- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

Shoreline anglers will be happy to learn that a fairly strong spawning run of white perch is under way in Charles County's Wicomico River in an area known as Allen's Fresh on Route 234, off U.S. Route 301.
White perch aren't finicky. All you need is a lightweight spinning rod, the reel loaded with 6- or 8-pound test monofilament (although some of the anglers use thin diameter super-braids to help them retrieve snagged lures), and a handful of 1/8-ounce white/red or chartreuse/red shad darts. Cast your dart out across the creek and slowly, steadily retrieve it. The perch will do the rest. Other lures that work well are ⅛-ounce Roadrunner or Stump Jumper lures, as are small white or chartreuse curly-tailed grubs. Bait is really not needed, but if you insist a grass shrimp on the bottom or some kind of worm bait will do nicely.
While the white perch are charging up the Wicomico, the same is happening in the Patuxent River around Wayson's Corner, but not yet in the District's portion of the Potomac River.
"They're not here," said Ray Fletcher of Fletcher's Boat House. "We haven't put our rental boats into the water yet but probably will have them ready by next weekend." Call 202/244-0461 to check if the fish are biting at the Fletcher's boat livery.
What was so odd this year is the total lack of yellow perch spawners at Allen's Fresh. No one seems to know what happened. Was it the acid content in the water or the commercial netters, the watermen who are allowed to fill their mesh with the spawning perch?
Reel Bass Adventures guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) had a party of yellow perch anglers in his boat yesterday, and his youthful charges were happy with their catches in the upper reaches of the Mattawoman Creek. My friend Bob Rice and I fished near the guide, and we, too, had plenty of spawned-out female yellow perch, one bass and a fat crappie.
All our fish came on a 2-inch-long, firetiger color Berkley Power grub rigged onto a 1/8-ounce jig hook. Andrzejewski says the water temperature stands around 50 degrees, and a mixed bag of bass, crappies and perch is definitely possible from the District down to the Mattawoman if you fish slowly with Mann's Sting Ray grubs dabbed with Smelly Jelly. In fact, good numbers of bass and crappies are taken up around the Spoils, near Wilson Bridge.
Down the road, the Fredericksburg part of the Rappahannock River delivers spawning white perch. Farther down around Hicks Landing, Chris Hicks says that electroshock tests of the river showed a few early hickory shad but no hook-and-line catches yet. Local anglers are worried about too many blue catfish being caught by trotliners in the Rappahannock.
We can't figure it out, but Virginia simply does not have many regulations governing its tidal water species in the rivers. For example, a Virginian can keep all the yellow perch he wants, but a Marylander is held to a limit of five fish. Why? In the case of the Potomac, these are the same fish that travel upstream to fish. Some turn left into Maryland, some into Virginia.
At Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir), the crappie catches are picking up steam. Even a handful of bass are hooked on soft plastics in 10 to 15 feet of water. At neighboring Lake Gaston, the bass are quite active as jerkbaits, soft plastic grubs and dropshot rigs with short plastic worms do well in the creeks around varied bottom structure.
Down at Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, the bass fishing could be better, but some good-size bass are fooled by jerkbaits, dropshot rigs, deep crankbaits and jigged spoons. Stripers are found between Sturgeon Creek and Dike No.3. Use Sassy Shads or large, live shiners.

Turkey seminar Don't forget the free turkey hunting seminar at Dawson's Small Arms of the World, 14510 Jefferson Davis Highway, Woodbridge, Va., on Sunday at 2 p.m. Dawson's and the Wild Turkey Federation want you to come and learn all the basics of turkey hunting, such as when to use various calls, how to locate the birds, safe hunting tips, etc. But call and reserve a space; seating is limited. Information and reservations: 703/490-3308.

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