Fish Lines

What's the Catch?

Washington & Vicinity

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- Largemouth bass fishing remains mediocre to poor throughout the river's tidal reaches. In District water, railroad bridge foundations, Key Bridge and C&O Canal foundations, West Channel, Roach's Run, drop-off from War College to Titanic Statue (Washington Channel) and Blue Plains (especially evening hours) are good places to cast tubes, plastic worms and shad imitations, but don't expect lots of bites. In the Woodrow Wilson Bridge area, Spoils Cove produced a few bigger bass, but action is inconsistent. The bridge foundations and Fox Ferry Point improved in the past week. Grass beds below Belle Haven, mainly in the mouths of Broad and Piscataway creeks, are thick, but buzzbaits, weightless plastics and plastic frogs will get some attention. Pomonkey, Mattawoman, Chickamuxen and Chopawamsic creeks may be the best early morning bass fishing hotspots on the river; buzzbaits fished tight against grass beds produced the best results.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- Rain would go a long way in flushing out some of the river's woes. Much of the upper reaches are nothing more than a trickle of algae, the result of nutrient overload from agricultural and municipal sources. Consequently, a significant number of smallmouth bass caught from Brunswick downriver to Great Falls have sores or lesions. Additionally, catching a fish larger than 15 inches is nearly impossible.

SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- The river is extremely low and flows are minimal, but there seems to be some improvement in smallmouth bass action in Conowingo Lake, Holtwood Pool and some of the upriver locations near Three-Mile Island. Most of the bass measured 12 to 16 inches and smacked live minnows lip hooked to the back ends of small shad darts and fished tight against the impoundment's shores.


TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Peter Schumacher of Laurel caught a 16-pound 8.5-ounce striped bass at Rocky Gorge using a shallow-running crankbait. This is the best time of year to target these exceptionally large fish. While they do not migrate out of the impoundments, they will begin feeding heavily and putting on a layer of fat so they can survive the winter months of food scarcity. Lots of white perch in both lakes, mostly smaller fish. Scattered catches of largemouth bass to three pounds were made in the upper reaches of both Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission impoundments, mainly by anglers dunking live minnows and casting tube lures.

LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- White perch to 12 inches dominate the action for trollers dragging inline spinners trimmed with a piece of night crawler. The same rig also produced large numbers of chunky bluegill to 10 inches. Largemouth bass to five pounds were caught and released by anglers casting shallow-running crankbaits and spinnerbaits near the edges of grass beds, and most of the action was uplake of Dulaney Valley Road Bridge. It's still too warm for chain pickerel and crappie, but they should be active in the next two weeks.


LAKE ANNA -- The lake is nearly two feet below normal, limiting largemouth bass action to early and late in the day. Plug casters tossing plastic worms, shallow-running crankbaits and small spoons found a few fish in the submerged stumps and grass beds, but when the sun was high, fishing came to a halt. Striped bass to seven pounds were scattered from Sturgeon Creek to Stubbs and Holiday bridges, with the best concentration from The Splits to Rose Valley and Jett Island. Lots of schools 20 to 30 feet deep, where trolling is still effective, but only as long as water temperatures stay above 75 to 80 degrees.

SHENANDOAH RIVER -- The river is unseasonably warm and low, and algae blooms are showing up at several locations downriver of Bentonville Bridge. Still, smallmouth bass action has been improving.

Chesapeake Bay

UPPER BAY -- Downriver near the head of Robert Island and east of Spencer Island, good catches of smallmouth bass and smaller stripers were made while casting topwater plugs and floating Bass Assassins at the base of riffles. Downriver, channel catfish to four pounds smacked chicken livers and cut spot baits fished just a short distance above the Interstate 95 bridge. At the river's mouth, schools of 12- to 15-inch stripers were breaking on pods of migrating, juvenile shad and bunker. The Susquehanna Flats had been providing good catches of legal-size stripers until water temperatures rose back into the upper 70s, sending rockfish scurrying for deeper, cooler water a bit farther down the bay. Channel catfish to eight pounds can be found in the deeper waters near Perry Point VA Hospital and along the North East River's southern shore, locations where cut bait and chicken livers proved extremely effective when fished during periods of moving tide. Breaking schools of rockfish to 18 inches were found at the mouth of the Elk and Sassafras rivers, while just inside the mouths of both rivers, recreational crabbers caught limits of blue crabs to seven inches using collapsible traps baited with chicken necks. Tidewater largemouth bass to four pounds slammed topwater plugs and spinnerbaits cast near the edges of grass beds at the Susquehanna Flats, North East River, C&D Canal, behind Havre de Grace Yacht Basin, and inside the Bohemia and Sassafras rivers' mouths. White perch to 10 inches smacked bottom-fished bloodworm and night crawler imitations fished at the same locations, and a few keeper-size yellow perch were mixed with them.

BAY BRIDGE AREA -- Lots of small stripers and white perch among the bridge pilings, but nothing seems big enough to keep. Larger white perch were found inside Eastern Bay between Kent Narrows southern entrance and the head of Parson's Island, where bottom-fished bloodworms, bait shrimp and clam strips lured perch to 12 inches. Mixed schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish erupted through the bay's placid surface near Poplar Island and the bay's eastern channel edge near Kent Island, and while most of the stripers were too small to keep, the blues weighed up to four pounds.

CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Bridge anglers caught a mix of white perch and channel catfish from the decks of the Route 50 bridge, while downriver, spot to nine inches dominated the bottom-fishing action. Trollers using Clarke Spoons, small Tony Spoons and a few lesser-known brands caught a mix of rockfish, Spanish mackerel and snapper bluefish while trolling at high speeds along the bay's channel edge between Sharps Island Light and down to The Gooses.

CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Local charter boats headed south to the mouth of Parker's Creek, where they found breaking schools of mackerel, bluefish and striped bass, all smacking small spoons trolled at high speeds. Most of the larger rockfish, however, were found at The Gooses, where surgical hose eels and tandem bucktails produced fair results. Holland Point was the weekend hotspot for white perch; bottom-fished bloodworm imitations lured perch to 10 inches for headboat anglers.

TAYLOR'S ISLAND AREA -- Punch Island Bar was a good bet for large spot, some to 10 inches and all taken on bottom-fished bloodworm imitations. Trollers caught a mix of mackerel, bluefish and stripers while dragging small spoons along the bay's eastern channel edge, but the majority of the rockfish were too small to keep.

PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- The river's mouth and out into the bay as far as the western channel edge is where large, mixed schools of mackerel, small striped bass and bluefish ripped through pods of fleeing menhaden and bay anchovy through much of the past two weeks. While fish sizes varied between species, most measured 16 to 20 inches in length, and nearly all were taken by trollers dragging small, silver spoons.

HONGA RIVER AREA -- Huge schools of rockfish, bluefish and mackerel were found just south of Hooper Island Light and across the bay at The Targets and Cedar Point Hollow. Plug casters and fly rodders had a ball catching fish as fast as the lines hit the water. Jigging spoons and streamer flies cast among the breaking fish drew instantaneous strikes.

TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Most of the charter and headboat fleet running from Crisfield found a mix of spot, small croaker, weakfish and an occasional keeper-size flounder in the sound's upper reaches after sundown.

POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Anglers fishing from Point Lookout State Park's public fishing pier and the nearby causeway caught fair numbers of bluefish ranging from 12-inch snappers to four-pound choppers while dunking cut menhaden baits at night.

CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Several red drum measuring 35 or more inches, too large to keep, were caught and released from along the bay's eastern channel edge during the past week. The only size that can be kept are those measuring 18 to 28 inches. Flounder action seems to have fallen off a bit at The Cell, but this has been offset by those caught at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel's manmade islands, fish that often topped the seven-pound mark.

Atlantic Coast

CAPE HENLOPEN/INDIAN RIVER -- A few die-hards managed to sink their hooks into fair numbers of spot, snapper bluefish and kingfish while dunking squid strips and bloodworm imitations from Cape Henlopen Pier.

OCEAN CITY -- Offshore, the charter fleet encountered high winds and towering seas, remnants of the past week's storm. Fortunately, this didn't hamper the canyon action, where huge numbers of yellowfin tuna, small dolphin and a few bigeye tuna to 200 pounds were caught. Shorebound anglers caught fair numbers of throwback stripers and a few keepers from Ocean City Inlet and the island's Route 50 bridge. Most were taken on live eels and Tsunami bucktails at night.

CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- Lots of small croaker in the inlets, but the best news is some larger flounder seem to have returned and began feeding on mullet and tiny spot migrating through the area.

OUTER BANKS -- High winds, towering seas and murky surf pretty much eliminated fishing activities at the Outer Banks during the past week.