This time of year, when temperatures and humidity levels are frequently equal, the possibility of afternoon thundershowers poses a constant threat to individuals engaged in water-related sports. It's important to keep an eye on local weather conditions and monitor NOAA's Marine Weather Channel at all times when boating. Locally heavy downpours often result in flash flooding of smaller streams, creeks and rivers, which during the past three weeks has resulted in at least three drownings.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Woodrow Wilson Bridge foundations produced a few fat bass for weekend anglers casting a variety of lures. Similar catches were reported at the point south of Smoot Bay, Hog Island, boat docks at Wellington, and grass beds and docks in Broad Creek. Grass beds in Piscataway Creek, Bulltown Cove, Marshall Hall, and the mouths of Mattawoman and Chickamuxen creeks are still productive with the best bass catches during high and the first few hours of ebb tide. Channel catfish to 10 pounds and small stripers were caught from the Washington Channel, while upriver near Fletcher's Landing catfish seemed to be the only game in town. The river is extremely high and muddy.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- The river's upper reaches were high, muddy and unfishable through much of the past week. If the weather dries out a bit, look for improving smallmouth bass catches upriver of Brunswick and Point of Rocks, where conditions should rapidly clear.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- Scattered catches of smallmouth bass were made in the vicinity of Fort Hunter by weekend anglers, while downriver at Conowingo Lake, the action has fallen off in the impoundment's upper reaches, possibly because of muddy water conditions.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Catonsville resident Craig Walrath was casting a plastic worm in Triadelphia Reservoir when a 6-pound 14.5-ounce largemouth bass slammed it. Several anglers reported good catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass at both Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission impoundments, most of which were caught while dunking live minnows for crappie. White perch remain plentiful, but the majority of these fish measure only six to eight inches.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- Another great weekend for trollers fishing for white perch and bluegill. The best catches were made early in the day, before afternoon showers and winds kicked up, with perch to 10 inches and bluegills to eight inches smacking in-line spinners trimmed with a morsel of night crawler. Plug casters found fair numbers of largemouth bass lurking along the edges of deep grass beds close to shore, and there were a few chain pickerel mixed with them. Crappie fishing remains slow.
LAKE ANNA -- Stubbs Bridge, Route 208 bridge, Jett Island and the mouth of Sturgeon Creek were the weekend spots for stripers, some tipping the scales at eight pounds. Most were taken at dawn while casting four-inch, pearl, Sassy Shad rigged to quarter-ounce leadheads. When the sun got high, trollers using deep-diving crankbaits caught somewhat smaller fish along the impoundment's channel edges. If you're looking for largemouth bass, you'll have to get up before the chickens. The bass have been foraging on small bluegill and minnows near floating docks, pier pilings and bridge pilings at sunrise, but by 9 a.m. the fish migrate to deeper water and develop a case of lockjaw. You can still catch them, but you'll have to fish depths of 10 to 20 feet with slow-moving lures and concentrate your efforts near bridge supports and manmade submerged brush piles.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river is well above normal for this time of year, smallmouth bass fishing near Bentonville Bridge was fair for weekend anglers, however, if you're looking for big fish you will not find them. Most of the bass measured just four to eight inches. If you're an avid tuber or whitewater kayaker and enjoy fishing, this might be a great opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds.
UPPER BAY -- Scattered catches of striped bass were made by anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits and topwater plugs in the Susquehanna River just upstream of Roberts Island and at the base of Rowland Island, just downriver of Conowingo Dam. Though most of these fish were an inch or two under the minimum size, there were a few keepers to 20 inches taken. Downriver, striped bass to 20 inches smacked shallow-running crankbaits trolled near Twin Rocks and The Alley, both of which are a short run from Lapidum Landing. Channel catfish and a few keeper rockfish were found along the North East River's channel edges where cut herring lured catties to eight pounds. Bass Assassins cast along the edges of grass beds at the Susquehanna Flats enticed stripers from 18 to 22 inches, and there was at least one 41-incher taken. Channel catfish to 10 pounds were found along the sharp drop-offs of the C&D Canal, where chicken livers and night crawlers proved effective late in the day and into early evening. Channel catfish to five pounds were caught in the lower and middle reaches of the Elk, Sassafras, Bohemia, Bush and Gunpowder rivers using the same baits. White perch and channel catfish were found in good numbers and sizes beneath Eastern Neck Island Bridge and up the bay near the mouth of Fairlee Creek. Nighttime anglers caught a few snapper bluefish, an occasional croaker and even a few spot while dunking squid strips near Chester River's mouth just north of Love Point Light.
BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Schools of small rockfish and bluefish were sighted breaking near the twin spans during the past week, however, the majority of both species measured just 12 to 15 inches. Beneath the breaking fish were somewhat larger stripers, fish measuring 18 to 30 inches that readily smacked a jigging spoon worked tight against the bottom in depths of 25 to 30 feet. Inside the mouth of Eastern Bay and up to Parson's Island is where nighttime anglers found croaker ranging 12 to 17 inches. Most were taken on imitation bloodworms, bait shrimp and squid strips. A few anglers reported catches of white perch to 10 inches at the mouth of Wye River, Crab Alley Bay and Miles River, with the majority caught on bottom-fished, imitation bloodworms.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Anglers fishing from the decks of the Cambridge Fishing Piers caught lots of white perch and a few channel catfish, but no croaker. The croaker seem to be staying a few miles downriver in the stretch between Castle Haven and the river's mouth, where nighttime anglers drifting squid strips and imitation bloodworms are catching croaker from 12 to 20 inches. Snapper bluefish and small stripers have been ripping through pods of tiny bay anchovy and menhaden near the river's mouth, while beneath the surface activity, stripers to 25 pounds and bluefish to four pounds picked up the scraps. These larger fish slammed jigging spoons worked tight against the bottom in depths of 25 to 35 feet along the bay's eastern channel edge.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Area charters trolled the lumps and bumps along the bay's western channel edge, where they found striped bass to 34 inches mixed with bluefish to 20 inches, both smacking tandem-rigged bucktails. Chummers traveled across the bay to The Gooses, where they caught larger numbers of fish up to 24 inches in length from chum slicks. Headboat anglers ventured north during the day to Holland Point and loaded their coolers with a mix of spot and white perch, while those fishing at night traveled to the Choptank River's mouth and boated croaker ranging 12 to 18 inches.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Lots of spot in the river's confines, while just outside the river at the Chinese Muds, there's a mix of spot, croaker and an occasional flounder. Bottom-fished bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab lured the spot and croaker, while the flounder seemed to prefer live minnows sandwiched between strips of fresh squid. Nighttime anglers caught large croaker from along both sides of the bay's channel, mainly from depths of 20 to 25 feet, where fish to 20 inches smacked squid strips and bait shrimp fished during periods of moving tide. Trollers caught rockfish to 33 inches near The Targets and down the bay near Bloodsworth Island while dragging small surgical hose eels and tandem-rigged bucktails. White perch remain plentiful throughout the river's lower and middle reaches.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- The river's shallows near Lower Hooper Island Bridge continue to provide light tackle and fly anglers with modest catches of striped bass ranging from throwbacks to 22 inches. The best action takes place early and late in the day during periods of high and ebb tide. When the tide falls out, head for Hooper Island Light and fish the drop-offs just a short distance to the west, where monster croaker to 20 inches are lurking in depths of 25 to 35 feet. These fish will actively begin feeding just before sundown and forage heavily until about midnight.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Croaker, spot, weakfish and a few flounder filled the coolers of headboat and charter fishing anglers fishing upper and lower Tangier Sound. Most of the croaker measured 12 to 14 inches, while the spot averaged about 10 inches. All were taken on bottom-fished chunks of peeler crab and squid strips fished during periods of moving tide. Flounder action seems to just be getting underway, with the best catches made near Hook of the Bar and Puppy Hole Buoy using squid strips and live minnow combinations for bait.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Charter boats reported a great weekend of trolling for bluefish to five pounds while fishing the bay's eastern channel edge near the Southwest Middle Grounds. Chummers managed to catch their limits of striped bass, but the action was not spectacular because of unusual tidal conditions. Croaker action at night was awesome, especially at the Southwest Middle Grounds and the drop-off near the old Davidson Wreck. White perch and spot were concentrated inside the Potomac River near Ragged Point, where bottom-fished bloodworm imitations proved effective. Croaker to 14 inches are still being caught from the Wicomico River's mouth, Point Lookout Pier and the nearby causeway, and nearly all were taken after sundown.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Local angler Robert Savage Jr. had an incredible day of fishing near Cape Charles. He caught and released a 55-inch cobia, a pair of red drum (channel bass) measuring 463/4 and 471/4 inches and a 201/4-inch croaker. Dozens of big flounder, some tipping the scales at more than nine pounds, were caught from along the bay's eastern channel edge from Cape Charles Light south to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's high-rise bridge. Most were taken on large, live minnows sandwiched between squid strips fished in depths of 12 to 20 feet. Spadefish to 10 pounds were boated by anglers fishing among submerged boulders that make up the CBBT's manmade islands, most taken while suspending a small morsel of clam beneath a tiny float. Lattimer Shoals and the Inner Middle Grounds finally came to life. Weekend anglers boated dozens of monster cobia to 60 pounds while fishing cut bunker strips in chum slicks.
CAPE HENLOPEN/INDIAN RIVER -- Good catches of flounder were made at the mouth of Roosevelt Inlet and the flats between the Inner and Outer walls by early morning anglers drifting minnow-squid combinations. Unfortunately, most of the flounder were an inch or two too small to keep and had to be released. Croaker to 16 inches arrived at the same location and kept anglers busy battling these tasty panfish.
OCEAN CITY -- Bluefin tuna action seems to have improved at the offshore lumps and bumps, and there have been good reports of fish to 144 pounds caught every day. The main problem facing anglers is the daily limit remains at just one fish per boat for recreational and charter anglers. Surf and pier anglers caught good numbers of croaker using squid strips, while back-bay anglers were groaning about the lack of keeper-size flounder. The key to catching the larger flounder seems to be getting out at the crack of dawn and fishing the bay's channel edges with large, live minnows and big squid strips. The bigger fish seem to be scattered, so be prepared to move around a bit.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Croaker dominated the action at both inlets and the adjacent surf, where fish to 15 inches hit every morsel of bait as fast as it touched bottom. A number of surf anglers reported good catches of kingfish with the croaker, and there were a few keeper flounder taken in Queen Sound, Assateague Channel and Cockle Creek. Offshore, trollers loaded up on a mix of yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna at The Parking Lot, Lumpy Bottom, 21 Mile Hill and 26 Mile Hill.
OUTER BANKS -- Spot, snapper bluefish, sea mullet, small croaker and an occasional flounder dominated the action in the Nags Head surf, while pier anglers decked somewhat larger bluefish, triggerfish, a few big cobia and king mackerel to 38 pounds. Offshore, yellowfin tuna action was good with tuna to 75 pounds slamming rigged mullet baits fished just 25 miles from both Oregon and Hatteras inlets.