- The Washington Times
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The upper, tidal Patuxent River between Hills Bridge and Jug Bay is giving up scads of pre-spawn yellow perch. On Monday, a group of us Southern Marylanders caught well over 80 roe perch and smaller “bucks,” as the males are called.

Brothers Charlie and Monk Stewart, joined by Buzz’s Marina owner Mike Henderson and myself, had no trouble locating dense numbers of these springtime harbingers in river depressions where water depths ranged from 13 to 20 feet deep.

My boat partners preferred using live 2- and 3-inch-long bull minnows on lightly weighted bottom rigs, but the perch also weren’t bashful about nibbling an artificial 2-inch Berkley Power Minnow that sat about a foot above a one-eighth-ounce drop-shot weight. The fish bit very well during an ebbing tide, then slowed for awhile when the water was at its lowest, then renewed their interest in the baits when a fresh flood tide began to raise water levels.

So the Patuxent shows yellow perch, and the Potomac River near Wilson Bridge, the Spoils and the Occoquan and portions of Aquia Creek have seen yellow perch catches. Can one of the area’s favorite yellow perch haunts, the Allen’s Fresh sector of the Wicomico River and the Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County, Md., be far behind? We’re betting that by the weekend there’ll be perch hooked in both places.

Add the upper Chesapeake Bay’s Susquehanna River and Maryland’s Eastern Shore rivers, including the upper Choptank, Chester, Corsica and Nanticoke. Don’t overlook the Northern Neck of Virginia in Hanover County where the narrow headwaters of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers are found, but their waters farther south in King & Queen County and King William County, also deliver good perch catches.

Tautog bite was hot in the Atlantic — A few days ago, the president of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association, Dr. Ken Neill, fished with friends Charles and Hunter Southall east of Virginia Beach, and they loaded up on tautogs. Hunter Southall had the largest, a 9-pounder. The trio of anglers caught 49 of the tasty ‘togs until they ran out of bait, having started with 250 clams and four dozen crabs. “We also caught a good number of sea bass, some dog sharks. a nice hake, one large toadfish and an impressive conger eel,” he said.

Virginia Beach striper catches slowed — Dentist and super angler Dr. Julie Ball (www.drjball.com) said that although stripers can be caught inside the 3-mile zone in the Atlantic, catches have been sporadic. “Beehives of birds are leading the boats to feeding fish [that are] spread out from Fisherman Island to False Cape in anywhere from 20 to 45 feet of water,” she said, adding that most of these rockfish range from 25 to 40 pounds.

She also mentioned that inside the Chesapeake Bay, catch-and-release fishing for stripers occasionally can be good. Big fish have been caught from Plantation Light down to Cape Charles, Ball said.

“Anglers are trolling and jigging for the bite, with many of the fish pushing 46 to 48 inches this week,” she said. There even has been some top-water action for schoolie stripers in the Chesapeake, especially around lower Bay structures and bridge-tunnels.

Hatteras surf delivers action: From the Red Drum Tackle Shop in Buxton, N.C., comes word that surf fishermen who worked the Cape Point area on Hatteras Island found puppy drum and some sea trout. The South Beach sector below Cape Point has been good for flounder and plenty of dog sharks, which actually can be hooked on cut baits up and down all beach sectors.

Do not dip-net river herring: A brief reminder that in Maryland and Virginia, a moratorium is in place to protect river herring. The herring numbers have fallen precipitously, and both states have said they will impose stiff fines should anyone insist on dip-netting or otherwise catch herring, which is a popular catfish bait for sport anglers but also is also pursued by commercial netters.

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