- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

Our annual yellow perch watch has begun. No, this doesn't concern the yellow beauties that live in tidal, Middle Atlantic creeks and rivers year-round. No, it's time to keep an eye on various perch spawning waters that soon will see visitors from far away, deep ledges in the Chesapeake Bay down in Virginia and coastal areas elsewhere. As soon as the water temperatures reach a steady 46 to 48 degrees, the visiting perch males' and females' thoughts (if they're capable of such processes) will turn to romance.
The usually smaller males will arrive by the thousands, flitting about the rivers and tributary streams, readily inhaling small shad darts, plastic grubs, live or dead grass shrimp, minnows, even garden worms. Then the larger roe-bearing females arrive in the headwaters of the streams to release long, gelatinous streamers of eggs that will cling to sunken trees, branches and gravel bars. As soon as this happens, the skinny males approach the eggs and squirt life-giving milt onto the roe, fertilizing it, and the sun will take over to complete the hatching process.
Of course, even the resident perch that we've been hooking and releasing in most instances all through the winter in Potomac and Patuxent tributaries will join in this reproductive cycle, but thus far it hasn't happened.
Water temperatures in Charles County's Nanjemoy Creek to name one of the perch creeks stood at 40 degrees Wednesday. Resident perch in the creek readily accepted small, chartreuse Berkley Power Grubs and avocado or shrimp color Mann's Sting Rays, but catch numbers will increase dramatically later this month as their anadromous cousins arrive join them.
When it happens in the Potomac's Wicomico, Nanjemoy, Aquia, Mattawoman, Occoquan, Pohick Bay and other areas, as well as the Patuxent's Wayson's Corner and its Mattaponi or Western Branch feeders, we'll let you know.
Meanwhile, in the tidal Potomac River, fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski of the Reel Bass Adventures group says his fishing has been excellent.
"Bass are holding along ledges and in the bends of the creeks, near water that's at least 12 feet deep," he says. "They will hit avocado grubs, Silver Buddies and small plastic worms on drop-shot rigs. During the afternoon, after the sun has warmed the water, the bass move into the shallows along the ledges. Good numbers of large yellow perch are being found in holes 14 to 17 feet deep, and they will hit small chartreuse tube baits rigged on 1/8-ounce jig heads. Crappies are concentrated on cover along the ledges and are partial to small tubes or small Silver Buddy-type baits."
Elsewhere, in Virginia's Chickahominy River, one angler took five bass up to three pounds on silver blade baits, and others are doing as well or even better. There have also been some catches of crappies, catfish, even scattered striped bass. One weekly bass tournament on the "Chick," as the locals call it, was won with a five-bass catch that weighed 15.73 pounds.
In the tidal James River, the Fin and Skin Shop in Varina says Richmonder Chris Harris landed a 68-pound blue catfish, the largest catfish caught in Virginia in some while. Blue catfish of 54, 49 and 30 pounds have also been weighed in the shop.
As concerns the yellow perch, a few early traveling arrivals are noted in the James, as well as the lower Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers south of Bowling Green, Va. But remember, the run has not yet started.
In the large Virginia lakes, Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston deliver bass, a few stripers and crappies. Interestingly, some of the bass have attacked Rat-L-Trap and Speed Shad lures that normally are associated with much warmer water.
At Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, the High Point Marina's Carlos Wood says the bass fishing was great this past week at the extreme upper and lower ends of the lake and also at Dike 3, Valentine Cove, Terry's Run, and Duck-In-Hole Creek. On sunny days, the fish can be found in three to six feet of water from midday until evening. Shallows near deep water are the most productive. Use lures such as the Smithwick Rogue, Sluggos and Senkos for good results.
Public input sought The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is hosting various meetings to receive comments from the public on department programs, regulations and management of Virginia's wildlife, including wildlife that is not part of hunting, fishing or trapping. Interested citizens are invited to attend and make comments tha will be considered by the VDGIF as it refines current programs and develop staff recommendations for amendments to regulations.
The nearest meeting for Northern Virginians will be in Stafford (Fredericksburg area), 7 p.m., March 7, at the Porter Branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, Room A, 2001 Parkway Boulevard, Stafford, Va.
For more information contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 804/367-1000; www.dgif.state.va.us.

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