- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

With the presidential inauguration now behind us, some local Potomac River boaters are anxious to return to waters that previously were off-limits. They hope to try for crappies, bass, catfish or scattered perch.

Within the next several days, there will be some kind of fishing action in the back coves next to Belle Haven Marina in Alexandria. Add also the possibility that Spoils Cove, just above the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (on the Maryland side of the river) will see less ice and willing crappies and largemouths. Smartly fished plastic dropshot shiners should attract either species, but if all fails, turn to an avocado Sting Ray grub attached to a 1/4-ounce or 1/8-ounce ball-head jig hook. Apply a bit of Smelly Jelly or some other kind of attractant and fish it slowly and deliberately on strong enough line to free it from snags when necessary.

Several of us will renew our yellow perch searches in any of southern Maryland’s tidal feeder creeks that flow into the Potomac, or we will go to the Occoquan River on the Virginia side. We already have scored on some fat roe perch, as well as 2008 young-of-the-year that are very small.

To be sure, the perch run has not yet begun, but it’s the time of year when many of the resident perch begin to school up in deep creek bends and occasionally fall for dropshot rigs, small Silver Buddy blade baits, live minnows or grass shrimp - if you can find live bait in tackle stores. There are some enterprising bait fishermen who set their own minnow traps or find a way to skim-net grass shrimp.

Migrant yellow perch will show up soon to join the local “neds,” as rural Marylanders call them.

Sea bass, tilefish and stripers bite - Virginia Beach fishing phenom Julie Ball reports that the offshore sea bass bite is getting better every day.

“If [the] weather permits, a trip to deep-water wrecks can provide good numbers of decent-sized fish,” she said. “Most any offering will work, but fresh bait is always the best choice. Good results are also coming from jigs worked over the structures.”

Ball added that deep-water locations in about 50 fathoms are holding blueline tilefish.

“Tilefish provide a great tug of war, and some nice sized fish are available,” she said. “Grouper and other deep-water species, such as black-bellied rosefish and barrelfish, are also available along the edges of the Canyon. When some decent weather materializes, a few boats may venture to the deep in search of the mighty swordfish.”

If offshore outings aren’t your idea of fun, stay with the stripers around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, but don’t forget to release them because the season is closed. However, it is still open in the ocean waters, and the Eastern Shore side just outside the mouth of the Bay has been giving up some real trophies.

Ball, who is a Virginia Beach dentist when she isn’t fishing, also serves as an official representative of the International Game Fish Association and has a Web site. Check it out at drjball.com.

Short Virginia river report - “It’s frozen over” were the only words Front Royal’s Dick Fox used when we asked how the fishing was in the Shenandoah River. And you already know what the Southern states’ anglers think of ice fishing.

“Ice is for putting into a glass when you mix a drink, not for standing on it,” my Southern bride said.

Pennsylvania outdoor show - The annual Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show will be under way Feb. 7 to 15 at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa. Many cabin fever sufferers say this is the show to visit if you hope to chase away the winter blues. There will be hunting and fishing seminars, tackle and hunting gear sales and displays of every type, hunting outfitters there to book exotic trips, turkey calling contests, campers and fishing boats of all sizes and refreshments.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Visit his Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.


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