Hurricane Charley hit the mid-Atlantic region with only glancing blows, producing a couple of inches of rain and moderate winds in coastal areas, not the intense storm that was anticipated. Areas west of Chesapeake Bay received little or no rain at all, and winds barely exceeded 10 miles per hour.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Most of the river's tributaries remain muddy, water temperatures are in the low 80s, and the algae bloom from Mattawoman to Aquia creeks is no longer surface-oriented, as it has now mixed in the water column. The river's main stem is relatively clear in the lower reaches, but you still lose sight of a chartreuse spinnerbait in 18 inches. In the river's Woodrow Wilson Bridge area, anglers managed to sink their hooks into a few largemouths that have taken up residence among the structure's pilings, but overall, bass fishing has been slow through the District area. A few bass were taken from South Point, and a few more from grass beds south of Belle Haven, mostly on spinnerbaits. Four Mile Run and Pomonkey Creek produced modest catches of tidewater largemouths for weekend anglers, while Mattawoman Creek was a complete bust for most everyone. There are still good numbers of channel catfish around, some weighing up to 10 or more pounds. A mix of channel catfish, blue catfish and carp were found lurking close to the shores of Fletcher's Landing, where bottom-fished chicken livers, night crawlers and cut herring baits proved quite effective. Crappie are still tough to find.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- Algae blooms seem to have intensified in some segments of the Potomac's upper reaches, but there have been modest catches of smallmouth bass reported at the Sawbuck, Lander and the stretch of river between Dam No. 4 and Brunswick. Nearly all were caught on live crayfish, minnows and hellgrammites.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river remains extremely high and muddy. For additional information on river conditions, call 888-881-7555.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Modest catches of white perch and crappie were reportedly made from the middle and lower reaches of Rocky Gorge, while the upper reaches of Triadelphia provided anglers with fair numbers of largemouth bass and an occasional walleye. Nearly all were taken with live minnows and night crawlers. Jerry Sauter of Baltimore caught a 6-pound 9.5-ounce largemouth bass in Triadelphia during the past week.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch remain plentiful throughout the impoundment's middle reaches, where anglers trolled with inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler. Some returned to the fishing center with their coolers bulging with perch to 12 inches, plus there were a few catches of walleye, bluegill and crappie made using the same lures. Bass anglers had a tough week, mainly because of the density of the reservoir's grass beds. Sago pondweed seems to be responding to the high influx of nutrients from various sources, and the beds have expanded to depths of 30 feet or more.
LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- The impoundment's upper reaches near Nicodemus Bridge continue to provide anglers with a mix of white perch, crappie, bluegill and walleye. Most were taken on small, live shiners fished both from the span and from the adjacent shores.
LAKE ANNA -- Striped bass action was good to excellent at the Splits, Route 208 bridge, and Sturgeons, Pigeons, and Contrary creeks. The fish have been biting all day long, with topwater action taking place during early mornings using XPS Slim Dog and Cordell Redfins. During the day, troll deep-diving Cordell Redfins, DD-22's or Bagley DB3's. Bill and Dale Marsh of Annandale caught six fish, with a combined weight of 41 pounds. Tim and Fred Biesecker of Louisa, Va., caught five fish with a combined weight of 40 pounds. Ray Viloria and Steve Lanove of Alexandria had four stripers that totaled 25 pounds. It was a difficult week for largemouth bass anglers. Most of the fish caught were found in depths of eight to 15 feet, where large, live shiners proved effective early and late in the day. A few bass to five pounds were taken on plastic grubs and tube lures rigged to half-ounce leadheads and bounced off the edges of drop-offs.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river is still lower than normal, which is good news for anglers wet-wading for smallmouth bass. Unfortunately, bronzeback action is still not on par with previous seasons. Some of this can be explained by the dense growth of aquatic grasses that seems to be exploding exponentially as the level of nutrients increases in area rivers and streams. However, there also seems to be an unexplained absence of aquatic insects, which is an integral part of the food chain.
UPPER BAY -- The Chesapeake's upper reaches remain extremely muddy, but during the past week a few legal-size striped bass were found in the North East River's upper reaches near the mouth of North East Creek. Anglers casting small, white spoons trimmed with a four-inch chartreuse twister tail caught stripers to 20 inches while fishing from shore. A few tidewater largemouth bass were found lurking in dense grass beds located at the mouth of Furnace Bay and the Susquehanna Flats, most taken on topwater plugs intended for stripers. Channel catfish remain plentiful throughout the upper bay, but the largest fish seem to be congregated in the C&D Canal near Chesapeake City. Bottom-fished clam snouts, night crawlers, chicken livers, cut herring baits and squid strips lured catties to four pounds from the Elk, North East, lower Susquehanna, Bush, Gunpowder, Dundee and Sassafras rivers, while the same baits lured catfish to nine pounds from the canal. Trollers found fair numbers of keeper rockfish lurking over the lumps just southeast of Pooles Island, where dark-colored surgical hose eels, tandem bucktails and mid-size spoons lured rockfish to 31 inches. Chummers scored well on overall numbers of stripers while fishing at Belvedere Shoals, Man-O-War Shoal, Peach Orchard, Hickory Thickets and Love Point Light. Although most of these fish were too small to keep, there were enough keepers around to keep everyone interested.
BAY BRIDGES AREA -- White perch and small stripers continue to dominate the action at the twin spans, while just a short distance to the south at Bloody Point Light, mixed schools of striped bass and bluefish ripped through pods of bay anchovy that measured just an inch long at best. Most of the rockfish measured 12 to 17 inches, and a rare fish pushed the ruler to 20 inches. The vast majority of the bluefish measured just 12 to 15 inches. Large numbers of chunky white perch have been congregating for the past few weeks inside the mouth of Eastern Bay and along the waterway's channel edge north to Kent Narrows. Perch to 12 inches smacked bottom-fished bloodworms, bait shrimp and razor clam during periods of peak tidal flow.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- White perch to 10 inches were found lurking along the river's channel edge between Castle Haven and the Route 50 bridge at Cambridge, most taken on bottom-fished bloodworms. Anglers near Sharps Island Light found schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish, most of which were just too small to keep. They provided lots of light tackle and fly fishing fun while on the surface, but few were keepers.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Another good week of bottom-fishing for headboat anglers who want a good mix of jumbo spot and white perch. Both were found in abundance at the mouth of West River, where bottom-fished bloodworms lured spot to 13 inches and white perch to 11 inches. Charterboat anglers found lots of rockfish at the Gooses, where chummers and trollers alike caught rockfish ranging from throwbacks to 22-inch keepers.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth has been a hotbed of topwater action, especially near Cedar Point Rip, where mixed schools of snapper bluefish to three pounds and striped bass to 20 inches ripped through pods of small menhaden and bay anchovy. Small jigging spoons such as the Stingsilver and Crippled Alewife cast among the surface melee produced instant, arm-jolting strikes. Across the bay, a few flounder were caught by anglers drifting live minnows and squid combinations along the bay's eastern channel edge between buoys 74 and 76 during the day, while at night, fair catches of migrating croaker were made in somewhat deeper waters between the same buoys. White perch and spot can be found throughout the lower reaches.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- Scattered catches of striped bass and bluefish were reported by fly rod enthusiasts and plug casters chasing flocks of gulls on both sides of the bay. Near the Targets, bluefish weighing up to nearly five pounds and striped bass to 22 inches churned the bay's surface to foam as they fed leisurely on small menhaden that are slowly migrating south.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Most of the area headboats are still reporting good catches of spot to 13 inches, croaker to 15 inches, a few legal-size weakfish and an occasional keeper flounder while bottom fishing with bloodworms and squid strips in upper and middle Tangier Sound.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Area charter boats returned to the docks with a mixed bag consisting of a limit of stripers to 30 inches, bluefish to four pounds, and an occasional keeper-size weakfish. Croaker seem to be migrating south for winter, and the action is improving throughout the area, mostly in depths of 25 to 35 feet. Bottom-fished squid strips seem to be the most productive bait for croaker. There were a few in the 19-inch category.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Mixed schools of snapper bluefish to three pounds and similar-size Spanish mackerel erupted through the bay's placid surface near Windmill and Stingray points. Small jigging spoons cast among the surface activity produced great light tackle action and filled the cooler chests of local anglers.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was the past week's hotspot until Hurricane Charley arrived on the scene, which brought fishing to a standstill. Just before the storm, good catches of flounder to nine pounds were made while wire-lining bucktails trimmed with live killfish and squid strips over the tube between the CBBT's Third and Fourth islands. Croaker seem to be everywhere.
OCEAN CITY -- Before the hurricane, which according to area charter captains really did not amount to much, the offshore fleet enjoyed good yellowfin tuna and billfish action along the 30-fathom curve, the Rock Pile, the north tip of Washington Canyon and Massey's Canyon. The same locations also provided anglers with a mix of wahoo and mid-size dolphin to 12 pounds. Closer to shore, headboat anglers had a fair mix of croaker and sea bass, while shorebound anglers fishing from the beaches caught a mix of kingfish (sea mullet), small flounder and a few very unusual species. A 24-inch bluefin tuna was caught and released by 12-year-old Brandon VanKirk of Jefferson Hill, Pa., while on his first surf fishing trip to Ocean City.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Lots of small croaker in the inlets, but the larger fish seemed to have vanished with the recent fish kill. Offshore, the Parking Lot, Lumpy Bottom and Ammo Wreck all provided chunkers with bluefin tuna to 75 pounds. Unfortunately, the limit has been reduced to one fish per boat.
OUTER BANKS -- No report because of Hurricane Charley.