- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

While we’re still busily catching crappies, bass, yellow perch and carp in the main stem of the tidal Potomac and some of its tributaries, the weatherman says truly cold weather is on its way. That can put a crimp into catches. But even if a hard cold snap arrives, it won’t last long. Before you know it, we’ll be back out setting the hook.

At least until tomorrow, the oft-mentioned Mann’s Sting Ray grubs, Crippled Herring spoons and even a spinnerbait now and then will deliver the goods.

Local river guides Andy Andrzejewski and Dale Knupp say a coating of Smelly Jelly on the grubs definitely helps. Andy sticks with mildly flavored crawfish or baitfish Smelly Jelly, and Dale likes a garlic-scented Smelly Jelly that will ruffle your nose from 50 yards away. Once he dips his fingers into the jar and coats his plastic baits with the stuff, he smells like an Italian restaurant. The fish like it.

The guides agree the waters around the Woodrow Wilson Bridge produce bass and consequently attract a covey of boats — at least while the sun is warm. They won’t be there when it’s bitter cold, but the fish will be. Remember that.

Virginia’s Lake Anna — The best bets are the schooling stripers around the Splits, and there are plenty of crappies in sunken brush piles. Bass reports are few and far between, but Front Royal’s Dick Fox sent us a snapshot of a fine largemouth he caught over the weekend. “I had four more, all of them decent fish,” he said.

Grubs, Senkos, jig’n’pigs or spoons can result in strikes if you pay attention to depths. Try to fish along a break-line near a lake or creek point where the water drops from three and four feet down to 15 and 20. The bass hang around such places.

Check the Chick — Anglers after blue catfish are doing well in the tidal Chickahominy, a tributary to the mighty James River not far from Williamsburg. In fact, one Williamsburg angler caught a 41-pound blue “cat” on a live shad a few days ago. Crappies also are active.

In the James River, the blue catfish are taking live shad or herring, as well as cut baits on the bottom anywhere between Dutch Gap and the Appomattox River. Blue catfish and plenty of crappies are reported from Kerr reservoir (Buggs Island Lake), but if it’s freshwater stripers you’re after, adjacent Lake Gaston might be better. Live, drifted baits work best.

In saltwater, more stripers — Rockfish are the fish of the hour, says Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association.

“Warm weather has kept the bulk of the big migratory fish in Virginia waters,” he said. “In fact, there are big schools of rockfish inside the Chesapeake Bay, where the season is [now] closed. In open waters, the area from Fisherman’s Island on down to False Cape has been the hot spot. The fish are mostly well within the three-mile limit, which is a good thing since both the Coast Guard and VMRC have been out there in force.”

Neill added that tautog were active on structures within the bay and out to the Triangle Wrecks area of North Carolina. The deeper water wrecks are the home of jumbo seabass. Yellowfin tuna action is good out of the Outer Banks, and bluefin tuna are hunted by boats out of Morehead City.

Preseason trout stocking — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently stocked eight lakes and ponds with 7,500 preseason trout. The DNR’s Fisheries Service will continue to stock additional areas as weather permits, and it is expected that approximately 50,000 trout will be stocked during the preseason. All preseason stocking should be completed before the first Saturday of March.

Most of the stocking took place in the western region of the state at Greenbriar Lake (1,500), Blairs Valley (1,000), Antietam Creek (1,000), Big Pool (1,000), Frank Bentz (250) and Cunningham Falls (1,500). In addition, Rainbow Lake (750) and Taneytown Pond (500) were stocked in the central region.

Most of the put-and-take trout fishing areas have brief closures periods for stocking. These closure periods allow stocked trout to spread to new surroundings.

Anglers should check their Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide for details concerning closure periods for their favorite waters. In addition, a trout stamp is required to possess trout in Maryland and to fish in special trout management areas.

EVENTS

Fishing Expo & Boat Show — Today through Sunday, Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium. Four hundred fishing boats, plus displays of the latest fishing tackle, 50 seminars by local freshwater and saltwater experts, a trout pond and a casting competition for children. Admission: $8 ($4 for ages 10-14; under 10, free). Information: www.fishingexpo.com.

Washington Camping-RV Expo — Tomorrow through Sunday, Dulles Expo Center, Chantilly. Admission $8; ages 6 to 16, $2; under 6, free. Hours vary, but show is generally open at 10 a.m. All types of recreational vehicles and accessories. Representatives of campgrounds, camping resorts and companies will be present. Information: www.royalshows.com.

Fly Fishing Show — Saturday and Sunday, Reckord Armory, University of Maryland, College Park. More than 36 programs each day on how and where to fish, continuous fly-tying instruction, casting demonstrations and 100 exhibitor booths with fly-fishing equipment. Local and national fly-fishing experts will be on hand. Door prizes. Admission, $14; children under 12, $2. Information: www.flyfishingshow.com, 800/420-7582.

Fly-tying meeting — Jan. 19, 7 p.m., Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen Rd., Silver Spring. The Potomac-Patuxent chapter of Trout Unlimited has its annual fly tying get-together. Tie flies, meet experts and get answers to your questions. The public is invited free. Information: www.pptu.org.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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