What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- A muddy, debris-filled upper river, combined with the massive algae on the main stem below Occoquan Creek, produced conditions unsuitable for any waterborne activity. In the river's D.C. segment, a few tidewater largemouths were caught using Firetiger crankbaits fished near some of the piers and bridge pilings. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge area was slow, but a few anglers managed to catch an occasional largemouth bass. There seemed to be a big school of small stripers in the Spoils, some measuring up to 18 inches, but most were throwbacks of 10 to 12 inches. A four-pound largemouth bass was caught and released from Little Hunting Creek, while Pomonkey, Mattawoman and Chickamuxen creeks provided modest catches of tidewater largemouths.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- Anglers reported the worst algae bloom in more than two decades, along with some of the worst fishing. While fair numbers of tiny bronzebacks are still being caught and released at Whites Ferry, Edwards Ferry and Lander, catching a fish measuring 12 inches or larger has been a real challenge this season.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river seems to be experiencing a combination of woes. Rains throughout the watershed have produced lowland flooding that has constantly washed not only high levels of silt into the river, but huge quantities of nutrients. As a result, fishing has been poor for much of the year, and algae blooms have been showing up in several locations in the river's lower reaches.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- The waters of both impoundments are in relatively good shape, which translates to good fishing conditions. Earnest Barnett of Silver Spring was fishing in Triadelphia with night crawlers when he hooked and landed a 5-pound 13-ounce walleye. Several anglers reported decent catch-and-release fishing for largemouth bass, and there are good numbers of small to mid-size white perch being caught in both reservoirs.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Incredible would be the best word to describe Loch Raven's white perch catch. Many anglers begin trolling just a few hundred feet from the launch ramp, troll out to the mouth of School House Cove, turn around and troll back to the ramp. Most said the action was nonstop, and nearly everyone trolled an inline spinner trimmed with a morsel of night crawler. A few anglers returned with good catches of largemouth bass to four pounds, most of which were taken while casting plastic worms and shallow running crankbaits along the outer perimeters of grass beds. The vast majority of the bass were released. Crappie fishing remains slow beneath Dulaney Valley Bridge, but there have been fair numbers of white perch caught at this location by anglers suspending a morsel of night crawler about seven to 10 feet beneath a small float.
LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Anglers caught a mix of white perch, crappie, bluegill and smallmouth bass from the decks of Nicodemus Bridge while dunking night crawlers. Striped bass fishing has been somewhat slow near Liberty Road Bridge, but live crayfish produced good numbers of smallmouth bass a short distance uplake at Oakland Mills Point. Walleye are still smacking Erie Dearies trimmed with a piece of worm, mainly when cast from the shores downlake of Nicodemus Bridge.
LAKE ANNA -- While there are still good numbers of mid-size largemouth bass being caught early and late in the day from beneath piers and along deepwater drop-offs, the best action was with striped bass. Stripers to eight pounds slammed a variety of lures trolled near the State Park, Jett Island, the Splits and the mouth of Sturgeon Creek. Crappie action was fair to good for anglers dunking live minnows and tiny shad darts near bridge pilings and some of the artificial reefs.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river is at its lowest level and in the best shape it has been all year. Water temperatures are in the mid-70s, and the water is low enough for fly rodders to wade in and fish traditional summer haunts. But fishing is mediocre at best, even in the grass beds near Bentonville Bridge. As the season progresses, the action should improve.
UPPER BAY -- The bay's upper reaches are still a muddy sea, mostly stemming from rains that poured huge quantities of debris-laden, nutrient-loaded waters down the Susquehanna and other upper bay tributaries. The only bright spot was inside North East River, where scattered catches of tidewater largemouth bass and stripers were made by anglers casting small surface plugs near the edges of grass beds in the shallows of Furnace Bay, Susquehanna Flats and the river's upper reaches near the mouth of North East Creek. Channel catfish remain plentiful throughout the area; however, many are a bit on the small side, most less than three pounds. Bottom-fished chicken livers, clam snout, night crawlers and cut herring baits accounted for the best catfish action. White perch seem to have vanished from areas north of Pooles Island; however, just south of the island at the Peach Orchard, bottom-fished bloodworms produced perch to 10 inches last weekend. Trollers using dark-colored surgical hose eels, white spoons and tandem-rigged bucktails managed to hook a few keeper striped bass, some measuring up to 32 inches. Most were taken at Peach Orchard, Belvedere Shoal, Love Point, Hickory Thickets and the Mary Jane.
BAY BRIDGES AREA -- White perch and small throwback rockfish were found lurking among the twin span's eastern shore pilings and the submerged boulders of the manmade islands on both sides of the bay's main shipping channel. Most were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and bait shrimp. A bit to the south at the Diamonds, scattered catches of striped bass were made by chummers, but again, most of the fish were much too small to keep. White perch to 12 inches were caught inside the mouth of Eastern Bay, but croaker seem to have disappeared from this location. White perch were also found at the south end of Kent Narrows, the mouth of Wye River and the mouth of Crab Alley Bay.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Fly anglers casting Clouser Minnows and Lefty's Deceivers had a ball chasing mixed schools of breaking rockfish and snapper bluefish just south of Poplar Island and down to the Choptank's mouth at Sharp's Island Light. Inside the river, white perch are beginning to stack up along the channel edges downriver of the Route 50 Bridge. Bridge anglers caught a mix of small white perch and channel catfish while fishing after sundown with bait shrimp and bloodworms.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- The Diamonds was the hotspot for spot. Rod 'N' Reel Dock dockmaster Fred Donovan took a number of youngsters to this location and said, "The kids had a ball catching double-header spot to 13 inches long." Charter boats have been chumming at the Gooses for the past several weeks, and while most return to the docks with limit catches of stripers to 20 inches, most captains reported high rates of undersize fish. Trollers using surgical hose eels and tandem bucktails trimmed with chartreuse Sassy Shad caught somewhat larger stripers, but fewer numbers. Most of the trolling takes place along the bay's western channel edge between Holland Point and the mouth of Parker's Creek in depths of 35 to 40 feet.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Most of the charter boats are crossing the bay and heading southeast to the vicinity of Buoy 72A, where chumming with ground menhaden produced limit catches of stripers to 24 inches for the vast majority of those who arrived early. As the day progressed, the fish seemed to get smaller. However, there were good numbers of snapper bluefish and a few big croaker taken from the chum slicks as well. At Cedar Point Rip and south to the Targets, mixed schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish dominated the action, with some rockfish measuring up to 19 inches. Most of the bluefish were 12 to 15 inches, but there were a few reportedly in the 20-inch category. Both species are foraging on bay anchovy; therefore anglers casting streamer flies and small jigging spoons enjoyed the best action. Inside the river, spot to 12 inches were taken from the river's channel edges. .
HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's shallows continue to produce a few keeper-size rockfish, but the best action has been found in the open bay, where foraging schools of bluefish and stripers alike churn the surface to foam as they rip through schools of bay anchovy. Among the top locations were Point No Point Light, the Targets, Hopper Island Light and Hooper Straits. Flounder can still be taken from the flats between Buoys 74 and 76, with live minnows and squid strips topping the list of preferable baits.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Spot dominated the weekend action in Tangier Sound's middle reaches, where bottom-fished bloodworms lured spot to 10 inches at Old Rock, Island Rock, Fox Island Buoy, Puppy Hole and Old No. 9. Croaker were caught at night from the same locations by headboat anglers, but the fish seem to be in the process of migrating out of the bay. Consequently, most of the local captains said they'll soon be switching back to chumming for striped bass along the bay's eastern channel edge.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Chummers caught good numbers of striped bass near the Potomac River's mouth just north of Smith Point Light, and across the bay at the Southwest Middle Grounds, locations where limit catches of rockfish to 24 inches were reported. Croaker seem to have rebounded along the bay's channel edges; however, the fish are now headed south and in much deeper water. Most were found in 35 to 55 feet, where bottom-fished squid strips lured croaker to 18 inches, and a few small weakfish were often mixed with them.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Spot dominated the action inside the river, while those who opted to run southeast found lots of flounder and small spadefish lurking near the Cell. Overall, the weekend was a bust because of high winds and towering waves.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Good catches of flounder were reported by anglers fishing with live minnows and frozen shiners at the CBBT's Third and Fourth islands, and up the bay from Buoys 36A to 40A in 40 to 55 feet. Nine Foot Knoll was the weekend hotspot for cobia and an occasional black drum, both of which were in the 40-pound category. Large numbers of sheepshead were found lurking among the CBBT's bridge pilings near High Rise Bridge, where chunks of peeler crab and clam lured fish to three pounds.
OCEAN CITY -- Brett Jamison of Virginia Beach, fishing aboard the Canyon Express, won first place in the White Marlin Open, providing the captain and crew with winnings of $1.3 million for Jamison's 84-pound white marlin. Allen Roys of Stevensville, Md., was fishing from the Reel Toy when he hooked and landed a whopping 895-pound blue marlin, the first-place fish in that category. Roys picked up $360,000 for his monster blue. For a complete list of winners, see www.whitemarlinopen.com. Offshore, on days when the weather cooperated, good catches of yellowfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and an occasional white marlin were made a short distance southeast of the Hotdog and just northwest of Washington Canyon, mainly along the 30 Fathom Curve. Headboat anglers are still catching fair numbers of sea bass at the inshore wrecks, where squid strips lured these tasty fish to four pounds. Shorebound anglers at Assateague Island found good numbers of kingfish in the suds that were willing to gobble down bait shrimp and bloodworms, but shark fishing seems to have fallen off since the recent croaker kill.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Charter boats have been running to the Parking Lot or Lumpy Bottom, catching their one-fish limit of bluefin tuna, then heading farther east and trolling for yellowfin tuna and dolphin along the edges of Washington and Norfolk canyons. There are loads of small croaker in both inlets, but anything larger than 12 inches has been rare since the fish kill wiped out millions of larger fish.
OUTER BANKS -- Since the passage of Hurricane Alex, pier and surf anglers have caught a mix of snapper bluefish, spot, croaker, small flounder and sea mullet. South of Oregon Inlet, mainly at Cape Point and the Buxton area, the surf yielded a mix of flounder, pompano, speckled trout and croaker, nearly all of which were taken on bloodworms, bait shrimp and squid strips. Offshore, king mackerel dominated, with kings to 31 pounds slamming skipbaits fished 30 miles southeast of the inlet.