Some areas received more than six inches of rain in a 24-hour period during last weekend's round of rains. The resulting floodwaters churned streams and rivers into torrents of mud and debris, water temperatures fell dramatically and recreational fishing came to a halt. Just before the storm, fall fishing, both freshwater and saltwater, had taken a brief upswing. It will take at least a week of relatively warm, dry weather for conditions to return to normal and possibly longer at some locations.
What's the Catch?
Washington & Vicinity
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER -- The river is extremely high and muddy throughout its entire length. The only areas where there is sufficient water clarity to permit fishing are the lower reaches of Mattawoman, Powell and Chickamuxen creeks. If the weather remains dry, Washington Channel could provide limited bass action by this weekend. Currently, the only game in town is channel catfish, which remain plentiful in District waters above Woodrow Wilson Bridge, inside Washington Channel and the upper reaches of most tidal creeks upriver of the Route 301 bridge.
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER -- High, muddy and unfishable.
SUSQUEHANNA RIVER (PA.) -- High, muddy and unfishable.
TRIADELPHIA AND ROCKY GORGE RESERVOIRS -- Joe Clem of Rockville hooked an 11-pound 13.5-ounce striped bass at Triadelphia Reservoir while casting a spinnerbait last Thursday. At the time water levels at both impoundments were well below normal, but since the past week's rains, both lakes have refilled. While the upper reaches of the reservoirs are quite muddy, the lower and middle reaches remain relatively clear, and fishing should be good if the weather cooperates.
LOCH RAVEN RESERVOIR -- The reservoir's level is back to normal, water is flowing over Loch Raven Dam and while the impoundment's upper reaches are muddy, the lower and middle reaches remain in fair condition. White perch and largemouth bass action in the lake's middle reaches remains good. Perch to 14 inches smacked trolled, inline spinners trimmed with a piece of night crawler, while the bass went for shallow-running crankbaits fished along the edges of grass beds and near rock outcrops.
LAKE ANNA -- The lake's upper reaches were slammed with high, muddy water from last weekend's rains, bringing both striper and largemouth bass action to a standstill.
SHENANDOAH RIVER -- If the weather remains relatively dry, fishing should be good by the weekend. A few days before the storm several smallmouth bass to three pounds were caught and released a short distance downriver of Bentonville Bridge. Most were taken by anglers casting tiny crankbaits and soft plastics in the deeper pools.
UPPER BAY -- It will take at least two weeks of dry weather before conditions return to near normal, and flooding likely ended any possibilities of late fall striped bass action in the river's lower reaches for the remainder of the season. The Susquehanna Flats and most upper bay tributaries such as the North East, Gunpowder, Bush, Elk, Sassafras and Bohemia rivers were all hit with huge quantities of muddy, debris-laden water, much of which included runoff from farms where crops had been recently harvested. Fortunately, aquatic grass buffers at the Susquehanna Flats will filter much of the sediment, and the effects on white perch and striped bass fishing should be minimal if the weather remains dry. Just before the storm, striped bass to 30 inches slammed Bass Assassins fished in depths of two to four feet along the North East River's channel edges. The same channel edges provided anglers using jigging spoons and strips of cut gizzard shad with incredible catches of monster white perch to 14 inches and channel catfish to 15 pounds when fished in depths of seven to 10 feet. Still lots of white perch and channel catfish caught from the channel edges of the Elk River and C&D Canal, even though the waters resemble coffee with cream. Channel catfish and white perch were also found lurking along the bay's eastern channel edge near Tollchester Beach, inside the mouth of Fairlee Creek and across the bay at the mouth of Gunpowder River. Cut spot and menhaden baits produced the best catfish catches, while imitation bloodworms, strips of razor clam and night crawlers lured perch. Good catches of white perch were also made at the mouth of Chester River near Love Point Light, Eastern Neck Island Bridge and across the bay near the mouth of Bodkin Creek.
BAY BRIDGE AREA -- White perch are still available in the sheltered waters of Kent Narrows, and just south of the narrows good catches of small to mid-size spot were made on bottom-fished bloodworms and chunks of peeler crab. Outside Eastern Bay, chummers and trollers caught lots of striped bass; most were too small to keep. White perch and small stripers dominated the action among the pilings and submerged boulders of both spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, where bottom-fished bloodworms and strips of clam produced the best results.
CHOPTANK RIVER AREA -- Channel catfish and white perch are still available beneath the Route 50 bridge at Cambridge, with the best action just after sundown. Bloodworms, clam snout and squid strips were the most productive bait for both species. Downriver near Castle Haven, small jigging spoons cast among schools of breaking stripers produced lots of throwbacks and a few keepers to 20 inches.
CHESAPEAKE BEACH AREA -- Most of the region's charter boats chummed for striped bass and bluefish, both of which were found at the Stone Rock and The Gooses. Captains who ventured out said they had no trouble catching their limit of stripers in the first few hours and spent the rest of the day boating bluefish from 12-inch snappers to 22-inch choppers.
TAYLOR'S ISLAND AREA -- Trollers dragging surgical hose eels and small spoons near schools of breaking fish found bluefish and striped bass of mixed sizes.
PATUXENT RIVER AREA -- On days when the weather cooperated, the river's mouth and much of the adjacent main shipping channel was alive with mixed schools of breaking rockfish and bluefish. But the majority were too small to keep. A few enterprising anglers and charter captains went bottom fishing for spot, loaded their live wells with live spot, then ventured to the areas where breaking stripers and blues churned the bay's surface to foam. They set up chum lines and live-lined the spot into the slicks, a technique that produced stripers to 30 inches and bluefish to 28 inches. Trollers managed to sink their hooks into a few keepers as well by switching to large, parachute bucktails trimmed with 10-inch Sassy Shad.
HONGA RIVER AREA -- The stretch of channel from Hooper Island Light south to Buoy 72 was the past week's hot spot for breaking bluefish and rockfish in this part of the bay. Most of the rockfish were throwbacks measuring just 17 inches at best, but they were a lot of fun to catch using light spinning and fly fishing tackle. A few pods of larger fish were found breaking at Holland Island Flats, while beneath the stripers and blues were small schools of big red drum to 35 inches. The reds slammed jigging spoons worked tight against the bottom. Jigging spoons lured weakfish to 15 inches from the bay's eastern channel edge, mainly when worked in depths of 45 to 55 feet beneath schools of breaking rockfish and blues.
TANGIER SOUND AREA -- Small pods of keeper-size striped bass were found at the lumps just south of Puppy Hole Buoy, fish that smacked Stingsilvers as quickly as they touched bottom. The sound's shallows near Smith and Janes islands have finally turned on, and stripers to 22 inches were found in the guts and sloughs during high tide. Most were caught on small bucktails trimmed with a four-inch, chartreuse twister tail. Crisfield's charter and headboat captains are switching to chumming for striped bass for the rest of the season, and most of their time is spent fishing the bay's eastern channel edge near the Northwest Middle Grounds.
POINT LOOKOUT AREA -- Charter captains running from Smith Creek didn't have to travel far to get in on some of the season's best striped bass and bluefish action. Most motored to the mouth of the Potomac River and began trolling with small spoons and surgical hose eels toward the bay's eastern channel edge. Within minutes the lures were slammed by bluefish to eight pounds and Spanish mackerel to 24 inches. Upon arriving at the Southwest Middle Grounds, chum slicks were established and striped bass to 30 inches were soon coming over the rails as fast as baits hit the water.
CAPE CHARLES AREA -- Most of the past week was fraught with high winds and towering waves, but on days the weather cooperated red drum to 40 pounds slammed live spot fished near 9-Foot Shoal and a few locations near the bay's eastern channel edge south of Buoy 42. A few keeper flounder were caught near Kiptopeke Park, while up the bay a few miles at the mouth of Plantation Creek, speckled trout to 20 inches smacked small bucktails trimmed with a chunk of peeler crab. Flounder numbers have fallen off dramatically since the storm.
OCEAN CITY -- Striped bass are still being caught from both the inlet and bridge, but nasty weather prevented anyone from venturing outside the inlet during the past week. Most of the stripers were caught at night by anglers casting bucktails trimmed with twister tails, Tsunami bucktails and live eels. Good catches of tautog and sheepshead were made from among the inlet's jetty boulders, mostly on sand fleas and chunks of peeler crab fished tight against the boulders.
CHINCOTEAGUE & WACHAPREAGUE -- There were reports of a few flounder caught from inside the inlets of both locations.
OUTER BANKS -- Before the storm, good catches of sea mullet, spot, speckled trout and snapper bluefish were made from the Nags Head surf and piers, while to the south a few big red drum, Spanish mackerel and pompano were caught at Cape Point.