Nasty, rainy, windy weather produced mediocre fishing throughout much of the mid-Atlantic region. With the exception of some freshwater lakes, most areas reported modest catches of various gamefish species, and in some instances, exotics. Among the exotics caught during recent weeks were the controversial northern snakeheads, a species that is now in the tidal Potomac River just a short distance from the nation's capital.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- "Fishing has been tough in some areas and pretty good in others," said guide Ken Penrod of Life Outdoors Unlimited (who recently caught a northern snakehead). He added that even the fisheries biologists in Washington complain about the lack of bass, blaming a lack of grass. Penrod says a few sizable largemouth bass were caught in the deeper waters of Washington Channel on crankbaits and 51/2-inch tube lures. In the Woodrow Wilson Bridge area, Smoot Bay provided anglers with a few largemouths as well, most coming from the edges of aquatic grass beds. The shallows of Hog Island, nearby boat docks and barges inside the mouth of Broad Creek consistently produced modest catches of tidewater largemouth bass. Mattawoman Creek continues to be a bright spot for tidewater largemouths, but the action is unpredictable.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches remain somewhat high and muddy, and smallmouth bass fishing is mediocre at best. Wet weather continuously washes in heavy loads of nutrients, which in turn transform the river to a fast-flowing algae bloom.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- High, muddy and unfishable.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Both impoundments provided good catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass during the past week, but there were no exceptionally large fish checked in at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's Brighton Dam Ranger Station. Channel catfish and crappie remain plentiful in both impoundments as well.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch are scattered throughout the impoundment's middle reaches. Small, isolated schools of 10- to 12-inch perch were found at the mouth of Dead Man's, Golf Course and Pearce's coves, locations where trollers using inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler caught double headers. Plug casters found fair numbers of largemouth bass lurking along the edges of grass beds situated above Dulaney Valley Bridge, some tipping the scales at more than five pounds.
LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Most of the week's action centered around crappie and white perch, both of which seem to be concentrated in the shallows uplake of Nicodemus Bridge. Bottom-fished night crawlers and chicken livers produced the best catches. A few anglers continue to catch good numbers of walleye while suspending live minnows beneath small floats near the bridge, while downlake, topwater plugs lured largemouth bass from submerged stump fields and brush piles. Live crayfish fished near Oakland Mills Point provided good catches of smallmouth bass early and late in the day.
DEEP CREEK LAKE -- A large number of big bluegills were caught by weekend anglers who took advantage of nasty weather that kept water skiers and jet skis to a minimum. Most were taken on bottom-fished night crawlers fished in the deeper coves. Scattered catches of both largemouth and smallmouth bass were made near the submerged boulders at Deep Creek Lake State Park, while downlake near the dam, live minnows lured fair numbers of rainbow trout to 16 inches.
LAKE ANNA -- The past week's rain and cooler weather caused the lake's largemouth bass to migrate to shallow areas, where stumps and boat docks make up much of the underwater habitat. Best areas have been north of the Route 208 bridge in waters that are somewhat muddier than those of the impoundment's lower reaches. Martha King of Springfield used buzz baits and topwater plugs to catch a 5-pound 4-ounce largemouth bass. Striped bass action continues to hold up well at Pigeon Creek, the 208 bridge and the Splits, locations where the average fish tips the scales at five or more pounds. Trollers scored best using deep-diving crankbaits and Sassy Shad.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- While smallmouth bass action is still mediocre near Bentonville Bridge, there were a few days when boating anglers returned to the dock and reported significant improvements in catches. Bronzebacks to two pounds smacked live crayfish, spinnerbaits and tube lures cast near the edges of aquatic grass beds just a short distance downriver of the bridge. Most of the bass were caught shortly after sunrise and again just before sundown.
UPPER BAY -- The Susquehanna River continues to resemble Bosco as torrential rains upriver caused lowland flooding in many areas. Most of the past week's action centered around channel catfish, largely taken on bottom-fished chicken livers and cut herring. Just around the corner near the North East River's mouth, grass beds filtered out much of the suspended silt particles flowing down Chesapeake Bay. This provided relatively clear water to the mouth of Furnace Bay and the nearby Susquehanna Flats, locations where topwater plugs lured a mix of tidewater largemouth and striped bass from14 to 18 inches. Channel catfish remain plentiful throughout the upper bay, with fish to eight pounds caught in the lower reaches of the North East, Elk, Sassafras, Bush, Bohemia and Gunpowder rivers. Bottom-fished night crawlers, chicken livers, cut herring, clam snout and razor clams all proved effective during periods of moving tide.
BAY BRIDGES AREA -- Croaker are scattered along the bay's eastern channel edge near Brickhouse Bar, but most of the catches have been taking place after sundown. During the day, boating anglers found fair numbers of large croaker lurking inside Eastern Bay. White perch to 13 inches were caught from the mouth of Crab Alley Bay, Wye River, Miles River and the southern end of Kent Narrows. Both the croaker and white perch inhaled bait shrimp during the first few hours of ebb tide.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Relatively large schools of small striped bass and snapper bluefish churned the lower river's surface to foam last Friday and Saturday, but Sunday's winds and rainy weather kept most everyone off the water. Both the stripers and blues smacked tiny jigging spoons and streamer flies cast into the melee. Beneath the surface activity were schools of foraging croaker picking up the tiny scraps of devoured baitfish that drifted to the bottom. Some of the croaker tipped the scales at nearly three pounds and measured up to 20 inches.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Area charter boats are catching limits of striped bass to 22 inches while chumming at the Gooses and just west of the Gas Docks. A few captains also reported good catches of snapper bluefish ranging from one to three pounds.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- The mouth of the Patuxent provided anglers with good catches of spot at Second Beach, where the headboat out of Bunky's in Solomons has been fishing daily. Other Patuxent River locations that held both white perch and spot were Drum Point, the sailboat marker, First Beach, the channel edge beneath Route 4 bridge, Kingston Hollow and Hawk's Nest. Spot and perch are scattered along the river's bars and ledges all the way to Benedict.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- A few local charter captains continue to catch limits of stripers to 22 inches and bluefish to four pounds while chumming along the bay's eastern channel edge, and a few light tackle guides have been chasing schools of breaking fish that consist of striped bass and bluefish weighing three to five pounds.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- The Crisfield charter and headboat fleets have been fishing just a few miles from the docks and most reported excellent catches of large spot, big croaker, a smattering of snapper bluefish, an occasional weakfish and fair numbers of keeper-size flounder. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab, but the flounder seemed to prefer live killfish (bull minnows) sandwiched between squid strips and drifted along the bottom.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Chummers fishing just east of Point Lookout State Park caught limits of striped bass to 24 inches, plus large numbers of big croaker to 20 inches. Night fishing for croaker ranged from good to excellent at the Southwest Middle Grounds, where croaker to 22 inches slammed squid strips and bait shrimp fished in depths of 15 to 25 feet. Bluefish to 12 inches churned the mouth of the Potomac River to foam, while across the bay along the eastern channel edge, bluefish to five pounds hit trolled surgical hose eels.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Anglers caught a mix of small to medium-size spot, small weakfish, a few croaker and an occasional mackerel near the river's mouth and upriver to White Stone Bridge. Across the bay near Buoy 42, the action centered around big flounder, many of which topped the six-pound mark. Most were taken on minnow-squid combinations fished in depths of 25 to 35 feet just east of the buoy.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Large schools of spadefish ranging from two to 10 pounds can been seen at the Cell, but because of a massive influx of globe jellyfish, the spades refuse to take other forms of bait. Yes, spadefish are among the many species that eat jellyfish. Down the bay near Kiptopeke, anglers fishing from the decks of small boats near the concrete Liberty Ships caught a mix of flounder, croaker, spot and sea mullet while drifting squid strips near the wrecks. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel anglers caught a mix of snapper bluefish, Spanish mackerel and tiny stripers while casting bucktails and spoons near the submerged boulders.
OCEAN CITY -- Most of the charter boats returned to the docks early with the one-bluefin-tuna-per-boat limit, plus a number of 35- to 45-pound yellowfin tuna, mixed sizes of dolphin and a few wahoo. Several white marlin and blue marlin were caught and released by those who ventured out to the 30-fathom curve situated just southeast of the Hotdog. Headboat anglers caught modest numbers of chunky sea bass, while shorebound anglers fishing from the beaches of Assateague and Ocean City caught good numbers of sharks and kingfish. Weakfish and striped bass are stacked up at the east end of Ocean City Inlet's south jetty, where bucktails and live spot were the preferred baits.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Offshore, anglers trolled the Parking Lot and Lumpy Bottom areas for bluefin tuna, catching some weighing more than 100 pounds. A mix of yellowfin and bluefin tuna were found at the 21 Mile Hill and 26 Mile Hill, where rigged ballyhoo and cedar plugs proved effective.
OUTER BANKS -- Flounder, small weakfish, sea mullet, spot and snapper bluefish made up most of the surf action, while pier anglers caught fair numbers of pompano and Spanish mackerel. Just a short distance outside Oregon and Hatteras inlets, small king mackerel and Spanish mackerel smacked trolled spoons and bucktails. Offshore, yellowfin tuna to 90 pounds, some monster wahoo and good numbers of mid-size king mackerel slammed Green Machines, rigged ballyhoo and rigged mullet baits.