- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Whenever our area is run over like a freight train by one of those Alberta Clippers and the temperatures fall through the bottom, I start thinking about global warming and how we could use a little of that right about now. When I think of what my electric bill will look like next month, I start checking the Internet’s Florida real estate deals but not for long because there will be good winter fishing right here before you know it.

Our tidal rivers and creeks are in the deep freeze, and the fishing has been put on hold for a little while.

However, even though the water is stained and high, Virginia’s James River delivers some blue catfish. In fact, around the Dutch Gap area, downstream from Richmond, several blue “cats” between 30 and 47 pounds were hooked this week. Not bad.

Along those lines, our friend Bill Hilton, a blue catfish fanatic who lives in Shepherdstown, W.Va., is aware tidal water bass fishermen have been complaining for some time that the large blue catfish are decimating bass populations. Not true, Hilton points out.

“Bob Greenlee, a biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said that over 1,000 blue catfish were taken from the James, Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers. The stomach contents were studied in great detail, and whether you believe it or not, not a single bass was found.”

Blue catfish, according to the fisheries biologist, prefer a diet of, well, smaller blue catfish, white perch, crustaceans, shad and herring — but apparently not bass.

Hilton, who sent us a photo of a 51-pound catfish he and his son, Luke, cradled in their arms, also mentioned his good friend and fishing guide, Chris Eberwein of Eberwein’s Catfish Guide Service (804/449-6134), not long ago caught an 83-pound blue catfish, a James River record that was verified by the biologist, Greenlee.

One more word about the catfish vs. bass argument. Some bass anglers in the tidal Potomac River complain the blue “cat” isn’t a native species and hence should not be allowed to live in the river. They’re not natives; that much is true. But the largemouth bass isn’t an indigenous species either. So it comes down to who likes what the most.

About illegally held live deer — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has issued guidelines for people who are keeping live deer, which in most cases is not legal. Remember the recent flap about the Natural Resources Police visiting several deer owners in Anne Arundel County and euthanizing their animals because there was some fear pet deer might help spread the dreaded Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

Here’s what the DNR now says: “To ensure Marylanders take this [CWD] threat seriously and take appropriate action, the DNR has revised its enforcement policy regarding the disposition of illegally held deer. Owners of illegally held deer will be given up to 90 days to find suitable out-of-state facilities for their deer, and the DNR will assist with this process. No citations will be issued during the initial “amnesty” period. If the owner has not found a new home for the deer within the time frame, the DNR will seek consent from the owner to allow DNR to humanely euthanize and test the deer for disease. Because of the significant health risks, at no time will the owner be permitted to release captive deer to the wild.”

There you have it.

More public waterfowl hunting — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Patuxent Naval Air Station, announced the availability of 10 new waterfowl hunting sites along the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The new sites are located adjacent to Bloodsworth, Pone, Adam and Northeast islands in Dorchester County.

“These new sites open the waters adjacent to one of the most remote areas of the state,” said Paul A. Peditto, director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service. “We are excited to offer hunters this new opportunity.”

A special permit is required to hunt the new sites. The permit, as well as a complete set of regulations and a map of the area, can be downloaded from the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/waterfowl or by calling the Wildlife and Heritage Service at 410/260-8540. Sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

EVENTS

Bassarama fishing show — Jan. 28-30, at the Richmond Raceway. One of the biggest bass fishing shows on the East Coast. Meet bass fishing superstars, attend seminars, pitch a lure into a casting pool and buy the latest tackle at special show prices. Ticket Prices: $8, adults (ages 12 to 16, $3; under 12, free). Information: Ronnie@Bassarama.com

Washington Boat Show — Feb. 9-13, at the new Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW. The 44th annual event features more than 500 boats of all styles and sizes, including 2005 models of express cruisers, motor yachts, runabouts, fishing boats, sailboats and family craft at special show prices. You also will be able to check out the latest electronics, services and accessories in dozens of display booths. Tickets are $10 (children 6-12, $4; under 6, free). Advance tickets can be charged through Ticketmaster at 202/397-7328 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Information: www.washingtonboatshow.com.

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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