- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2001

ST. GEORGE'S ISLAND, Md. The advantages of skipping a fishing trip to traditional flounder hangouts like Ocean City or Chincoteague, Va., and instead choosing the tidal Potomac River are manifold.
For starters, the river between St. George's Island and a nearby place known as Piney Point practically guarantees successful drifts for 16-inch keepers in water that is governed by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. In Maryland, where the season is closed, you would have to hook a 17-incher before it could grace your frying pan.
Secondly, the island has special charms, the least of which isn't the possibility of dining on soft-shelled crabs and other succulent seafood all within an easy drive from the city. You can't say that when you're heading for destinations beyond the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, where traffic backups are common and food adventures are generally restricted to roadside franchise restaurants whose jingles go, "You deserve a break today." No thanks.
In St. Mary's County, where the island is located, the only backup you're likely to encounter on the way to the water might be a horse-drawn Amish buggy in itself a pleasant, sentimental surprise.
That out of the way, a few days ago we helped flounder specialist Rick Roselle launch a comfortable bass boat from the excellent public boat ramp near the base of the island entrance bridge, no more than a long cast from the Potomac.
Roselle is an insider to local happenings, a man who has friends in the right places. He proved as much when he ran his boat up inside St. George Creek for a mile or so, hooked a left in a small cove and moments later pulled up a live-box (a submerged contraption to keep fish and crabs in) that was filled with bull minnows. Colloquially, you might know them as mummachogs or fat-head minnows. It doesn't matter; the flounder love the lively, finger-long critters no matter what you call them.
Roselle filled two bait pails with the minnows that a friend who lives on the river trapped for him. He then motored back down to the adjacent, open Potomac, where such a powerful wind blew it soon had us cursing every weather forecaster in Washington because not one of them had the correct wind predictions for the day.
In the shadow of Piney Point's petroleum loading docks, we pierced oddly curved Kahle-style hooks through the upper and lower lips of minnows, attached 2-ounce sinkers to a three-way swivel rig and slipped the wriggling baitfish over the side. Roselle sat in 15 to 20 feet of water as he slowly let the tide pull the boat along, sometimes no more than an arm's length from the large dock's pilings, with the baits bouncing over hard bottom in the shadow of a tanker and a tug boat.
"Fish on," Roselle said suddenly and calmly like a man who had done this sort of thing before. A 17 1/2-inch flounder soon flopped about inside the bass boat. "Don't have to measure that one," Roselle said while his guests for the day still waited for their first telltale tug by a flatfish.
They didn't have to wait long. Within minutes, we had flounder of our own, albeit undersized ones that had to be released. But within the first three drifts from the loading docks downriver for several hundred yards and then back to do it again, everybody had at least one 16-inch keeper and quite a few throwbacks.
The plain minnow rigs, bland when compared to the bright beads, blades and bucktail-skirted hooks that are favored on Virginia's Eastern Shore, did a wonderful job.
"I like braided line when I fish for flounder," said Roselle, who normally spends more time chasing after largemouth bass with his two sons. "The sensitive braid lets you feel every nibble. It comes right through the rod and to your reel hand."
Roselle apparently wasn't joking. He flipped one flounder after another into the boat, although we soon followed closely behind in the catching department.
With the wind howling, a greenhorn game warden showed up to inspect Roselle's boat. The young DNR cop's lack of knowledge about local law astonished us. For example, he didn't seem to know that if you have a Maryland saltwater fishing license you don't need a Potomac River Fisheries Commission sticker because the PRFC, Virginia and Maryland have license reciprocity. What gives with ignorant cops?
After the DNR Police left, we finished up, counting at least 30 flounder that had been caught, with 21 releases and nine keepers. Not bad. Certainly good enough for wonderful dinners in three households that very evening.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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