Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- You know you've had a good day of fishing here when you hook and land a monster catfish that tips the scales at 47 pounds. When 70-year-old Raymond Helmuth baited up with a chunk of raw salmon, he probably had no idea that a gigantic blue catfish was lurking in the river's depths near Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant. Helmuth, a Hyattsville resident, fishes the Potomac at every opportunity. "I fish the river year-round if the weather's not too cold. It beats sitting around and watching TV." Ray was fishing from the decks of his 16-foot aluminum boat just a short distance from the plant's outfall canal. "I took the fish over to Fletcher's Boat House and had him weighed and it almost broke the scale. The fish was so heavy I could hardly pick it up," Helmuth said. Just a few years ago, he weighed in a 34-pounder caught near the same location. "It's amazing. You can always count on catching catfish weighing 15 to 20 pounds here, but then you have a day like this one."

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches are in good condition, but leaves that have fallen from overhanging trees have matted and clogged the river, making fishing nearly impossible. While a few anglers reported modest catches of smallmouth bass at Lander, Whites Ferry and Brunswick, most of the fish measured just 10 to 14 inches at best. Tube lures and live minnows fished beneath underwater ledges produced the best results.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river is still quite muddy from the previous weeks of torrential rain, but fair catches of smallmouth bass were reported at the mouths of some creeks, where bronzebacks to 20 inches were found. Scattered catches of walleye were also reported at the same locations, and both species smacked live minnows and tube lures early and late in the day.

Maryland

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Elliot Bishop of Catonsville, Md., was fishing Triadelphia Reservoir with a live minnow when he hooked and landed a 9-pound 7.5-ounce channel catfish. Overall, fishing has been slow because of deteriorating weather conditions during the past 10 days.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- A slow week for anglers hoping to find the last of the white perch, but falling water temperatures and overcast skies provided good conditions for catching chain pickerel and largemouth bass, both lurking close to shore and foraging on small minnows. Crappie action remains slow but should pick up within the next week or two when water temperatures fall below 50 degrees.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Striped bass to 12 pounds dominated the action in the impoundment's upper reaches. Anglers casting Sassy Shad, jigging spoons and shallow-running crankbaits near Jett Island, the Splits and mouth of Terry's Run caught limits of stripers early and late in the day in depths of three to five feet. Largemouth bass seem to be heading for deeper water again, and during the past week most were found along the edges of drop-offs in depths of six to 10 feet. Crappie to two pounds were pulled from beneath boat docks, bridges and from among the tangles of underwater brush piles. Live minnows and tiny shad darts were the most effective crappie baits.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- While the Susquehanna River is still high and muddy, water clarity on the nearby Susquehanna Flats was three to four feet during the past week. Consequently, anglers who opted to brave the elements found good numbers of striped bass to 22 inches lurking in the remaining grass beds, suspended over rock piles and hiding beneath deepwater piers. However, because water temperatures are just 54 degrees, the only way to get their attention was with live gizzard shad, bloodworms and night crawlers. The water seemed to be just too cold for plug casting. Channel catfish to 12 pounds also chowed down on the same baits, most taken from the upper reaches of the North East, Elk, Sassafras and Bohemia rivers. Big catfish and a few stripers were also found lurking near the mouth of the C&D Canal, where the same baits were effective. White perch to 12 inches inhaled small morsels of cut gizzard shad, night crawlers and bloodworms fished in the North East River's middle reaches during periods of moving tide.

Trollers and chummers caught fair numbers of striped bass from the bay's upper reaches while fishing near Hickory Thickets, Swan Point and Belvedere Shoals. Most were taken on bucktails trimmed with big Sassy Shad and trolled at very slow speeds. Plug casters and trollers using chrome/blue patterns of Rat-L-Traps caught stripers to 32 inches while fishing the channel edges of Chester River between Love Point and the Kent Narrows entrance buoys. Farther upriver, white perch to 12 inches smacked bottom-fished bloodworms and cut spot baits fished in depths of eight to 15 feet.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- High winds and towering waves kept most everyone off the bay's open water during much of the past week. However, anglers fishing the confines of Eastern Bay, Wye River and Kent Narrows found good numbers of white perch ranging from eight to 10 inches lurking along steep channel edges. Bottom-fished bloodworms, grass shrimp and strips of razor clam produced excellent results early and late in the day. Just outside the mouth of Eastern Bay, chummers caught huge numbers of stripers, nearly all too small to keep.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth, particularly the shallows between Cook and Todd points, provided plug casters with fair catches of stripers to 25 inches on days when the weather cooperated. Most were taken on four-inch pearl bucktails trimmed with a chartreuse or white twister tail. A few were also taken on streamer flies such as the Clouser Minnow and Lefty's Deceiver. White perch remain plentiful from Castle Haven upriver to the Route 50 bridge in Cambridge. Most of the fish are schooled in depths of 12 to 20 feet along the river's channel edges, where bottom-fished bloodworms and bait shrimp lured perch to 14 inches during the past week. A few keeper rockfish were also found in the same locations.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Thomas Allwine was headed toward the bay's southern reaches and decided to try his luck trolling. He hooked and landed a striper measuring nearly 50 inches. Locally, chummers are stacked up at the Gooses, where they're catching huge numbers of throwback rockfish and an occasional keeper measuring up to 20 inches.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish are still providing anglers with good light tackle and fly fishing action at Cedar Point Rip and Chinese Muds, locations where stripers and blues ranging from 12 to 22 inches are ripping through pods of migrating bay anchovy. Anglers jigging with Stingsilvers and Crippled Herring lures beneath the breaking fish caught somewhat larger stripers and an occasional weakfish. The Patuxent's tributaries all seem to hold good numbers of white perch ranging from eight to 12 inches, most of which will smack a chunk of frozen peeler crab or small ponyhead spinner fished beneath deepwater docks and along the creek's channel edges.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river is loaded with bay anchovy, which in turn lured lots of striped bass, fish measuring 12 to 24 inches in length that will hit anything that comes within range while they're actively feeding. Just outside the river's mouth, trollers dragging tandem-rigged bucktails and umbrella rigs trimmed with big Sassy Shad caught a few big stripers that have recently arrived from the Atlantic and are covered with sea lice. Some measured 36 to 50 inches and tipped the scales at more than 35 pounds.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Tangier, Watts, Smith, South Marsh and Janes islands' shallows all hold good numbers of striped bass to 25 inches. The secret to success here is to fish the sloughs and guts during the first few hours of ebb tide with bucktails trimmed with chunks of frozen peeler crab or bait shrimp. Schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish were found near Tangier Light on days when the weather cooperated; most of the fish measured 18 to 20 inches and smacked any lure resembling a bay anchovy.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Local charter boats battled winds and waves, but most managed to catch their limits of striped bass and a few bluefish measuring up to 20 inches while chumming at the Northwest Middle Grounds. A few captains opted to try their luck bottom-fishing along the bay's eastern channel edge, where they caught modest numbers of porgy ranging from eight 8 to 10 inches and lots of throwback sea bass measuring just an inch or two shy of the 12-inch minimum.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Tautog to eight pounds were caught from among the submerged boulders that constitute the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's manmade islands. Most were taken on chunks of crab, sand fleas and green crabs fished tight against the pilings and boulders. Somewhat smaller tautog were caught from among the wreckage of Kiptopeke's concrete Liberty Ships using the same baits. Plug casters and trollers alike caught a mix of striped bass and bluefish while dragging bucktails and small spoons near the CBBT's Second and Third islands.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Strong northeast winds kept the entire headboat and charter fleet tied to the docks for the past 10 days. Shorebound anglers caught a few keeper stripers from Assateague's surf, Ocean City Inlet and from the decks of the Route 50 bridge at night. A few keeper tautog were pulled from the submerged boulders that make up the bulkhead on the backbay between Second and Fourth streets, most taken with sand fleas and green crab baits.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Scattered catches of flounder were made just inside the inlets of both ports, but high winds curtailed any offshore activity.

OUTER BANKS -- Surf and pier anglers caught a mix of porgy, grunt, croaker, spot and sea mullet during the past week while dunking small pieces of cut mullet and bloodworms. A few larger bluefish were caught from the Hatteras beaches, and some larger red drum were found at Cape Point. No offshore activity here either because of strong northeast winds.