- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005


“It’s good for us that most bass fishermen’s minds are made up before they ever get into the water,” professional guide Andy Andrzejewski said a few days ago. “So many are not willing to change and try different ways to go after fish.”

To prove his point, he motioned to several expensive bass boats — most likely carrying participants who were practicing for an upcoming Potomac River tournament — that slowly maneuvered in and out following a heavily wooded shoreline in Charles County’s Chicamuxen Creek. To be sure, now and then a hooked bass could be seen churning the surface in the morning light, but Andrzejewski had ideas that he was sure would result in more and larger fish.

He steered his 22-footer to a broad creek flat that at first glance looked like a barren area. However, under the boat’s hull lay acre after acre of dense submersed aquatic vegetation. There was milfoil, some coontail weed and a smattering of hydrilla. Nearby sat a strip of spatterdock that fishermen like to refer to as water lilies, even though they’re not.

All four water plants are magnets for every imaginable type of marine life. There would be tiny periwinkles, juicy little saltwater snails and mussels, minnows, shiners and frogs, turtles of various types, as well as sunfish and perch that feed on unsuspecting baitfish.

And you already know what feeds on unsuspecting bluegills and perch, don’t you? Yes, bass do. They hang out inside the vegetation, in tiny open pockets, almost motionless and undetectable in their mimicry coloring, blending into the shimmering greens and blacks of a rising and falling waterworld.

In the middle of the boat stood the DNR’s Bob Lunsford, whose official job title is Program Manager for Restoration and Enhancement. I don’t know who thinks up these names, but somebody ought to slap the person who did. Hey, Lunsford worries about fish hatcheries, stocking trout, and so on.

Meanwhile, after tying a white 1/4-ounce spinnerbait to 12-pound monofilament line, he was ready to cast. Andrzejewski nodded in the direction of a broad expanse of milfoil near a marsh edge that might be productive.

Two casts later Lunsford had a 3-pound largemouth straining against the nylon. Just like that.

The guide, meanwhile, preferred a dark plastic worm with a bright chartreuse tail section. He flipped it between a shoreline dotted with arrow arum weeds and pockets of milfoil. The worm never had a chance.

Andrzejewski watched it disappear amid the greenery and when his line did a little hop, he quickly removed the slack in the nylon, bent forward, pointed the rod tip to what he believed was a fish and quickly brought the rod up, setting the hook to a fat bass that objected mightily. If a bass were able to think like a human, the fact that it was fooled by a little piece of plastic had to be ignominious, shameful, disgraceful.

So it went as we snaked our way through long fields of submersed weeds during a tidal stage that allowed us to fish in three feet of water — a veritable deep trough as far as tidewater bass are concerned.

Lunsford and Andrzejewski had themselves a wonderful morning, splitting 16 bass between them, while I worked like a galley slave to find only three cooperative, woefully small specimens. Still, I must not tell a lie no matter what you hear about the braggadocio of fishermen. (With two eyewitnesses on hand, how could I tell a fib?)

What concerned us more was the fact that whenever our trio hooked a couple of fat bass on a spinnerbait or plastic worms, whichever bass boat was within sight pretty soon would idle across to the side of the creek we were in, its occupant beginning to fish the same “pattern” as we did.

It reached the point where the bass guide tied down his equipment and told us to take a seat. “We’ll move,” he said.

What was so delightful, however, was the fact that when we reached the next creek, we also found plenty of coontail weeds, milfoil and spatterdock — and along with them once again a number of feisty largemouth bass.

Nineteen bass in less than six hours isn’t bad, you’ll agree. All of them are still in their respective creeks. Andrzejewski, a master at this kind of fishing, can be reached at 301/932-1509.

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

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