What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- In the Woodrow Wilson Bridge area, deep-diving crankbaits fished near South Point, North Point, the anchored barges and Fox Ferry Point provided modest catches of tidewater largemouths. While high winds made fishing difficult, some anglers took shelter on the lee side of bridge pilings and the barges, where conditions were better. The stretch of river southeast of Blue Plains seems to be improving a bit, with fair catches of mid-size largemouths during the first few hours of ebb tide. Washington Channel provided good stripers for anglers fishing the drop-offs near Fort McNair wall, most taken on spinnerbaits and deep-diving crankbaits. The Spoils cove was a good bet for afternoon plug casters, who reported a mix of small stripers and tidewater largemouths. Broad Creek's grass beds held a few bass, and Fort Washington Lighthouse and the flat on the south all provided a few tidewater largemouths, most of which were small to mid-size at best.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river is still a bit murky, water temperatures are rapidly dropping, and falling leaves have made fishing nearly impossible in some areas. Scattered catches of smallmouth bass were reported at Lander and Whites Ferry, where tube lures and live hellgrammites fished beneath underwater ledges lured bronzebacks to two pounds.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river is still fairly muddy, a bit above normal levels, and overall, fishing has been slow for the past several weeks. The only bright spot was the mouth of the Juniata River above Harrisburg, and some of the smaller tributaries that flow into Conowingo Lake, where tube lures and live shiners lured smallmouth bass to three pounds.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Not many folks fished the impoundments, but the few that did found that much of the action centered on channel catfish and small bass that seem to be migrating to deeper water. Bottom-fished night crawlers lured catties, while live minnows and crawfish were the best bet for bass.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch are still lurking at the mouths of some coves, but most of the larger fish seem to have migrated downlake to deepwater haunts where they'll spend the winter. Scattered catches of crappie were reported from the decks of Dulaney Valley Bridge by anglers dunking live minnows and small shad darts. Trollers caught a few chain pickerel and walleye while dragging spinners near the edges of remaining grass beds.
LAKE ANNA -- Most striper action was in the impoundment's upper reaches, and some of the fish tipped the scales at nearly 10 pounds. Steve Miller of Martinsburg, W.Va., caught four fish, with a combined weight of 29 pounds. Jim Parmenter and Erich Hooper of Little Meadows, Pa., had three fish with a combined weight of 18 pounds. The few warm days during the past week put lots of big bass in the shallows, mainly in depths ranging four to 10 feet. Shallow-running crankbaits, plastic worms and spinnerbaits all proved effective early and late in the day. Crappie action has been red hot, with lots of fish from one to two pounds coming from beneath deepwater docks, deep brush piles and from beneath bridges. Most were taken on small, live minnows lip-hooked to shad darts and suspended 10 to 20 feet beneath floats.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river is in the best shape it has been all season. The water is clear, cool and slightly above normal level, and conditions are ideal for boating anglers to enjoy smallmouth bass fishing. Unfortunately, fishing is mediocre at best.
UPPER BAY -- After three months of horrid conditions, the Chesapeake's upper reaches are beginning to clear. While the water is still muddy and loaded with debris, some of the major tributaries have underwater visibilities of one to two feet, a major improvement over the one to two inches that has been the case since spring. Consequently, good catches of striped bass were reported in several places in the North East River; Susquehanna Flats; mouth of Furnace Bay; mouth of the Elk, Bohemia and Sassafras rivers; and along the bay's western channel edge near Battery Island. Nearly all were taken by anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits and Bass Assassins near the edges of grass beds. Channel catfish remain plentiful in the North East, Elk, Sassafras, Bush, Dundee and Gunpowder rivers, as well as the C&D Canal. Bottom-fished clam snouts, chicken livers, cut herring and night crawlers lured catfish to 10 pounds in all locations. White perch to 12 inches arrived along the drop-offs near Turkey Point and down the bay near Pooles Island Light. Bottom-fished bloodworms and razor clam slices proved effective for perch. Trollers dragging tandem bucktails and small spoons caught large numbers of striped bass from the Peach Orchard, Belvedere Shoals, Hickory Thickets and mouth of Chester River near Love Point Light. Though many fish measured less than 18 inches, a few groups fishing from the decks of charter boats returned to the docks with limit catches of rockfish measuring up to 30 inches. Chummers continued to catch a mix of striped bass and snapper bluefish from the same locations, providing lots of light tackle and fly fishing action. White perch to 12 inches were caught from beneath Eastern Neck Island Bridge, the mouth of Chester River, Tollchester Shoals and Swan Point Bar. Perch were also found across the bay at the mouth of Patapsco River and Bodkin Creek, where bloodworms and bait shrimp were effective.
BAY BRIDGES AREA -- High winds prevented small boat anglers from fishing among the pilings last weekend, but some of the larger boats jigging with Stingsilvers near the structure's manmade islands managed to catch keeper-size stripers to 20 inches. In Eastern Bay and Kent Narrows, good catches of white perch to 12 inches were made on strips of razor clam, bloodworms and bait shrimp along the channel edges and mouths of creeks.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Chummers scored well on stripers to 20 inches while fishing near Sharps Island Light, The Diamonds and just inside the river's mouth near Buoy No. 12. Upriver, the channel edges from Castle Haven to the Route 50 bridge held good numbers of white perch to 10 inches, channel catfish to six pounds and a few keeper-size stripers to 19 inches. The river's shallows near Cook and Todd points provided plug casters with somewhat larger rockfish, a few measuring up to 25 inches, that smacked bucktails trimmed with chartreuse twister tails.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Most of the local charter fleet spent the weekend chumming at The Gooses, which during the past two months has consistently produced good numbers of striped bass and bluefish to 24 inches.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Rockfish are in the mouth of the Patuxent, most found breaking at dawn in large, migrating schools. Stripers and blues were biting as well; though many stripers were undersize, there were good numbers measuring more than 18 inches, and some up to 25 inches. The blues were in the 15- to 20-inch category. Flounder are still caught on the edge of the ship's channel, and they are getting bigger every day. White perch fishing was excellent in the river's smaller tributaries; water temperatures have fallen by nearly 10 degrees during the past week, which knocks down plankton levels and causes the creeks to clear. Cast a Beetle Spin or small spinner near docks and pilings to catch the largest perch. Spot are still active in this area of Chesapeake Bay and the mouths of lower bay rivers. Bloodworms provided the best catches of spot.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- A large school of weakfish was found just west of Hooper Island Light last Friday, and while most were too small to keep, deep jigging with Stingsilvers managed to produce a few fish ranging three to five pounds from depths of 60 feet. Above the weakfish were roaming schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish, most measuring 15 to 22 inches in length and willing to hit any lure that resembled a bay anchovy.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- The shallows of Tangier and Pocomoke sounds provided good striped bass action for light tackle anglers before the weekend cold front passed.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Most of the region's large striped bass seem to be along the bay's eastern channel edge between Buoy 72 and 72A in depths of 35 to 40 feet. A small armada of charter boats from Crisfield, Point Lookout, Solomons and St.Jerome's Creek converged on this location for the past three months, loaded their coolers with a mix of striped bass and bluefish, then returned to the docks. Schools of migrating weakfish were found headed south along the bay's western channel edge south of Point No Point Light, mainly in depths of 50 to 65 feet. Nearly all were too small to keep. Big spot are still available in the Potomac River's mouth as are flounder to 18 inches.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Just before the weekend cold front passed, good catches of spot, a few small croaker and lots of throwback flounder were reported from The Cell and Kiptopeke Flats. Larger flounder were found at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's Fourth Island, and there were good numbers of snapper bluefish and small stripers breaking between the Third and Fourth islands, and near Lattimer Shoals and the Inner Middle Grounds.
OCEAN CITY -- Offshore anglers enjoyed good catches of yellowfin tuna at Baltimore Canyon, but falling water temperatures caused the fish to begin feeding in deeper waters. Most were taken while chunking with butterfish and drifting a whole butterfish 150 to 175 feet beneath the surface. Chunkers fishing for bluefin tuna just a short distance southeast of the Hambone battled behemoths to 230 pounds, but the limit is just one fish per boat. After a few hours of catch and release, most decided to head for home. Headboat anglers caught lots of sea bass ranging from throwbacks to four pounds, and at times there were large numbers of slammer bluefish to 16 pounds in the same locations. Shorebound anglers caught a few keeper rockfish from the Route 50 bridge, mostly while casting Tsunami bucktails from the structure at night. Only a few big red drum were found in Assateague Island's surf last week, a sign that these fish are headed south for winter.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Chummers and chunkers found a few bluefin tuna at the Jack Spot, Parking Lot and 26-Mile Hill, and most of these fish tipped the scales at 100 or more pounds. Flounder are still plentiful in the back bays, but most are too small to keep.
OUTER BANKS -- High winds and towering seas prevented most of the charter fleet from venturing offshore, but on days when the weather cooperated, good catches of yellowfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo were reported. Pier and surf anglers caught a mix of snapper bluefish, spot, croaker, weakfish and small flounder.