- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

Every angler in the region knows that one day of warm weather does not a spring make, but it is March. As far as the local tidewater bass crowd is concerned, it’s time to let the fishing begin.

March signals the start when bassboaters and hardy shoreliners will congregate around the edges of Spoils Cove, just above Wilson Bridge, to cast for largemouths that slowly, surely will become more active. The boaters soon will find terrific bass fishing on the Maryland side of the river in the rock- and metal-strewn shore near the bridge.

Our favorite lure for this type of fishing is a 3-inch-long avocado Mann’s Sting Ray grub pierced to a 1/4-ounce ballhead jig hook. The grubs will be smeared with awful-smelling, garlic-flavored Smelly Jelly, then cast into the shallows and dragged to sharply declining, adjacent waters. The bass, crappies, catfish and even perch, will do the rest. It is that easy — well, sometimes.

Bass also will start showing up on lure hooks in the upper tidal Rappahannock River in Virginia, most likely above Port Royal, and in the tidal rivers of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, including the mid- to upper Nanticoke, Choptank, Chicamacomico, Transquaking and Pocomoke rivers.

Smallmouth bass are willing — Front Royal freshwater anglers Dick Fox and Bruce Monismith have been checking out the Shenandoah River the past several days, and they have scored nicely. Regarding one of his outings, Fox said, “We had a good day, considering the wind. We caught smallmouths on a hair jig and also on tubes.”

Where are the perch? — Yellow perch fans looking for spawning run action will find scattered small numbers of buck perch in the Allen’s Fresh sector of Charles County’s Wicomico River (Route 234). Slightly better perch numbers are seen in the Nanjemoy Creek, which also is in Charles County (off Route 425, Friendship Landing), and inside the Occoquan River in Northern Virginia. The Route 1 bridge area and railroad bridge sector also have delivered some fish.

Farther down in Virginia, yellow perch are caught in the James River, and although I haven’t caught any personally, there should be yellow perch biting in the upper tidal Pamunkey, Mattaponi and the Rappahannock rivers. The same goes for the Chickahominy River toward Walker’s Dam.

The James River south of Richmond, especially in the Dutch Gap sector, continues to deliver wonderful catches of blue catfish for bottom fishermen using juicy cut baits.

Maryland’s trophy striper season — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has approved its proposal for the spring 2006 trophy striper fishing season. The season will run from April 15 to May 15 with a required minimum size limit of 33 inches that applies to private recreational anglers as well as the charterboat fishery. The increase from a 28-inch minimum size in 2005 to 33 inches this spring is believed to resolve the higher than expected harvest of migratory striped bass that occurred in the spring of 2005.

Crappies still biting — At Virginia’s Kerr Reservoir most fishermen who use live minnows are finding crappies, but everybody agrees the fish are going to deeper ledges and brush piles. The adjacent Lake Gaston also gives up some crappies around bridge abutments in the creeks. Oddly, bass haven’t been cooperative in either lake — yet. That will change quickly.

Watch that whale! — A 30-foot-long gray whale recently surfaced unexpectedly in the Pacific Ocean close to Santa Barbara, Calif., and belly-flopped on top of a 27-foot yacht, crushing its cabin, marine radio, electronics and steering mechanism. It was reported that the whale resurfaced and knocked a passenger down with its tail. Then the whale came up again and, according to boat captain Jerry Gormley, just stared at him.

The National Marine Fisheries Service in San Diego said the whale probably was just curious and his behavior was not ill-intentioned but friendly. With friends like that, you don’t need enemies.

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

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