- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Weather forecasters say that below-normal temperatures will be the order of days and nights until after New Year's. But that means very little to local anglers whose hearts are set on going fishing. Sure, there'll be waters in these parts that will resemble the Dead Sea for all the action you're likely to find, but fish can be caught in others. Let's concentrate on them.
For example, if a body wanted to hook a bass, crappie, sunfish or catfish right now, even without the benefit of a boat, few places can match the Spoils Cove, just upstream of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. If you take care to heed the "No Parking" signs along I-295 as you travel from the District toward Maryland and the approach lanes to the Wilson Bridge, look to your right after you cross over Oxon Cove, a short distance past the Blue Plains Waste Treatment Center. Just a hop past Oxon Cove, which is on your left, lies the Spoils Cove on the right side of the road. Park beyond the signs and then walk through the woods to the lake-like Spoils. You'll see huge concrete blocks in the middle of it, but fish can be caught from shore. A bobber pinched onto 8- or 10-pound line some three or four feet (depending on the stage of the tide) above a small shad dart, plastic grub, or a hook with a live minnow can result in any of the species mentioned above.
Move around the shoreline to find suitable fishing waters. Some of the cove's depths even near the shore can be quite deep; others are shallow. You'll need to experiment a bit. And if you enter the Spoils with a boat, fish all around the cement blocks.
Why is the Spoils Cove so productive? The Blue Plains Waste Treatment facility is located just a stone's throw upstream and warm-water discharges from the plant help to keep the river temperatures higher than they would be, say, down around the mouth of the Mattawoman. Warm water plus hiding structure equals fish this time of year.
Learn how to fish
Want to be among the 10 percent of fishermen who catch 90 percent of all the fish? For a price, the Montgomery County Recreation Department will help you accomplish this feat as it sponsors eight different classes that will teach you all you need to know about equipment, fishing techniques and locations in the Chesapeake Bay to help you troll, chum, bottom-fish, jig, read a depth finder, outfit a boat and discover the best times of year to go after various species.
Jay Bernstein will moderate the classes, but he'll get help from guest lecturers such as well-known charter fishing captains Kerry Muse, Chuck Fisher, Rich Novotny and George Prenant, along with small-boat guides Tom Hughes and Rich Gaines. The first classes start Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at the Maplewood-Alta Vista Recreation Center at 5209 Alta Vista Road, Bethesda. The course fee is $85 for Montgomery County residents, $95 for non-residents. To pre-register, call the recreation department, 240/777-6900.
Bass boss at Timonium show
Come and meet Ray Scott, the man who founded the international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and who is credited with turning bass fishing into the top recreational fishing activity in the land. Scott, author of the book "Bass Boss," will be at the 18th annual Fishing Expo & Boat Show from Jan. 10 to 13 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, where he will give fishing addicts a chance to talk bassin'.
Scott will be at the show as a special guest of Triton Boats, the best-selling fiberglass bass boat in the country. Triton president Earl Bentz, designer of the popular high-performance hull, also will be there to discuss his company's lineup of 2002 fiberglass rigs and all-new aluminum bass boats.
Visit with Scott and Bentz in the Triton dealers displays and booths Jan. 11 in the late afternoon and evening and Jan. 12 all day. Of course, every maker of bass boats and other fishing craft also will have displays, along with aisle after aisle filled with tackle, and booths staffed with fishing guides, charter boat captains and taxidermists.
Fly-fishing talk
The Kent Narrows Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association/Maryland invites the public to its 7:30 p.m. meeting Jan. 14 at the Fisherman's Inn in Grasonville (Eastern Shore). Ron Franks will present an "all you wanted to know about fly fishing in salt water" program. Information: Richard Markman, 410/643-9660.
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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