- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2008

During this current period of nutty weather when it rains and blows, turns cold and then warm again, the willingness of yellow perch to nibble on minnow baits, shad darts or artificial grubs has not been affected. It’s spawning time and although the perfect water temperature of 46 and 47 degrees hasn’t been reached everywhere, the fish are ready and waiting in deep river and creek bends, occasionally traveling upstream in short spurts, then lie low and wait some more.

As you read this, catches are made in the Wicomico River in a place known as Allens Fresh (Route 234), in southern Charles County. During incoming tides especially, the perch — many of them small males — readily snatch up lures and real food. Yellow perch are also hooked in Potomac River feeders like the Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County (Route 425) and up inside Swan Creek in Prince George’s County, as well as across the river in the Occoquan, Quantico and Neabsco creeks where boats approaching from the Potomac are best.

There should be a decent perch bite by now in the upper Patuxent around Hill’s Bridge (Route 4), along the Prince George’s/Anne Arundel counties line. Yellow perch also have been hooked in the Bowling Green, Va., area’s upper Mattaponi River (Routes 301/2) and in the Pamunkey River in the Hanover/King William counties sector of Route 360.

Virginia flounder regs set — After many citizens complaints and disagreements with state fisheries officials, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission has finalized flounder regulations for 2008, but they won’t be greeted with glee. You’ll be allowed to keep five flounder a day and they must measure at least 19 inches or better. It’ll be tough to find a steady supply of 19-inchers. There also will be a closed flounder season July 21-30.

Lower bay and ocean produces — Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association reports that rockfish catches continue. “There is some very good catch-and-release fishing at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel,” he said. “Big fish [also] were caught at Plantation Light this week. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel produces a lot of rockfish, and some of those are big.” Neill said an angler fishing from a sea kayak at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel caught a small rockfish and while he reeled it in, it was inhaled by a 50-pound striper at boatside.

Out in the Atlantic, rockfish are found from Sandbridge to Cape Henry and the tautog action is very good inside the bay and on the near-shore ocean wrecks. Neill added that offshore bottom fishermen are coming back with limits of large blueline tilefish, big sea bass, some grouper, and lots of spiny dogfish, even bluefish.

Cape Hatteras fishing threatened — Mike Metzger, the director of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, warns surf fishermen who flock to the Outer Banks of North Carolina this time of year that the National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife have filed an injunction in federal court to eliminate off-road vehicle access on 12 percent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.

“Unfortunately, the areas they want closed to [beach buggy] access are the entire prime fishing locations in the park: Bodie Island spit, Cape Point, South Beach, Hatteras Inlet, and North and South Ocracoke beaches,” Metzger said. “A hearing is scheduled for March 18, but the location has not been announced.”

The National Park Service, which oversees the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, apparently disagrees with the claims by two environmental groups that beach vehicles threaten shorebird populations. The NPS, in fact, says that bird populations have never been higher. For more information concerning the threat to what most surf fishermen believe to be the top fishing area on the East Coast, go to ncbba.org.

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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