- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

To help sell more copies of their July issue, Field & Stream says it has chosen the top 20 fishing cities in the country, but the magazine made one glaring omission: It left out the District.

Give me a break, please, Field & Stream. You chose Baltimore over the District? St. Louis over the District? Austin over the District?

Somebody at the Field & Stream editorial offices ought to be hit with an old fiberglass casting rod for such an incredible faux pas.

The District and its Potomac River is loaded with fish and fishermen. Every spring, the river up around Chain Bridge and Fletcher’s Cove is jam-packed with hickory and American shad, herring, white perch and striped bass. The Potomac’s waters just below the Kennedy Center and downstream for 50 miles has been called one of the most productive year-around tidal water bass rivers in the country.

Don’t believe it? Ask famous professional bass tournament anglers such as Kevin VanDam, Jay Yelas, Denny Brauer and others. Not only that, every money-dripping national bass tournament group and every northeastern state’s bass federation schedules major contests on the Potomac while thousands of local residents pick it as their favorite fishing waters, and that includes saltwater anglers looking for and getting striped bass, bluefish, flounder, croaker, white perch and Norfolk spot.

But the District was overlooked, while Miami, and San Diego made it. So did Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, Denver, New York, Austin, Anchorage, Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Buffalo, Baltimore and Portland, Ore.

Virginia licenses increase in July — Virginia’s hunting, fishing and trapping license fees will increase Saturday. The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries approved a $5 increase for all of them, but special youth licenses will not go up. In addition, the one-day fishing permits won’t increase until Jan. 1, 2007, when they’ll go from $3.50 to $5.50, and the license agent’s fee will climb from 50 cents to $1. A list of specific licenses and the new fees can be viewed on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov by clicking on “License Fee Increases Effective July 1, 2006” on the left sidebar. Meanwhile, don’t be angry with Virginia. It hasn’t raised license fees in 18 years.

This bass wasn’t a record — An official with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has checked the citation issued by the Anglers sporting goods store in Annapolis for an 111/2-pound largemouth bass caught in the tidal Manokin River on the Eastern Shore by Lanham’s Chris Flurer on May 20. If approved, it would have been a tidal water bass record. It now turns out that the store issued the citation based on a picture of a largemouth brought in by the angler, all of which is highly unusual. In order to set a state record, one must keep the fish and have it available for inspection when state biologists come around. Even if you only want a citation patch for your fishing jacket, a simple claim that you caught it isn’t enough. After all, a fisherman could snap a picture of a Florida monster bass and then ask to be recognized, claiming it’s a local fish. It doesn’t work that way. “There is no valid reason for us to consider this fish as a possible state record,” the DNR said.

Blue catfish regulations change — Starting Saturday, Virginia will begin to enforce new statewide restrictions on blue catfish. The measure that will limit anglers to keeping only one blue catfish a day that is longer than 32 inches will go a long way to help protect this resource. Too many of those large bottom feeders have been kept by fishermen who didn’t even want them afterward. It was an ego thing, certainly not sporting behavior. The regulation will especially help the trophy blue catfish found in the tidal James River. The state probably figured that providing a measure of protection for the blue “cats” would be good in the James River fishery because money is being made by guides and other local businesses.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times.

E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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