What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Water temperatures have finally dipped below the 80-degree mark, much of the submerged grass has broken free from the river's bottom and is floating away, but algae is still an issue and fishing remains poor. Mattawoman Creek and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge areas provided the best largemouth bass catches, which were modest at best. Channel catfish remain plentiful in the vicinity of Fletcher's Landing, where bottom-fished night crawlers, chicken livers and frozen chunks of cut herring produced catties to 12 pounds. The only other species that seems plentiful is carp, some tipping the scales at more than 20 pounds. Bottom-fished night crawlers, whole-kernel yellow corn and prepared carp baits resulted in long battles from some monster fish.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches were a bit low, but this could change significantly depending on the track of Tropical Storm Frances. Local guides suggest looking for patches of water-star grass, which is where tiny minnows often take refuge from predators. This usually attracts larger bronzebacks to 15 or more inches. Unfortunately, the river's water quality is still rated extremely poor due to excessive nutrient loads.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- As water temperatures begin to fall, the river's bronzeback action should improve dramatically. Good to excellent catches of smallmouth bass ranging up to 16 inches were reported in a lengthy stretch from Fort Hunter downriver to Three Mile Island. Nearly all were taken on dark patterns of tube lures rigged to quarter-ounce leadheads fished in deep pools.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Good catches of both largemouth and smallmouth bass were reported from both WSSC impoundments, but there were none weighed in at the Brighton Dam ranger station. Most were taken on deep-diving crankbaits fished in the upper reaches of the lakes. A few big catfish were also taken on the same lures, but walleye action seems to have dried up during the past week.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- There are still good numbers of white perch to 15 inches being caught from the impoundment's middle reaches, and nearly all were taken while trolling inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler. A four-pound smallmouth bass was also caught and released using the same method. Hampton Cove has been the perch hot spot, while uplake near the Log Jam has been productive for largemouth bass ranging up to three pounds. Whacky Worms produced the best results when cast near shoreline drop-offs. A few chain pickerel were found near the grass beds, most taken on live minnows.
LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- While the impoundment's shores are currently open for a distance of 15 to 20 feet in some locations, this may soon disappear if Tropical Storm Frances passes through the region. Some crappie and white perch were caught from Nicodemus Bridge on live minnows. Walleye and white perch smacked Erie Dearie lures trimmed with a night crawler and cast from shore at locations just above the bridge, while downlake, bottom-fished crayfish lured smallmouth bass to four pounds from the edges of drop-offs.
LAKE ANNA -- Several huge largemouth bass were caught from the lake's shallow stump fields during the past week, most taken on large dark-colored plastic worms. German angler Justus Naim caught an 8-pound, 12-ounce largemouth while fishing with guide Glenn Briggs. Steve Miller of Martinsburg, W.Va., popped a 7-pounder, and Jeremy Taylor of Caroline, Va., caught one that tipped the scales at 5 pounds 4 ounces. Great striper fishing continues with lots of big fish reported caught by plug casters and trollers alike at the Splits, Rose Valley, Jett Island and near the state park. The stripers are biting all day long, with the best catches reported from early morning till noon.
UPPER BAY -- While the Susquehanna River is still murky from excessive nutrient loads, the waters of the North East River remain quite clear because of filtration by dense patches of aquatic grasses. Consequently, this is where some of the upper bay's largest stripers have come from during the past month. Rockfish to 32 inches slammed topwater plugs, Bass Assassins and shallow-running crankbaits worked close to grass beds during high and ebb tides. When the tide goes slack, the action shuts down as if someone turned off a light switch. Large channel catfish, some weighing more than 12 pounds, gobbled down bottom-fished chicken livers and night crawlers fished in the lower Susquehanna, North East, Elk, Sassafras, Bush and Gunpowder rivers. Most of these fish were taken during periods of moving tide as well. White perch are abundant at the mouth of the Gunpowder, Bush, North East and Bohemia rivers, but most only measure four to six inches at best.
Trollers and chummers alike caught lots of rockfish at the Peach Orchard, Swan Point Bar, Hodges Bar, Man-O-War Shoal, Belvedere Shoal, Hickory Thicket and Love Point. The majority of those measuring larger than the 18-inch minimum were taken while trolling mid-size spoons and tandem-rigged bucktails.Schools of bluefish to four pounds have been swarming into chum slicks intended for rockfish, and many anglers reported limit catches of these incredible game fish. White perch to 12 inches were found beneath Eastern Neck Island Bridge, Hodges Bar, Swan Point Bar and across the bay among the old pier pilings at the north end of Key Bridge. Similar-size perch were also found at Snake Reef near Gibson Island, Bodkin Point, the submerged boulders of Fort Carroll and Belvedere ShoalChester River's upper reaches near the Route 213 bridge provided anglers with a mixed bag of white perch, channel catfish, lots of throwback rockfish and a few keeper-size stripers. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab.
BAY BRIDGES AREA -- On days when the weather cooperated, trollers found mixed schools of bluefish to four pounds and rockfish to three pounds churning the surface to foam near Brickhouse Bar, Bloody Point Light, the Diamonds, mouth of West River and the flats just south of Hacketts Bar. These fish were foraging on tiny bay anchovy measuring just an inch or two long. Most small jigging spoons and silver streamer flies cast in their direction produced immediate strikes. Jigging spoons lured a few keeper rockfish and bluefish from among the bridge's pilings and the manmade islands on both sides of the main channel. In somewhat shallower waters, chunks of peeler crab and bloodworms produced white perch to 10 inches when fished among the Eastern Shore's old bridge pilings east of piling 57. Eastern Bay anglers continue to catch the lion's share of larger white perch, some measuring up to 14 inches. Most came from the bay's channel edges in a stretch between the southern end of Kent Narrows and the artificial reef just inside Eastern Bay's mouth.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Mixed schools of breaking bluefish and rockfish provided incredible, light tackle and fly fishing just north of Cook Point, south of Poplar Island and from atop Sharps Island Flats. Most of the blues measured up to three pounds, while the vast majority of the stripers were too small to keep. An angler trolling bucktails for stripers just inside the river's mouth hooked and released a 42-inch red drum, then hooked another that he says he could not turn and the line broke. Upriver, white perch can be found all along both channel edges of the Choptank from Castle Haven to the Route 50 bridge. While most caught from the bridge only measure six to 10 inches at best, those found downriver near Castle Haven were considerably larger. Bottom-fished bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab produced the best perch action.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Local charter captains have mainly switched to trolling with small spoons, lures that produced excellent catches of bluefish to four pounds, mackerel to three pounds and striped bass to 26 inches. Most were found lurking over the bay's eastern channel edge near the Gooses, but there seemed to be larger numbers of mackerel concentrated near the mouth of Parker's Creek and Gas Docks. Headboat anglers continue to catch a mix of white perch and jumbo spot, mostly on bottom-fished bloodworms.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- The river's lower reaches provided holiday weekend anglers with a mix of spot, snapper bluefish, a few keeper flounder, plus rockfish ranging from throwbacks to 24 inches. Mixed schools of breaking rockfish, mackerel and bluefish were found at Cedar Point Rip, Chinese Muds, Gas Docks and the Targets. Across the bay in depths of 32 to 50 feet, live minnows and squid strips lured flounder to 22 inches and an occasional croaker to 16 inches.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- Topwater plugs, jigging spoons and half-ounce bucktails produced arm-jolting strikes from mixed, breaking schools of bluefish, rockfish and mackerel that exploded from the bay's surface near the river's mouth, Hooper Island Light, Buoy 72, and across the bay near Point No Point Light. The rockfish measured from 12 to 22 inches, the blues averaged 18 to 20 inches and the mackerel varied from 15 to 20 inches. For a handful of fly fishing enthusiasts, this was a dream come true. A number of anglers spent the holiday weekend at Ocean City and other coastal resorts with their families, therefore, fishing pressure in this area of Chesapeake Bay was very light. When they encountered a school of breaking fish, they shut off the boat's engine, limbered up their fly rods and caught fish on nearly every cast.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- While bottom-fishing action seems to be slowing down in the sound's upper reaches, there were good numbers of jumbo spot, porgy, grunt, a few keeper weakfish and even some exceptionally large croaker found in lower Tangier and Pocomoke sounds. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips. Local charter captains said they will soon switch to chumming for striped bass and bluefish along the bay's eastern channel edge as panfish action wanes.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Croaker to 16 inches were found along deepwater channel edges in depths of 50 to 60 feet, where bottom-fished squid strips produced excellent results. Rockfish seem to be moving around a lot, which seems to be the effect of dead water flowing down the Potomac River and into the bay's lower reaches. Chummers found huge numbers of snapper bluefish lurking along the bay's eastern channel edge, and they were frequently mixed with striped bass ranging from throwbacks to 22 inches.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Lots of spot and croaker near the river's mouth, while just a short distance to the east at the Cut Channel, schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish were found blasting through schools of tiny baitfish. Across the bay, big flounder, some topping 10 pounds, were caught from the eastern channel edge from Onancock south to the Cell. Most were taken on minnow/squid combos fished in depths of 25 to 35 feet.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Scattered catches of channel bass to 40 inches were made along the bay's eastern channel edge near Plantation Light and Lattimer Shoals by anglers drift-fishing with live spot. A few big sharks were also taken using the same technique. Migrating schools of croaker to 16 inches can be found along both sides of the bay, mainly in depths of 35 to 60 feet. They're often accompanied by schools of tiny weakfish ranging 10 to 14 inches and both are being chased by marauding sharks to 200 pounds. Flounder to seven pounds were caught by using wire line and small bucktails trimmed with live minnows and squid strips fished between the CBBT's Third and Fourth islands.
OCEAN CITY -- Lots of flounder in the resort city's back bays, but only one fish in 20 measured large enough to keep. The same held true for striped bass caught recently from both Ocean City Inlet and Route 50 bridge. Offshore, the action for bluefin and yellowfin tuna was red hot. Bluefins to 150 pounds slammed butterfish baits fished in chunk slicks set up just 30 miles east of the inlet. Massey's Canyon was the hot spot for trollers using cedar plugs and rigged mullet, baits that produced yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds, plus several white marlin. Headboat anglers had a great week of sea bass action, with pool winners topping four pounds. Good numbers of flounder and croaker were also encountered on the drifts as well.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- The bottom seemed to have fallen out of the tuna action at the Parking Lot and Lumpy Bottom, but it's likely that these fish are beginning to migrate. If this is indeed the case, look for new schools of fish coming from northern regions within the next few weeks.