- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2002

The desire to go fishing rises as the temperature climbs. You should have seen the fishermen this week. Even during a rainy period, it was comfortable enough to await a bite from a perch, bass or catfish in a number of places.
We spotted anglers carrying rods, pails with minnows and tackle boxes by the side of I-295 next to the Spoils Cove near Wilson Bridge. There were minnow bait-using bottom anglers at the Nanjemoy Creek's public fishing pier at Friendship Landing Road in Charles County. In Fairfax County several fishermen set up shop under the railroad bridge on the shores of the Occoquan River.
All of them wanted a little fishing action. Some got it, while others simply enjoyed the opportunity to be away from their homes.
We went after yellow perch inside the Occoquan River around the I-95 bridge abutments and couldn't find anything but small specimens. However, they weren't bashful about biting small Smelly Jelly-dabbed tube jigs on drop-shot rigs.
If you're wondering what a drop-shot rig is all about, imagine setting up a weighted bottom outfit that is used to catch a white perch or a crappie. Drop-shotting is similar, only it is intended for artificial "bait," not the real McCoy.
You tie a small hook to the monofilament, leaving enough line two or three feet trailing under the hook to attach a light sinker. Pierce a plastic grub or tube to the hook, dab it with fish attractant, then cast it out. The fish will do the rest. It spots the lure above the bottom while you gently raise and lower the rod tip from time to time to give the artificial food the look of a live object.
Read what local fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski has to say about your chances on the tidal Potomac this weekend: "We are making good catches of bass, crappie and yellow perch. The fish are in their winter patterns and can be caught by fishing ledges adjacent to 10 feet of water of more. Best baits have been the drop-shot rig. I use a 3-inch Berkley Pulse Worm or Power Shad, as well as the 4-inch Berkley Bungee worm. Drop-shot rigged tube baits work well, as does the Mann's 3-inch Sting Ray grub on a 1/8-ounce jig head or blade baits such as Silver Buddies and Cicadas. Anglers who look for stripers around the Morgantown Power Plant [Route 301] should watch out for commercial nets in the area."
As far as fishing action elsewhere is concerned, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Jack Randolph says on the tidal Chickahominy River (near Williamsburg), it took 8.6 pounds to win a snowy bass tournament last Saturday. A few catfish also were brought in. David Bishop of Lanexa, Va., had a blue "cat" that weighed 36.7 pounds. The source of the river, Chickahominy Lake, has been pretty good for bass and pickerel that have shown a decided preference for live minnows. Winter water will do that to some predator fish species. The lake also turns up a few fat yellow perch.
If it's blue catfish you like, the tidal James River below Richmond has been best. Last weekend the Castaway Sporting Goods store in Dutch Gap, on the river shore, said one local angler weighed blue catfish that weighed 43, 281/2, 281/4 and 23 pounds.
In the south central part of the state, Buggs Island Lake (also known as Kerr Reservoir) continues to be nine feet below normal pool. However, Bobcat's Lake Country store says anglers are finding 2- and 3-pound bass on jigs and grubs. More than a few well-fed crappies are hooked. The water temperature fluctuates between 42 and 47 degrees.
At Kerr's sister lake, Gaston, Bobby Colston at the Tackle Box in Gaston says the fishing has been slow. There are some chances to hook a few crappies, but that's a long drive for a fish you can hook right here in the Potomac or one of its feeder creeks.
Closer to Washington, at Lake Anna west of Fredericksburg, the High Point Marina's Carlos Wood says bass can be found in deep water on structure and around lake points. The fish are found in eight to 22 feet of water. Wood says the bass come to shallower water during warm, sunny days and pigs 'n' jigs, Silver Buddies or Sassy Shad lures will do the job.
Lake Anna's land-locked stripers are roaming about from the 208 bridge up to Stubbs Bridge and Rose Valley. Some of the rockfish have been noted in the mouths of Contrary and Sturgeon creeks. Watch for the sea gulls, and whenever they appear to be feeding in a certain spot, move in quietly not with the motor screaming at 6,000 RPMs and try top water poppers or deep-running crankbaits or Sassy Shad lures.
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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