- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

As expected, the warmer than usual weather has resulted in very productive fishing in these parts. It begins with a pretty good spawning run of yellow perch in the Allen's Fresh portion of Charles County's Wicomico River. The "Fresh," as locals call it, lies east of Route 301, on Route 234. You can reach it by driving south on 301 through La Plata, Bel Alton and Faulkner, then turn left on 234.
The biggest problem there is access. A narrow lane on the east side of the bridge that crosses the narrow river allows a bit of it, but things can get crowded, so if you're the grumpy type, forget it.
If you have waders, you could climb down an embankment and fish under or downstream of the bridge. Waders are primarily intended to ford small tidal cuts to reach the river's banks. Best catch methods thus far have been small shad darts or plastic grubs under a bobber. Cast it out, twitch the rod tip from time to time and keep an eye on the float. If it moves suddenly, or dips erratically, set the hook. It'll be a yellow perch.
The minimum size is set at nine inches, and your hook's inside barb must be pinched down. Five perch per day is all you can have, so be selective and wait for some of the fat 12-inchers that travel up this way. How long will the run last? Maybe into next week, not much longer after that.
Yellow perch also have been hooked in the upper Mattawoman Creek, the Occoquan River, some of the shorelines around Wilson Bridge, portions of the upper Patuxent River between Wayson's Corner and close to Route 50 but also in the Patuxent's feeder creeks, such as the Mattaponi, Hall, and Western Branch.
Then come the bass. Tidal water catches are super most days as water temperatures are getting closer to the 50-degree mark. Yesterday I watched guide Andy Andrzejewski of Reel bass Adventures hook a dozen exceptionally well-fed bass in a Southern Maryland feeder to the Potomac in a matter of four hours, and he also had fat perch.
And what about our sometime fishing partner, Dick Fox, who e-mailed: "Just got back from Mattawoman Creek, action was kind of slow, caught eight bass and a few perch. I had one smallmouth bass, a 2-pounder. Caught it at Trash Point on a crankbait. Any thoughts on why a smallmouth might be there?"
Actually, smallmouth bass in the tidal Potomac, Patuxent or Rappahannock rivers are not unheard of. These normally freshwater-only fish occasionally wash over various natural or man-made falls during flood situations and do very well in tidal water, readily striking artificial baits. What is not known is whether they might be able to reproduce in tidal water. Biologists say they won't, but back in the 1960s and '70s, some fisheries scientists said that largemouth bass couldn't reproduce in tidal water. You now know how wrong that assessment was.
More bass successes are heard from Lake Anna, Va., the Chickahominy River near Williamsburg, the Patuxent in Prince George's County, and just about every tidal part of the Potomac and its tributaries from the District down to western Charles County.
Speak out against HB 331 The Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association (MSSA) says, "We need you today in Annapolis to stand up for recreational fishing."
The Legislature intends to hand over our fisheries to the Maryland Waterman's Association. Do not let commercial fishermen take total control of our resources. This is a critical situation. We stand to lose it all. You can't afford not to come. Bring your friends, get the word out to others, carpool, whatever it takes.
Buses will be available from the [Navy] stadium parking lot, just off of Rte. 50 on Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis, every 15 minutes. We recommend you get to the lot by 11 a.m. if you want to sign up to testify before the 1 p.m. deadline. Get on the bus and ask for the Lowe House Office Building. MSSA people will be at the Environmental Matters Committee room to coordinate activities.
The controversial bill would establish a marine fisheries commission, a majority of which would be made up of the commercial fishing industry kind of like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.
And speak for HB 664 The bill that would establish a Wildlife and Inland Fisheries Commission in Maryland will be heard at 1 p.m. today in Room 160 of the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis. It would remove the hunting and freshwater fishing responsibilities from the DNR, a move desired by many of the state's sportsmen because the DNR really isn't paying the kind of attention to those sports that it should.

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