Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- The river seems to be clearing to the point where underwater visibility is about 12 to 15 inches. Consequently, some locations reported good catches of tidewater largemouth bass for anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics. Among the most productive locations were the Spoils, Smoot Bay, the pilings of the Woodrow Wilson and Key bridges and the rocky outcrop near South Point. Downriver, the rip-rap boulders near the mouth of Powell Creek held a few largemouths that smacked live minnows, tube lures and spinnerbaits fished tight against the structure. Channel and blue catfish are still plentiful near Fletcher's Landing. At Washington Channel and the Blue Plains outfall, cut bunker, chicken livers and other forms of fresh-cut baits lured catties to 15 pounds. Crappie are still not active.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- Huge mats of floating leaves make fishing nearly impossible. But a good rainfall should wash the leaves downriver, thereby improving conditions.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river is slowly beginning to clear, but heavy mats of leaves made for less than optimal fishing conditions. The best bronzeback action was at the mouths of major tributaries upriver and downriver of Harrisburg, where tube lures rigged to quarter-ounce leadheads, and live minnows fished close to underwater ledges proved effective.

Maryland

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Both reservoirs provided anglers with some hefty largemouths during the past two weeks. The largest, a 7-pound 12.5-ouncer, was caught in Triadelphia by David Schmidt of Laurel with a live shiner. Park rangers said there were several smaller bass caught from boating anglers fishing both impoundments during the past few weeks, most of which were released.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Water temperatures are in the upper 50s, perfect for catching big crappie. Crappie to 14 inches were hauled from beneath Loch Raven Drive's bridge, as well as the mouths of several deeper coves. Most were taken on live minnows suspended eight to 10 feet beneath small floats. Chain pickerel to four pounds and largemouth bass to three pounds were found suspended over the impoundment's remaining grass beds, most of which are now covered with four feet of clear water. Tube lures, shallow-running crankbaits and spinnerbaits all proved effective when cast close to rock outcrops along steep drop-offs. Loch Raven Fishing Center is open on weekends only until the end of the month. For information, call 410-887-7692.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Favorable weather conditions kept the lake's largemouths in shallow water, mainly near partly submerged trees, beneath piers and along the edges of drop-offs where they're feeding on tiny baitfish and bluegills. Shallow-running crankbaits, Sassy Shad and tube lures were all effective when fished early and late in the day. Striped bass action was good for anglers fishing near Dillard's Bridge, Jett Island and Terry's Run, locations where four-inch, pearl Sassy Shad rigged to half-ounce leadheads and fished in depths of four to 12 feet lured limits of linesiders to seven pounds. Crappie remain plentiful throughout the lake, most ranging from eight to 12 inches and smacking live minnows fished eight to 10 feet beneath the surface near bridge pilings and submerged brush piles.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- The Chesapeake's upper reaches are still somewhat murky, but as water temperatures fall, most tributaries seem to be clearing because of decreased algae blooms. Consequently, the North East River's shallows are providing plug casters with good catches of striped bass to 26 inches, most taken on blue/chrome patterns of Rat-L-Traps. When the lures fail to produce, live gizzard shad suspended four to six feet beneath a float have been extremely productive, often luring some of the season's largest stripers. Strips of cut gizzard shad, night crawlers, bloodworms and chunks of frozen peeler crab lured lots of exceptionally large white perch from the North East River's middle and upper reaches, most measuring 10 to 14 inches. Scattered catches of crappie were reported by shorebound anglers fishing with live minnows from the piers at Town Park and across the bay near Battery Island. Channel catfish to 10 pounds inhaled slabs of cut bunker, live gizzard shad, chicken livers and night crawlers fished along channel edges of the North East, lower Susquehanna, Elk, Sassafras, Bush, Gunpowder and Bohemia rivers. Stripers were found along the Chester River's channel edges upriver of Kent Narrows entrance buoys. Most were taken while trolling large bucktails trimmed with eight-inch, pearl Sassy Shad. Plug casters found stripers to 32 inches in the river shallows near the mouth of Langford Bay, where shallow running crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps fished in depths of just two to four feet quickly produced limit catches. White perch to 10 inches were found along the river's channel edge at dozens of locations from Kent Narrows to Chestertown, locations where bottom-fished bloodworms and strips of razor clam were productive early and late in the day.

BAY BRIDGES AREA -- Lots of small stripers among the pilings of the twin spans, but keepers were indeed rare, even on days when the weather cooperated. The few larger fish caught were found just east of Snake Reef and north of Sandy Point Light along the bay's western channel edge, where jigging spoons fished tight against the bottom in depths of 25 to 35 feet lured stripers to 22 inches. The mouth of Eastern Bay was alive with schools of small, breaking stripers foraging on bay anchovy. While most of those found on the surface ranged just 12 to 16 inches in length, significantly larger fish were found holding tight against the bottom below the surface carnage. Jigging spoons fished tight against the bottom in depths of 35 to 45 feet produced stripers to 24 inches. White perch to 12 inches were found lurking among the submerged boulders at the south end of Kent Narrows, mouth of Crab Alley Bay and the mouth of Wye River, locations where bottom-fished bloodworms, grass shrimp and strips of razor clam were the best baits.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The lower river's shallows continue to produce fair numbers of stripers ranging from throwbacks to 22 inches, most taken on small bucktails trimmed with a four-inch, white or chartreuse twister tail. A small armada of charter boats converged on the river's channel edge northeast of Castle Haven, where striped bass to 32 inches were caught while trolling tandem rigged bucktails trimmed with eight-inch, pearl Sassy Shad. White perch to 10 inches can be found from Castle Haven upriver to the Route 50 Bridge at Cambridge. Bottom-fished bloodworms and bait shrimp proved effective for the perch when fished during the last few hours of ebb tide.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Most of the area's charter fleet continues to chum at the Gooses, which has produced huge numbers of rockfish during the past two months. Unfortunately, most of the fish caught lately have been much too small to keep, and at least three captains reported that just one fish in 10 measured 18 inches or larger.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- White perch to 12 inches continues to please anglers taking shelter from the prevailing winds in the river's major tributaries. Bloodworms, bait shrimp, strips of clam and small spinners were all productive when fished in depths of just four to eight feet near creek mouths. Trollers headed across the bay to Hooper Island Light and locations to the south to find keeper rockfish. Most were armed with umbrella rigs and huge bucktails, but most of the fish caught during the past week were barely legal size. Plug casters found significantly larger stripers in the shallows near the Patuxent River's mouth, Point No Point Light, sand bars near the mouth of Saint Jerome's Creek and along the bay's shores near the Targets.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river continues to provide light tackle and fly anglers with great topwater action on days when the wind's not howling. Schools of stripers ranging from throwbacks to 22 inches were found along the river's southern channel edge between Bentley Point and the river's mouth. Small jigging spoons and streamer flies were crashed by fish that are now fattening up for winter.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- The lower reaches of both Tangier and Pocomoke sounds provided good topwater plugging action for light tackle buffs. Stripers to 25 inches slammed surface plugs and jigging spoons cast to breaking fish, while in the sloughs and guts, bucktails trimmed with chunks of frozen peeler crab lured rockfish ranging 18 to 26 inches.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Most charter captains fished the lee shores of the lower Potomac River. Chumming with ground menhaden produced limit catches of striped bass to 25 inches, plus an occasional bluefish to 15 inches.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Anglers caught good numbers of striped bass and bluefish while casting a variety of lures near the CBBT's Third and Fourth islands. Most of the stripers were 18 to 22 inches, while the bluefish measured a few inches smaller. Chunks of peeler crab fished among the CBBT's manmade island's submerged boulders lured tautog to six pounds, while somewhat larger tog were found in the bowels of Kiptopeke's concrete Liberty Ships.

Atlantic Coast

OCEAN CITY -- Nasty weather prevented the charter boats from running offshore, but headboat anglers loaded their coolers with limit catches of tasty sea bass to three pounds while fishing the inshore wrecks. The same wrecks also held lots of slammer bluefish to 16 pounds, which often grabbed sea bass being hauled to the surface. Shorebound anglers caught a few stripers from Assateague's surf, Ocean City Inlet and the Route 50 Bridge.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Flounder catches improved dramatically at both inlets where frozen shiners produced flatfish to four pounds. Similar catches were reported at Quimby, Great Machapongo, Shipshoal and New inlets.

OUTER BANKS -- A good run of speckled trout to five pounds developed on the beach near Kitty Hawk early in the week. A few days latter, a brisk northeast breeze in the 15 to 20 mph range made angling along the north beach very difficult, but a few puppy drum and bluefish were beached from Oregon Inlet to Corolla. Sea mullet, croaker, a few flounder and scattered catches of bluefish were reported from the beaches between Oregon Inlet and Buxton. Big red drum were beached between Salvo and Avon. The southern beaches had bluefish, sea mullet and some decent flounder near Hatteras inlet. With striped bass season open in Albemarle Sound, those fish have become a main target. Lots of stripers were reported around the Manns Harbor and Currituck bridges and a mix of speckled trout, ocean stripers, bluefish and puppy drum came from the Oregon Inlet area. A good run of speckled trout to three pounds delighted anglers on the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway. Pier fishing has been good for a couple weeks and remained decent on the heels of the wind shift.