Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Scattered catches of tidewater largemouth bass were made during the early morning hours using buzzbaits along the edges of main-river grass beds, then in deeper water with tube lures when the sun got high. The last two hours of ebb tide were the most productive times, possibly because of the cleansing effect of the grass beds as falling water passed through the vegetation. Both the old and new Woodrow Wilson Bridge foundations and main-river ledges near the bridges have been moderately productive for largemouth bass during midday. Washington Channel anglers managed to catch a few largemouths using deep-diving crankbaits, but the action was limited to early and late in the day. A few bass were caught from Long Bridge's foundations, the dropoff at the Kennedy Center and from among the pilings of Key Bridge. Algae blooms continue to be a problem farther south. Grass beds below Hog Island, and those found just inside the mouths of Broad and Pomonkey creeks also provided short flurries of largemouth bass activity.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river is high, muddy, unfishable and unsafe for most boating.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA) -- High, muddy and unfishable.

Maryland

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Both impoundments are muddy from the past week's rains, but a few chunky largemouths and lots of channel catfish were caught by anglers dunking live minnows and night crawlers. Ken Debow of Lutherville, Md., fished Triadelphia earlier in the week and caught a 6-pound, 31/2-ounce largemouth bass, which is an exceptional fish any time of the year.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- The reservoir is again experiencing falling water and open shoreline. This despite rains that have plagued the region for months. At the current rate of loss, the lake should provide good shoreline access within the next two weeks, unless a tropical storm dumps more rain on the area. Boating anglers found good numbers of white perch from 10 to 12 inches lurking at the mouths of most major mid-lake coves, where trolled, inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler proved highly effective. Bottom-fished night crawlers produced a mix of channel catfish, bluegill and white perch for anglers fishing the sheltered waters of Schoolhouse, Pierce's and Dead Man's coves. Plug casters continue to catch good numbers of largemouth bass to four pounds while casting topwater lures along the edges of grass beds and near log jams located above Dulaney Valley Bridge.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Liberty's upper reaches are muddy from the past week's rains, but anglers dunking chicken livers and night crawlers just above Nicodemus Bridge managed to catch a good mix of white perch and bluegill. Bridge anglers caught a few crappie using live shiners, while downlake trollers using deep-diving crankbaits and fishing the channel edge between Oakland Mills Point and Route 26 bridge caught a mix of walleye and mid-size striped bass. Largemouth bass action was a bit slow, but this could be due to weather conditions.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Striped bass fishing remains good at several locations. They've been biting all day long, and anglers can anticipate great topwater action in the mornings using XPS Slim Dog and Cordell Redfins. Largemouth bass seem to be lurking in their deepwater summer haunts; early and late in the day you'll find some exceptionally large specimens foraging in the impoundment's shallows. Dennis Semone and Ferron Campbell of Spotsylvania returned to the launch ramp with an 11-pound stringer of chunky largemouths this past week.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- High, muddy and difficult to fish, especially for anglers hoping to wade the river's riffles and cast for smallmouth bass. However, conditions are great for zipping downriver on an inflatable raft or just having fun tubing.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- The Chesapeake's upper reaches north of Pooles Island have once again been deluged with rains and huge slugs of high, muddy, debris-laden water. Consequently, the modest striped bass catches in the lower Susquehanna, North East, Elk and Bush rivers quickly came to a screeching halt. The only fish currently biting in those areas are channel catfish, which rely mainly on their sense of smell to find something to eat. Night crawlers, cut herring, squid strips and chicken livers accounted for many of the best catfish catches, with some specimens topping the 10-pound mark.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- White perch ranging from six-inch runts to 10-inch keepers seem to have taken up residence among the pilings and submerged boulders of the old span, while the finger pilings of the new span on the Eastern Shore side of the channel held a few keeper stripers. Bucktails trimmed with chunks of peeler crab proved best for rockfish, while white perch seemed to prefer bottom-fished bloodworms and strips of clam snout. Just inside the mouth of Eastern Bay and along the bay's channel edge to well above Parson's Island, bottom-fished bloodworms lured white perch to 12 inches, with a few 15-inch croaker mixed in. Chummers caught large numbers of throwback stripers at Brickhouse Bar and the Diamonds, and those anglers who were persistent managed to limit out on keeper-size fish.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Schools of snapper bluefish and undersize stripers churned the bay's surface to foam just south of Poplar Island and down the bay near the river's mouth. Small jigging spoons, bucktails and streamer flies were slammed like they were hit by a freight train when cast among the schools of breaking fish. Just inside the river's mouth near Cook and Todd points, a few keeper stripers were lured from the shallows by anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits and bucktails trimmed with a four-inch chartreuse twister tail. Anglers fishing from the decks of Route 50's public fishing piers caught a mix of small white perch, big channel catfish and throwback stripers, most taken on bottom-fished bloodworms fished after sundown.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Local charter captains continue to troll and chum just above the Gas Docks and across the bay at the Gooses, where a mix of striped bass to 20 inches and bluefish to 15 inches were caught.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Spot, croaker and perch continue to smack bottom-fished bloodworms in the river on both the bay and river sides of Drum Point. Spot are active throughout the lower Patuxent, with the largest concentration of fish found closer to the river's mouth. However, the largest fish, some measuring nearly 12 inches, were found near Broomes Island. White perch were plentiful on all the oyster bars and hard bottom locations in the upper Patuxent. Croaker become active at dusk and feed heavily during the first hour of the falling tide. "If the tide crests at 3 a.m., that's the time to go fishing," said Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Md. Striped bass ranging from eight to 13 inches are everywhere you cast a lure or bait above Broomes Island, but keepers are a scarce commodity.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Anglers drifting live minnows sandwiched between squid strips caught flounder to four pounds at the flats between Hooper Island Light and Punch Island Bar, mainly in depths of 25 to 35 feet. A short distance west of Hooper Island Light, in depths of 35 to 40 feet along the bay's eastern channel edge, bottom-fished bait shrimp and squid strips lured croaker to 17 inches, a few keeper-size weakfish and even a couple of red drum to 40 pounds. Just south of the light, breaking schools of striped bass and bluefish provided light tackle and fly anglers with incredible topwater action. Across the bay at the Targets, similar topwater action took place in the shallows just south of the marker.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Headboat anglers loaded their coolers with catches of spot to 12 inches and modest catches of croaker to 18 inches, both caught at night on bottom-fished bloodworms in lower and middle Tangier Sound. During the day, chummers fished just a short distance northwest of Smith Island, where they limited out on rockfish to 20 inches.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Chummers fished the bay's western channel edge near Point Lookout, where they found a good mix of striped bass ranging from throwbacks to 24 inches lurking in depths of 35 to 50 feet. Across the bay at Southwest Middle Grounds, trollers using surgical hose eels and Tsunami Lures caught bluefish to five pounds, keeper stripers to 24 inches and a few Spanish mackerel were seen free jumping south of Buoy 68. At night, the same location yielded croaker to 18 inches, most taken on bottom-fished bait shrimp and squid strips fished in depths of 15 to 18 feet, where piles of ballast stones attract a variety of forage species. The flats north of the U.S. Navy target ship American Mariner held red drum ranging from 25 to 40 pounds, slamming jigging spoons intended for striped bass and weakfish.

RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Smith Point Bar, Windmill Point and Stingray Point were the weekend hot spots for Spanish mackerel, some measuring 24 inches. All were taken while trolling small silver and gold spoons at high speeds through schools of breaking fish. The macks were frequently accompanied by swarms of snapper bluefish and small stripers. Beneath the surface melee were small pods of foraging croaker and weakfish, both averaging about 15 to 16 inches. Jigging spoons such as the Stingsilver and Crippled Herring were deadly when worked tight against the bottom. Inside the Rappahannock River, anglers continue to catch a mix of spot, snapper bluefish, throwback weakfish and an occasional flounder while drift-fishing with bloodworms.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Wind, thundershowers and towering waves kept most anglers off the bay's open waters through much of last week, but on days when the weather cooperated, good catches of flounder to seven pounds were made at the Cell, Plantation Flats and the shallows just east of the concrete ships at Kiptopeke. Live shiners and squid strips were the key to success when fished during periods of moving tide.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- At press time, a massive fish kill off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware left croaker carcasses littering the Delmarva beaches. A sudden upwelling of cold bottom water, perhaps connected with Hurricane Alex, is considered a possible cause.

We hope to have the final results of the recent White Marlin Open, a high-dollar event which took place several days before the fish kill, next week.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Trollers caught huge numbers of slammer bluefish and a few big bluefin tuna while dragging rigged mullet and cedar plugs at the Parking Lot and Lumpy Bottom. Inshore, both inlets are loaded with croaker ranging from eight to 15 inches, and there were a few keeper flounder lurking on the flats.

OUTER BANKS -- At press time, Hurricane Alex continued out to sea after brushing the area. The National Hurricane Center warned high surf and rip currents could affect areas for the next day or so, so reports were somewhat sketchy. Last week's offshore action was good for both billfish and yellowfin tuna, most found just 20 to 25 miles east of Hatteras and Oregon inlets.