Fish Lines

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission established new regulations for the Chesapeake Bay's fall recreational striped bass season, which is Oct. 4 through Dec. 31. The possession limit will continue at two fish daily measuring 18 to 28 inches, or one fish measuring 18 to 28 inches and one measuring greater than 34 inches. Keeping striped bass measuring 28 to 34 inches is prohibited.

Until the month's end, bluewater anglers will be permitted to keep three bluefin tuna measuring 27 to 72 inches per charter and headboats, but those fishing from private boats can keep only one fish per boat. The limit is in place until May 31 for private boats.

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Anglers between Three Sister's Island and Chain Bridge caught a mix of smallmouth bass and walleye; both smacked tube lures, spinnerbaits and shallow-running crankbaits early and late in the day. Between Pentagon Lagoon and the Interstate 66 bridge, Giesboro Point and Long Bridge, and Blue Plains and Woodrow Wilson Bridge foundations, guides reported fair catches of tidewater largemouth bass. Nearly all were taken on spinnerbaits and tube lures worked close to the structures or nearby grass beds. Downriver, Broad, Piscataway and Mattawoman creeks yielded a few bass early and late in the day. Channel catfish remain plentiful through much of the river's upper tidal reaches, but crappie have not materialized. Catties to 12 pounds were caught from rental boats near Fletcher's Landing and from shore at Washington Channel, Fletcher's Landing and a few locations upriver of Key Bridge. Most were taken on chicken livers, cut herring, cut spot and night crawlers in the eddies of large, submerged boulders.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- Goose season began Sept. 1 in Maryland and Virginia. Anglers should be aware, careful and considerate and maintain a safe distance from hunters, . who can help by shining a flashlight toward boaters and anglers. On the fishing scene, falling water temperatures improved smallmouth bass catches at Lander, Whites Ferry and Edwards Ferry, where bronzebacks from six to 16 inches were caught and released by fly anglers taking advantage of an incredible trico hatch during the past week. Spin fishermen caught similar-size fish while casting tiny tube lures and stream-size crankbaits to deeper pools and the downriver side of underwater ledges.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river remains extremely low, water temperatures are in the mid- to upper 70s and smallmouth bass action is limited to the mouths of cooler spring-fed tributaries. The Juniata River's mouth produced a mix of smallmouth bass and an occasional walleye, while downriver in the upper end of Conowingo Lake, the mix consisted of smallmouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- High fuel prices apparently are having an effect on most outdoor recreational activities. Not many folks ventured to either Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission impoundment over the holiday weekend, but those that did caught good numbers of white perch, channel catfish and some chunky largemouth bass. Nearly all were taken on live minnows fished in the upper and middle reaches.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch to 14 inches slammed spinners trolled in the deeper waters between Loch Raven Drive and Dulaney Valley Road bridges, and most anglers also caught large numbers of bluegills the same way. Largemouth bass action was good for plug casters uplake of Dulaney Valley Road, where bucketmouths to five pounds slammed plastic worms and shallow-running crankbaits close to rock outcrops. Loch Raven Fishing Center manager Kevin McComas says that beginning this weekend, the center will be closed Tuesdays and Thursdays and will be open from 7 to 5 other days.


LAKE ANNA -- Striped bass to seven pounds dominated weekend action, with the best catches in the impoundment's upper reaches. Trollers caught the lion's share of larger fish using big Sassy Shad, crankbaits and spoons trolled along channel edges near The Splits, Jett Island, mouth of Sturgeon Creek and mouth of Terry's Run. Largemouth bass seem to be migrating into the shallows daily. Crappie are stacked up beneath bridges and near underwater brush piles, locations where live shiners lip hooked to tiny jigs lured fish to 15 inches. Channel catfish are very active, some tipping the scales at nearly 10 pounds. Bottom-fished night crawlers and chicken livers produced the best action.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- Water temperatures are beginning to fall, and smallmouth bass action seems to be improving daily. Lots of small fish from five to 10 inches were caught and released during the past week. A few larger fish to 16 inches were caught near Bentonville Bridge, but sunfish and other panfish no longer exist in most of the river.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Rockfish to 22 inches slammed Bass Assassins cast along the edges of grass beds at the Susquehanna Flats and North East River's middle reaches. Most were taken during the first few hours of ebb tide and were frequently mixed with tidewater largemouth bass ranging 12 to 18 inches. Channel catfish seem to be everywhere, some weighing up to 10 pounds, and nearly all were taken on bottom-fished night crawlers and chicken livers. The lower reaches of the Elk River provided sport crabbers with two dozen limits after a few hours using collapsible traps and handlines baited with chicken necks. Tidewater largemouth bass were found in the lower Susquehanna River near Garrett Island, where Bass Assassins, spinnerbaits and shallow-running crankbaits lured bass to four pounds. Most were taken at dawn. Channel catfish to six pounds were caught while dunking cut spot and herring baits along the edges of the C&D Canal and in the upper bay above Pooles Island. Trollers using tandem bucktails and dark-colored surgical hose eels caught striped bass to 22 inches in the bay's channel edges near Worton Point, Swan Point, Belvedere Shoal, Man-O-War Shoal, Hickory Thickets and the north end of the Dumping Grounds. Chummers scored large numbers of smaller stripers near the mouth of Chester River. White perch to 12 inches were caught from among the submerged jetty boulders at Worton Point, the deeper waters near Love Point Light and Eastern Neck Island Bridge and inside Chester River from Love Point Rip upriver to the Route 213 bridge. There were lots of big catfish above the bridge, where bottom-fished chicken livers and strips of razor clam were effective.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Most of the rockfish seem to have vanished from this area. A number of anglers reported catching lots of undersize fish in chum slicks at Brick House Bar, The Diamonds and a half-dozen locations north of Tilghman Island, but the majority of their catch consisted of stripers measuring 12 to 14 inches at most. Fair numbers of small white perch are still lurking among the bridge pilings.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Small stripers were caught and released from the river's shallows near Cook and Todd points, but keeper-size rockfish are scarce. Upriver, a mix of white perch and channel catfish were caught from the Route 50 bridge fishing piers at Cambridge, taken late in the day and into the evening while dunking bloodworm imitations.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Most of the local charter fleets have been running south to find keeper-size rockfish, and though a few fish to 32 inches were taken by trollers using tandem bucktails and spoons, most of the fish caught during the past week ranged from throwbacks to 20 inches. Headboat anglers continue to catch a mix of spot and white perch in the bay's western channel edge and the Choptank River's mouth near the old Airplane Wreck.

TAYLOR'S ISLAND AREA -- Croaker to 19 inches were caught near Taylor's Island at night, mainly on bottom-fished squid strips, imitation bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab fished along the bay's eastern channel edge. While these fish are quickly migrating out of the Chesapeake, there are still small schools . Trollers using tandem-rigged bucktails and mid-size spoons caught stripers to 20 inches from the same location, mainly at dawn and again just after sunset.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- Schools of bluefish from 12 to 22 inches ripped through small menhaden and bay anchovy at the river's mouth and were frequently mixed with similar-size striped bass. Tiny jigging spoons cast among the surface produced only a handful of keeper-size fish. Spot and white perch are stacked up at the Chinese Muds, inside the Patuxent River from the Route 4 bridge to the river's mouth and inside Cedar Point Hollow, locations where bottom-fished bloodworm imitations proved excellent. Most of the river's smaller tributaries provided light-tackle anglers with plenty of the white perch to 12 inches. The majority of the fish were lurking beneath piers, where tiny spinners trimmed with a morsel of imitation bloodworm were effective.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Holland Island Flats holds large numbers of snapper bluefish, rockfish and a few mackerel, mostly in depths of 15 to 25 feet. Captain Mike Murphy of Tiderunner Charters says the best action is in the afternoons. Speckled trout to 17 inches were found in the river smacking small jigs trimmed with a green twister tail. These were the first specks caught there this season. A few weakfish to 16 inches were found along the bay's eastern channel edge, but most are still too small to keep.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Most of the Crisfield charter fleet fished Tangier Sound's upper reaches, along the sound's channel edge between Island Rock and Loon Hill where a mix of spot, croaker, weakfish and snapper bluefish were found. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished squid strips, bloodworm imitations and chunks of peeler crab in depths of 35 to 45 feet. A few charter captains traveled to the Southwest Middle Ground, where they chummed with ground menhaden and caught a mix of striped bass and bluefish to 20 inches.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Most of the local charter boats have been traveling to the Potomac River's mouth and trolling small spoons near Smith Point Light, which provided weekend anglers with limit catches of Spanish mackerel to three pounds bluefish to six pounds and even some keeper rockfish to 20 inches. All three species were foraging on swarms of tiny menhaden and bay anchovy.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Buoy 36A has been the hotspot for monster flounder. More than a dozen fish weighing more than seven pounds were taken there, while just a short distance away at The Cell, several red drum to nearly 50 inches were caught and released. There are still loads of croaker in this part of the bay, most measuring eight to 12 inches; at night, the bay's eastern channel edge held lots of fish measuring 14 to 18 inches. Nearly all were taken on bottom-fished squid strips and imitation bloodworms. Flounder to eight pounds and sheepshead to 10 pounds were caught from among the submerged boulders of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's manmade islands. The Third Island provided the best action of croaker, spot and sheepshead, while the Fourth Island held good numbers of flounder and Spanish mackerel. Most of the cobia have exited Chesapeake Bay.

Atlantic Coast

CAPE HENLOPEN/INDIAN RIVER -- Bottom-fished squid strips and imitation bloodworm baits lured lots of croaker, flounder and spot to folks fishing the mouth of Roosevelt Inlet and Cape Henlopen Pier. Surf anglers fishing late in the evening caught the same mix, with bigger croaker dominating. At Indian River Inlet, live eels produced striped bass to 33 inches and a few slammer bluefish to 14 pounds. Offshore, DB Buoy was the hotspot for bigger croaker, some measuring up to 20 inches, sea bass to three pounds and fair numbers of keeper flounder.

OCEAN CITY -- Live spot or live mullet produced flounder from four to seven pounds in Ocean City Inlet and from the decks of the resort city's Route 50 bridge. Offshore, on days when the weather cooperated, the bluewater fleet ran to Baltimore and Poormans' canyons, where they loaded up on yellowfin tuna, dolphin and an occasional wahoo. At the north end of Washington Canyon, several white marlin were caught, tagged and released. Headboat anglers had a banner week of sea bass and flounder until the winds kicked up. Some anglers only kept sea bass measuring 14 inches or larger and still managed to catch their limit.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Bluewater captains running from both ports reported good catches of yellowfin tuna to 60 pounds while fishing between Washington and Norfolk canyons with rigged mullet and cedar plugs. Inshore, some larger flounder arrived inside the inlets, but there are still so many croaker around to make them a nuisance to flounder anglers. Most of the croaker measured 10 to 12 inches at best.

OUTER BANKS -- The Nags Head surf provided anglers with a mix of spot, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and throwback flounder. Better fishing was found beneath the catwalk of Oregon Inlet Bridge, where a mix of spot, croaker, sheepshead, spadefish, snapper bluefish, weakfish and small black drum were decked. Cape Point and Buxton anglers found some keeper flounder in the suds early , but these fish were quickly displaced by swarms of snapper bluefish. Offshore, the tuna bite exploded for captains fishing from Oregon and Hatteras inlets. Limit catches of yellowfin tuna to 40 pounds were commonplace; there were a few bigeye tuna to 290 pounds brought back to the docks . Huge numbers of monster wahoo were also caught along the Gulf Stream's edge, some topping 70 pounds. Inshore trollers caught a mix of false albacore, Spanish mackerel, snapper bluefish and several big cobia. Headboat anglers caught a mix of croaker, sea mullet and small weakfish.