- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 6, 2003

What a wonderful sight yesterday: a bass boat near the rock line at Fox Ferry Point on the Potomac River, its occupants methodically lifting and lowering their fishing rods. It was obvious they used some sort of plastic grub or dropshot rigs with tiny finesse worms. Whatever it was, the two bass hounds proved that being there was better than sitting in front of the boob tube.
Despite ongoing icy shoreline stretches here and there, even an icebreaker recently running up the Potomac to keep the shipping lane open seems like a bad dream. Thanks to warmer weather earlier this week, much of the frozen stuff has disappeared, so even though local forecasters call for more cold temperatures today and tomorrow, slightly warmer conditions by the weekend will allow you to give certain tidal waters a shot.
We checked the Mattawoman Creek around the Slavins boat ramp in downtown Indian Head, Md., this week and the water was open but lots of debris and dead marsh grass was floating. Could you fish it? If you absolutely had to drop a line into the water, it could be done.
A check of the Nanjemoy Creek's Friendship Road Landing in Charles County revealed open water in the launch area and upstream but some ice chunks in the broad expanse downstream of the ramp.
Scuttlebutt has it that some anglers find yellow perch from the little boaters pier at the creek, but the fellow we watched for a good while never caught a thing and he was using live minnows.
Then there's local Waldorf angler Ed Meadows, who told an acquaintance of ours that he fished the same Friendship Landing Road pier and, with a little help from a fishing pal, had 100 yellow perch a few days ago. They used live minnows and, of course, released a majority of their fish. The same source also said that Meadows' perch were of good size.
No, the yellow perch spawning run has not begun. The yellow perch we're talking about are resident fish that in anticipation of a late February spawn are beginning to stage in deep depressions inside tidal creeks. They soon will be joined by arrivals from the deepest holes in the lower Chesapeake Bay.
Whenever the run begins, you'll be told about it in this space.
From the south-central parts of Virginia, word comes that Kerr Reservoir (also known as Buggs Island Lake) shows very little action. A smattering of crappies is found around deep-water docks and lake dropoffs. Live shiners are a must this time of year.
In the saltwater parts of the state, party boats that leave Virginia Beach's Rudee Inlet return with unusually large sea bass that love clam or mullet baits.
And along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, striped bass are hooked by boaters just off the beaches and well outside the range of even the best surf casters. Surf anglers connect on a few puppy drum and speckled sea trout between Avon and Buxton, with chartreuse plastic grubs working well. Distant offshore boaters hook tunas, but catches are up and down, very unpredictable.
Drift gill nets stopped; could start again
The new Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, C. Ronald Franks, has announced that the winter Chesapeake Bay striped bass drift gill net fishery will close as of today. The DNR's Fisheries Service has determined that the monthly quota for February will have been attained. Striped bass must be checked in no later than 9 p.m. on the day of harvest.
The drift gill net method of catching rockfish is a particular thorn in the side of sport anglers and conservationists. It has been outlawed in several Southern states, yet Maryland continues to think of it as a viable way to allow watermen to "harvest" rockfish. Incidentally, if it is determined that the monthly quota was not attained after all, the drift gill nets will reappear on the Chesapeake Bay.
The whole deal is shameful.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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