- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

My Charles County neighbor, Dale Knupp, a local fishing guide and occasional tournament angler, called a few days ago with news that he bought a new and ferociously powerful 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard motor for his bass boat.
"I need to break it in a little more and I have a club tournament on the Nanticoke River," he said. "So let's kill two birds with one stone and go to the shore, find out where the bass hang out and put a little time on the motor."
The "Shore," of course, is the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the mostly agricultural flatlands east of the Chesapeake Bay. This part of the state, by the way, is crisscrossed by a variety of tidal streams and rivers that are home to largemouth bass, white and yellow perch, stripers, sunfish, chain pickerel and catfish.
Not long ago, the Eastern Shore was the kind of place where a body could launch a boat, fish all day, and never see anything other than a farmer on a tractor, maybe a gaggle of wild geese, some ducks and whitetailed deer. That has changed somewhat because of increased development, but compared to our own Potomac River the Shore's waters go practically unused.
Because of threatening winds and plummeting temperatures, Knupp wisely decided that one of the Nanticoke's major feeder streams, the beautifully winding Marshyhope Creek, would be the ideal hiding spot.
He launched his boat at the free ramp of the public Marina Park on Route 319 just outside Federalsburg in Caroline County. Not long thereafter he ran smoothly downstream toward the creek's junction with the broad Nanticoke, slowed the boat, shut down its outboard engine and slipped a quiet electric trolling motor over the bow.
"I'm going to use the October worm today," Knupp announced. His remark might confuse strangers, but the two of us have fished together so often that I knew what he was talking about. It's about a blue-fleck, 4-inch-long, scented Berkley Power Bait Ribworm that has proved to be so incredibly effective in the fall and early months of winter every year, it was dubbed October Worm some years ago. Yes, it already was November that day on the Marshyhope, but if Reggie Jackson hits a ball across a stadium wall in November, wouldn't baseball fans still think of him as Mr. October? The same thing applies to one of the doggonest plastic baits ever made our beloved October Worm.
Knupp rigged the blue, sparkly worm in Texas-style, starting with a 1/16-ounce slip sinker on the line, then tying a good knot to the hook's eyelet. That was followed by inserting the hook point through the worm's head about a quarter inch, pulling it down and out, then hiding the point back inside the worm about an inch down. It's a snag-free way to fish. He cast the plastic fake toward a mass of sunken trees, branches and stumps, allowed it to settle, then moved it gently with the lifting of his rod.
Just like that, something picked up the artificial bait. The line moved sharply to the right while the morning breeze should have forced it to the left. Knupp swiftly set the hook and almost instantly a largemouth bass churned in the shallows in a maze of waterlogged wood.
The bass wasn't a trophy specimen, but it was well over 12 inches, beautifully marked and definitely worth catching. "That's number one," said Knupp.
Moments later, the October Worm did it for me. The fish looked to be the twin to the bass Knupp caught. "That's number two," said the guide, who normally spends his time on the waters around Washington, but also has a thorough knowledge of Eastern Shore rivers.
The casting of our plastic worms continued.
Off in the distance, a bald eagle cackled and pretty soon showed himself in all his glory, cruising with the wind, obviously enjoying the brisk autumn day.
We continued to move along the wood-strewn shoreline, past beaver huts and broken trees, occasionally hooking a bass, sometimes getting our hooks stuck in submerged obstacles. It was all part of a bass fisherman's day.
Just before lunch, the two of us had 11 bass, one yellow perch, and a half dozen twigs that acted every bit alive when we set the hooks to them.
It was cold and windy and the two of us ached for a cup of hot coffee. (We'd forgotten to bring a thermos.)
"Let's load up and head down the road a bit," I suggested. "I saw a doughnut shop along Route 404. We ought to be able to find some caffeine there."
It was a done deal. Knupp accomplished what he came to do. His Evinrude got a little workout; he located the bass he needed come tournament time and he was satisfied that they would again like the blue-fleck Berkley Ribworm.
For the umpteenth time in our lives, the October Worm was a winner.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. e-mail:[email protected]

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