- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2008

Because the water temperature is really all that matters for successful outings this time of year, don’t pay too much attention to a sudden spring-like day, followed by winter’s cold. The warmer than usual weather this week affected the water temperature in only small ways, but it did bring out the shoreline and boat fishermen by the droves.

Crappies, bass, carp and catfish continue to bite even when the sun disappears in the tidal Potomac’s Blue Plains to Wilson Bridge stretch. During a visit to the Spoils Cove this week, we counted seven other boats inside the lake-like portion of the river, and it seemed like every occupant was dropping Silver Buddy blade baits over the side. I guess they all wanted to see whether they could duplicate Justin Riley’s feat. Riley, as the whole fishing world knows by now, caught an 11-pound, 2.88-ounce largemouth in the Spoils over a week ago.

Drop-shot rigs, small curly-tailed or fringed grubs, as well as marabou feather jigs, find crappies in just about all the tidal feeder creeks of the Potomac and several tributaries in the upper Patuxent River. The same holds for Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg. By the way, expect to see some rainfall discoloration in the Potomac, Patuxent, Rappahannock and Shenandoah rivers, but that won’t last long.

If you like to catch a trout or two, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources did some preseason stocking this week at Washington County’s Greenbrier Lake, Carroll County’s Piney Run Reservoir, Caroline County’s Tuckahoe, Worcester County’s Shad Landing and Wicomico County’s Beaverdam Creek. Check your fishing regulations booklet. It will show whether you have to wait or can fish for trout in these places immediately.

Shenandoah River slows Front Royal’s Dick Fox said, “I fished hard on Sunday. The water temperature was only 34 degrees and river was rising. I caught one smallmouth bass on a hair jig.” That’s super slow fishing for a fellow who enjoys better success on the Shenandoah River than most people.

Lake Gaston shows action — South-central Virginia contact Marty Magone, who has a home on the popular, large Lake Gaston, reports that bass fishing patterns continue to point to grass lines near deep water or main-lake docks where brush piles have been secured to the bottom.

“Although jerk baits are still working, I found the Mann’s Sting Ray grub as effective as ever.” he said. With water temperatures around 44 degrees, bass and pickerel are cruising, looking for an easy meal. Pea Hill Creek’s end is showing bass up to 6 pounds on deep banks, with jig ‘n’ pig combinations working well. In addition to bass, Magone caught a 6-pound chain pickerel, which is large any way you put it.

Virginia Beach area is fine — Super sport angler Julie Ball (drjball.com), who is among the top women anglers in the world, says although inshore waters are turning up good fishing action, the recent warm weather breaks have encouraged more anglers to look east for new offshore catches.

“Several boats are making their way to offshore locations where deep-water wrecks provide black sea bass over several wrecks. One boat caught a limit of sea bass up to 5 pounds, with a smattering of bluefish up to 10 pounds on squid and Braid Slammer lures,” she said, adding that hefty blueline tilefish also are hooked.

“For anglers still chasing the popular rockfish, most boats are finding good action from north of Smith Island to Corolla, with some venturing as far south as Duck, N.C.,” she said, and she added a warning that any boat fishing in North Carolina must have that state’s saltwater fishing license.

Fishing Expo in Annapolis — The annual Saltwater Fishing Expo will be under way Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Annapolis Elks Lodge on Arris Allen Boulevard and Solomons Island Road. See displays of bay and offshore tackle, meet with charter captains and take advantage of hourly fishing seminars dealing with rockfish, flounder and tuna. Admission is $5 (14-and-under, free). Information: Kevin 410/340-5030 or go to saltwaterfishingexpo.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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