Potomac levels falling, bass are waiting

On the Outdoors

July 04, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The upper Potomac River from Paw Paw, W.Va., to Seneca was a formidable obstacle this spring and early summer, with unusually heavy rainfall frequently creating unsafe and unfishable conditions.

Until two weeks ago, for example, a prominent bass-fishing guide whose service specializes, in part, on the upper Potomac had been forced to cancel more than 113 guided trips because of unsafe conditions.

However, the heavy rains have subsided, for the time being at least, and the levels of the Potomac above the fall line again are at safe recreational levels, according to the Hydrologic Service's Washington office, which monitors river flows.

And with the receding waters, one of the best and largest summer-fishing areas in the region soon will be prime for a rite of summer -- wet wading and casting for smallmouth bass.

Good areas for wading and casting include Lander, Brunswick, Shepherdstown, Millers Sawmill and the stretch above Horseback Riffles, up river from Sharpsburg.

Wear some old tennis shoes, shorts and a T-shirt, pack some lures, flies or live bait and wear a flotation vest, just in case you should lose your footing or step into a hole -- and then read the water.

As temperatures rise, bass are likely to be holding in current breaks above and below riffles or rapids, where the water is highly oxygenated and the current sweeps along insects and baitfish.

Cast your selection to breaks in the current created by rocks, boulders, fallen trees, points and other structure. Work the edges of the breaks because bass usually lie in ambush positions and dart out to take food.

Look especially for areas downstream from current breaks, where the flow of water comes back together in a V shape. Inside the V it's relatively calm, where bass can lie in wait. And don't neglect the upstream pillow water formed by obstructions. Here, too, are quiet areas that can hold fish.

Where there also are herons, which feed on small fish, along the shoreline, there is an even better chance of bass.

As of yesterday morning, levels were expected to remain steady or to rise only slightly after yesterday's showers. Conditions on the river and its tributaries were clear or clearing, and water temperatures ranged from 82 degrees at Williamsport to 79 degrees at Little Falls.

Daily updates from the Hydrologic Office are available by calling (703) 260-0305.

Chesapeake Bay updates

In the lower bay, chummers have done well with rockfish at the Middle Grounds, the Triangle, Point No Point and the Airplane Wreck. However, the summer rockfish season closes tonight at 9 p.m. and all rockfish action must be catch and release until 5 a.m. on Aug. 30, when the season reopens with an 18-inch minimum and a limit of two per day. . . . Good croaker action at the Middle Grounds, the channel edges from Hooper Island Light to the Target Ship and in Tangier Sound.

Southwest Middle Grounds, Kedges Straits and Hooper Island Straits have been best bets for flounder, although action has been spotty. . . . Over the past week, spot have arrived in Tangier Sound in large numbers.

In the middle bay, chummers at the Hill and below Thomas Point Light have done well for rockfish, and trollers have done well with white bucktails or chartreuse parachutes from Parker's Creek to Cove Point. Edges of False Channel, Buoy 76, Punch Island and northern edges of Poplar Island have been good choices for flounder. . . . Mouth of the Patuxent, James Island, Sharps Island Light, Poplar Island and the Claiborne area all have been good for croaker.

White perch action at Thomas and Tolley points, Thomas Point Light and at the mouths of the South and West rivers. . . . Spotty black drum action at Sharp's Island Light.

In the upper bay, Love Point, the Dumping Grounds and the bay bridge are good choices for rockfish, although the season closes tonight at 9. . . . White perch action in the lower Chester, western shore lumps off the Magothy and Patapsco Rivers and at Fort Carroll and Key Bridge. . . . Catfishing continues to be hot at Tolchester, Hodges Bar, Poole's Island and the entrance to the Northeast River.

River updates

White perch are schooled in deeper sections throughout the river, and smallmouth bass action has been good on crayfish and shiners around river islands. . . . Tidal Potomac producing good action on crankbaits and spinnerbaits fished in 6 to 10-foot depths around wood and grass cover.

Lake, reservoir updates

Liberty Reservoir producing scattered rockfish catches in the Oakland Point area, and crappie and bluegill concentrated near beaver huts. . . . At Piney Run, catfish hitting for shoreline anglers and crappie schooled along sharp dropoffs. . . . Bass fishing at Loch Raven improving around emerging grass beds, white perch schooled in cove mouths and crappie suspended in the coves. . . . Deep Creek Lake is seeing fantastic bluegill fishing with nightcrawlers fished near docks and piers. Also good smallmouth bass action along rocky points from the state park to the dam.

Ocean City updates

Inshore, lots of flounder action in the back bays, although most are under the 14-inch minimum. Rockfish from the Route 50 bridge and along the south jetty at the inlet. Rockfish season remains open here, with a 28-inch minimum. Small rockfish and some bluefish to three pounds in the surf, along with smaller sea trout. . . . Spanish mackerel along the beach and at the inlet.

Offshore, the fishing is heating up, with the arrival of tuna, dolphin, wahoo, small makos and enormous numbers of bluefish to 16 pounds. Washington and Baltimore canyons have been producing yellowfin tuna to 90 pounds. . . . The first blue marlin of the season has been caught and released at Baltimore Canyon, with an estimated weight of 550 pounds. . . . Sea bass catches have been good over the wrecks.

Pub Date: 7/04/96

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