Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Grass beds between Piscataway and Nanjemoy provided the best largemouth bass action, with Piscataway Creek, Marshall Hall, mouth of Mattawoman Creek and grass beds just inside the mouth of Chickamuxen Creek among the most productive locations. Buzzbaits were effective early in the day, but when the sun gets high, stickbaits and plastic grubs rigged to quarter-ounce leadheads were the only game in town. Not much going on between Belle Haven and the D.C. bridges. Algae blooms continue to plague the river, and as temperatures continue to rise, the problem could worsen. Channel catfish to 10 pounds continue to dominate the action near Fletcher's Landing and Washington Channel, where shorebound and boating anglers caught good numbers of catties using bottom-fished night crawlers, stink baits and slabs of cut herring. A few monster carp were also taken from the same locations and put up an incredible battle on light tackle. Some carp caught and released were estimated at more than 20 pounds.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches were slammed by the past week's heavy rains, but a few more days of hot, dry weather should bring some clearing conditions. Before the rains, good catches of smallmouth bass were reported at Whites and Edwards ferries, where tiny tube lures enticed strikes from bronzebacks up to 12 inches.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- Tailrace waters downriver of Holtwood Dam, the mouth of Muddy Creek and cut between Big Bear and Little Bear islands provided anglers with good catches of smallmouth bass, many of which tipped the scales at 12 to 15 inches. Channel catfish were found at the same locations, most weighing two to three pounds at best. Live minnows proved best for bronzebacks, while chicken livers, night crawlers and prepared catfish baits enticed catties. Conowingo Lake's lower reaches provided scattered catches of largemouth bass for early morning anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits near the log jams at Police Cove and across the lake along the rocky eastern shore.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- The past week's largemouth bass action was slow, though both impoundments provided weekend anglers with good catches of channel catfish, crappie and white perch, all taken on night crawlers.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- The impoundment remains at full level. White perch catches were good for weekend anglers, but many of the fish measured six to 10 inches at most. Largemouth bass catches were fair for early morning anglers fishing the edges of grass beds and log jams above Dulaney Valley Bridge, while beneath the bridge a few crappie to 10 inches bit live minnows. Chain pickerel remain plentiful throughout the lake's middle reaches, mainly along the edges of grass beds.


LAKE ANNA -- Summer bass fishing patterns are in full swing, with the largest fish holding tight on deep drop-offs, beneath bridges and in the shade of deep-water piers. Most of the bass taken were found in the main lake and mouths of creeks where water temperatures are a few degrees lower. Darrin Bache and Larry Meadows of Fredericksburg caught an 11-pound stringer, with their largest fish tipping the scales at six pounds. Lots of stripers scattered from Dike No. 1 to Stubbs and Holiday bridges. The fish seem to be in tight schools and holding in depths of 20 to 30 feet. Weekend trollers scored well in the main lake, fishing mainly with XPS, Cordell Redfins and DD-22s. Live bait is also working well. Local anglers John and J.C. Moran caught limits of stripers with combined weights to 56 pounds. Crappie remain plentiful beneath bridges and deep-water piers, where live minnows and two-inch plastic grubs rigged to tiny leadheads enticed fish to 12 inches. The same rig also provided some unexpected hits from big channel catfish.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- High, muddy water eliminated much of the past weekend's fishing activity.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- While there are still good numbers of striped bass being caught from the tailrace waters of Conowingo Dam, most measured a few inches shy of the 18-inch minimum size limit. Farther down the Susquehanna River near the head of Robert Island in The Pool, a few-keeper size stripers were taken on small surface plugs fished late in the afternoon and early evening. Only a handful of stripers were found among the patches of Susquehanna Flats' aquatic vegetation during the past week; most were too small to keep. However, the same grass beds held tidewater largemouth bass to five pounds; the fish were extremely aggressive despite rising water temperatures. Deep channels of the adjacent North East River provided anglers with small white perch and big channel catfish. Some of the catties topped 12 pounds, and nearly all were taken on cut herring chunks and bottom-fished chicken livers. Catfish from two to seven pounds were found in the channels of the Elk, Sassafras, Bohemia and Bush rivers, and the C&D Canal. This has been an unusual year for big stripers, many of which seem to have remained in the confines of Chesapeake Bay instead of taking their normal trip north to New England. Trollers using tandem bucktails umbrella rigs and dark-colored surgical hose eels caught rockfish to 39 inches while fishing Love Point Light, Hickory Thickets, Gum Thickets, Peach Orchard, Belvedere Shoals and several other upper bay sites along the main shipping channel's edges.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- At the bay's western channel edge just above Sandy Point Light, anglers found some big stripers in depths of 25 to 35 feet. Jigging spoons worked tight against the bottom during periods of moving tide were effective, luring fish to 30 inches. A bit to the south at Brick House Bar, similar-size rockfish were caught while chumming with ground menhaden and using slabs of cut menhaden for bait. While you had to cull the catch, the majority of the fish measured 18 to 24 inches in length, and throwbacks were minimal. A few bluefish from 12 to 18 inches were also taken from the chum slicks as well. Chumming lured keeper rockfish from the mouth of Eastern Bay, while inside Eastern Bay the catches consisted of mid-size white perch, spot and a few croaker. The best perch action was at the mouth of Wye and Miles rivers, where bottom-fished bloodworms and imitation bloodworms were effective.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- The river's lower and middle reaches provided anglers with a mixed bag of striped bass and croaker. The stripers, mostly measuring 18 to 20 inches, were taken early and late in the day while casting bucktails in the river's shallows between Cook Point and Castle Haven. Most of the croaker were caught by nighttime anglers drifting squid strips and bloodworm imitations in depths of 25 to 30 feet along the river's southern channel edge. Nighttime was also the best time to hook up with channel catfish and white perch from the decks of the Route 50 bridge at Cambridge, where bottom-fished bloodworms, razor clam and cut herring baits were effective.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Local charter captains have been elated to find lots of big stripers in the bay's confines this time of year. Most captains returned to the docks with limit catches of rockfish ranging up to 36 inches in length, plus a few mid-size bluefish. Headboat anglers fishing at night caught limits of croaker measuring 12 to 18 inches, while during the day catches consisted of a mix of spot and white perch.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Rockfish are breaking during the early morning at Cedar Point, south of The Targets, and across the bay at Hooper's Island Light. While most are small, ranging 13 to 15 inches, below them are much larger fish measuring 18 to 25 inches. They can be readily taken while working jigging spoons tight against the bottom, and there have been some hefty croaker mixed with the larger stripers. Trollers using bucktails and spoons (Tony Acetta No. 15 chrome and white) caught limits of keeper rockfish while fishing between Buoy 77 and the Gas Docks. Most of these fish were taken early in the day. A few stripers to 30 inches were also caught while trolling in the bay's eastern channel edge near Punch Island. These rockfish are near the surface in the 80- to 90-foot depths, where spoons, bucktails, umbrella rigs with small teasers, and tandem rigs proved productive. Croaker fishing is very good, both in the bay and mouth of the Patuxent River. Most were caught at the Chinese Muds and at Point No Point Light on bottom-fished squid strips and bloodworm imitations.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth continues to provide fair catches of small stripers for light tackle and fly anglers, with most fish measuring 12 to 20 inches. Just outside the river's mouth larger schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish slammed tiny jigging spoons. At night, bottom-fished bait shrimp and squid strips lured croaker to 20 inches from the bay's eastern channel edge, and there were a few small weakfish mixed with them.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Croaker from 12 to 14 inches were caught by headboat and charter boat anglers bottom fishing near Puppy Hole Buoy, Old #9, Kedges Straits and Fox Island Buoy, locations where bottom-fished squid strips and chunks of peeler crab proved effective, especially at night. Bloodworms fished at the same locations lured spot to 10 inches, a few keeper-size weakfish and even a few keeper flounder.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Chummers loaded their coolers with big stripers while chumming near the Potomac River's mouth, and along the bay's eastern channel edge at the Southwest Middle Grounds, locations that yielded stripers to 35 inches during the past weekend. The same locations also produced limit catches of croaker to 17 inches for nighttime anglers bottom fishing with squid strips and bloodworms. The croaker often did not begin to bite until nearly midnight, but from that point until slack tide, the action was reportedly fast and furious. A few big weakfish were found lurking near the wreck American Mariner, where small bucktails trimmed with a chunk of peeler crab lured trout to six pounds.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- There are lots of croaker, and sizes vary substantially between those caught during the day and those taken at night. Daytime fish ranged from eight to 12 inches and were found in depths of 25 to 45 feet along both sides of the bay's main channel. The same locations at night provided anglers with croaker to 18 inches, plus keeper-size flounder and weakfish. Flounder to nine pounds were caught from among the submerged boulders of the Chesapeake Bay and Bridge-Tunnel's Forth Island and The Cell, mainly while working bucktails trimmed with live minnows close to both structures. Spadefish to eight pounds were taken from the same locations by anglers floating small pieces of fresh clam in a slick of ground clam mixed with lots of clam juice.

Atlantic Coast

CAPE HENLOPEN/INDIAN RIVER -- Indian River Inlet continues to provide anglers with good catches of big striped bass on a daily basis. Most were taken by anglers casting live eels from the jetty boulders during the last few hours of ebb tide, when fish to 22 pounds were feeding actively. Flounder and sea bass fishing between DA and DB buoys, a short distance offshore, has been hit-or-miss. However, on days when the weather has been calm, flatfish to five pounds have been caught using squid strips and bucktail combinations. Cape Henlopen Pier provided weekend anglers with a mixed bag of flounder, striped bass and croaker, but the largest stripers were found lurking a short distance from the beach at the Outer Wall, weighing up to 30 pounds and smacking live eels.

OCEAN CITY -- Offshore, yellowfin tuna action at Washington Canyon was great, with yellowfins to 45 pounds slamming Green Machines and Cedar Plugs. Closer to the beach at the Jack Spot, small bluefin tuna to 40 pounds hit the same lures. To the south at the Lumpy Bottom, larger bluefin tuna to 120 pounds were taken while trolling and chunking. Headboat anglers enjoyed good catches of sea bass to four pounds, and while only a few 25-fish limits were reported, most anglers caught numbers in the high teens. Shorebound anglers fishing the beaches of Assateague State Park caught a mix of spot, croaker, kingfish and snapper bluefish using bloodworm imitations.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Offshore action was excellent for both bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Most of the bigger bluefins were found at the Parking Lot, Lumpy Bottom and Ammo Wreck, locations where both chumming and trolling lured tuna to 140 pounds.

OUTER BANKS -- Small bluefish, mid-size croaker and some sea mullet were cooperative in the surf near Corolla. Spot, small croakers and scattered small bluefish were caught from Corolla to Oregon Inlet, but fishing was generally slow. The same mix was reported from Oregon Inlet down to Salvo, but the mix was spiced with the addition of pompano to two pounds in the Rodanthe-Salvo area. While there has not been many pompano caught this summer, most of the fish that have been reported were relatively large.