- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

With local water temperatures steadily climbing, the tidal Potomac River’s largemouth bass population is beginning to take a hard look at just about any lure except a topwater popper.

The bass cooperated this week in the main stem and in a number of feeder creeks, particularly the Mattawoman in Charles County, where professional guide Dale Knupp had 24 largemouths Tuesday when the water temperature read 52 degrees. Knupp and fellow guide Andy Andrzejewski both took their boats to look for willing fish because clients are coming to town and the guides needed to do a little hunting so they could deliver the goods when the customers arrive.

Soft plastic worms, creature baits or tubes in dark green, red or chartreuse did the job around fallen wood, sandy spits and channel edges. They also caught bass on Mann’s Baby 1-Minus crankbaits. If the weather is kind, the weekend should see increasing bass catches from above Wilson Bridge down to Aquia Creek, where one early bass tournament was won with well more than 20 pounds (for five fish) a few days ago.

Those who still seek spawning yellow perch can relax. The run is just about over, and the ones that can be hooked now are returning from the upper spawning creeks in Maryland and Virginia. However, spawning white perch should begin showing up pretty fast. Some already have been caught in the Wicomico River around Allen’s Fresh, but the numbers are still low.

Occoquan bass are ready — From Fountainhead Park on the Occoquan Reservoir, park ranger Smokey Davis reported the first Fountainhead bass tournament of 2008 was won with a six-fish limit that weighed 26 pounds. The biggest bass in the event weighed 6 pounds, 2 ounces.

“Spinnerbaits were the lures of choice, but crankbaits, jigs and Senko [worms] also caught some nice fish,” Davis said.

However, Davis said the crappie bite has been inconsistent.

“And no word yet on catfish or bluegill catches,” he added.

The reservoir is a foot above normal pool, and stained water temperatures range between 52 and 55 degrees. However, after yesterday’s air temperatures, the water will warm even more.

Shenandoah turns up smallies — Front Royal’s Dick Fox said, “I went out all day; water temperatures got up to 53, and I thought we were going to load the boat [with fish], but all we managed were 11 smallmouth and three largemouth bass.”

Fox said the fish bit lightly and appeared to go after a variety of lures, including jigs, tubes, drop-shot rigs and Senko worms. Most of the bass were small.

Lake Gaston bass biting — From south-central Virginia’s Lake Gaston, Marty Magone said bass fishing remains on the upswing despite typical March weather fronts blowing through.

“Main lake stumpy points and coves are producing fine catches, witnessed by this past weekend’s tournament results from Americamps. First place was 23 pounds, and the biggest fish weighed over 8 pounds,” Magone said.

Jigs and plastics have been the lures of choice. Crappie fishermen are finding action around boat docks in the feeder creeks.

World record grouper — The International Game Fish Association representative for the Virginia Beach area, Julie Ball, reported a pending all-tackle world record yellowedge grouper of 46 pounds, 2 ounces that was caught March 12 by Norfolk’s Heath Cataulin. He was aboard Capt. Skip Feller’s party boat out of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center that visited the rim of the offshore Norfolk Canyon. Cataulin’s grouper was taken on squid bait attached to a circle hook.

Ball also said interest in striped bass fishing in her area is slowly declining, but some nice stripers are still available.

“Reports of croakers within the Chesapeake Bay are still trickling in with rumors of fish caught by anglers from Ocean View,” she said. “Expect hardheads to begin cooperating in various locations around the Chesapeake Bay and tributary rivers.”

c 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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