- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2005

Some days a man has to learn how to eat crow. I learned last weekend.

Shortly after predicting we would catch resident yellow perch in the Potomac River or several of its tributaries, two of us drove down to Charles County’s Marshall Hall boat ramp, a fine public facility that serves anyone who wants to launch a boat without paying the steep fees charged in Maryland’s state-owned facilities. When we arrived, we were greeted by slabs of broken-up river ice, three or more inches thick, jammed into dense piles thanks to a pushing tide and strong winds.

It was clear we wouldn’t be going fishing — at least not in the tidal Potomac or any of its feeder creeks, which also showed considerable boat ramp icing.

It also was clear no one else was going fishing unless they were in the Atlantic down along the North Carolina coast, where striped bass fishing remains good. Our contact, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen’s Association in the Virginia Beach area, said, “Expect to run anywhere from 30 to 60 miles south to get on the fish. A long run but if you find them, the fishing is spectacular. If you don’t mind running that far, then there are some deepwater wrecks out there waiting for you. This is the time of year to target jumbo sea bass. Citation-sized fish can be expected on every trip. If you want to stay a little closer to home, tautog are available on the coastal wrecks.”

Charter fishing captain Richard Bartlett (757/876-5376) is one of the professionals who takes his boat south of Virginia Beach’s Rudee Inlet. He might run as far as 35 and 40 miles but eventually finds rockfish in the 30-plus-pound range.

My CCA chapter wants you — I belong to a number of fishing/conservation organizations, but none is more important to me than the Southern Maryland Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. Why? The various CCA chapters throughout the Atlantic and Gulf coast regions play a major part in fish restoration, slowing down greedy commercial netters and keeping our politicians on their toes.

With that in mind, won’t you join me and the rest of the Southern Maryland chapter of the CCA as we hold our annual fund-raising banquet Saturday, Feb.26, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the new American Legion Hall in Hughesville (intersection of routes 231 & 381)?

The social hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by a barbecue dinner prepared by Lefty’s BBQ of Waldorf — ribs, chicken, baked beans, slaw, potato salad, you name it. There also will be a silent and live auction of fishing gear of every description, Wizards tickets, a bushel of crabs, an over/under shotgun, an Old Town canoe, artwork, chartered and guided fishing trips and much more.

Tickets are $35 each ($8 of it is tax deductible) and $65 for couples ($17 is tax deductible). Those under 12 get in free. The price includes drinks, dinner, activities and a year’s membership (or renewal) in the Coastal Conservation Association. Tickets are available at the door, but early registration is encouraged. To insure a seat, send a check to CCA-So.Md. c/o Donald Gardiner, 3675 Fritz Place, Waldorf, Md. 20601-2004.

Lake Anna research highlights — The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recently conducted electrofishing tests to check on the fish populations in Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg. The VDGIF biologists report catch rates for most size categories of largemouth bass turned out to be below average.

This occurred only one year after total catch rate set a record high (69 an hour of electrofishing). Fingerling catch rates were average and, combined with long-term fingerling catch rates, suggested consistent bass reproduction. Catch rates of large bass have been declining in recent years, but catch rates of stock and “slot” fish generally have been high.

Anglers might want to remember that the shocking study showed largemouth bass and most other fish species were present in much higher numbers at middle and upper lake sites — likely a function of productivity and habitat. Both major creek arms just above the splits held the highest numbers of large bass.

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

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