- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

Considering that it's January and many fish suffer from cold-water lockjaw, catches of bass, crappies and resident yellow perch are definitely possible.

It begins in the Potomac River's best-known tidal tributary, the Mattawoman in Charles County, Md. The gravel bars, ledges and creek channel drops from around Deep Point near the mouth, clear up to and past Slavin's boat ramp, can deliver largemouth bass and occasionally a few well-fed crappies not to mention a yellow perch now and then.

Shoreline anglers who find access to the water above Slavins, past the townhouses, can connect on crappies with minnow-baited bottom rigs, but boaters who know how to use Mann's Sting Ray grubs or Berkley Power Tubes and curly-tailed Power Grubs will see action on all three fish species as long as they take their time and work the plastic "baits" very slowly across the bottom. One-eighth-ounce jig heads (heavier ones if the tidal pull is strong) work well with the grubs even though the hook point is fished totally exposed. So what if you lose a rig now and then? It's all part of the game.

Word also comes from the Occoquan River run to it from the Mattawoman mouth at a slight upstream angle straight across the Potomac where bass and perch haven't been all that bashful about inhaling a scented, plastic grub. Yes, our gang likes a fish attractant known as Smelly Jelly. If your local tackle shop doesn't carry it, ask it to stock it for you. (In Maryland, the Texaco station and tackle shop on the Routes 5 and 6 intersection in Charlotte Hall, St. Mary's County, Md., has it. So does the Guy Brothers Marine Store on Route 234 in Clements, Md., also in St. Mary's County. Or check out Ruth & Dells Bait and Tackle in Woodbridge, Va., on Route 1. You could drop a note to the manufacturer: Catcher Co., 5285 Northeast Elam Young Parkway, B-700, Hillsboro, Ore. 97124. The best flavors for us have been crawdaddy or baitfish.)

If you head up the Potomac toward the Wilson Bridge, boaters and shoreline fishermen who want to work the waters of the Spoils Cove could do a lot worse. Bass and crappies are more than willing some days, not so cooperative on others. It all depends on the stage of the tide. If it's moving especially toward the low stage you'll find crappies and bass among the concrete slabs all around the cove, but shoreliners may have to satisfy themselves with casting toward water-logged wood and stickups.

Some of the bass boaters run up to the Blue Plains Waste Treatment Plant and find bass on grubs, blade baits such as the Cicada and Silver Buddy, even plastic worms.

In the nearby tidal Patuxent, a careful boater who launches at Calvert County's Hallowing Point ramp (across from Benedict), could run upstream to the Chalk Point Power Plant's warm-water discharge channel. Get inside the channel and go up as far as you're allowed, then cast Silver Buddy lures or scented grubs for catch-and-release rockfish or keeper white perch.

Farther up the river, around the Patuxent River Park at Jug Bay, boaters find some bass, a few crappies and yellow perch. Now and then the Western Branch tributary above Jug Bay is best for crappie hunters, especially when the wind blows. The Western Branch offers plenty of protection and lost of flooded brush and trees.

New bass federation Alan Mullis tells us via e-mail that he is the president of the newly formed Nation's Capitol Bass Federation. Says Mullis: "We have just recently received a charter from the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and now are trying to get the word out to increase our membership in Washington D.C. We have received letters of support from Ira Palmer, of the D.C. Fisheries and Wildlife Department, Police Chief Charles Ramsey, Jim Vance of NBC-4, and others. We plan to make a big footprint in Washington during 2002." Want to check this out with Alan? E-mail him at [email protected]

A new wilderness area? A proposal has been made to create a 65,000-acre wilderness area along the Virginia-West Virginia border inside the George Washington National Forest. The Ernie Dickerman Wilderness, most of which would be in Virginia, could become a major wilderness area in the Eastern U.S., but the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior have not yet begun to study the project suggested by the Virginians for Wilderness group that in the past has had some success in establishing protected areas. Currently, the East's largest such area is the 45,000-acre Pemiwegasset Wilderness in New Hampshire.

Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Friday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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