- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

It'll be interesting to see just how many of our area's fishermen will try to make it to the water today. After the snow storm that paralyzed our region, many of the local boat launching ramps probably will still be inaccessible, but Charles County fishing guide Dale Knupp says he'll be out looking for yellow perch. "It's time for them to start thinking of heading upstream, so I'll be checking on them," he said.

Knupp is not talking about the far upper reaches of streams where these harbingers of spring eventually begin to spew forth their ribbon-like roe. Most likely, that won't happen until the end of the month, perhaps not until the first week of March.

However, Knupp and like-minded perch hunters now scour the deep bends of the Mattawoman, Nanjemoy, Aquia and Occoquan creeks that flow into the tidal Potomac. Others will do the same in the tidal Patuxent's Mattaponi Creek and Western Branch in Prince George's County. Virginians will begin to search for perch in the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers down past Bowling Green, south of Port Royal.

In 10- to 12-feet of water they'll use drop-shot rigs with tiny plastic finesse worms, or 2-inch plastic grubs on [1/8]-ounce jig hooks. Better yet, for some only live minnows or grass shrimp on two-hook bottom rigs will do. The users of plastic baits are well advised to dab a little Smelly Jelly or some other fish attractant onto their lures. It will help.

If you can reach the spots, perch are now available in small numbers from the Wayson's Corner public access on the Patuxent (Route 4 on the Prince George's/Anne Arundel counties line). The Wayson's Corner stretch of the Patuxent can be a very good perch producer some years. If the run gets under way by next weekend, check this place out.

Some fair catches of deep-water yellow perch are possible now and then from the Friendship Landing Road's public boating and fishing pier on the Nanjemoy Creek (off Route 425, near Hilltop, Charles County). If a boat can be launched at the free ramp, your chances improve greatly in some of the upstream creek bends.

Some yellow perch are hooked by minnow dunkers beneath the railroad bridge in the Occoquan Creek on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and if a body could slosh through snow and underbrush around the Spoils Cove (just upstream of the Wilson Bridge on the Maryland side), a few crappies, perch and bass could definitely be induced into slurping up a shiner or minnow, if not an artificial grub of some type.

Things to do when it's nasty out - If you'd rather wait until the sun melts all of the white stuff that has been dumped on us, you can stay occupied indoors.

For example, hunters who know that their season has ended for now will need to clean their rifles and shotguns. Coat metal parts with a thin layer of fine oil and store the firearms barrel-down in your gun cabinet. Why barrel-down? My friend Bob Rice showed me what happened when a .22-cal.

semi-automatic rifle malfunctioned. Years of small amounts of oil had collected while the rifle stood barrel-up. Bob unclogged the auto-loading mechanism, then told me to put the barrel down. "You won't have any problems from now on," he said, and he was right.

Anglers can spruce up spinnerbait or inline spinner blades by polishing them with a soapy Brillo or SOS pad. The fine steel wool pads restore luster to the blades, but be sure to rinse thoroughly and wipe them dry with a paper towel. Crankbaits, rattle baits or topwater lures that show signs of chipped paint can be touched up with, of all things, fingernail polish.

Drug stores carry a wide variety of colors. Each bottle comes with its own little brush. You'll find this kind of "paint" very hard and definitely worth the effort.

A turkey-talking evening — Chase the winter blues away with an "Evening to Talk Turkey," Thursday, March 13, 6 to 9 p.m., at Dick's Sporting Goods store in Columbia.

If you are serious about hunting wild gobblers, at a cost of $5 (under 16, free) you'll spend three hours with five-time turkey calling world champion Matt Morrett of Hunters Specialties.

Morrett will be joined by TV hunting show host Michael Waddell, who also is a RealTree camouflage pro staffer, and Quaker Boy Game Calls pro staffer Ernie Candrelli will talk about how to get your turkey, while Remington Hevi-Shot pro staffer Mark Isenhart talks about proper shotgun loads. By the way, most of your admission fee will be donated to the Maryland State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Dick's Sporting Goods is located in the shopping center on Columbia Crossing Circle, off Dobbin Road.


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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