- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

As you make plans for springtime outings, consider what the Maryland Department of Natural Resources — I’m certain the same is true in Virginia — has found during ongoing electroshock studies of small public impoundments: a bonanza of trophy fish.

Take 38-acre Lake Artemesia off Branchville Road in Berwyn Heights. During a recent electroshock effort, the DNR biologists came up with 100 largemouth bass, some of them weighing at least 61/2 pounds. Incidentally, the electric charge that is sent through less than five feet of water only temporarily disables the fish. They “wake up” in a few minutes and are none the worse for the experience.

While most bassboaters wouldn’t think of checking out such lakes and ponds, those who must fish from shore or by johnboat are urged to give it a try. Check your Freshwater Sportfishing Guide’s listing of public lakes and ponds and have a ball but remember that it will have to be catch-and-release fishing from March 1 through June 15; after that you can keep a whopper if you hook one.

Virginia crappie and catfish bite — If you can stand cold weather, the crappie bite at south central Virginia’s Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir) can be pretty good. Crappie anglers slowly drift or use an electric motor to move the boat along while dangling live minnows on 1/8-ounce jig hooks or shad darts in 10 to 12 feet of water. The best places for this type of fishing are found along a lake or creek shoreline that rapidly drops from shallow to deep. Bonus catches of bass always are possible.

If it’s big blue catfish you want, the tidal James River is the place to be. From Dutch Gap downstream to the Appomattox River, 30- to 50-pound blue “cats” have been inhaling bottom-fished herring, spot or perch baits.

Potomac shows bass and perch — Professional bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) has been doing quite well on bass and fat yellow perch around the Wilson Bridge, particularly the metal junk-strewn Maryland shoreline and adjacent deep dropoffs. Andy uses a 3-inch avocado color Mann’s Sting Ray grub on a 1/4-ounce ball-head jig hook. He generously dabs the grub with a fish attractant known as Smelly Jelly.

Elsewhere, the Potomac’s tributaries offer some yellow perch in the Occoquan around the railroad bridge and nearby shoreline drops and in Mattawoman, Potomac, Aquia and Nanjemoy creeks. The spawning run, however, has not yet begun.

Protecting the rockfish — Maryland fisheries officials want to know how you feel about a plan to seek certification for the state’s commercial striped bass fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council, an international nonprofit organization that works to protect saltwater fisheries all over the globe. The MSC promotes certified sustainable fisheries in the marketplace through something known as the MSC sustainable fisheries eco-label.

There are 13 MSC certified fisheries worldwide, and another 19 are in the process of being assessed. Maryland’s rockfish would be the first East Coast fishery to receive such MSC certification.

The group requires that commercial operators ensure the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem, in addition to guaranteeing that species will not be overfished and that the fishery is subject to effective, responsible management.

The certification assessment is being conducted by TAVEL Certification Inc., an independent certification body. As required by the MSC fisheries certification methodology, the assessment team has prepared draft performance indicators and scoring guidelines that are used to assess the fishery and its management.

TAVEL Certification Inc. wants comments from stakeholders concerning the draft performance indicators and scoring guidelines. Comments must be provided in written or oral form by Feb. 28. Contact Steve Devitt, TAVEL Certification Inc., 701-2000 Barrington St., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3J 3K1, or call 902/422-4511; email: [email protected] More information is available on the Web at www.tavelcertify.com.

EVENTS

Greatest Little Fishing Show — Sunday, 10 a.m., at the Middleburg (Va.) Community Center, held by the Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Admission: $5 a person or $7 a family. Information: www.rapidantu.org or call Fred Kallmeyer, 703/753-7625.

Western Virginia Sport Show — Feb. 17-19, at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville, Va. Ward Burton, winner of the 2002 Daytona 500 and founder of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, will be a special guest Feb. 18. Information: www.westernvasportshow.com or call 540/337-7018.

Boating Safety Course — Feb. 18 & 25, noon to 4 p.m., at Guy Brothers Marine Inc. in Clements, Md. If you want to operate a power boat or personal watercraft and were born after July 1, 1972, you are required to pass a Maryland boating safety examination. A registration fee of $25 is required. E-mail Francis Guy, guybrosgmexpress.net or call 301/475-9774. The U.S. Coast Auxiliary’s Stacey Harris can be contacted at 301/862-4105.

Washington Boat Show — Feb. 22-26 at the Convention Center. Show hours are noon-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission: $10 ($5 for children 6-12). Information: www.washingtonboatshow.com.

Fishing fair — April 1-2, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Solomons, Md., firehouse. Admission: $2. Information: www.mssasmc.com.

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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