- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003

Insiders to mid-Atlantic states striper fishing know that a sizable population of large rockfish winters between Virginia's barrier islands, as well as around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel between Norfolk and Cape Charles and the North Carolina coast. So it came as no surprise when Calvert County, Md., resident John Treicis sent us a photo of a fine rockfish he took along Virginia's Eastern Shore before New Year's Day.
Treicis spends much of his fishing time in Wachapreague, Va. He wrote, "I was well aware of the striper fishery off the Virginia barrier islands. For the past four winters I have ventured out in the ocean in search of these fish, and I am amazed how few fisherman target them. We've caught them in water temperatures ranging from 42 to 48 degrees, and they feed on menhaden, sand eels, sometimes shrimp.
"While I was moving my boat from Wachapreague to Cambridge, Md., we came upon an acre of striped bass feeding on menhaden about two miles off Smith Island, Va., in the Atlantic.We were the only boat there and caught fish from 10 to 45 pounds. After 30 years fishing, I finally caught a citation-sized striper. [It measured] 45 inches and weighed 44 pounds, 9 ounces."
Treicis and his friend, Ricky Bailess, usually troll for their fish, but if a swarm of gannets gives away a school of feeding stripers, they cast spoons and Rapala plugs into the frenzied fish, or they jig for them with bucktails.
The perch search begins As you read this, three of us will be out in a bass boat on one or more Southern Maryland feeder creeks to the Potomac River, looking for yellow perch.
Sure, the spawning run is a long way off (it doesn't normally happen until late February or even early March), but we know there are resident yellow perch hanging out in the deep holes found in Virginia tributaries, such as the Aquia, Potomac, Quantico and Occoquan creeks. The same goes for Maryland in places like the Spoils Cove near Wilson Bridge, parts of the Piscataway and the Mattawoman, Chicamuxen and Nanjemoy creeks. And when you head downriver, past the Route 301 bridge that connects Charles County, Md., to King George County, Va., there will be some resident perch and soon-to-arrive spawners from the depths of the lower Chesapeake Bay in Potomac feeders, including the Wicomico River in Charles County, and particularly the Nomini Bay (and creek by the same name) in Westmoreland County, Va.
The same is true of the tidal Patuxent River anywhere between Jackson Landing in Prince George's County (off Croom Airport Road) and Wayson's Corner in Anne Arundel County, Md. The Western Branch tributary that flows into the Patuxent just upstream of Jackson Landing also can be a perch source.
Where fish can be caught In response to newcomers to our area who want to see if they can hook something while it's cold and uninviting, we must say that your chances are greatly reduced without the mobility of a boat. However, some kind of action is possible even while standing on firm ground.
The best of the lot right now will be the Spoils Cove, a part of the tidal Potomac River just upstream of the Wilson Bridge. Park your car along the side of I-295 just before it reaches the access lane to Virginia. Be sure to stay clear of "No Parking" areas, then walk through the woods to the shore of the Spoils. Bring some minnows and bobbers or use small grubs and shad darts under a plastic float to fish around myriad underwater obstacles. Crappies, perch, sunfish and bass can be caught.
Freshwater fans can drive along Maryland Route 28 in Montgomery County to Dickerson, Md., and the Pepco power plant, where a Potomac River warm-water fishing area is available. Park the car near the plant and walk up the C&O; Canal Towpath to the fishing access. Catfish, bass, sunfish and maybe a few walleyes are possible, and live minnows seem to produce quicker than artificials.
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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