Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Muddy, debris-laden water continues to flow downriver and perpetuate conditions that have been described as the worst in nearly two decades. Since this week has been dry, anglers should be finding good numbers of channel catfish near Fletcher's Landing and in Washington Channel. There also have been reports of a few tidewater largemouth bass caught among the pilings of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the submerged concrete chunks at the Spoils and from the remaining grass beds near Blue Plains. Most were taken on spinnerbaits fished close to the structure. Downriver, Mattawoman Creek has been productive one day and disappointing the next. The few bass caught were taken from the creek's 6 mph zone by anglers casting tube lures and shallow-running crankbaits along the edges of grass beds and near stands of spatterdock during the first few hours of ebb tide. Scattered catches of white perch and spot were made at the mouth of the Wicomico River, where bottom-fished bloodworms and clam snouts were effective. There were lots of small rockfish mixed with the perch, but keeper-size fish were scarce.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river remained high, muddy and unfishable.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river level was 51/2 feet at Harrisburg and slowly falling. However, water quality is still poor.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- It was a slow week for anglers. Falling water temperatures and brisk winds created conditions not conducive to catching much of anything except scattered channel catfish from Triadelphia's upper reaches.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Anglers are still catching a few white perch, but both the size and number have decreased dramatically since the passage of the past week's cold front. Fortunately, cooler water temperatures triggered catches of chain pickerel, some weighing up to four pounds. Most were taken on shallow-running crankbaits cast along the edges of grass beds and retrieved toward deeper water. Some hefty yellow perch were also found along the edges of grass beds in some of the larger coves. A weekend bass tournament produced several largemouths that tipped the scales at two to five pounds, most of which were taken on slow-retrieved spinnerbaits, plastic grubs and Bass Assassins rigged to quarter-ounce leadheads. Crappie remain slow from Dulaney Valley Bridge, but some have recently arrived in deep-water haunts near the Log Jam.

LIBERTY RESERVOIR -- Trollers using large shiners and deep diving crankbaits sank their hooks into stripers to 10 pounds while fishing the deeper channel areas just above the Route 26 bridge and just below the Route 32 bridge. Live crawfish continue to provide anglers with good numbers of bronzebacks when fished along the impoundment's north shore near the end of Oakland Mills Road and just down lake from Nicodemus Bridge. Scattered catches of crappie, white perch and an occasional walleye were made from Nicodemus Bridge and the adjacent shore, most of which were taken on chicken livers, small shiners and Erie Dearie's trimmed with a morsel of night crawler.


LAKE ANNA -- Falling water temperatures put stripers off their feed, driving them to somewhat deeper water and eliminating the early morning topwater bite. Anglers that switched to half-ounce leadheads trimmed with four-inch, pearl Sassy Shad continued to enjoy good catches of linesiders to 12 pounds while casting the lake's channel edges. The bulk of the fish remain in the Splits, Jett Island and Rose Valley Island areas, but some fish have been migrating both up lake and down lake. Stripers were recently caught at the Route 208 bridge and the other side of Day's Bridge. Largemouth bass action has fallen off because of lower water temperatures, but crappie action seems to be improving near piers and submerged brush piles.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The smallmouth bass fishing remains quite slow.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- While much of the Chesapeake's upper reaches continue to resemble coffee with cream, the upper reaches of the North East River is relatively clear. Good catches of stripers to six pounds were made during the past weekend's Upper Bay Rockfish Tournament, most of which were taken from the edges of grass beds by anglers casting unweighted Bass Assassins rigged weedless style. Fair catches of crappie and small white perch were made in the river as well, some from Town Park's piers. Downriver, Rocky, Red and Turkey points all produced good catches of white perch to 12 inches and lots of huge channel catfish. The catties ranged from six to 12 pounds, which is exceptionally large this time of year. Smaller catties were found in the Elk, Bohemia and Sassafras rivers, while the nearby Susquehanna was too high and muddy to fish.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- Still a lot of murky water beneath the twin spans; however, scattered catches of stripers to 20 inches were reported during the past few days by anglers casting half-ounce bucktails trimmed with white, four-inch twisters. Fair numbers of small white perch are still being caught from among the submerged boulders that make up the structure's manmade islands, most taken on bloodworms and bait shrimp. Eastern Bay is still the hot spot for larger perch, some measuring up to 13 inches. Among the more productive locations were: the mouth of Crab Alley Bay, Wye River, Miles River and Eastern Bay's channel edge near Parson's Island. Chummers found lots of throwback rockfish and a few keepers lurking at the Hill, and stripers were frequently accompanied by swarms of snapper bluefish ranging 12 to 18 inches in length.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth was alive with breaking schools of striped bass and bluefish, both of which measured 12 to 18 inches. Larger stripers were found in the river's shallows between Cook and Chlora points, locations where bucktails trimmed with a chunk of peeler crab produced fish to 24 inches from depths of just four feet. The same channel edge holds good numbers of chunky white perch to 12 inches; most are schooled in depths of 15 to 20 feet. Upriver, good catches of channel catfish to seven pounds were made from the Route 50 bridge fishing piers at night, but most of the white perch caught from the two spans measured only six to eight inches at best.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Area charter boats have been successful with both bluefish and striped bass while chumming at the Gooses, a location that during the past two months has consistently produced stripers to 22 inches and bluefish to 18 inches. Trollers fishing the bay's western channel edge between the Radar Towers and mouth of Parker's Creek caught a mix of bluefish and Spanish mackerel ranging from 15 to 20 inches and weighing up to three pounds.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Nearly every tributary above the Route 4 bridge at Solomons holds good numbers of chunky white perch to 12 inches. Anglers casting tiny spinners, bucktails trimmed with chunks of peeler crab and small streamer flies caught large numbers of perch during high and ebb tides from depths ranging from two to five feet. Some of the largest perch were found foraging beneath piers and floating docks. The river's mouth was alive with foraging schools of snapper bluefish and striped bass, both of which measured up to 20 inches. Small jigging spoons cast among the breaking fish were slammed as fast as they hit the water.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Plug casters hooked up with stripers to 26 inches that have taken up residence among the pilings of Lower Hooper Island Bridge, while inside the river near Bentley Point, scattered catches of speckled trout and smaller stripers were made while casting bucktails trimmed with chartreuse twister tails. Mixed schools of breaking rockfish, bluefish and mackerel provided lots of light tackle action at the Targets, Hooper Island Light and down the bay at the Deep Hole.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- While there are still fair numbers of jumbo spot lurking in upper Tangier Sound near Terrapin Sands, Old Number Nine and Puppy Hole, they may be gone by this weekend if water temperatures continue to fall at the same rate. Fortunately, they'll merely move to the west side of Smith Island and take up residence at the Shell Leads, Mud Leads and Southwest Middle Grounds, locations where they'll fatten up before exiting the bay's confines. The shallows of Smith, Tangier and Janes islands hold a few speckled trout and fair numbers of rockfish to 26 inches, fish that will slam a small bucktail, chunk of peeler crab or crab pattern streamer fly.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Bluefish ranging from one to five pounds were found breaking throughout the area, and they'll hit anything that moves. Stripers to 28 inches moved into the chum slicks at the Northwest Middle Grounds and slammed cut menhaden baits and cut spot fished during periods of moving tides. Jumbo spot, some measuring up to 12 inches smacked bottom-fished bloodworms fished near Holland Island Flats and other locations east of the bay's main shipping channel.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- The passage of last weekend's cold front made fishing conditions all but impossible, but anglers fishing earlier in the week reported good catches of bluefish to four pounds, striped bass to 20 inches and fair numbers of flounder to 24 inches.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- The past week's offshore action was unbelievable, especially for those in search of tuna. Outstanding catches of longfin tuna to 45 pounds, yellowfins to 90 pounds and bluefins to 200 pounds were made despite high winds and towering seas. Most of the bluefins were taken while chunking a short distance southeast of the Hambone, and most captains said they rarely had a fish on that weighed less than 100 pounds. Dozens reported fish ranging from 150 to 185 pounds, while there were just two fish caught that weighed more than 200 pounds. The yellowfin and longfin tuna were all taken along the 50-fathom curve that stretches from Poormans Canyon south to Washington Canyon. Rigged ballyhoo proved best for the yellowfins, while the longfins seemed to prefer Green Machines. Inshore, headboat anglers loaded up on sea bass ranging from throwbacks to four-pounders, nearly all of which came from wrecks a dozen miles offshore. Before the cold front passed, good catches of croaker were made just three miles from the resort city's beaches, but no one has encountered them since.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Virginia's barrier island chain stretching from lower Assateague Island south to Smith Island is alive with big channel bass, some weighing up to 60 pounds. Most were taken by anglers surf fishing with live spot or menhaden heads during dead low, slack tide.

OUTER BANKS -- Surfcasters had to deal with sloppy conditions and dirty water brought on by gusty winds and rough surf, but they reported a fair mix of fish. A 481/2-inch red drum was released from the beach near Corolla last week, where several puppy drum and small blues were also caught. A fair mix of small blues, some speckled trout and puppy drum were caught from Kitty Hawk to Oregon Inlet. Big spot made a strong showing on the south side of the inlet. On Hatteras Island, Cape Point was the hot spot, with puppy to big drum, blues to three pounds, sea mullet and a few pompano.