Fish Lines

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office is spearheading an effort to develop an educational program for local land-use officials in the Chesapeake Bay region that addresses the relationship of land use to natural resource protection. In partnership with the Center for Watershed Protection and National NEMO Network, the office convened a meeting June 24 to explore use of the Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) model. The concept for a pilot project in the Chesapeake Bay is based on the successful use of NEMO in Connecticut, where it was developed.

The Chesapeake NEMO initiative would establish a collaborative network within the bay to improve education and support services for local communities in dealing with growth and development issues. To learn more about NEMO, visit nemo.uconn.edu/about.htm.

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Bass fishing has been good in much of the river's tidal reaches, but the best opportunities lie between Piscataway and Chickamuxen creeks. Water temperature is in the low 80s, and algae blooms have been erupting from Mattawoman Creek downriver to the Route 301 bridge. In the river's District sector, a few tidewater largemouth bass were caught and released from Washington Channel's drop-off near Fort McNair Wall, Long Bridge's pilings, the mouth of Roach's Run and the old railroad crossing near Blue Plains. The Spoils, Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Smoot Bay and coves near Belle Haven provided anglers with a few bass, but the action was limited to early and late in the day. Piscataway Creek's milfoil beds continue to provide good bass fishing where buzzbaits, stickbaits and spinnerbaits were effective during low light periods. Pomonkey Creek has been excellent, especially during the last few hours of ebb tide. Anglers are regularly sighting snakeheads, which seem to have taken a foothold in a vast segment of the river's middle and upper reaches. Though only a handful have been caught, there have been several reports of these aggressive fish slamming lures and shaking the hooks free within seconds after the initial strike. Lots of channel catfish to 10 pounds were caught during the past week, mainly by anglers fishing from the river's shores near Fletcher's Landing and Washington Channel area. Bottom-fished chicken livers, night crawlers, cut herring and bait shrimp were all effective, especially during high and ebb tides.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches are loaded with algae. Most anglers said the best smallmouth bass action was near White's Ferry, where the largest fish averaged only about 10 inches, not a good sign for the river's fisheries.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The best bass fishing is in the river's impoundments downriver of Harrisburg. Most small, spring-fed tributaries of Conowingo Lake and Holtwood Pool provided anglers with good catches of bronzebacks ranging to three pounds. The majority were taken on small tube lures and live minnows rigged to quarter-ounce leadheads and fished slowly close to the bottom. The secret to success was to toss the lure close to shore, allow a few seconds for it to sink, then begin a slow, deliberate retrieve. At the slightest indication of a hit, set the hook.

Maryland

TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Catonsville resident Craig Walrath was fishing with a plastic worm in Triadelphia Reservoir when a 5-pound 10.5-ounce largemouth bass inhaled his offering; it was an exceptionally large bass for this time of year. Crappie are still plentiful in the upper and middle reaches of both impoundments, mainly along sharp drop-offs where live minnows proved productive when fished in depths of 10 to 15 feet close to shore.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- The holiday weekend provided anglers with lots of chunky white perch, some measuring 10 to 12 inches. Most anglers, however, have been catching more big bass this season than anyone can imagine. According to Loch Raven Fishing Center's Kevin McComas, "This has been the best largemouth bass season I've witnessed in more than a decade. I don't know why it's this good, but everyone is coming back to the docks with digital photos of big bass." Most of the bass were taken by anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits close to rocky shores and along the edges of dense grass beds. Chain pickerel to three pounds are also slamming the same lures, particularly early and late in the day.

Virginia

LAKE ANNA -- Local fishing guides reported limit catches of striped bass to seven pounds with just a few hours of fishing. Most were trolling deep-diving crankbaits and Sassy Shad in depths of 15 to 20 feet during the early morning. Top locations were the mouth of Sturgeon Creek, The Splits, the Route 208 bridge, Jett Island and the deeper waters adjacent to the state park. Largemouth bass action was good for anglers plug casting the impoundment's shallows early and late in the day, times when fish to six pounds slammed lures in the shadows of piers and overhanging brush.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Smallmouth bass action was fair over the holiday weekend. Most of the fish caught and released were just four to six inches in the Bentonville area. Though there were a few fish to 14 inches caught upriver of Bentonville Bridge, the number of mid-size fish is still low. The river's waters are clear, warm and slightly above seasonal levels, perfect for fishing from float tubes, canoes and kayaks.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Fair catches of keeper-size striped bass were made in the Susquehanna River at the base of Conowingo Dam by anglers casting live white perch and bluegills in the dam's tailrace waters during periods of electrical power generation. Boating anglers fishing a short distance downriver near the mouth of Octoraro Creek trolled shallow-running crankbaits and quarter-ounce bucktails over the deeper pools, locations that yielded stripers to four pounds. Smaller stripers, mainly throwbacks, were found ripping through tiny pods of baitfish downriver near the head of Robert Island, fish that readily slammed small topwater plugs. Channel catfish to 10 pounds were caught just a short distance upriver of the Interstate 95 bridge, mostly by early morning anglers fishing with cut herring and chicken liver baits. A 31-inch striped bass was caught from the shores of Elk Neck State Park by a youngster fishing for catfish with nightcrawlers. Smaller stripers have been caught and released from grass beds of the Susquehanna Flats, fish ranging from 12-inch throwbacks to 18-inch keepers. The best action has been on tidewater largemouth bass, which frequently weighed three to six pounds and slammed spinnerbaits fished near the edges of grass beds and near marina piers in the North East River's upper and middle reaches. Channel catfish to 12 pounds are just about everywhere you drop a chunk of cut herring or night crawler. The past weekend's hotspots include the lower reaches of the North East, Elk, Bohemia, Sassafras, Susquehanna and Bush rivers, as well as the entire length of the C&D Canal. Striped bass to 30 pounds were caught by chummers during the past week at a half-dozen locations, with the largest fish, a 44-incher caught at Belvedere Shoal by a youngster fishing from the decks of a local charter boat.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Eastern Bay and Kent Narrows were the best spots for white perch to 10 inches, while just outside the bay's mouth at The Hill, chummers caught lots of stripers from 18 to 30 inches while chumming with ground menhaden. White perch to 10 inches were caught among the Bay Bridge's pilings, mainly on the eastern shore side of the old span and from among the submerged boulders that make up the structure's manmade islands. A local charter captain that guides light tackle and fly fishing trips reported good catches of larger white perch in the Miles River where bloodworm imitations produced perch to 14 inches.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The drop-off along the river's southern channel edge near Cook Point provided light tackle anglers with catch-and-release action for breaking schools of small stripers, which were found late in the day foraging on schools of small anchovy. At least one black drum that tipped the scales at about 25 pounds was also caught at the same location, a fish that was subsequently released. The river holds good numbers of croaker, most caught between sundown and midnight or from just before sunrise and until about 7 a.m. White perch to eight inches, and a few channel catfish to five pounds were caught by nighttime anglers fishing from the decks of the Route 50 bridge with cut herring, bloodworms and clam strips. During the day, the action was limited to smaller perch and throwback rockfish.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Trollers and chummers reported excellent catches of rockfish and bluefish, both measuring 18 to 20 inches. A few rockfish measuring up to 35 inches were taken early in the day by trollers, while the smaller fish seemed attracted to chum slicks. Most of the drum seem to have headed south, and none have been reported during the past two weeks. Headboat anglers had fantastic fishing for croaker at night, and there were fair numbers of jumbo spot mixed with them. Bottom-fished bloodworms, squid strips and bloodworm imitations lured croaker to 16 inches and spot as large as 12 inches.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Nighttime anglers loaded up on croaker in the river's lower reaches, with most fish measuring 12 to 16 inches, and a few topping 18 inches. The majority were taken on bottom-fished squid strips, and bloodworms proved to be a good second choice bait. Spot to 10 inches were also caught in the river's lower reaches, the Chinese Muds and Cedar Point Hollow. Small rockfish and bluefish were caught at Cedar Point Rip by plug casters tossing tiny topwater plugs and small jigging spoons among the breaking fish. Anglers using heavier jigging spoons sunk their hooks into rockfish to 25 inches, fish that were foraging tight against the bottom at the same location.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's lower reaches continue to provide light tackle and fly anglers with good catches of striped bass from 16 to 22 inches, but croaker fishing came to a halt during the day. Late in the evening, however, monster croaker materialized just east of Hooper Island Light, with some measuring up to 20 inches. Bottom-fished squid strips and bait shrimp were extremely effective, particularly during ebb tide.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Some croaker were caught from the shores of Roaring Point at the Nanticoke River's mouth and by boating anglers fishing The Puppy Hole, mostly at night. Snapper bluefish to 18 inches ripped through pods of small menhaden and anchovy late in the day at Puppy Hole Buoy and in Kedges Straits, locations where small jigging spoons cast among the melee produced arm-jolting strikes.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Shorebound anglers fishing from Point Lookout State Park's causeway and fishing pier caught a mix of spot, croaker, snapper bluefish and an occasional flounder during the past week. Boating anglers enjoyed excellent catches of rockfish in the Potomac River's lower reaches, where chumming with ground menhaden lured rockfish ranging 22 to 30 inches from along the river's channel edges north of Smith Point Light. Across the bay at the Northwest and Southwest Middle Grounds, rockfish to 30 inches swarmed into chum slicks along with snapper bluefish to 18 inches. At night, big croaker were active in the shallows of the Southwest Middle Grounds, some measuring up to 20 inches.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Lots of croaker here, fish ranging from eight to 15 inches in length that will hit any piece of bait as soon as it hits bottom. Larger croaker, some tipping the scales at nearly two pounds, were caught along the bay's eastern channel edge at night, mainly from depths of 25 to 35 feet where sharp drop-offs occur. Several large flounder were weighed last week, some topping nine pounds that were taken from the Chesapeake Bay and Bridge Tunnel's Fourth Island on squid-minnow combinations. Citation-size spadefish were caught at The Cell, the largest weighing 12 pounds and taken on tiny morsels of clam suspended beneath a small float. Spadefish were also caught from the CBBT's manmade islands, Chesapeake Tower and the Tower Reef. Only a handful of cobia have been caught during the past few weeks, but there have been a number of large sharks hooked and lost at Lattimer Shoals and the Inner Middle Grounds, which may account for the lack of success on cobia. The sharks frequently will grab a live menhaden or cut bunker bait long before the less aggressive cobia.

Atlantic Coast

CAPE HENLOPEN/INDIAN RIVER -- If you have access to live eels, Indian River Inlet is the place to go if you want to battle some big stripers. Rockfish to 41 inches and weighing nearly 30 pounds slammed live eels fished in the inlet at night, while during the day, flounder to three pounds hit live minnows fished in Indian River Bay's lower reaches near the Coast Guard Station. Offshore, sea bass and flounder action improved at DB Buoy, where squid strips proved effective. Anglers fishing from the decks of Cape Henlopen Pier caught a mix of throwback flounder, a few croaker, small stripers and a few keeper rockfish to 30 inches.

OCEAN CITY -- The offshore fleet reported excellent catches of bluefin tuna up to 25 pounds while trolling cedar plugs and green machines along the 20-fathom curve. There are still some big bluefish closer to shore at the Jack Spot and Fenwick Shoals, but because the tuna were relatively close to shore, the blues were largely ignored. Headboat anglers loaded their coolers with mid-size to large sea bass. Shorebound anglers fishing Ocean City Inlet and Route 50 bridge at night caught rockfish to 36 inches while casting bucktails trimmed with twister tails and live eels. Surf catches at Assateague Island consisted mainly of snapper bluefish, kingfish, croaker and an occasional striped bass.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Snapper bluefish from 12 to 24 inches were found just inside both inlets, while flounder to four pounds were taken from Queen Sound, Black Narrows and Cockle Creek. The big problem at both ports is spiny dogfish, some of which tip the scales at 10 to 15 pounds and hit flounder baits as fast as they hit bottom. Fortunately, the dogfish are excellent to eat, the meat is tender, white and flaky. Offshore, bluefin tuna to 47 inches were caught from the near-shore lumps, while yellowfin tuna to 25 pounds were boated at Washington Canyon.

OUTER BANKS -- Good catches of spot, croaker, sea mullet and snapper bluefish were taken from the Nags Head south, Avalon Pier and the shores of Oregon Inlet. South of the inlet near Cape Point on Buxton, several bluefish, Spanish mackerel and cobia were caught. The largest cobia tipped the scales at 71 pounds and was caught by an angler fishing just outside the surf line from a kayak.