Although local meteorologists say that January 2012 and the beginning of February aren't even close when it comes to warm winter month records, every fisherman in the Washington area wouldn't mind if things stayed that way at least until April arrives.
Not only did we humans celebrate the balmy weather, the water temperature in the tidal Potomac River and other local waters rose just enough to awaken the largemouth bass and other species that call the nation's river home.
Between Gunston Cove, Va., and Marshall Hall, Md., the water temperature gauge read 42 degrees. Along creek channel edges up and down the river, the bass inhaled our scent-laden rubbery grubs. Charles County-based fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski was asked by friends to show them just how active the bass were. Andrzejewski began to cast avocado-colored Sting Ray grubs, dabbed with a creamy substance known as Smelly Jelly, and in four hours he hooked, landed and released 19 largemouths from 3 to 4 pounds each. We caught a few as well, but nothing compared to the pro guide, who normally doesn't fish when he has paying clients in the boat.
Upper, tidal Patuxent River turned on: Former Maryland freshwater and tidal bass chief Bob Lunsford, who now enjoys retirement, asked me to accompany him for an outing on the tidal Patuxent River between Jug Bay and Western Branch. We launched at the Jackson's Landing facility, not far from Croom Station Road in Prince George's County, then ran the boat up to Western Branch feeder.
Two-inch-long Berkley Power Minnows in black shad color, pierced onto one-sixteenth-ounce jig hooks, then fished under a plastic bobber (some 3 to 4 feet of line between lure and float) produced 40 well-fed crappies and 14 largemouth bass, although most of those should not have been allowed to be away from their mother. They were young fish in the 9- to 12-inch class. A yellow perch, a sunfish and a creek sucker rounded out our morning trip. All the fish except five of the crappies were released. Not bad for a river that some say has been kind of dead for years.
Virginia reservoirs deliver action: A number of reliable Virginia fishing friends have passed along news that Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, has given up freshwater stripers, some decent largemouth bass and enough crappies to make for more than one grand fish dinner.
The same goes for down-state impoundments Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston. Stripers, especially, have been active in Kerr's Grassy Creek area, where they strike trolled or cast-and-retrieve Sassy Shad lures. In Lake Gaston, the upper area of the reservoir gives up stripers, while some of the mid- to upper lake feeder creeks show fair bass activity. The bass have jumped on Lazer lures, Silver Buddies and soft bottom-fished grubs.
If it's catfish you're after, Kerr will not disappoint. The lake is home to huge blue catfish, and they won't object if you throw a generous piece of herring or other cut bait into 25- and 30-foot-deep layers of water in the middle and lower lake portions.
Virginia Beach area continues to be hot: The Virginia Beach oceanfront from near land to 3 miles out continues to offer good fishing. For example, the best lady angler in these parts, Dr. Julie Ball (www.drjball.com) said, "Big striped bass and big bluefin tuna continue to mesmerize the mid-Atlantic sportfishing community. The wintertime striper/tuna phenomenon is continuing to create a stir all along the coast."
Ball said the water temperatures hover in the upper 40s, meaning this remarkable fishery could continue into the current month. "Although the rockfish took a breather for a few days after the latest front, this week they rebounded." Don't be surprised if a typical striper in that region tips the scales at 40 and 50 pounds.
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