- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

The time has come when local anglers find it hard to decide where to go and what species to go after. They could head to the mountains to look for trout, stay in and around the tidal Potomac River area to cash in on remnant yellow perch runs or find good catches of largemouth bass in the tidal feeder creeks. There also are the white perch heading upstream to deposit their eggs in a number of places.

A few days ago I had a wonderful time catching spawning-run white perch and a few yellow perch in the Wicomico River’s Allen’s Fresh sector (Route 234, Charles County) from the shoreline. While a neighboring angler couldn’t buy a hit on his live minnow, I had instant action by casting and retrieving 1/8-ounce jig hooks dressed with a chartreuse/red plastic grub. Yellow/red 1/16-oz. or 1/8-oz. shad darts, simply cast out and steadily retrieved, also work. But beware of snags; bring extra lures.

Try for perch in the Patuxent River around Hill’s Bridge (Route 4, Prince George’s/Anne Arundel counties), or head for the upper Nanjemoy Creek (upstream of the Friendship Road Landing, off Route 425) in Charles County, where there will be mixed bags of yellow and white perch. The same goes for Virginia’s Occoquan, Potomac and Aquia creeks that flow into the Potomac River. In the Northern Neck of Virginia, check out the Nomini Bay and Creek downstream of Colonial Beach as well as the Bowling Green area’s Mattaponi River (crossed by Route 301).

Keith Lockwood of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources says the Eastern Shore turns up white perch and some yellow perch in the lower parts of the Nanticoke River’s Marshyhope Creek (Federalsburg area). If you head up to the Chester River in Millington (Route 313), the white perch should be biting there as well.

If it’s bass you’re after, the Potomac’s Mattawoman Creek has been turning up impressive numbers to boaters casting crankbaits, plastic Pika Craws, Sting Ray grubs or jig’n’craws. Some action also can be expected in any of the river’s tributaries.

Even the reservoirs have turned up early largemouth bass. Lockwood said a local fisherman, Craig Walrath, caught a 5 1/2-pound bass in the nearby Rocky Gorge Reservoir. He used a jerkbait, then let the fish go because keeper season has not yet arrived in the state’s fresh waters.

- Fountainhead Park ranger Smokey Davis said the recent rainy weather did not stop the Fountainhead Bass Club members as they brought 30 boats to their first tournament of the season.

“The winning weight was 21.4 pounds [for six fish]; the biggest bass weighed 5.6 pounds,” Davis said.

Several smallmouth bass in the 3 1/2-pound range were caught during the tournament.

“The bass are slowly moving out of deep water into staging areas in the 12- to 15-foot range,” he added.

A strong crappie bite also is under way, and the catfish are starting to cooperate. Water temperatures run between 47 and 51 degrees, and the lake is clear.

- Recent days of rain lowered the lake’s water temperatures by 5 degrees, lake resident Marty Magone said.

“It is 50 degrees in the creeks, while main lake is 45,” he said. “The bass are scattered but still willing to nail a shakyhead jig worm fished near various creek points. Look for any submerged stumps or rocks near these points. Water levels are up.”

- Boaters are casting and jigging plastics and bucktails for stripers in the warm-water discharge at the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant in Calvert County. Catches are hit-and-miss, but some anglers score. In the lower Chesapeake, the rockfish catches should improve soon. Thus far, the best bet has been the York River, where some 50-inch stripers have been hooked in the past week.

- The Potomac River Smallmouth Club meets at 7 p.m. on March 25 at the Vienna Fire Station. Upper river guides John Hayes and Mark Kovach will do a spring smallmouth bass presentation that shows local anglers where and how to fish, what kind of tackle to use and how best to rig it. For more information, contact Ernie at ernierojas@verizon.net.

c 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. Read Mueller’s Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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