- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2008

Any number of the tidal Potomac River’s feeder creeks from below Wilson Bridge to Southern Maryland and Virginia’s Prince William County are home to resident yellow perch and what appear to be some early arrivals of perch that intend to spawn later in February.

The perch are not in the shallow upper ends of the tributaries just yet, instead preferring to wait in the deeper creek bends and dropoffs until the time and water temperature are right for the annual spawning cycle. With scented Berkley dropshot shiners, shiny Silver Buddy lures or live minnows fished in waters up to 15 and 20 feet deep, you can connect on the perch in the Occoquan, Quantico, Potomac and Aquia creeks on the Virginia side of the river and in Maryland’s Mattawoman, Chicamuxen and Nanjemoy.

Bonus catches on the same lures and baits can be bass, catfish and carp.

There have been reports of buck perch in the upper Patuxent River’s Western Branch, but the fishing there has been iffy.

Crappies make the day — More than 40 crappies made the day for Lindsey and Patrick Dodson of Hollywood, Md., who drove from their St. Mary’s County home clear up to the Potomac’s Swan Creek in Prince George’s County. They fished from seawalls around a marina and, thanks to having small minnows under their bobbers, connected fairly easily on the speckled delights.

“We kept just enough for dinner,” said Lindsey Dodson, who hopes to return as soon as possible.

Shenandoah is cold — Shenandoah River reporter Dick Fox of Front Royal, Va., said, “I just got back from the river. It was a cold east wind, and the fish were hanging on the bottom in the deepest areas. We managed eight smallmouth bass, and they were fooled by flat-tailed grubs dragged on the bottom. I also got some on tubes.”

Striper parade continues — Julie Ball, the International Game Fish Association representative in Virginia Beach (www.drjball.com), says rockfish catches continue in the close-in stretches of the Atlantic.

“Most of the stripers are concentrated off Smith Island, Cape Henry, False Cape and the 4A Buoy near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay,” she said.

Quite a few boaters are drifting with eels, and why not? The slimy eels have been responsible for a number of 60-pound striped bass in the past several weeks.

Ball warns that some eel drifters also connect on flounder, but that species is off limits until April. She says the marine police are watching.

If it’s tautogs you like — and who doesn’t? — they’re a good bet now around inshore wrecks and the lower bay. Ball said the tubes of the four artificial islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the Cape Henry wreck are good tautog spots.

“Blue crab is the top bait, but hermit crabs, green crabs and clam are also good choices,” she said.

The more distant offshore waters and deep-water wrecks can deliver fat seabass for boaters from Ocean City down to Virginia Beach.

Baltimore boat show coming — The 54th Baltimore Boat Show will be in the Baltimore Convention Center on Jan. 23-27. The 300,000 square feet of exhibition space at the center will be crammed with more than 750 powerboats and sailboats, competitions and demonstrations. SailFest, a 25,000 square-foot area, will feature keelboats, catamarans and skiffs docked on a replica pier along with the latest designs in sails and rigging, sailing gear and equipment. Regular admission to the show is $10 ($5 for youths 13 to 15; free for those under 15.) For added information, visit www.BaltimoreBoatShow.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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