Hurricane Ivan is slowly marching north, bringing torrential rains that could produce severe flooding in the mid-Atlantic region. By this weekend water conditions will be marginal at best. Play it safe and do not venture out on rivers that are higher than normal, and be sure to wear a personal flotation device at all times.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- The river continues to produce poor largemouth bass and striper fishing in areas that have been plagued with huge mats of floating algae. Additionally, much of the river's length is nothing more than a sea of mud with lots of floating debris. This includes much of the main stem from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to the Route 301 bridge and nearly all tributaries within that segment where underwater visibility is essentially zero. In the D.C. segment there, anglers reported muddy water, but some stripers ranging from 12 to 20 inches were found in Washington Channel, the channel edge near Columbia Island Marina, deeper waters near the airport and also Blue Plains. Not many smallmouths lurking among bridge foundations, but a few chunky largemouths were found among Long Bridge supports Nos. 1, 2 and 3 (Virginia side), and Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 from main shipping channel east. The Wilson Bridge area improved somewhat during the past week. Stickbaits and tube lures produced modest numbers of mid-size bass when fished at the Spoils cove, bridge foundations and drop-offs near the concrete plant in Smoot Bay. Hog Island may have some of the best bass action in the area, where crankbaits cast to deep water near the Lighthouse produced good results. Mount Vernon Cupola provided a few largemouths, along with the dropoff between Dogue Creek and Gunston Cove. Grass in Pomonkey continues to provide a few big bass, while Mattawoman Creek is highly productive one day, and seemingly devoid of fish the next. Although muddy water hampers largemouth and striped bass action, it has not impaired channel catfish catches. Good catches ranging from four to eight pounds were made near Fletcher's Landing, where bottom-fished night crawlers and chicken livers proved effective. This is also a great place to test your fishing skills while battling monster carp. Carp to 20 pounds gobbled down bottom-fished night crawlers and hooks baited with whole kernel, yellow corn when fished in some of the back eddy locations near Fletcher's and other nearby locations. Similar catches were also reported by anglers fishing Washington Channel.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- A few days before the onset of heavy rains, the river produced modest catches of smallmouth bass ranging eight to 10 inches, but larger fish are still extremely scarce. If Ivan hits as predicted, the weekend will be a bust when it comes to fishing.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA) -- The river remains high, muddy and nearly impossible to fish. Call 888-881-7555 for river conditions.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Local angler Bryan Sirotkin was fishing Rocky Gorge last week and set his hooks on a 10-pound 3.5-ounce channel catfish. Richard Berberich of Kensington caught a 5-pound 12.5 ounce largemouth bass while plug casting in Triadelphia's upper reaches.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch remain plentiful between Dulaney Valley Road and Loch Raven Drive bridges, where trollers caught perch to 15 inches using inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler. Scattered catches of largemouth bass to five pounds were reported by plug casters working the shallows located just above the Log Jam, most smacking spinnerbaits and shallow-running crankbaits fished early in the day. Crappie action beneath Dulaney Valley Bridge remains slow.
LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Walleye to five pounds smacked trolled, deep-diving crankbaits fished over the impoundment's western channel edge just above the Route 26 bridge. A few big stripers were also caught at the same location by anglers drift-fishing with large, live minnows and suspending them over depths of 60 to 70 feet. Nicodemus Bridge anglers caught a mix of small crappie, white perch and an occasional walleye while dunking live shiners from the span, while a short distance downlake, live crawfish lured bronzebacks to three pounds from rocky outcrops.
LAKE ANNA -- Striped bass action in the impoundment's upper reaches was good, with linesiders to 12 pounds smacking deep-diving crankbaits, large live minnows and Sassy Shad trolled along the channel edges. Largemouth bass to six pounds inhaled large, live shiners, plastic worms and spinnerbaits cast near piers and bridge pilings. Crappie action seemed to be improving in deeper waters, however, Ivan will obviously have a huge impact on this weekend's action.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river was high and muddy and fishing was slow at best.
UPPER BAY -- Everyone is bracing themselves for the onset of more, high, muddy water. The Susquehanna River was already high and muddy, and most anglers reported modest catches of small channel catfish and tiny white perch while dunking night crawlers in the deeper waters just above the Interstate 95 bridge. The North East River's lower reaches and nearby Susquehanna Flats provided good catches of striped bass to 26 inches, most of which nailed Bass Assassins cast along the edges of grass beds and fished in deeper troughs located in the middle of the flats. Bottom-fished bloodworms and night crawlers produced scattered catches of white perch to 10 inches for anglers fishing near Rocky Point, Red Point and Turkey Point. Channel catfish to six pounds were found lurking in the lower reaches of the Elk, Sassafras, North East, Bohemia, Bush and Gunpowder rivers, mainly in depths of 12 to 15 feet, where bottom-fished night crawlers and chicken livers were effective. Trollers and chummers caught huge numbers of small stripers last weekend, and though most measured less than 18 inches and were released, there were fair numbers of 18- to 26-inch fish that were caught by anglers willing to be on the water at the crack of dawn. Among the most productive locations were Swan Point Bar, Mary Jane, Belvedere Shoal, Peach Orchard and Hickory Thickets.
BAY BRIDGES AREA -- White perch to 12 inches arrived among the twin span's Eastern Shore pilings, mainly beneath cross sections of pilings east of No. 57 on the old span. Bloodworms, night crawlers, squid strips and clam snout were all effective when fished during the last few hours of ebb tide. Jigging spoons lured a few keeper-size rockfish from among the submerged boulders of the old span's manmade islands, while small bluefish and throwback rockfish blasted through pods of bay anchovy just above the bridges. Eastern Bay anglers caught lots of white perch to 12 inches while dunking razor clam, bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab along the bay's southern channel edge in a stretch that ran from the lower end of Kent Narrows to Parson's Island. Chummers caught fair numbers of rockfish at The Hill, but the vast majority were throwbacks ranging 12 to 15 inches at best. Mixed schools of breaking bluefish and stripers erupted through the bay's placid surface at the flats situated just south of Poplar Island, and while most were too small to keep, they provided great catch-and-release action for flyrodders and light-tackle enthusiasts.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- A couple of black drum to 55 pounds were caught and released by anglers bottom fishing for white perch in the river's lower reaches near Cook Point. Most of the action centered around roaming schools of white perch that were found between Chancellor Point and the Route 50 bridge at Cambridge, where bottom fished bloodworms lured perch to 15 inches. Anglers fishing from the bridge's public fishing piers caught a mix of channel catfish, mid-size white perch, an occasional snapper bluefish and fair numbers of throwback stripers. Nearly all were taken on bloodworms and night crawlers.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Local charter boats returned to the docks with mixed sizes of stripers and ranging from 18 to 20 inches and bluefish measuring 12 to 16 inches. Headboat anglers continue to catch fair numbers of jumbo spot and chunky white perch, but this year's croaker run was a big disappointment.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Spot action was good at the mouth of the Patuxent during the past week. The best catches were made at Second Beach, Drum Point, Green Holly, and Hawk's nest. Typical stories of spot coming thick and fast, such as a dozen in 10 minutes are common. These are the big, slab sided spot of fall, with yellow humpbacks. These fish are building fat reserves and will soon be heading south. They should remain in the vicinity for several more weeks, but what effects Ivan will have on their annual migration is still unknown. The bay's channel edge between Buoys 74 and 76 produced flounder every day during the past week, most coming from depths of 33 feet. The edge located about a mile above Buoy 76 has been very consistent. Several fishermen found the bay too rough to cross and stayed in the Patuxent working the river's channel edge at the Three Legged Marker where they limited out on flounder using fresh cut spot strips.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- On days when the weather was too rough to venture out in the bay's open waters, chummers found good numbers of keeper size stripers in the river's sheltered waters near Bentley Point. When the winds calmed, they encountered mixed schools of snapper bluefish to two pounds and stripers to 20 inches just west of Hooper Island Light and across the bay at The Targets. Small jigging spoons cast among the breaking fish drew instantaneous strikes.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Although bottom fishing seems to be drawing to a conclusion in most sections of Tangier and Pocomoke sounds, relatively large numbers of jumbo spot and white perch were found at the Nanticoke and Manokin river's mouths during the past week. Additionally, some keeper stripers have arrived in the shallows of Smith, Janes and Watts islands, locations where small bucktails trimmed with chartreuse twister tails lured rockfish to 26 inches.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Cornfield Harbor and the nearby public fishing pier at Point Lookout State Park provided weekend anglers with good catches of flounder to 24 inches. Most were taken late in the day while fishing with live minnows and squid strips. Just a short distance across the bay along the eastern channel edge is where schools of snapper bluefish and rockfish churned the surface to foam as they ripped through pods of fleeing anchovy. Most of the fish were only 12 to 15 inchers, but anglers working jigging spoons beneath the breaking fish and close to the bottom caught keeper size stripers to 20 inches and an occasional weakfish and croaker to 16 inches. A few pods of mackerel were also found, but most were too small to keep.
RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AREA -- Small spot and croaker are stacked near the river's mouth, while across the bay at The Cell anglers caught several exceptionally large flounder to 26 inches while bottom fishing with minnow/squid combos. The Cut Channel is where trollers dragging tiny, Clarke spoons intercepted schools of migrating mackerel, some of which topped the four pound mark.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Migrating schools of mackerel, croaker, spot, snapper bluefish and weakfish provided light tackle buffs with an incredible week of bottom-fishing action on both sides of the bay's main shipping channels. At the CBBT's manmade islands, schools of snapper bluefish and Spanish mackerel blasted through schools of migrating baitfish as they fed at their leisure. Flounder to eight pounds were caught by trollers using wire line, bucktails and bottom bouncing rigs fished over the submerged tubes, and there were a few big weakfish mixed with the weekend catches.
OCEAN CITY -- While sea bass season is now closed for two weeks, most anglers have switched to chunking for bluefin tuna which are currently in abundance at the Hambone, located just 30 miles from Ocean City Inlet. The tuna range from 50 to 150 pounds and slammed butterfish baits fished in the chunk slicks. Trollers fishing between Poormans and Baltimore canyons caught yellowfin tuna to 90 pounds and several white marlin while dragging rigged ballyhoo. A few wahoo and dolphin were taken at the same locations. Shorebound anglers have been plagued with dirty water conditions for the past week, which hampered striped bass and weakfish action from the Route 50 Bridge.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- While bluefin tuna action fell off at the Parking Lot and Lumpy Bottom, yellowfin tuna catches improved at Washington and Norfolk canyons where rigged ballyhoo and cedar plugs produced tuna to 100 pounds on days when the weather cooperated.
OUTER BANKS -- Another slow week of offshore fishing, mainly because of high winds and rough seas.