- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2008

MINERAL, Va.

Wayne Olsen looks like a cross between Ernest Hemingway and Santa Claus. He has the white beard and is easily as tough as Papa was but also as generous as Saint Nick.

A day with the Lake Anna fishing guide, whose company’s name is Wayne Olsen’s World of Fishing Guide Service, differs a bit from those spent with other good guides. Most professional fishermen possess loads of confidence and fishing skills, but how many freshwater captains paint their plastic lizards’ feet green?

Even Potomac River bass guide Andy Andrzejewski shook his head in wonder when he joined me for a day of fishing with Olsen. Andrzejewski doesn’t alter the plastic fishing baits, which look like slippery light-brown salamanders, by dabbing bright chartreuse coloring from a felt-tip pen onto their tootsies. But the Lake Anna guide has done it for years, convinced it draws the attention of hungry bass.

“It works like a charm,” Olsen said as we slowly entered a deep-water cove of this nuclear power station lake west of historic Fredericksburg.

He readied a Carolina fishing rig. He slipped a bullet sinker onto the fishing line, tying one eyelet of a barrel swivel to it to keep the sinker from falling off, then adding a 3-foot piece of line to the other side of the swivel and a special worm hook on the remaining end of line. A chartreuse-toed lizard was fed onto the hook, and the Carolina rig was ready. The idea: The sinker will rest on the bottom, while the rubbery lure will float a bit upward, enticingly undulating.

Olsen cast the soft lizard toward a boat dock that sat in 12 feet of water. He removed the slack line, felt something touch the crazy looking newt and set the hook. It was a largemouth bass, but Olsen wasn’t happy with it.

“We’ve caught some whoppers in the past several weeks,” he said, recalling two clients who only a few days before had a 10-bass catch that weighed more than 40 pounds.

Olsen looked at the fish he had just landed and said, “This one has some growing to do.”

He gently removed the hook and put it back into the green translucent water while I shot some photos.

“Can you see my sponsor’s name on my hat?” he asked, explaining the good relationship he has with Wright & McGill Company, makers of famous Eagle Claw hooks, rods and reels. Clients aboard Olsen’s comfortable Triton bass boat can use his equipment if they don’t bring their own, but it all carries the Eagle Claw name.

The fishing resumed, and moments later Andrzejewski had his plastic lure attacked by a bass. I soon followed suit, and, yes, Olsen credited the painting of the slithery critters’ feet. How could we disagree?

Eventually we moved, meeting other boaters — who all greeted Olsen as if he were a close personal friend — and most lamented the high-pressure weather system, blaming it for the lake’s lock-jawed bass. We didn’t have the heart to tell them Olsen managed to find the largemouths for on a tough fishing day. Not only that, we also used 1/4-ounce white Road Runner wobble spinners when we were in the shallow end of coves and caught a few bass and white perch on them.

What was easy to see among all the boaters was a complete lack of concern regarding our sagging economy.

On a weekday, Sturgeon Creek Marina, where many bass hounds congregate, was filled with boaters. Fishermen launched expensive bass machines with 225-horsepower motors that surely do not run on air; they need gasoline, and I need not say how outrageous the price of fuel is even in Virginia, which normally is better than other Middle Atlantic states.

Olsen uses his boat and a powerful outboard to deliver quality bass, striper, crappie and catfish outings. His is a work rig. But what about the rest of the lake visitors? It appeared they were more than willing to buy the precious fuel to have fishing fun.

Meanwhile, Olsen is a joy to be with. For a booking, call him at his lakeside residence at 540/894-8333.

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

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