- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 25, 2004

OK, so the wind and an unplanned deep freeze earlier this week weren’t exactly conducive to great fish catches, but — trust me — things are perking up.

It can begin with the shoreline anglers around the Marshall Hall side of the Potomac River in Charles County. Those who use worms, grass shrimp or last year’s frozen crab pieces are connecting on white perch.

If the white perch are around Marshall Hall, that means by this weekend they’ll probably be a bunch of them at Fletcher’s Boat House. You know Fletcher’s — the old-time, popular Washington hangout off Canal Road in Georgetown.

Ray Fletcher told me that some white perch and herring already are in his sector, and by today and tomorrow there should be hordes of them. If not, they’ll be there shortly. Fletcher also told me that a smattering of hickory shad is noted. The presence of the “poor man’s tarpon” also will increase. Fletcher’s has rental boats and also offers Potomac River shore fishing opportunities. For information, call 202/244-0461.

White perch fans using ⅛-ounce green/white or red/white shad darts, as well as small inline spinners, curly-tailed grubs or Silver Buddy lures tied to light line and fished from ultra-light spinning outfits, can score in the Allen’s Fresh sector of the Wicomico River as long as there’s an incoming tide. If it’s ebbing, the fishing is lousy. Check out also the insides of the Occoquan River, parts of the Mattawoman Creek and probably most of the feeder creeks that empty into the Potomac.

The Mattawoman, by the way, has shown more signs of willing bass in the middle to upper reaches of the creek. Up past the railroad tracks, you’ll find some spawned out yellow perch now and then, plus a few white perch.

The Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Va., shows some white perch, herring and hickory shad, but the weekend should see more fish arrivals if the weather stays warm. Don’t know yet whether the Embrey Dam opening will move the shad into new, untried territory. It’ll be fun looking for new shad fishing spots.

Shad and a smattering of herring are also hooked around the Walker’s Dam area of the Chickahominy River, near Williamsburg.

What about the bass? — Slowly worked 3-inch Mann’s Sting Ray grubs that are generously dabbed with baitfish-flavored Smelly Jelly will see action around the undulating bottom and shoreline structure of the Potomac from Woodrow Wilson Bridge up to the Blue Plains plant. Don’t overlook the Spoils Cove, where some decent bass and crappies are hooked.

One of the river bass guides tells me that 4-inch-long red rib worms also do well, as will deep-cranked, long-lipped lures in bronze or gold finish, also red, or firetiger colors.

Bass also have been hooked all over Virginia, especially at Kerr and Gaston lakes on the Virginia/Carolina state line. Kerr, also known as Buggs Island Lake, shows quality crappies and occasional striper action. Here, too, grubs, worms, slow-rolled spinnerbaits, medium depth and deep crankbaits can do the job.

Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, will turn up crappies, a few bass and some stripers. The wind has been tough down there, and sunny, warm, windless weather will be a godsend.

Next Thursday, we’ll begin running our detailed fishing report that provides dozens of fishing spots, location route numbers and mileages from Washington.

Change of heart — Based on public feedback from recreational anglers, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is withdrawing proposed regulations to restrict the use of certain baits and lures in designated striped bass spawning areas between March1 and May31, when fishing for striped bass is not permitted, and during the Susquehanna Flats catch-and-release season.

The regulations were initially introduced to address both the potential of striped bass bycatch fishing mortality associated with using bait and the intentional targeting of striped bass in spawning reaches.

The DNR will address fishery-management concerns regarding these sensitive areas and develop specific recommendations for using circle hooks in particular sectors of the Chesapeake region.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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