Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Hardy souls who launch their boats at the Aqualand Marina next to the Harry W. Nice Bridge (Route 301) in Charles County are finding plenty of catch-and-release striper action.

The rockfish will jump on steadily retrieved, soft plastic Sassy Shads, Bass Assassins, Zoom Flukes, or even Mann’s Sting Ray grubs. White, chartreuse, or blue/white lure colors will do the job around the Morgantown power plant discharge.

You must release any rockfish you catch, but this doesn’t apply to the commercial hook-and-liners who currently are there, often trying to hog the same water recreational anglers are fishing. Anything they catch will be kept and put on ice, I assure you.

Also, local yellow perch anglers can do well if they’re able to reach open water in small boats or find a dock or pier to fish from. Mind you, the annual spawning run has not yet started, but if an area has a deep-water pocket within casting range, chances are there will be a school of perch there waiting for the water to warm sufficiently to get the male perch to seriously consider looking at the lady perch.

The whole loving ritual of reproduction is governed by water temperatures. When it climbs into the 40s, it’ll be spawning time in the upper shallows reaches of local, tidal Potomac River feeders, such as the Mattawoman, Chicamuxen, Occoquan, Powell, Neabsco, Quantico, Chopawamsic, Nanjemoy and Aquia creeks. There are more, but this list will give you an idea of how widespread the perch spawning can be.

The same thing happens in the tidal Patuxent River, in such tributaries as Hall, Mattaponi and Western Branch creeks, as well as the main stem around Wayson’s Corner, and the upstream waters toward Route 50. Perch also will show up in rivers and creeks on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, including the Choptank and Pocomoke. The same goes for Virginia’s Rappahannock and its tidal feeder streams, Virginia’s Pamunkey in Hanover County and the Mattaponi River in Caroline County.

In the case of the local Nanjemoy Creek’s Friendship Landing, off Charles County’s Route 425, minnow-using pier anglers are doing very well on the perch, but most are “bucks,” small males that frequently measure less than the required 9 inches. Bigger, roe-laden females will be along shortly if all goes right.

Meanwhile, will this winter ever end? Every time we notice some melting of creek or lake ice, another cold wave strikes and the water begins to get “firm” again. Rats.

Let’s hope the current warmup will last a week or so. If it does, watch out. There’ll be fishing action not only for perch but also bass, some crappies, and in the more distant southern waters, such as the Roanoke River, there’ll be hickory shad down around the Weldon area of North Carolina, close to the Virginia line.

Down in the Virginia Beach and Hampton area of the Chesapeake Bay, Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sportsfishermen’s Association reports that there has been some great fishing action the past week. During several decent weather days (before snowstorms arrived) Neill and friends ran their boats out of Oregon and Hatteras Inlets on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and enjoyed great yellowfin tuna action.

Boats fishing along the beach between Rudee Inlet, Va., and Oregon Inlet had unbelievable striped bass catches. A lot of the hookups came in the vicinity of the Duck Research Pier on the Outer Banks. The fish were big, fat and hungry. Said Neill: “They are stocking up for their spawning run, which is soon to come.”

Coastal wreck fishermen in the same stretch of Carolina have been hooking loads of big seabass, but fishermen have to learn how to set a hook in up to 200-foot depths.


Annual Washington Boat Show — Through Sunday, Washington Convention Center. More than 500 boats and 200 display booths. Admission: $9; $4 children 6-12; 5-and-under free. Information: 703/823-7960;

CCA/Southern Maryland Winter Barbecue — Saturday, 6 p.m., Izaak Walton League Hall, 4200 Gardiner Road, Waldorf. $30 a person includes a CCA membership. Information: Donald Gardiner, 301/645-3323; 301/843-3719.

Fly Fishers buy, sell, swap meet — Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Davidsonville Recreation Center. Information: Mike Price, 410/320-0080.

Pigs on the Potomac banquet/fundraiser — Feb. 26, 6 p.m., Silver Spring Knights of Columbus, 9707 Rosensteel Avenue. Fundraiser for Greater Washington Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association/Maryland . $75, includes CCA membership or renewal. Information: Robert Glenn, 888/758-6580;

Ducks Unlimited chapter banquet — Feb. 26, 6 p.m., dinner 7:30, Fairview Park Marriott, Falls Church. $100 (includes a $25 membership); $175 couple; children under 17 $35. Information: Carl Olzawski, 703/319-3825; Aaron Mulvey, 571/214-7394;

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:

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