When Lake Gaston, Va., resident Marty Magone visits the tidal Potomac River just south of Washington, it generally is to be with old friends, the river's largemouth bass simply being pleasant interruptions between story telling and keeping up with the latest news.
Magone, a strapping former Marine and Prince George's County police officer, doesn't need the Potomac. Over the years, his home lake, Gaston, has given him plenty of big bass and freshwater stripers.
So why was he so excited a few days ago when three of us slowly drifted along a quickly declining ledge in a cove near Marshall Hall, Md., and he felt a "touch" on the soft, rubbery grub he dragged across the 10 to 12 feet of water the lure had descended to?
When in doubt, set the hook. It's sound advice for all anglers. In Magone's situation, the sudden feeling that something was touching his artificial bait was enough. The worst it could be might be dead weeds or branches on the bottom. But sunken brush or dead milfoil don't shake heads like a hooked bass might. Magone's rod doubled over, the fish running to the left, then right, then back again. "What in the world have I got here?" he asked.
It was a 7 1/4-pound largemouth bass, Magone's biggest Potomac bass ever. To say he was elated is putting it mildly. A bass of that size is a beauty in any water, anywhere.
Meanwhile, can you do it? Of course, you can. Magone's roe-laden bass was released, and you might even hook her some day.
Shenandoah River is discolored: Front Royal, Va., fishing pal, Dick Fox, says you might as well stay home this weekend. "The river is murky and a bit high. Better wait a few days," he said.
Chickahominy River: Not many fishermen are seen on the "Chick" right now, but those who show up have a fun time catching crappies in sunken brush and around boat docks in the upper and middle river portions. The people at River's Rest (804-829-2753) can provide water condition reports.
Lake Anna is turning up fish: Local fishing guide Jim Hemby (540-967-3313) says January and February can be months for big bass at Lake Anna (west of Fredericksburg). "It is not uncommon for us to catch numerous citation bass during the day using herring pulled behind planer boards over areas ranging from 40-foot flats near the Route 208 Bridge to 5-foot flats anywhere in the lake during low light conditions." Hemby says that some winter visitors put a jumbo minnow under a bobber and slowly pull it behind their boats while casting artificial lures for bass. The most productive artificials are jerk baits, worked down-lake on primary and secondary points.
Stripers have been caught in the upper lake, mostly on 3- and 4-inch Sassy Shad or large Road Runner lures. However, stealth and quiet maneuvering is required. Winter rockfish are easily spooked.
Cold keeps surf anglers indoors: From Buxton on Hatteras, N.C., the Red Drum Tackle Shop reports that cold weather has kept most Outer Banks surf fishermen indoors. A few hardy souls tried fishing the Cape Point area, but nothing much happened. Don't give up, though. The water temperature has been in the 60s, and that means the fishing will resume this weekend. The tackle shop figures that a few big channel bass might provide sudden surf action, and there's always the chance of finding a few marauding bluefish in the shallows.
For more outdoors news check out www.genemuellerfishing.com
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