- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2008

INDIAN HEAD, Md. — Because of the humidity, I’m sure you know how it feels when clothing clings to the skin long before the sun rises. It’s summer, yet you absolutely have to go fishing; it’s a part of your DNA, so go even if it feels like a sauna outside.

Two of us did it on a day when the mercury climbed into the mid-90s, and the humidity was oppressive. However, more than 35 largemouth bass - including several that approached the 4-pound mark - already had been hooked, boated and released, and it was only 10 a.m.

In a recurring series of spending time with a top-flight bass fishing guide who can’t leave much to chance, La Plata’s Andy Andrzejewski not long ago was the subject of a Washington Times feature that dealt with successful fishing methods even when the water was muddy. This time around Andrzejewski showed what he does when the water temperature exceeds 80 degrees on hot, humid days and clients are coming to town expecting to catch bass.

“During the dog days of summer, my first rule is to start early and quit early,” the former Marine said. “It makes no sense to stay out on the water all day, sweating, burning up in the sun and continue fishing even when the tide is at the wrong stage.”

At 6 a.m., as our tide was in its final two hours of decline, Andrzejewski launched his bass boat in the upper parts of the Potomac’s Mattawoman Creek and minutes later was seen firing loudly splashing, gurgling topwater lures to the edges of a long stretch of hydrilla water weeds that lined a broad expanse of marsh banks.

After his second cast, the “Fishing Pole” stuck the hook to a small bass, swung it aboard and removed the surface lure. He slipped the fish back into the warm water as a beaver swam brazenly past his boat no more than four feet away. The broad-tailed vegetarian wasn’t interested in us, nor the fish.

Andrzejewski repeated the topwater casting and bass catching as if it were child’s play.

“I have to make the most of fishing with surface lures because by 8 a.m. the sun will be too strong and the fish then won’t rise as readily,” he said. “But if it’s heavily overcast, the topwater bite can last much longer.”

He fooled at least 12 more bass when the sun finally convinced him that the day would be a scorcher.

Andrzejewski, who applies a layer of sun screen to his face, ears and arms before he leaves home, repeats sun screen application from time to time, knowing that one coating won’t do. He wears a bill cap along with a UV-protective shirt and insists that plenty of fluids are aboard his boat.

As the tide continued to fall and the topwater lures no longer drew attacks from bass, he quickly switched to what bass fans call a “wacky-rigged” worm. It’s a 4-inch-long, thick, plastic worm that sinks without an added lead slip-sinker weight. The hook is pierced through the center of the fake wiggler and the rig is then cast toward the shallow side of a weed-filled creek bank and very slowly retrieved. If the wacky worm doesn’t snag a handful of submersed vegetation, chances are a bass will have a hard look at the crazy, sideways “walk” of the worm.

Within an hour, Andrzejewski’s wacky worm attracted at least 10 bass, including one that weighed a fair four pounds. The guide chatted easily about sometimes using a grass “rat,” a weedless lure that can be dragged over the densest mats of water weeds, but this morning he didn’t see any need for it. He also said that during hot weather he sometimes casts and retrieves a Chatter Bait or Blade Dancer lure that appears to be a mix between a jig and a wobbling spoon.

”It can do the job when retrieved through open pockets of weeds or along the edges of the grass beds,” he said.

Eventually Andrzejewski also tried a shallow-running crank bait, a Mann’s Baby 1-Minus, and promptly caught another half dozen bass as he quietly moved along the creek’s marsh edges.

By 10 a.m., with the humidity and temperature truly making a fool of us, he said, “I’m leaving. I think I know what these bass want; besides, the tide finished ebbing and now is rising again. The fish are no longer interested.”

Andrzejewski lifted his electric trolling motor from the water, secured it, sat down to start up a 225-h.p. outboard and made it back to the launch ramp before he burned even half a gallon of gasoline.

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

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