- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2005

Local fishing opportunities took a hit this week as powerful rains visited the Middle Atlantic States. It will be four or five days before the mountain rivers in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania can be visited for freshwater fish.

For example, the upper Potomac from Washington County downstream to Montgomery County is unfishable, dangerously high and swift, so please stay away from it. If no further rains visit, we might see a little action from walleyes, smallmouth bass or tiger muskies by Sunday. If it pours again, don’t count on it.

Much the same type of water conditions greet anglers on the upper Rappahannock, James and Susquehanna rivers, as well as all of the Shenandoah. They will take a while to settle down.

In the case of the Susquehanna, the shad fishing in Deer Creek is on hold because of the strong, muddy runoff. We doubt there will be any catches until this Susquehanna tributary in Maryland settles down more.

White perch may save us — Even in discolored water, the white perch is a most democratic fish. It likes gardenworm, grass shrimp, crab or bloodworm baits but also will chase a simple large shad dart, a 1/8-ounce jig head with a curly tailed plastic grub, a tiny spinnerbait or an inline spinner. As long as the lures are light in color and contain some flash, such as a metal blade or bright paint, the fish will smack it.

The perch are busily heading up into the tidal creeks and rivers to spawn. Perch runs are in full swing in the Bush, Dundee, Gunpowder, Patapsco and Magothy rivers, says the DNR’s Keith Lockwood. Most catches involve smaller males, but the big females are increasing in number with each passing day.

Lockwood says the white perch run also has begun at Red Bridges on the Choptank River and in Hillsboro on the Tuckahoe River in Caroline County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Some of the fishermen who concentrate on the Choptank in the Denton area have good success with the larger female white perch. The water temperature stands between 48 and 50 degrees. When it reaches 53 to 57 degrees, they will spawn.

In the Potomac River area around Fletcher’s Boat House (off Canal Road in the District), the white perch should be available, but water conditions aren’t good for boaters or shoreline rock hoppers. When the Fletcher’s stretch clears and slows down for a little decent fishing, there will be perch, herring, shad and some stripers. It’s time.

White perch will bite in the upper Patuxent around Queen Anne’s Bridge (Route 214) when the water settles down a bit.

Bass and crappies in tidal Potomac — The tidal Potomac, from around the Spoils Cove down past Wilson Bridge and heading downstream toward Maryland’s Charles County and Virginia’s Prince William County, delivers bass, crappies, carp and some small white perch. Even if the water doesn’t look the best, the wide river can absorb runoff a lot better than the upper mountainous sections of the river.

The Spoils Cove, for example, delivers bass and crappies on avocado plastic grubs, metal jigs, red plastic worms or red crankbaits.

The same holds for the Maryland shoreline near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge or in the coves below Belle Haven Marina. Bass and crappies have been hooked in the Mattawoman, Occoquan, Potomac and Aquia creeks. But watch out for floating debris. Logs and pieces of boat docks are a real navigation hazard.

Occoquan Reservoir high and muddy — “The reservoir is high, muddy and full of debris,” ranger Smokey Davis says at Fountainhead Park. “Bass can be taken in the backs of long, deep coves with spinnerbaits thrown into flooded brush and bushes. A few small crappies were caught off the pier last week. Nothing doing with catfish and bluegills. It will be tough fishing the next few days, especially if we get more rain.”

Bass and crappies at Kerr and Anna — Rain or no rain, Virginia’s lakes Kerr and Anna are giving up crappies and largemouth bass in good numbers. At Kerr, water levels are up, but boaters find bass in flooded brush and inside creek points with spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Crappies will inhale a minnow at Kerr or Lake Anna. The bass at Anna can be caught on large slow-rolled spinnerbaits in the upper lake.

Stripers at Sandy Point? — There actually have been some catch-and-release striper successes at Sandy Point State Park at the base of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

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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