- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 13, 2008


Around the time Bob Lunsford stuck the hook to a fair-sized largemouth bass, the thought occurred to me that here was the regulations coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Boating Services doing a bit of fishing when his work day wasn’t completely at an end. I reminded him of that.

“Think again,” said Lunsford, 56, who takes his job very seriously. “I came out with [the river guide] Andy Andrzejewski to check various fish refuge buoys and Potomac River feeder creek areas that in the long run are intended to protect the largemouth bass during spawning season. Give me a break. I’m done, and now I have to do what Andy wants to do — and he wants to fish for a while.”

Meanwhile, the man named Andy cast a rattle lure toward a river shoreline and a fine bass struck the lure while a large beaver — no more than three feet away — disappeared with an emphatic, loud slap of its tail. A large bald eagle sat in a tall sycamore, cackling, apparently approving of what he saw.

Lunsford came down from Annapolis to check out the special bass spawning waters that are off limits to the sportfishing public and commercial fishermen from now until June 15.

To let anglers know that the Gum Tree Cove in the Nanjemoy’s Burgess Creek and the Linton Point and Linton Cove area inside Chicamuxen Creek was off limits, a couple of warning buoys were set up in each of them. However, they’re difficult to see from afar. Andrzejewski joins me in thinking that there are not enough of the floats to steer away unknowing boaters.

“I know it’s a problem,” Lunsford said. “But all types of approved buoys are costly and I’ve been told there’s not enough money to purchase and place more of them.”

That has been a problem. The Gum Tree and Linton Point coves are simply not marked in a fashion that would let everybody know what’s going on.

Tournament and weekend anglers, many coming from other states, have either not noticed the sparse marker buoys in the coves, or have tended to ignore them and fish the off-limits areas anyway. But ignoring the warning signs can be expensive. The state’s Natural Resources Police occasionally shows up unannounced and begins to write tickets that would make a highway patrolman blush with envy. The NRP tries hard to nab as many scofflaws as possible.

Lunsford, meanwhile, hopes to convince the powers back at the office that what really would be helpful is an entire picket line of markers. It would surely stop a boater and make him think before violating the law.

The purpose of protecting a number of relatively small but critically important bass spawning areas is to see if placing them in the “No Fishing” category eventually shows greater spawning success when compared to other, unprotected waters where the bass also spawn.

Two open-to-fishing spots that are watched include the large cove behind Trash Point in the Mattawoman Creek, and a portion of the Broad Creek, not far from Wilson Bridge. It’s a simple enough test and who wouldn’t like to see greater spawning successes by the river’s top attraction: the largemouth bass.

Lunsford, incidentally, is a great fan of sport fishing of any type. But I believe the tidal river bass are his favorites.

It was easy to see as he vigorously cast rattle baits and plastic crawfish, catching some, losing others, and constantly admiring Andrzejewski’s skill in finding ever new productive spots and then showing both of us how to hook them.

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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