- The Washington Times
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Earlier this week, there was snow — OK, it wasn’t enough to make a snowball — but that was followed with May-like temperatures, which confused more than a few local anglers, but the fish didn’t care. With the exception of some area waters that became discolored during recent rains, resulting in a slow “bite,” as bass fishermen call it, there is plenty of catching being done near and far.

For example, you can cast and retrieve medium-depth crankbaits along rubble-edged shorelines from the Potomac River’s Fox Ferry Point down to the front of the Spoils Cove, then on to the fallen logs and metal “junk” found within a stone’s throw of the Wilson Bridge’s Maryland shore. All of these areas have turned up largemouth bass that went after crankbaits during moving tides. If the fish ignored the firetiger-colored, wobbling, lipped lures, a broad-tailed 3-inch grub slithering across the bottom will be looked at.

The bass hookups continue across the upper, tidal Potomac in such places as the Belle Haven Marina’s downstream coves and the Hog Island area. Again, carefully retrieved crankbaits, occasionally a slow-rolled spinnerbait, or an avocado-colored plastic grub known as the Sting Ray, will draw strikes. Be extra careful around the Hog Island stretch because there are hundreds of bottom snags in the shallow water that typically is found here.

If it’s a mixture of bass, yellow perch, crappies and catfish you want, the far insides of Virginia’s Occoquan River are a good bet. So are the Quantico, Potomac and Aquia creeks, along with Maryland’s Chicamuxen Creek. For yellow perch, stick with the Nanjemoy, upper Mattawoman, Wicomico (around Allen’s Fresh), and various pockets of the Susquehanna River between Port Deposit and Havre de Grace. Don’t overlook the upper Patuxent River near Hill’s Bridge where yellow perch have been caught. You might encounter discolored water in some parts, caused by recent rain runoffs, but that isn’t the most important concern. The tidal stage and water temperature, however, are crucial.

A few days ago, when we fished for yellow perch in Charles County’s Nanjemoy Creek, we couldn’t buy a hit as the tide completely ebbed. When the flood tide began, the perch bit very well, and some of them were whoppers. Recently, La Plata’s Dale and Nancy Kupp fished for yellow perch in the Nanjemoy, and they noticed that the water temperature had fallen into the 40-degree range. That isn’t good.

All the same, the two fishing experts found plenty of buck perch but few fat females. If the water temperature rises to 46 or 48 degrees, many more perch will jump on bait or artificials.

Crappies found by Facebook friend: Maryland fisherman Johnny Kenney said he doesn’t mind sharing fishing information. He must not, because he shared it with me (and who knows how many others) on Facebook. As concerns his photo of a fine catch of fat crappies, Johnny wrote, “The crappies were caught in Mallows Bay. It has been slow [but] I have been catching nice fish. They were hitting minnows and jigs [under a] bobber.”

Gilbert Run Park’s trout are willing: Charles County’s Gilbert Run Park (Route 6, east of La Plata) offers freshly stocked trout in the park’s Wheatley Lake. The Maryland DNR added more rainbows several days ago.

Elizabeth River turns up sea trout: From our friend Dr. Ken Neill comes word that the lower Chesapeake Bay’s Elizabeth River has been giving up wonderful catches of spotted sea trout. Virginia Beach resident Larry Lusk, for example, was fishing with son David in the river’s Hot Ditch and within three hours caught trout, including one that weighed 6.5 pounds. For this species, that’s a whopper. Neill also mentioned that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel waters already have given up a few flounder.

Sea stripers moving into the Chesapeake? The fishing dentist, Dr. Julie Ball (www.drjball.com), says interest in the Atlantic’s striped bass is dropping. Even diehard rockfish anglers who continue to target the stripers in ocean waters say the catches are not very good. Ball says it’s possible that the fish are making their way to the spawning grounds up in the rivers of the Chesapeake Bay. Get ready. It might take a few weeks, but the trophy stripers will be in Maryland waters before you know it.

If the wind allows Virginia’s offshore boats to make a trip, tautogs up to 15 pounds are available on the various ocean wrecks. Tautog fishermen use clams or frozen crabs as bait. Even some cod are hooked. The tautogs also are found on lower Chesapeake Bay wrecks, but for some reason, these ‘togs usually are smaller. The new minimum size is 16.5 inches, which can make things tough for Chesapeake Bay anglers..

Virginia flounder regulations set: This year, there will be no closed season, and four flounder of 16.5 inches or more per day can be kept.

For additional outdoors news, check out www.genemuellerfishing.com