- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The warmer temperatures in recent days brought expected results: The fish were biting, and there was no shortage of anglers who went after them. To be sure, the early morning hours still call for warm clothing, such as snowmobile suits or waterfowl hunting garments, but by 10 or 11 a.m., it actually can become comfortable enough to shed some layers.

The fishing parade starts with our friend Dick Fox of Front Royal, Va., who has been catching largemouth bass at Lake Anna using dropshot rigs and soft plastic finesse worms around creek point dropoffs and lake channels. Fox also caught his first smallmouth bass of the year when he tried the Shenandoah River not far from his home. Remember, big smallmouth bass don’t stop feeding because it’s winter.

Now comes Dale Knupp, a Potomac River bass guide who has been finding yellow perch action in various tidal feeder creeks up and down the river. These are not anadromous perch; no, these are residents who stay in the creeks year-round. He catches his perch on a 2-inch-long green/red Minnow Tube on a 1/8-ounce round-headed jig hook tied to 10-pound test fluorocarbon line.

Bass, crappies and catfish are hooked on Mann’s Sting Ray grubs, Silver Buddy blade baits or live minnows in the Spoils Cove and around the Fox Ferry Point rock line and various depressions in the river adjacent to the Spoils.

Patuxent shows some perch — A few fat resident yellow perch and catfish are available in the Patuxent’s general Jug Bay area, while occasional catches of crappies are seen inside the Western Branch tributary.

Rockfish in lower bay — Ken Neill reports rockfish continue to be perplexing. Catch and release action has turned on in the Chesapeake Bay, and there has been a good bite of 30-inch-plus fish south of Rudee Inlet (Virginia Beach) over the last couple of days. North of Rudee, it almost has shut off. Anglers working up the coast have had a hard time catching anything, but a striper of more than 50 pounds was caught there recently.

Neill says catching striped bass does not seem to be as easy as it has been in recent years, and catching a citation-sized fish is more of a challenge, but your chances of catching truly huge fish are better than ever. Tautog action is good from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel out to the Tower Reef. The offshore wrecks are holding jumbo sea bass, and a few speckled trout continue to be caught at the Hot Ditch.

State seeks perch comments — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources wants the public to comment on its plan to allow the commercial netting of yellow perch in the Choptank and Nanticoke rivers on the Eastern Shore. The official public comment period runs from Jan.20 to Feb.21.

The DNR claims the establishment of a commercial fishery in the Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers is more conservative than those practiced in other watersheds because its proposed annual netting wouldn’t begin until March10, saying it would be past the spawning period. We have news for them, having caught many a yellow perch over the past 40 years as late as March10 that were still in spawning mode. Granted, most are done by then but not all. However, the DNR also says nets would be prohibited in the uppermost spawning reaches of the two rivers.

The DNR, which says yellow perch stocks in the Choptank and Nanticoke have increased as much as seven-fold since 1989, didn’t specify the number of the fish on which they based their estimates.

The state also will reopen recreational catch-and-release fishing for yellow perch in the six tidal watersheds, where recreational fishing for yellow perch is currently prohibited (Magothy, Nanticoke, Patapsco, Severn, South and West Rivers). Regulations will remain unchanged in all other tidal watersheds where both commercial and recreational catches are permitted.

The proposed yellow perch regulations will appear in the Maryland Register on Jan.20. For information relating to regulations, go to www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/regulations/regindex.html.

Meanwhile, a crucial public yellow perch hearing will be held Jan.25 at the DNR headquarters in the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis. Plan to be there because you can bet the netters will be on hand. For meeting details, e-mail info@ccamd.org.

EVENTS

Fishing Expo & Boat Show — Today through Sunday, at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium (near Baltimore). Information: www.fishingexpo.com or 410/838-8687.

Maryland Fly Fishing Show — Saturday-Sunday, at Reckord Armory, University of Maryland, College Park. Admission: $14 ($2 under age 12). Hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Information: 800/420-7582 or e-mail flyfishingshow@aol.com.

Nautical & wildlife art festival — Saturday-Sunday, the Nautical and Wildlife Art Festival/North American Craft Show will be in the Ocean City Convention Center. Information: www.ococean.com or call Don Hastings, 410/524-9155.

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