- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

Angel Bolinger, a biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries Service, reported this week that people have been fishing through the ice in the coves of Deep Creek Lake in Maryland's westernmost county, Garrett.
Bolinger said some of the fishermen were pulling out beautiful yellow perch averaging 10 inches in length, as well as chain pickerel, walleyes and sunfish. "Mealworms, waxworms, minnows, and maggots have been good bait options," she said.
The DNR's Martin Gary was at Deep Creek Lake earlier this month and chatted with ice anglers. One fishing duo he talked with was Sheldon Daugherty and grandson Jordan of Altoona, Pa. The Daughertys like ice fishing because it's perfect for grandpa and grandson to spend quality time with one another. They told Gary that while they fished in the middle of Deep Creek Lake's McHenry Cove, across from the Wisp ski resort, they caught fine numbers of yellow perch and one nice walleye on live minnows, fished beneath special tip-up rigs. The two also battled a large northern pike, but it broke off before they could pull it through the hole and swing it out onto the ice.
Meanwhile, don't get any ideas of doing the ice fishing thing around the Washington area. Even if you see a frozen pond or the frozen cove of a local reservoir, it's not safe. Around these parts, you'd need weeks of nasty below-20 degree weather to even begin thinking of ice fishing. And if it ever happens, forget fishing through the ice in our tidal waters. That should never be considered safe, no matter what kind of weather we see.
Not long ago, a Minnesota-style cold wave visited the Chesapeake Bay region, and some fishermen ventured out onto tidal water ice and actually connected on a few white perch. The Eastern Bay, in the Kent Island sector of the Eastern Shore, was one. The ice formed and the locals were convinced that it was thick enough to hold a vehicle. It was if you drove a Volkswagen. However, it wasn't when an oysterman tried to save a little time and take a shortcut across the frozen water. He yelled for help when his truck sank through the stuff and he lost his valuable cargo.
During another hard freeze, the Mattawoman Creek's upper parts around the town of Mason Springs appeared to be hard enough to let a friend and I walk out onto the ice and try to poke a hole through it in hopes of catching crappies and chain pickerel.
My partner obviously smarter than I am made it back to shore as soon as ominous cracking noises were heard. I wasn't as fortunate. Luckily, I broke through in less than 5 feet of water and eventually was able to reach firm ground, wet as a dog and totally miserable.
Ever since that fateful day, I've become convinced that the best use for ice is as a cooling agent in a tall gin and tonic. It's not meant to be fished through, the enthusiasm of my friend Angel Bolinger notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, back in open water, Potomac River bass guide Andy Andrzejewski of the Reel Bass Adventures group says he fished the tidal waters of the Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County several days ago. A few bass were hooked, as well as a couple of resident white and yellow perch, but things were a bit slow overall.
"The water temperature was 37," he said, "and most of the bass were suspended and difficult to catch. The best bait was the Rattlesnake Minnow Tube in chartreuse. Since Thursday, the water temperatures have dropped to near freezing, and icing will become a real problem."
Still, if you can make it up to the Potomac's Spoils Cove, the Fox Ferry Point area and the Blue Plains Discharge Pipe, you should catch bass. The pro guide prefers Mann's 3-inch Sting Ray grubs in avocado color, or a 3-inch tube in watermelon, as well as a drop shot rig with a Berkley Drop Shot Minnow in the emerald shiner color. He says you must fish very slowly in water that is at least 10 feet deep.
"A shake of the rod tip once in a while helps," he said, but right now he hopes the weather improves to the point where water temperatures reach at least the low 40s.
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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