- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2008

RISON, Md.

After recent daylong downpours that were accompanied by strong winds and lower than usual water temperatures, what should a bass angler to do when he absolutely, positively, has to find willing fish?

On a day when the Potomac River looked like coffee with cream and the wind blew a gale, as country boys like to say, I posed that question to Andy Andrzejewski, one of the top bass guides in these parts.

“Strange you should ask,” the Fishing Pole said. “I have two clients coming into town tomorrow and they’ll expect me to put them on good-sized bass. I’m going out to see if they’re biting.”

Since I already had launched my well-worn 18-foot aluminum boat, Andrzejewski suggested I follow him closely to observe as he put together a battle plan on a day when most fishermen would probably have chosen to stay indoors, waiting for the river to settle and the waters to clear before they’d try wetting a line. One thing was certain: I wasn’t overly optimistic.

“For starters,” the guide said, “I know the bass will remain in fairly shallow water even when the temperature drops a bit. This time of year it won’t fall enough to force them into deeper channels in the river or in the tributary creeks.”

He launched his 22-foot fiberglass rocket at Smallwood State Park’s Sweden Point Marina and we motored across the broad, lower Mattawoman Creek to a shoreline owned by the Indian Head Naval Surface Weapons Center. The place is used by the Navy to burn off various old powder propellants and when all is quiet, certain stretches of the shore and adjacent drops and ledges can produce good numbers of bass.

The moment we arrived Andrzejewski noticed a gang of large carp cavorting in the middle of a weed-choked, discolored cove behind what is known as Deep Point.

“I use the spawning carp as a barometer,” he said. “If I see them rolling around in the weeds near land, I know that it will be warm enough for the bass to remain in the shallows.

“I also choose marsh banks, grass beds and sunken wood along a number of creek shores and begin casting a top water lure; maybe a buzzbait, followed by a dish-faced popper. If nothing happens, I’ll use a hard jerk bait, such as Smithwick’s floating Rattlin’ Rogue, and work it through waterlogged branches or between open pockets in the grass.”

Andrzejewski did just that, but a buzzbait, popper and jerk bait were ignored by the fish, yet the guide wasn’t worried. The tide had just begun to ebb and he was sure that eventually something good might come of it even though good water clarity was absent and the wind shook the trees.

Undaunted, he picked up yet another rod whose line held a fat, short plastic worm carefully rigged onto a wide-bellied worm hook, but without the usual slip-sinker on the monofilament.

“Don’t need it,” the guide said. “The worm sinks; besides I’ll be throwing it into an area that is less than two feet deep.”

The Senko-style fake worm no sooner fell into the “skinny” water when the line started moving softly from left to right - against the wind!

Andrzejewski quickly removed slack line and set the hook. A fine, healthy largemouth bass almost immediately emerged from the water, shook its head, rattled its gills, but wasn’t able to shake the hook.

The fishing guide snatched it from the surface, removed the hook and gently returned the fish to the creek.

Then the Navy base’s warning sirens went off, telling us that a “burn-off” of powder would take place. We were forced to evacuate the area.

Andrzejewski quickly ran to the nearby Chicamuxen Creek, me behind him, and there he simply repeated the worm casting in similar, shallow, but stained water. “Bang!” Another bass snatched the same worm that fooled its Mattawoman cousin.

Then the fishing guide chose a rod that carried a type of swimming jig that had a metal lip up front and a skirt around the hook. It’s known as a Chatterbait and as Andrzejewski retrieved the sharply vibrating lure another bass attacked. In less than a quarter mile of marshy shore, Andrzejewski landed and released four more bass, two on the plastic worm; two on the Chatterbait.

“These bass know about muddy water,” he said. ” It doesn’t spook them.”

On a day when I would have bet that the fishing would be fruitless, Andrzejewski’s self-confidence and fishing skills shone brightly.

He found what he was looking for and left, not wishing to bother any more fish.

“I feel better now,” he said. “My clients should be pleased.”

*Look 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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