- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2003

Non-fishermen would never understand it. They'd think we'd gone mad. But there we were standing on the deck of a $40,000 boat trying to hook a 10-cent fish a yellow perch, a critter that when compared to other sporting species rates pretty far down the ladder of exciting catches.
All the same, when the Fishing Pole, Andy Andrzejewski, called to say he'd pick me up within the hour to fish for yellow perch in Charles County's upper Nanjemoy Creek, I wasted little time preparing for a day in the cold. A thermos bottle was filled with hot tea; woolen pants were slipped over long underwear; a heavy-duty sweater was added; followed by an insulated, hooded jacket; then the gloves well, you know the drill.
Not a soul was seen when we arrived at Friendship Landing Road, west of Welcome. The boat was launched and Andrzejewski, a superb angler and professional fishing guide, began studying the screen of an electronic depth sounder as he slowly idled through the deep water turns of the winding creek.
Lest you think you missed it, no, the spawning of the gold-hued fish has not yet begun. We were simply chasing away a brief case of the winter blues, looking for resident perch in a little waterway that until recently was filled with solid ice or floating chunks of the frozen stuff.
When Andrzejewski spotted a dark mass on the bottom of a creek bend in 14 feet of water, we thought we were onto something. They were gizzard shad, smelly fish that are useful as crab bait and such, but they never attack a lure. Our plastic grubs, smeared with a baitfish fragrant fish attractant known as Smelly Jelly, probably drew the gizzard shad in for a look, and on occasion we'd snag one in the dorsal or pectoral fins. It was all quite by accident, and we moved along to another spot.
Then the fishing guide dropped his Mann's Sting Ray grub to the bottom close to the boat, started jigging up and down, and bang! a yellow perch had it in its mouth. It was the first yellow perch of the year during an official search for the species. Another one eventually followed, but things soon headed downhill.
"The water temperature stands at 35 degrees," said Andrzejewski, "I wished it would climb a little. We'd hook a lot more fish if it did."
That will come no matter what the forecasters say. Warmer weather is bound to arrive you know, like weather in the 40-degree range. It will be summer-like as far as we're concerned.
Meanwhile, word has it that yellow perch, crappies and some bass can be taken inside the Occoquan, as well as the Wilson Bridge area's Spoils Cove, some parts of the upper Aquia Creek and the Mattawoman Creek. It requires patience, less wind than we've seen and a little luck. Eventually, you'll score.
Fishing elsewhere
… At Virginia's Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, quite a bit of ice is still present in the upper sectors of the lake, as well as most feeder creeks. A few rockfish are possible in the open water, but don't bet the rent on that.
In the Rappahannock River, there has been zero activity for local anglers between Fredericksburg and Leedstown. The same is said about Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Gaston. Only scattered crappie catches are reported from Kerr Reservoir.
Saltwater license increases?
Virginia's saltwater anglers aren't happy about the chance of seeing their tidal water fishing license costs increase. Why? The state needs more money to operate the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
You'd think since the VMRC worries more about the welfare of commercial netters than anything else, why wouldn't the watermen be told to pay up. But, no, the state expects the sports anglers to come up with $1,170,000 and the commercials only have to fork over $80,000 to pay the cost of running the VMRC. What a shame.
The bill in the legislature that would raise the saltwater fishing license fees is SB917. Why not get in touch with your legislator and let your displeasure be known.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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