Fish Lines

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet June 29 at 7 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Annapolis to gather public comment on an addendum to the menhaden management plan. The addendum includes options to limit the catch of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast while research is conducted to determine if localized depletion of menhaden is occurring in the bay.

Public comment will be accepted until 5 p.m. Aug. 1 and should be sent to Nancy Wallace, menhaden species coordinator for the commission. For more information, contact Marty Gary, Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service, at 410-260-8289 or e-mail mgary@dnr.state.md.us.

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Water temperatures are rising, so don't be surprised to find algae blooms exploding throughout the river's middle reaches from Blue Plains downriver to the Route 301 bridge. Scattered catches of largemouth bass were made near Fort McNair wall, in the main river near the railroad bridge foundations, Key Bridge and among pilings at old wharf locations. Tube lures and crankbaits provided the best action, particularly early in the day. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge grass beds have not been productive this season, but the Spoils, Fox Ferry Point, some shallow-water bridge foundations and drop-offs in Smoot Bay provided fair catches of largemouth bass on days when the winds were light. Belle Haven Cove, Hog Island and grass beds in Broad and Piscataway all provided modest catches of largemouth bass. Downriver, Mattawoman, Chickamuxen, Aquia and Nanjemoy creeks were where small jigs and soft plastics pitched to milfoil produced excellent results. A school of stripers arrived just below Fletcher's Landing last week, fish that measured 18 to 24 inches and hit a host of lures trolled just beneath the surface. As water temperatures rise, look for these fish to migrate upriver in search of gizzard shad and other forage species that will take up residence in the fast waters downriver of Great Falls. Channel catfish to 10 pounds and huge numbers of monster carp can be found throughout the river's upper and middle reaches. Cut herring baits, chicken livers and night crawlers will all work for the catties, while the carp tend to consume dough balls, whole-kernel yellow corn and bottom-fished night crawlers.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- White's Ferry, Edwards Ferry, Lander, Balls Bluff and the Maryland side of Harrison all hold large numbers of smallmouth bass, but most are quite small, measuring just 6 to 10 inches at best. An occasional bronzeback to 18 inches is usually found lurking in the shade of underwater ledges at the heads of deeper pools, fish that will smack a stream-size crankbait or tube lure fished tight against the structure.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- Smallmouth bass fishing remains good from Fort Hunter downriver to Harrisburg, and still farther downriver in most of the impounded areas. Most of the fish are holding close to shore in fast-moving water, and at the mouths of many spring-fed creeks, where live minnows, shallow-running crankbaits and tiny tube lures attracted fish to 20 inches. Most of Conowingo Lake's larger coves are loaded with monster carp, fish that will hit bottom-fished baits such as Velveeta cheese, whole-kernel yellow corn and dough balls. Carp to 30 pounds were caught and released near Peach Bottom nuclear power plant during the past week.

Maryland

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Carlin Hetzler of Ellicott City was fishing Triadelphia Reservoir with live minnows when a hefty 1-pound 1.5-ounce crappie smacked the bait. Edward Richardson of Laurel landed a 14-pound 4-ounce channel catfish while bottom fishing with night crawlers.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- While a brisk breeze produced some problems for boating anglers during the past week, most of those venturing out early in the day managed to get in a few hours of productive fishing. Trollers caught loads of white perch from 10 to 13 inches in length that smacked inline spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler and fished over deep water. Plug casters continue to catch a good mix of chain pickerel and largemouth bass, mainly with tube lures and shallow-running crankbaits near submerged, rock outcrops and along the edges of grass beds. Crappie fishing from Dulaney Valley Bridge continues to be slower than normal.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Largemouth bass are in their summer haunts, which translates to deepwater fishing with Carolina rigged soft plastic lures, or deep-diving crankbaits. There are some reports of a good topwater bite during early morning, but most of the action takes place in depths of 10 to 12 feet or more, especially when the sun gets high.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Smallmouth bass action was decent in the river near Bentonville, Va., depending on anglers' skill levels. Most of the fish caught were taken on tiny, stream-size crankbaits that measure just an inch or less in size. The key to success was to work them slowly, close to the bottom in the deeper pools and near underwater ledges.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- The season's best striped bass action is just getting underway at the base of the Conowingo hydroelectric dam, where live-lined white perch and bluegills lured rockfish to 28 inches. Most were caught in the dam's tailrace waters during periods of electrical generation. Downriver, trollers found a few stripers below the mouth of Deer Creek and in the fast waters east of Spencer Island, where shallow-running crankbaits trolled at slow speeds lured fish to 20 inches. Good catches of smallmouth bass were made just above Roberts Island while casting tube lures and shallow-running crankbaits behind partly submerged boulders. Tidewater largemouth bass remain plentiful in the North East River's lower and middle reaches, while at the Susquehanna Flats, only a handful of legal-size stripers were caught by weekend anglers. Most of the rockfish were found near Red and Rocky points, where Bass Assassins fished slowly close to the bottom lured fish to 22 inches. Channel catfish seem to be everywhere you drop a piece of bait, with the largest fish taking cut herring. Most of the catties were found along channel edges in the North East, lower Susquehanna, Elk, Bohemia and Sassafras rivers, and some tipped the scales at more than 10 pounds.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- White perch from six to 10 inches have taken up residence among the shallow-water pilings of the Chesapeake Bay bridges, mainly in depths of eight to 15 feet where bottom-fished bloodworms lured fair numbers of both perch and small stripers. Better catches of larger perch were reported from the confines of Kent Narrows, the mouth of Crab Alley Bay and inside Wye River, where most of the perch averaged 10 to 12 inches. The mouth of Eastern Bay and up the bay to Parson's Island provided good bottom-fishing action for a mix of white perch and big croaker. Some of the croaker measured 18 inches in length, and the largest were caught at night on bottom-fished bait shrimp and squid strips.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Chummers found lots of rockfish ranging from throwbacks to 20 inches at The Hill, The Diamonds and The Gooses. If you were on the water at daybreak, the Stone Rock and Sharps Island Flats held a few black drum to 50 pounds smacking a large chunk of peeler crab or whole soft-shell crab drifted in depths of 25 to 35 feet. Croaker to 20 inches were caught by nighttime anglers along the river channel edges from Cook Point upriver to the Route 50 bridge, and nearly all were taken on bottom-fished bait shrimp and squid strips. Stripers to 20 inches were hauled from the river's shallows by anglers casting bucktails into depths of two to five feet early and late in the day near Cook and Black Walnut points.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Headboat anglers enjoyed another good week of bottom-fishing action for croaker and an occasional spot. Most of the best croaker action took place at night when fish to 18 inches were taken on bottom-fished bloodworms and squid strips. Charter boats have primarily switched to chumming for striped bass and snapper bluefish, both of which were found along the bay's channel edges at The Gooses and near the mouth of Parker's Creek.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Croaker fishing in the river's confines at night was good for anglers drifting the channel edges from the Route 4 bridge downriver to the river's mouth. Squid strips, bait shrimp, bloodworms and strips of razor clam were all productive when fished from sundown through midnight. Schools of snapper bluefish and small rockfish were found at Cedar Point Rip, where anglers casting small topwater plugs, jigging spoons and streamer flies caught bluefish to 18 inches and similar-size rockfish.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's shallows continue to provide good striped bass action, but the fish seem to be getting a bit smaller, and many measured less than minimum legal size. Bucktails trimmed with chartreuse twister tails and bright-colored streamer flies produced the best action during high and ebb tides. Croaker are stacked near Richland Point Buoy and along the bay's eastern channel edge south of Hooper Island Light, with some of the fish caught at night measuring more than 20 inches.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- While there have been a few reports of croaker action in the Tangier and Pocomoke sounds, most of the largest fish and best catches continue to be made at the south end of the Cut Channel, 15 miles south of Tangier Island Light. The sound's shallows, however, now hold fair numbers of black drum, some keeper-size stripers and even a few speckled trout.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Chummers scored well on a mix of keeper-size striped bass and snapper bluefish while fishing the bay's eastern channel edge near Buoys 72 and 72A, while on the western channel edge near Smith Point Light, a mix of bluefish, rockfish and croaker were found at The Triangle. Cornfield Harbor provided boating anglers with a mix of spot, croaker and snapper bluefish, while shorebound anglers fishing from Point Lookout State Park's public fishing pier and causeway caught a mix of croaker, spot, snapper bluefish, flounder and keeper rockfish, nearly all of which were caught after sundown.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Windy weather curtailed much of the week's action, however, there were a few relatively calm days when live-lined croaker produced good numbers of stripers to 32 inches from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's manmade islands. A few cobia were caught near Lattimer Shoals. Croaker seem to be everywhere you drop a piece of squid or bloodworm, most measuring 12 to 14 inches at best. At night, channel bass to 30 pounds have been caught along the bay's eastern channel edge near Buoy 42 using live spot on a fish-finder rig.

Atlantic Coast

CAPE HENLOPEN/INDIAN RIVER -- Still lots of bluefish to six pounds being caught from the decks of Cape Henlopen Pier, where cut bunker and finger mullet baits produced excellent results late in the day. Fair numbers of flounder were also taken from the pier on live killfish and squid strips fished during high and ebb tides. Black drum to 80 pounds were found lurking in Delaware Bay at Broadkill Slough, Brown Shoal and the Coral Beds, locations where shucked sea clam proved effective when fished early and late in the day. Scattered catches of keeper-size weakfish, including an 11-pounder taken on a fly rod, were reported during the week. The majority of weakfish and flounder alike have been just an inch or two too small to keep. Tautog remain plentiful at the Ice Breakers, Outer Wall and some of the nearby wrecks.

OCEAN CITY -- Headboat anglers loaded up on tasty sea bass to four pounds during the past week, and catches have consistently improved as the spiny dogfish migrate out of the region. A few tautog also have been tagged and released. Larry Katz of New York caught a 17.9-pound tautog while aboard an Ocean City headboat last week. Offshore, scattered catches of small bluefin tuna to 40 inches were reported by charter captains in search of larger fish. Shark fishing remains extremely slow, possibly because of cold water conditions. Flounder catches above the Route 50 bridge fell off a bit during the week. Striped bass to 32 inches were caught from the decks of the bridge at night, while anglers casting bucktails in Ocean City Inlet caught stripers to 38 inches and a few keeper weakfish.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Flounder catches continue, but finding a keeper-size fish has been a challenge. Offshore, small bluefin tuna and slammer bluefish dominated the action, particularly at the Lumpy Bottom, Parking Lot, 21 Mile Hill and 26 Mile Hill.

OUTER BANKS -- Bluefish ranging 12 to 18 inches dominated the surf and pier fishing action from Nags Head south to Cape Lookout early in the week. As water temperatures rose, good catches of spot, sea mullet, croaker, speckled trout and a few weakfish were reported. South of Oregon Inlet, plug casters caught a mix of snapper bluefish, Spanish mackerel and several red drum, plus the season's first cobia, which weighed 50 pounds. Offshore, the charter fleet caught a mix of yellowfin tuna to 40 pounds, a few blue marlin were tagged and released, dolphin to 20 pounds and several big wahoo.