Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Local fishing guides reported modest catches of bass and rockfish in Washington Channel at the Fort McNair drop-off, the entrance to Pentagon Lagoon, Key Bridge foundations and Blue Plains. Crankbaits were the most productive. In the Woodrow Wilson Bridge area, largemouth bass were found lurking at the Spoils and among the barges between the bridge and Spoils. Crankbaits and black-blue combinations of tube lures provided the best results. Mattawoman Creek was slow through most of the week, though falling water temperatures moved a lot of largemouths to the 6 mph zone, where they've taken up residence among the submerged logs and pier pilings. Jetties at Leesylvania State Park, the drop-off between Gunston Cove and Dogue Creek and channel marker 56 were productive, despite windy, cold weather. Anglers fishing from the shores of Fletcher's Landing continue to catch good numbers of chunky channel catfish while dunking chicken livers and night crawlers in the deeper pools. A few tried their luck with live minnows while fishing from rental boats and ended up with a mix of larger catfish and some slabsided crappie.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- Before the heavy rains, the river was in good condition, and smallmouth bass action was decent at Lander, Whites Ferry and Edwards Ferry, where tube lures enticed bronzebacks to 20 inches from beneath underwater ledges. It will take at least a week of dry, relatively warm weather for conditions to return to normal.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- After a week of dry weather, the river's smallmouth bass action began to improve near the Juniata River's mouth. Anglers casting tube lures along the edges of grass beds, in deeper pools and back eddies created by large boulders found bronzebacks to four pounds.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS (T. Howard Duckett) -- Another quiet week for bass fishing in both impoundments. However, a fair number of crappie and channel catfish were caught in the upper reaches of Triadelphia by anglers dunking live minnows along the edges of drop-offs and submerged trees knocked into the water by recent storms. These locations will often hold good numbers of crappie through most of the winter.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Loch Raven Fishing Center is closed on Tuesday and Thursday through the end of October and will be open only on weekends during November. The impoundment is still providing good numbers of white perch for anglers fishing the deeper drop-offs near Feather Island, where perch to 14 inches were caught on live minnows and night crawlers fished 15 to 20 feet deep. Anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits and tube lures along the edges of the remaining grass beds caught a mix of largemouth bass and chain pickerel, both of which ranged from 12 to 18 inches.


LAKE ANNA -- The lake's largemouth bass are in their typical fall haunts, mainly in shallow water mornings and evenings. However, bigger fish are still in deeper waters of 10 to 12 feet. Creeks and coves, especially in the impoundment's upper reaches, continue to produce the best action. Docks, stumps, brush piles, grass beds and lily pads were all good bets for bass to five pounds. Stripers are still very active in the lake's upper reaches as well. The Splits, Rose Valley, Jett Island and drop-offs near the state park produced limit catches for both trollers and plug casters. Wayne and Regina Burton of Fredericksburg, Va., caught eight fish with a combined weight of 53 pounds. Kenny Sanders and Chris Hunter, also from Fredericksburg, caught nine fish with a combined weight of 49 pounds. Water temperatures have fallen to 63 degrees, which triggered a spurt of great crappie fishing. Slabsides to nearly two pounds were hauled from deepwater haunts such as brush piles, bridge supports and beneath floating docks.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river was in excellent condition, but smallmouth bass action remained mediocre.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Stripers more than 30 inches and 20 pounds were found foraging on gizzard shad that had recently arrived in front of Perry Point VA Medical Center. Most of the rockfish were found lurking in depths of five to 10 feet, where live gizzard shad drew arm-wrenching strikes near the edges of the remaining grass beds. The mouth of North East Creek was also a good bet for stripers, many of which measured 18 to 24 inches. Rat-L-Traps, Bass Assassins and live shad were effective when fished early and late in the day. Scattered catches of crappie were made by shorebound anglers from the piers of Town Park, most taken on live minnows suspended beneath small floats. White perch to 14 inches smacked smaller lures intended for striped bass when fished in the North East River near Red, Rocky and Turkey points. Fair numbers of keeper-size stripers were also found along the western channel edge near Batter Island, located just south of Havre de Grace. Channel catfish can be found throughout the area, some more than 12 pounds. The larger fish were taken on bottom-fished, frozen, cut herring baits at 12- to 20-foot depths. Top locations included: lower Susquehanna, Elk, North East, Sassafras, Bush and Gunpowder rivers. Trollers found lots of throwbacks and a few keeper rockfish lurking along both sides of the upper bay's main shipping channel, mainly south of Pooles Island. Small bucktails, dark-colored surgical hose eels and umbrella rigs trimmed with chartreuse and white Sassy Shad lured rockfish ranging from 12 to 22 inches when fished near Gunpowder River Light, Belvedere Shoals, Tollchester Point, Love Point and Hickory Thickets. White perch at eight to 10 inches were found beneath Eastern Neck Island Bridge and at the mouth of Chester River between Love Point Rip and upriver to Kent Narrows entrance buoys. Bottom-fished bloodworms and strips of razor clam proved effective for the perch when fished during moving tide.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- A few snapper bluefish are still ripping through pods of bay anchovy among the bridge pilings and boulders of the structure's manmade islands, but these fish will quickly migrate south when water temperatures fall below 60 degrees. Anglers deep-jigging with Stingsilvers along the channel edge near the new span caught stripers to 20 inches from among the many throwbacks found at the same location. The sheltered waters of Eastern Bay continue to produce most of the white perch in this segment of Chesapeake Bay. Most measure 10 or more inches and smacked bottom-fished bloodworms and strips of razor clam near the south end of Kent Narrows, the mouth of Wye River and just inside Crab Alley Bay. Chummers caught lots of throwback rockfish at the Hill and Brickhouse Bar, but keepers were rare.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The river's shallows held a few keeper-size stripers that slammed blue-chrome Rat-L-Traps and small bucktails cast to four to five feet near Cook Point and the flats between Castle Haven and Todd Point. Upriver, anglers fishing from the Route 50 bridge fishing piers caught a mix of channel catfish to four pounds, lots of small stripers and a few white perch. Larger white perch were found a bit downriver near Castle Haven, where bottom-fished bloodworms and chunks of frozen peeler crab lured specimens to 12 inches.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- A small armada of charter and private boats converged on the Gooses, and most reported catching huge numbers of striped bass. While most of the fish were too small to keep, there were just enough stripers measuring 18 to 20 inches to keep everyone happy. Snapper bluefish measuring 12 to 20 inches were mixed with the rockfish.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- On days when the weather cooperated, the river's mouth at Cedar Point Rip was alive with breaking schools of rockfish and bluefish, both measuring from 12 to 18 inches. Small topwater plugs, tiny jigging spoons and half-ounce bucktails cast among the breaking schools produced instantaneous strikes. Upriver, most of the smaller creeks situated above Route 4 bridge provided shelter from strong northwest winds, plus lots of chunky white perch measuring up to 12 inches.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's middle reaches near Bentley Point continue to provide bottom-fishing action for spot to 10 inches, a few keeper stripers and a rare speckled trout. Just outside the river's mouth roaming schools of bluefish and small stripers churned through fleeing pods of bay anchovy. Though the action was fast and furious, most of these fish were too small to keep.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Tangier and Pocomoke sounds' lower reaches provided anglers with a mix of throwback sea bass, spot to 10 inches, lots of similar-size porgy and an occasional weakfish to 15 inches. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Charter and private boats running from the lower Potomac River, Smith Point, Reedville, Solomons and Crisfield converged on an area known locally as the Deep Hole during much of the past two weeks. All chummed with ground menhaden along the bay's eastern channel edge and all reported limit catches of striped bass to 22 inches, lots of snapper bluefish and a few found tautog lurking beneath their slicks as well. The tog tipped the scales at four to six pounds and snapped up small pieces of frozen peeler crab.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- A windy weekend kept nearly everyone off the water, but prior to the blow there were good reports from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's Third and Fourth islands, where a mix of bluefish and striped bass were found breaking on schools of small, migrating menhaden. Trollers using small bucktails rigged on wire line and heavy sinkers caught flounder to eight pounds while dragging their rigs over the submerged boulders that protect the underwater tunnels. Tautog to four pounds were caught from the wreckage of the concrete Liberty Ships at Kiptopeke, most taken on chunks of hard-shell crab fished tight against the ships.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Before last weekend's cold front, incredible catches of big bluefin tuna were made while chunking a short distance west of Poormans Canyon. Tuna ranging from 100 to 230 pounds were landed by anglers using stand-up outfits armed with circle hooks and whole butterfish fished in the chunk slicks. A bit farther east, just over the canyon wall, anglers drifted whole butterfish at depths of 150 to 200 feet and hooked up with a mix of yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds, wahoo to 50 pounds and a few gaffer dolphin. Closer to shore, headboat anglers managed to find good numbers of chunky sea bass ranging from throwbacks to three pounders lurking in some of the inshore wrecks. Shorebound anglers found Assateague's surf held a mix of kingfish, spot, small stripers and snapper bluefish. Anglers fishing from the Route 50 bridge and inside Ocean City Inlet caught a few keeper stripers while casting various bucktails and rattling lures, while those opting to bottom fish at the same locations with sand fleas caught tautog to three pounds.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Scattered catches of red drum were made from some of the lower barrier islands by surf fishermen casting whole, live spot during dead low tide. Inside the inlet, fair numbers of keeper flounder were found in the sounds; live minnows and squid strips produced the best results.

OUTER BANKS -- Before last week's cold front, offshore anglers enjoyed good catches of yellowfin tuna to 90 pounds, wahoo to 75 pounds and a smattering of billfish. Shorebound anglers found croaker, spot, sea mullet, snapper bluefish and small speckled trout lurking in the surf and the ends of Outer Banks piers. A few big reds were found in the suds near Cape Point. Morehead City headboat anglers caught a mix of sea bass, snapper, grouper, pigfish (grunts) and an occasional king mackerel.