- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The weather most likely will have turned colder and the waters less busy by the time you read this, but imagine what our local rivers and creeks looked like earlier this week when the temperature climbed into the 60s. It was a madhouse and, yes, we were a part of the fishy festivities.

Our little group of fishing pals visited the tidal Patuxent River in the Jug Bay area and scored nicely on yellow perch, even a fat crappie, in the deep holes of the river.

Did I say deep? Friends, we’re talking about river depressions that reach down 30 feet. It’s in those holes where schools of the soon-to-spawn yellow perch are staging, getting ready for their reproductive chores. The water temperature needs to climb some more before it occurs, but our guess is it will happen within seven to 10 days.

Our threesome found fat, roe-laden perch in the Pax River, as the locals call it. Then on Tuesday, bass guide Dale Knupp and I visited the Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County, Md., and this time Knupp caught one perch after another ” again, only in the deep creek bend depressions. I couldn’t have fared any worse. Knupp easily outfished me and produced enough perch for supper.

For every perch hunt, we used Mann’s Sting Ray grubs on 1/4-ounce jig hooks, or 1/8-ounce jig hooks inserted into a little plastic grub known as a Bubble Belly. The plastic baits were dabbed with Smelly Jelly. I used the baitfish flavor; Knupp preferred the garlic-flavored creamy substance. It permeated the creek so strongly you would have thought we were in an Italian restaurant.

Slowly but surely, boaters will be able to find yellow perch in the Mattawoman and up around Woodrow Wilson Bridge and nearby Spoils Cove. They’ll also bite inside the Occoquan River, Potomac and Aquia creeks wherever your depth finder shows a deep hole. Some perch are taken at the Cedars in the Wicomico River near Allen’s Fresh. If the image on the screen appears to have a tight ball of specks close to the bottom, chances are they’ll be perch.

Landlubbers currently are trying for yellow perch from the Hill’s Bridge access at Route 4 along the Patuxent River’s Anne Arundel/Prince George’s counties line. Others are trying for perch from the pier at Friendship Landing Road that leads to the waters of Nanjemoy Creek (Route 6 west from La Plata, Md., to Route 425 to Friendship Landing Road). Successes have been spotty, but those who use live minnows or grass shrimp are finding a mixed bag of occasional yellow perch, catfish and small white perch.

What about the stripers? ” Several readers have told us they saw a piece in another newspaper about the great rockfish catches in the Potomac around the Morgantown Pepco Plant in Charles County. Something isn’t right, though. Bass and striper guide Steve Riha, who lives in Colonial Beach, Va., and who fishes this area constantly, said you might catch a couple of rockfish for an hour or so, then it shuts down again.

Riha told us the stripers were not in the power plant’s warm water discharge in good enough numbers, adding, “I caught only three in four hours of fishing with a Sassy Shad.” Plus, the commercial hook-and-line rockfish season is now open, which means many professional watermen will jam the place.

“The best time for stripers is the first two weeks of March, when they’re on the move, heading upstream,” said Riha, who knows the rockfish will travel to D.C. waters to spawn.

Sportsman’s show west of the Ridge ” The 18th annual Western Virginia Sport Show at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville, Va., Feb. 25-27, ought to provide the incentive you need for fishing, hunting or camping.

You’ll be able to see 25 of the biggest deer head mounts from a collection of 200 of the world’s greatest whitetails, including three world records, several state and provincial records and a number of bucks that score near the mythical 200 mark. Also, Harold Knight, the host of cable television’s “Knight & Hale’s Ultimate Hunting Show,” will hold seminars that Saturday and Sunday.

In addition, there’ll be a 3-D archery shoot, with the proceeds going to St. Jude’s Hospital. Check out the turkey-calling contest at 2 p.m. Saturday, and throughout the show visit with freshwater and saltwater fishing guides and dog trainers.

Fishersville is located west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Staunton, exit 91 off I-64. Show hours are noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. It’s all on the Web at westernvasportshow.com.

EVENTS

• Safe boating course ” Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Guy Bros. Marine in Clements, Md. To complete this Coast Guard Auxiliary boater safety course, you also must attend a Feb. 26 session. Information: 301/475-9774.

Ducks Unlimited banquet ” Feb. 24, 6 p.m., at Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church. The Northern Virginia chapter has its annual banquet and fund-raiser auction. Information: John Bray, [email protected] or 703/868-8450.

CCA banquet ” Feb. 26, 6 to 9 p.m., Southern Maryland Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will hold its annual affair at the new American Legion Hall in Hughesville. Tickets are $35 each, couples $65. Send checks to CCA-So.Md., c/o Donald Gardiner, 3675 Fritz Place, Waldorf, Md. 20601-2004.

Trout Unlimited meeting ” March 3, 7:30 p.m., at McLean VFW Post 8241. The Northern Virginia chapter will hear George Layton of the Tysons Corner Orvis store talk about special clothing for every weather condition. Details: nvatu.org.

Bay Bridge Boat Show ” April 21-24, at Bay Bridge Marina in Stevensville (Kent Island), Md. Information: 410/268-8828.

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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