- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 5, 2005

A 63-1/2-pound striped bass caught Jan.2 by Paul W. Kleckner of Greenbackville, Va., has been certified as a state record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, a state-supported office that promotes sportfishing and oversees records for saltwater species.

Kleckner caught the whopper rockfish in the Atlantic Ocean near the Eastern Shore of Virginia, approximately 18 miles south of Wachapreague Inlet. He was fishing with Otis W. Evans Jr. on a private boat, the White Bite.

The record striper measured 501/2 inches in length and had a girth of 33 inches. It struck a bucktail-like trolled lure known as a parachute that was dressed with a white plastic Sassy Shad. The parachute lure was part of a multi-lure spreader, known as an umbrella rig, that is popular with trollers.

Kleckner and Evans were approximately two miles off the beach in an area that showed lots of baitfish under the surface and gannets sitting on the water when the record-breaking rockfish struck. Kleckner fought the fish for 25 minutes before he was able to land it.

This latest record broke the existing mark by eight ounces. The previous record was a 63-pounder caught by Carolyn Brown, also in the Atlantic Ocean, near Corolla Lighthouse last Jan.30.

For more information, contact Claude Bain, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, 757/491-5160, mrcswt@visi.net.

Things aren’t bad here either — We have been fishing all around the area while enjoying unusually warm January weather, as so many local anglers have. The fishing has been fine, thank you.

Small bass and resident yellow perch are hooked in the upper tidal Patuxent above Jug Bay. Small curly-tailed or beaver-tailed grubs, fed onto eighth-ounce ball-head jig hooks, will do the job when you crawl yellow, chartreuse or dark green grubs across the edges of marsh dropoffs.

Meanwhile, word has it that continued catches of deep-water white perch are possible down around the Patuxent’s Route 4 bridge in Solomons. Bloodworm or garden worm baits on bottom rigs will work, as will plain jigs, grubs, blade baits, etc.

In the tidal Potomac, the best action by far is had by bass boaters visiting a stretch of the river that begins at the Blue Plains Waste Treatment Plant, continues downstream to Fox Ferry Point and the Fox Ferry rockline, moves to the river side of the Spoils Cove entrance and front, then finally ends inside the Spoils Cove itself.

Sting Ray grubs, fringed tubes, Silver Buddy lures, live minnows and even drop-shot rigs with a finesse worm on an exposed, small hook eventually will work on bass, crappies and some scattered yellow perch.

Virginia reservoirs turn up fish — Crappies and some decent bass are reported by anglers who have visited large Virginia reservoirs like Kerr (Buggs Island Lake) and Gaston. A number of the lakes’ creek entrance points and submerged brush piles around various boat houses have been giving up largemouths and fine crappies, which have jumped on live minnows or jigged spoons, grubs and tubes.

The same goes for Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, where submerged brush — hidden around boat docks by lakefront home owners — gives up fat crappies. Lake points and creek channel humps have turned up a few decent bass, with occasional striper catches seen above the Splits.

Tournaments and more tournaments — Scuttlebutt has it that the tidal Potomac River probably will have more bass fishing tournaments in 2005 than ever before. The popularity of the river is a two-edged sword. Money-making tournament groups are inundating the few local boat launch ramps available, and that’s not making the natives happy.

Among the biggies coming to town is the ESPN Bassmaster Northeast Division’s Potomac River event May15 out of Smallwood State Park. Then there’s the Bassmaster Maryland/Virginia Division with a Charles County-based tournament April17 and another one May22. Then there are countless local club tournaments and various state qualifying events, and we haven’t even heard from the FLW/Wal-Mart tour yet.

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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