- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

With weather forecasts looking favorable, check out the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Va., because schools of spawning hickory shad are showing up in good numbers.

The shad are striking erratically retrieved tandem rigs of fluorescent green and white darts or tiny gold spoons. Chris Hicks, of Hicks Landing downstream of historic Fredericksburg, has been going into town to check out the fishing, and he reports that the hickory shad are large, with big roe-fish present. Hicks also reports that big, roe-filled herring are in the river around the Route 1 bridge.

The Rappahannock has been up a little and has shown some discoloration, but so far it hasn't affected the fishing. In fact, some smallmouth bass fans upstream of Fredericksburg have done well with flyrods and weighted muddler minnow-style streamers. Incidentally, the full moon period we're under should bring more shad, maybe even a few stripers,

If you're interested in trying the shad, a light spinning rod and reel with 4- or 6-pound-test monofilament line will do nicely. Buy a handful of 1/16-oz. shad darts or pre-tied dart-and-spoon rigs. Drive south on Route 1 from the Woodbridge area and cross the river into Fredericksburg, then turn left through a little maze of roads to reach the municpal park where you can fish along a stretch of riverfront within sight of the bridge. You can also turn right after crossing the Route 1 bridge and park alongside the road, then walk through rock beds and tiny rivulets to reach the river just above the bridge. Be sure to carry a Virginia freshwater fishing license.

In our own Potomac River around the Fletcher's Boat House stretch in Georgetown, there will be some herring and white perch happenings, maybe even a little shad activity this weekend as long as the water isn't muddied from rains. Meanwhile, tidal Potomac fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) of Reel Bass Adventures says water temperatures have ranged from 49 degrees in the main river to 55 in the backs of creeks. He finds well-fed largemouths on rocky main-stem points and on the points at the mouths of feeder creeks. Rat-L-Trap lures and shallow-running crankbaits, as well as Glamour Shad spinnerbaits, Stingray Grubs, and red plastic worms continue to find plenty of action for the guide.

"Look for points with new grass in three to four feet of water," recommends Andrzejewski. "Ledges above the Woodrow Wilson Bridge continue to produce numbers of good-size bass. Emerging grasses around the perimeter of Smoot Bay are also productive. Grubs, shallow running crankbait and slow-rolled spinnerbaits are good here. Wooded banks in the creeks have been productive when fished with red four-inch ring worms, rigged Texas-style with ⅛-ounce slip-sinkers."

Andrzejewski and fellow guide, Dale Knupp (301/934-9062), are out looking for various kinds of fishing action, and they've noticed increasing numbers of rockfish in the 20-inch class on river points between the Woodrow Wilson and Route 301 bridges. The stripers have preferred Stingray grubs coated with Smelly Jelly attractant, the guides said.

By the way, commercial netters in the lower Potomac have seen some large croakers in their mesh. Can the sport catches be far behind? And while checking on some white perch in the Wicomico River at Allen's Fresh in Charles County, I was more than taken aback at the yellow perch bucks I hooked, but no whites took the shad darts. Last weekend a strong run of spawning white perch moved upstream at the Fresh.

Lake Anna, Va., has been a good choice for bass hounds. For example,reader Rick Meadows e-mailed the following: "Bobby Lewis and I fished Lake Anna for bass, and we caught some 2-pounders, then Bobby hooked a nice 4-½ pound bass, all of them downlake on rocks. The big bass was right on the shoreline." The two friends caught all their fish on spinnerbaits with gold blades, slow-rolling the lures along the bottom.

"Tell the readers to be careful at Lake Anna," adds Meadows. "The water is really low. Launching and loading the boat at Anna Point Marina is a little tough, but with a little common sense it is very doable."

Carlos Wood at High Point Marina says the bass are back in shallow water and believes some spawning bed activity might take place in the lower lake during the current full moon. The best lures for him have been stickbaits that suspend under the water, spinnerbaits and shallow-running crankbaits. "But when the bedding begins," says Woods, "lizards and crawfish, and other nest-threatening imitations will be effective."

Lake Anna's landlocked rockfish now bite best at the extreme upper and lower ends of the lake. Crappie catches are not as good as they should be, but some are taken in brush piles that sit in water 10 feet or deeper. If it's big crappies you're after, check out Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake) right now. A 5-year-old boy this week hooked a 2¼ pound Kerr crappie, and Howard Hardy, of Clarksville, had a crappie that weighed 2.42 pounds. The bass fishing at Kerr has been slow for some reason.

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]washingtontimes.com.

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