- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2006

Local and even distant Eastern Seaboard fishing took a nose dive last weekend when heavy snow and ice blanketed a large portion of the East Coast. So after temperatures fell into the 20s for a stretch, what’s with the sudden springtime weather?

Today and tomorrow it’s supposed to reach near 60 degrees. Take advantage of it because it won’t last long. Consider visiting the tidal Patuxent, Potomac, Rappahannock or James rivers, where a variety of action can be found.

Locally, I’d pick the Patuxent and Potomac because increasing numbers of soon-to-spawn yellow perch will be staging in river and feeder creek bends and sharp shoreline dropoffs. Live minnows, grass shrimp or plain plastic tubes and grubs on 1/8-ounce jig hooks will do the job.

Also never overlook the effectiveness of lures known as “blade baits,” such as the 1/4-ounce size Silver Buddy or Cicada lures. If your depth sounder shows a school of perch — usually seen as a fairly tight ball of small dots on the bottom of your screen — drop the blade bait straight down to the creek’s floor, close the reel’s bail, reel up one spool turn of line, then lift the rod several feet. You will feel the lure vibrate through the rod tip as you do this. Then lower the rod again. Repeat this over and over but do it slowly; even let the lure lie on the bottom for a count of five, then lift it again. If the perch are there, you soon will hook one.

With warmer temperatures, don’t be surprised if the largemouth bass in the Potomac come into waters as shallow as three and four feet. This will happen in the Spoils Cove, near Wilson bridge, around the Fox Ferry rock line, the gravel points and drops adjacent to Belle Haven Marina and in various points and shoreline drops in the Occoquan, Mattawoman, Quantico, Potomac and Aquia creeks. Most of us will be using Sting Ray grubs dipped in fish attractants because the lures and their 1/4-ounce ballhead jig hooks can be fished shallow or deep. But don’t overlook the effectiveness of a slow-rolled spinnerbait or a lipped crankbait that can be reeled down quickly along a rocky or gravelly point, then slowly reeled in. Just let it barely wobble as you retrieve line.

Upper Potomac offers action — The upper Potomac River in the Dam No.4 area in Washington County has willing fish if you can reach them. The walleyes are biting, and so are some hefty tiger muskies, but the area had heavy snows, and not all of it has melted. The usual launch spot for this is Taylor’s Landing near Sharpsburg, with shallow draft aluminum boats heading upstream toward Dam No.4.

Want a fat catfish? — In the tidal James River downstream of Richmond, meanwhile, the blue catfish will be on a rampage. They like cut baits, chunks of any oily fish held close to the bottom with a sinker attached to a three-way swivel or a fish-finder rig. If any kind of snow melt runoff occurs in the next several days, expect muddy water, but that doesn’t bother the ‘cats.

From the salty waters — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association reports: “The tremendous rockfish bite took a bit of a breather over the last couple of days. The cold weather and full moon may have had something to do with that. Expect the action to pick back up as the moon wanes and the temperatures rise. Big sea bass are stacked up on the offshore wrecks. Tautog action has been good from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on out to the Tower Reef.”

Attend a banquet — Two banquets, both March4, are worthwhile events you might want to consider. The Coastal Conservation Association’s Northern Virginia Chapter will have its annual bash and fund raiser at Shriners Kena Temple Hall in Fairfax. The event starts at 6 p.m. with dinner and an auction of valuable items to follow. For reservation information, contact John Bello at 703/736-2621 or [email protected]

At 6:30 p.m., the Northern Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited will have special guest Lefty Kreh, the renowned fly caster and author, at the Best Western Tysons Westpark Hotel in Tysons Corner. It, too, is open to the public. Tickets can be ordered online at www.phoneflies.com/nvtu.

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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