- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2005

Thecurrent run of above-average winter temperatures almost will guarantee the presence of fishermen around the Washington area’s tidal rivers and some of the large reservoirs in Virginia.

Close to home,the upper tidal Patuxent and Potomac rivers show a fair number of willing yellow perch. These perch are not yet in the spawning mode and they are not visitors from distant waters, as will happen in late February when the urge to reproduce brings anadromous fish species into shallow tidal creeks to deposit their roe.

No, these are resident perch that stay here year-round and they can be found in deep creek bends and along marshy dropoffs where they chase minnows for their sustenance. We’ve done well during a number of outings in the past 10 days, finding the perch scattered in most cases but willing to snatch up tiny plastic tubes or rubbery minnow imitations in the 2-inch size attached to 1/8-ounce ball-head jig hooks, as well as 3-inch-long dark green Sting Ray grubs on 1/4-ounce jig hooks. Fish attractants, sprayed or dabbed onto the plastic baits, are a definite help.

Bonus catches in some of the tidal feeder creeks now include largemouth bass, crappies, catfish and carp, even a few pickerel as I recently discovered in the Patuxent.

Down on Virginia’s Lake Anna the crappies have been biting, says local angler Dick Fox, who has found them in sunken brush, around dock pilings and bridge abutments. Some of the boaters target striped bass. Occasionally, early-bird fishermen find entire schools of stripers erupting on the surface and that’s when Rat-L-Trap lures or a variety of topwater poppers and soft jerkbaits in white, gray or blue can do a wonderful job of drawing hits.

Cold weather rockfish — From the Virginia Beach and lower Chesapeake Bay, Ken Neill reported that his annual Christmas Eve trip was a smashing success with sunny, calm weather and lots of action, but the day after Christmas was cloudy and windy. “Small craft advisories were posted with gale force winds predicted by the evening,” he said. “I suggested to my crew that we might just want to fish along Virginia Beach and come in early.” The outing was nearly a wipe-out, with only very small fish to show for the beating they took as they ran nearly up to Wachapreague and back along the Atlantic Coast. However, on the way home the gang found strikes in the area of the Smith Island Lighthouse. They trolled up four citation-size stripers, including one that weighed 46 pounds. It goes to show that rockfish don’t mind nasty weather. It’s the majority of fishermen that does, not the fish.

Outer Banks surf produces — Striped bass, bluefish and red drum, as well as some kingfish and flounder are taken by surf casters on Hatteras Island, N.C. But don’t rush down there before checking current conditions. Call the Dillon’s Corner Tackle Shop in Buxton, 252/995-5083.

PETA won’t be happy about this — Pennsylvania has become the first state to pass legislation designed to encourage more young people to take up hunting in an effort to increase the number of shooting sports participants. We ran an item in yesterday’s Washington Times about the Families Afield legislation that had been approved by the state’s House of Representatives and the Senate. Now, Gov. Ed Rendell signed HB 1690, authorizing the Pennsylvania Game Commission to create a mentored youth hunting program. Support for similar programs also has been shown in a number of Midwestern states.

Annual New Year’s outing on — Followers of our outdoors columns know that every New Year’s Day I join local fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski for a day of fishing. We don’t care how cold it is; we don’t even care if it’s snowing, but we will be fishing. Barring unforeseen obstacles, we’ll be doing it again this Sunday but will not report on the results of the trip until Jan.8. I’ll be out hunting all of next week and the boss has given me a few days off.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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