an array of bucktails, surgical hose eels and Sassy Shad to lure keeper stripers to 24 inches. Headboat anglers managed to sink their hooks into a few white perch, croaker and spot while fishing at night.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Flounder catches continue to improve between Buoys 74 and 76, especially along the bay's eastern channel edge in depths of 20 to 25 feet, where a minnow/squid sandwich lured flatfish to 24 inches. Trollers fishing near the Gas Docks caught stripers to 22 inches while dragging bucktails trimmed with chartreuse Sassy Shad, while most of the fish caught by chummers barely made the 18-inch minimum. There have been some monster croaker taking advantage of the chum slicks, some measuring 18 to 20 inches and weighing nearly three pounds.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth continues to produce a mix of spot, croaker and an occasional weakfish for anglers drifting bait shrimp and squid strips near Richland Point Buoy during the late afternoon and evenings. Plug casters caught a few keeper stripers from the river's shallows, most taken just after sunrise and just prior to sundown.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Headboat and charterboat anglers alike enjoyed good bottom fishing for a mix of spot, croaker, weakfish and an occasional flounder just south of Fox Island Buoy. Anglers close to Watts Island in lower Tangier Sound found flounder, some measuring up to 24 inches. The shallows of Smith and Janes islands produced a few keeper striped bass and speckled trout for plug casters, but the action was slow.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Chummers scored well on both striped bass and croaker at the Southwest and Northwest Middle Grounds. Most of the stripers ranged 18 to 22 inches, and similar-size croaker were also found just beneath the chum slicks. "These are the largest croaker I've ever seen and I've been fishing this part of Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years," Capt. Bruce Scheible said. Scattered catches of large weakfish, some measuring up to 30 inches, were made at the U.S. Navy target ship American Mariner by anglers casting Bass Assassins along the west side of the ship. Scattered catches of weakfish were also reported at the Mud Leads, Shell Leads, Tangier Wreck and Davidson Wreck, locations where the same lure was effective during the first few hours of ebb tide. Cornfield Harbor holds good numbers of flounder, spot and a few big croaker, most of which seem to be concentrated just west of Jobs Rock.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- The river provided anglers with a good mix of medium-size spot, pan trout and a few croaker. Trollers using small silver spoons found the season's first good concentration of Spanish mackerel, most measuring 16 to 18 inches in length, just outside the river's mouth. Spadefish to eight pounds continue to gobble down pieces of clam at Wolftrap Light and there were reports of keeper-size flounder caught in the same location.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Flounder and spadefish were found near the Cell and Buoy 42, locations where, on days when the weather cooperated, a small armada of boats congregated to fill their coolers with these tasty fish. Just a short distance to the south, a few cobia to 70 pounds slammed live bunker and cut bait fished in depths of 15 to 20 feet near Lattimer Shoals and the Inner Middle Grounds. CBBT anglers found a mix of flounder, small bluefish and Spanish mackerel lurking among the submerged boulders of the Third and Fourth islands.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Last weekend's Ocean City Tuna Tournament produced lots of big bluefin and yellowfin tuna, and a few gaffer dolphin. Several white marlin were tagged and released. This bodes well for the upcoming White Marlin Open that takes place in early August. Headboat anglers are still struggling to catch limits of sea bass, but on days when the weather cooperated, most returned to the docks with a dozen or more chunky fish. Shorebound anglers found fair numbers of stripers lurking in Ocean City Inlet as well as beneath Route 50 bridge, locations where bucktails trimmed with four-inch white twister tails lured rockfish to 33 inches and a few weakfish to 30 inches. Big weakfish were also found at the end of the inlet's South Jetty as well. Flounder ranging from 12-inch throwbacks to 22 inches were found along the back bay's channel edges north of Route 50.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Offshore, bluefin tuna kicked into gear at the Parking Lot, Ammo Wreck, Lumpy Bottom, 26-Mile Hill and 21-Mile Hill, locations where chumming and chunking with butterfish lured bluefins to 150 pounds. Inshore, flounder action was good, but most of the fish were too small to keep.

OUTER BANKS -- Surf and pier anglers caught a mix of snapper bluefish, kingfish (sea mullet), speckled trout, a few flounder and fair numbers of puppy drum. There were reports of a few king mackerel and cobia taken from some of the southern piers, but the best action was offshore, where a mix of yellowfin tuna, gaffer dolphin, king mackerel and wahoo dominated the catches. There were several billfish releases reported as well, most taken on rigged ballyhoo baits trolled along weed lines. Morehead City's headboat anglers enjoyed great bottom fishing for a mix of sea bass, triggerfish, grouper, grunts and snapper.