Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This young lady knows how to hook stripers

Maggie Popp, 14, and the fine striper she hooked on the Susquehanna Flats
with her charter captain dad, Jeff Popp, who runs wonderful 
small-boat outings for fans of rockfish. 
He can be reached at 410/790-2015.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snow or no snow, the crappies were biting

So the weatherman predicted snow and cooler-than-normal temperatures for Southern Maryland, but did it worry my neighbor, friend, and fishing fanatic, Fred Fox? Not one bit.

Fred Fox shows off four fat Mallows Bay crappies
Just before the freak late March snow began falling, Fred loaded his johnboat with rods, reels and a bag filled with lures of every type and then took off for the tidal Potomac River in the far western parts of Charles County, Md. His destination: Mallows Bay, not far from the town of Nanjemoy, although Mallows Bay is located in about as rural a setting as you'll ever encounter.

Mallows Bay ought to be named the jewel of all the Potomac River's boat launch facilities. After much wrangling with former landowners over purchasing the property and  satisfying a host of environmental prerequisites, Charles County, not long ago, constructed a fine boat launching ramp and fixed up a large parking area for boaters who can make use of the facility without having to fork over hard-earned bucks. For example, at the Smallwood State Park launch facility inside the Potomac's Mattawoman Creek, some miles upriver, you'll have to pay a $10 launch fee.

Fox didn't travel far in his boat before he got into the fish. He wouldn't tell me exactly where he found the fine crappies that nailed his chartreuse fringed tube (reeking of crawfish-flavored Smelly Jelly) on a 1/16-oz. jig-hook, with a bobber some 3 or 4 feet above the lure. He said he was never out of sight of the boat ramp  while he nailed the fat "calico bass," as old-timers used to call crappies. Fox could have filled a 50-quart cooler with these fat, sassy, tasty fish, but he only brought home enough to provide a sumptuous dinner for his family.

He totally is my kind of fisherman.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cold snap bass fishing doesn't stop these two

Andrzejewski (right) and a good bass
Marty Magone and La Plata, Md., bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) have been nearly lifelong friends. As young men, they served together in the Marine Corps and later had careers in law enforcement. Along the way, they also became tight angling pals. Their fishing days hark back to Northern Virginia marine dealer Ed Burt's bass tournaments and other contests in which the two won their share of first-place finishes.

This week, the tall Magone left his Lake Gaston, Va., home to fish with Andrzejewski.

Magone, who does very well in his home waters, also enjoys the tidal Potomac River and when the two left the Smallwood State Park marina's boat ramps on Friday morning, a nearby bank's temperature gauge read 30 degrees.

Undaunted, the two zipped up their fully-sleeved life jackets, pulled a hooded sweatshirt and/or cap over their heads, and headed into the Mattawoman Creek.

Marty Magone wasted little time
Within two miles of the launch ramp the first largemouth bass of the day came to Andrzejewski's lure -- a 4-inch, red plastic worm. It happened along a marsh and spatterdock field dropoff. The spatterdock wasn't visible during the quickly rising tide, but the fishing guide knew the green tips of the plants -- often erroneously referred to as water lilies -- were just under the surface. A slow drag of the worm across a shallow, flat area into a 9-foot-deep ledge drew the interest of the bass.

The fishing guide quickly followed with several more largemouths, including some on a Norman Deep Little N crankbait, while Magone was happy with a fine bass that went for Strike King's Rage Tail Baby Craw plastic bait in a  green pumpkin color. He also connected with a Sting Ray flat-tailed grub.

Andrzejewski kept nailing the bass
Wherever the two fished in the creek, be it on shoreline wood or marsh banks, the water temperature was higher than the air temperature, often reaching 50 degrees and the fish reacted accordingly, proving once again that you don't absolutely need an ebbing tide to catch bass. In fact, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., the two had over 20 bass -- all of them released to fight another day.

Can you do it? Of course, you can. 


For our current fishing report in The Washington Times, click on 


Virginia blue catfish record is certified by fish committee

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has certified the huge 109-pound blue catfish we wrote about a week ago.

This latest state record blue catfish is only the second confirmed freshwater fish over 100 pounds ever caught in the Commonwealth. The monster, which was caught on March 17, 2011, measured 53 inches in length with a girth of 41 inches.

The big "cat" was caught by Tony Milam of South Boston, Va., in Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir) near the confluence of the Dan and Roanoke rivers. Milam caught his trophy fish using cut shad for bait on 30-pound test-line. Amazingly, it took him only ten minutes to bring the fish to the boat. 

Recreational striped bass catches are way down

Brad Burns, of the very important Stripers Forever watch dog group, says federal government data and SF's own annual surveys, show that the striped bass (rockfish) resource is rapidly declining. "This reality has now been recognized by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) -- the organization that manages striped bass along the East Coast -- and it will be looking into options to decrease fishing mortality by up to 40 percent beginning in 2012. While this is a positive development, it will be too little, and is already much too far behind the curve," says Burns.
Sport anglers aren't happy with recreational declines
The ASMFC notes a 66 percent decline in the recreational catch through 2009. The 2010 numbers have been in for a few weeks now, and the decline in the recreational catch is now 71 percent since 2006. Burns says blaming poor water quality on lower striped bass numbers, as the ASMFC claimed, isn't the real problem. The biggest problem is overfishing and that should be strictly controlled. It can be done and for some reason, the state governments that are part of ASMFC do not appear to want to address commercial overfishing and commercial abuses, such as the ones experienced in the Maryland portions of the Chesapeake Bay this year. Immediate measures to stop all this are needed, says Burns. We join him in saying that we shouldn't have to wait another year before something is done.

Aren't you glad Virginia and Maryland don't do this

Southern California's Corona Lake, just off the I-15, is open seven days a week with fishing allowed from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on day passes, or from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on an evening pass. Each of these passes cost $22. Seniors have to pay $20. All of these passes have a five-fish limit. For kids 4 to 13, a three-fish pass costs $9. The 24-hour passes are available for the weekend nearest to the full moon each month. These passes cost $60 and anglers can bring a spouse and up to three kids to help fill the 24-hour pass 15-fish limit. Camping at Corona Lake is also free with a 24-hour pass.

Check our and see what they think is so important about the lake that they can charge such outrageous fees.

Here's hoping Maryland and Virginia don't see this and begin getting ideas about how to stick it to the citizens like the California government is doing shamelessly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hungry? See what the Bass Boss is up to!

Pardon the pun, but before I get into the "meat" of this story, I need to set the stage a little.

It begins with all the fishermen in the land who will readily agree that stilling a man-sized hunger while on the road is Job 1. When I drive to a distant lake or river, I stop the moment I find something worth wrapping my gums around. Good food is paramount in my life. Heck, some years ago I even wrote a book entitled, "Never Let a Skinny Guy Make Sandwiches." It's about us husky fellows not trusting lean fishing pals to bring the "groceries" that are intended for a lunch stop under a shoreline's shady tree. After all, 2 slices of white bread, one slice of baloney, and a limp leaf of lettuce isn't a sandwich --- no, it's an insult.

With that in mind, whenever I'm on a fishing trip I keep my eyes peeled for tasty vittles and I'm not talking about fancy French restaurants. Heavens, no. In fact, some of my most memorable food stops have been small barbecue shacks out in the country, and the best chili I've ever eaten came from a Texaco station on Maryland's Eastern Shore. (The owner's wife added to the family income by running a little food counter.)

What I'm trying to say is that a well-fed angler is a happy angler. 

Either sausage brand is terrific
Not all food stops are at dine-in places. Sometimes you have to buy the goodies and fix them at home or in a hotel/motel kitchenette, maybe a grille in a picnic area.

For instance, if you happen to visit the great state of Alabama and you're looking to fish in bass-rich Claiborne Lake or the Monroe County State Lake and you're driving south on I-65, roughly half-way between Montgomery and Mobile, look for Route 47 and the town of Beatrice. The lakes are not far from Beatrice but before you sling out the first lure, sniff the air and let your nose lead the way to the home of Monroe Sausage, locally preferred lip-smacking, premium smoked Southern pork sausage with no trans fats and always filled in natural casings. The product is no flash in the pan; it  has delighted sausage lovers since 1959.

The people who make Monroe Sausage are doing just fine, but things most likely are going to take a turn for the better. None other than the man who turned bass fishing into a veritable American mania, Ray Scott, wants the world to know about this sausage company. 

Ray Scott, fishing guru and sausage lover
It's not that he's broke and had to get a  PR job. No, the Bass Boss, who founded the biggest fishing club and most prestigious tournament trail in the world, the international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), simply loves good food and when he happened to be driving down the road and found the little town of Beatrice and its Original Monroe Sausage it wasn't long before he and one of the owners, David F. Steele, struck a bargain. "What impressed me immediately," Scott said later, "was the facility being as clean as a hospital surgery room."

Scott tasted the current brand of Monroe Sausage and found it delectable, "But for my tastes, it didn't have enough firepower, so I came up with a little different recipe," said the man whose followers are legion.

Here we have an entrepreneur who knows a lot more about bass fishing than turning ground, seasoned pork into taste delights, but he knows what pleases his taste buds. Scott enjoys a bit of a "bite" in his food and he convinced the owners of the company to add another brand. Bingo! "Scott Hot Sausage" was born.

Scott Hot Monroe Sausage will light up your taste buds
I've tasted a pack of "Scott Hot Monroe Sausage" that comes in a kind of ring. I pan-fried some and served it with breakfast eggs; cut some of it into half-inch chunks and let it cook in a hot skillet with home-fried potatoes and onions; I've also added chopped pieces to a pot of lima beans; then put some of it into a pot of lentil soup in another instance, and just like the Monroe Sausage advertising slogan says, "Yeah, It's That Good." 

Scott says, "It's just hot enough." I can add that it will definitely not burn up your tonsils. It's a very nice kind of spicy sausage. I cannot imagine anybody not loving it.

The Monroe Sausage people are looking for distributors of their product  north of Alabama and Florida. If anyone is interested, get in touch with David F. Steele, 501 Angel Street, Beatrice, AL 36425; e-mail or call 251/564.1455. If you want to order a quantity (and I don't mean only half a pound because mailing costs would be too high), get on the company web page, and check out the mail-order information.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Virginia may have a new blue catfish record

                                           Photo by VDGIF biologist Dan Wilson
Friends help Tony Milam (right) hold up his 109-lb. catfish
The Virginia State Record Fish Committee is reviewing a potential record blue catfish that was caught in Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir) at mid-week. The blue "cat" weighed  109 pounds and was caught by Virginian Tony Milam near the confluence of the Dan and Roanoke rivers.

The previous state record blue catfish of 102 pounds, 4 ounces was caught in the tidal James River in 2009 by Tim Wilson. The two bodies of water have been engaged in a friendly see-saw battle for record catfish honors ever since the 90-pound mark from the James River was topped in 2004 by a 92-pound fish from Buggs Island Lake. If Milam's catch is approved it will only be the second confirmed freshwater fish over 100 pounds caught in the Commonwealth. Milam's 109-pund whopper measured 53 inches in length, with a girth of 41 inches. Certification could be completed sometime next week.

For a complete listing of Virginia state record freshwater fish, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tidal Potomac River's bass have turned on

Gene's bass inhaled a Sting Ray grub
The bass bite in the tidal Potomac River and many of its feeder creeks has begun. On top of the list be sure to count on the upper tidal river, not far from Wilson Bridge, as well as Maryland's Mattawoman and Virginia's Aquia creeks where Rat-L-Trap lures in red/orange or red/chartreuse, as well as avocado color Mann's Sting Ray grubs (smeared with "Baitfish" Smelly Jelly) connect on decent-sized fish.

Bass guide Andy Andrzejewski with
a really nice tidal Potomac bass
In fact, the creeks' largemouth bass that bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) and I caught this week left no doubt about wanting the lures. Some of the 2- and 3-pounders slammed rattle baits and medium-depth lipped divers in red/orange or red/black. Most came along dropoffs, close to newly emerging spatterdock tops. We found that the Sting Rays, especially, were most effective when cast into shallows and then were allowed to fall into into deeper water, while the crankbaits could be cast to the start of a drop and then steadily retrieved through deeper layers.

In one instance, we had around 10 keeper-size bass inside a creek, followed by additional action in the main stem of the Potomac, close to Fox Ferry Point.

Before all that happened, Andrzejewski (301/932-1509) went out of Smallwood State Park's Sweden Point Marina last weekend and in one hour of Mattawoman Creek fishing caught four bass. Two were over 15 inches with the largest weighing three pounds. The lure: a red/orange Rat-L-Trap.

Warning note about the Mattawoman Creek

Members of the Mason Springs Conservancy passed along a message that last Friday at the Mattawoman Waste Water Treatment Plant in Charles County, the UV disinfectant treatment process was out of order for three hours and resulted in non-disinfected water being discharged a rate of 2000 gallons per hour. The water had been treated but not disinfected, which is the last stage of the process. Most waste water treatment plants use chlorine to disinfect the treated water; the UV process sterilizes the bacteria so it can not reproduce.

The discharged water had a bacteria count of 64 parts per million (PPM,) the sampling of Mattawoman Creek that day had counts of 700-900 parts per million during the high flows. The treatment plant said that staff members posted signs along the creek cautioning users against any contact. Apparently, everthing is okay now.

Lake Gaston and Lake Anna bass more active

Our Lake Gaston, Va., reporter Martin Magone sent a photo and a message: "Earlier this week I had a morning when I caught seven bass and four stripers," he wrote. "All the fish seem to be on the main lake channel drop. I'll try Hawtree Creek this week."

This week's first self portrait of Marty Magone
Marty finished by letting me know that the top of his fishing cap was cut off in the photo. That's what happens when you "shoot" yourself with a digital camera. It's okay, Marty. At least we see the fine looking bass you caught. The day before yesterday, Magone was out again and had six bass, one crappie and a catfish, all caught deep on Lazer blade baits.

Meanwhile, at Lake Anna, west of 

Yet another self portrait of Marty
Fredericksburg, Va., some good bass and crappie catches have been reported near the Splits and down around Duke's Creek. The whole scene will bust wide open as the next several days' temperatures will climb to near 80 degrees. Hang on. The bass ride is beginning.

Lake Anna can produce some true trophy largemouths and striper when conditions are right.

Some shoreline anglers find white and yellow perch

Shoreline anglers in the Allen's Fresh sector of Charles County's Wicomico River says they're finding a smattering of white and yellow perch, with the whites sometimes outnumbering the yellow neds. Don't count on yellow perch to stay around much longer. They're either done with spawning, or will be done within the next several days.

Much the same can be expected by shoreliners up around the Hills Bridge area of the Patuxent River on the Anne Arundel County side, but if all goes right there should be some decent white perch fishing in the Queen Anne's Bridge sector of the PAX River and by the time the dogwoods bloom don't be surprised if hickory shad show up in the same sector. 

The shad and herring run will also begin as temperatures increase nicely and the trees show leaves and blossoms along the Mason Springs portion of the Mattawoman Creek in Charles County and by the end of the month, of course, the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Va., will be alive with shad anglers wearing hip boots or chest-high waders.

Virginia meets about hunt regulations, license fees

After much discussion at the March 1, 2011, Board of Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries meeting, the Board proposed hunting and trapping regulation amendments for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. A public comment period on the proposed hunting and trapping regulations runs through 5 p.m. on April 15, 2011.

At their October 2010 meeting, the Board also proposed regulation amendments regarding license fees and that public comment period which has been open since December 15, 2010, will close on April 14, 2011.

The regulation proposals have been posted on the Department website ( or and will be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations, and summaries advertised in newspapers.

Wildlife Biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will host a series of public input meetings across the state as part of the process. The public is invited to attend to discuss the proposed regulations amendments. A list of the meeting locations has been posted on the agency website and is listed below.

The public may submit comments in a variety of formats including:
* Online through the agency website;
* E-mail sent to or forwarded to;
* By mailed letters addressed to Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn: Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 W. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230; and
* By public comment at public meetings and at Board meetings. Locations of public meetings are listed below and can be viewed on the agency website.

The Board will take final action on their proposed regulation amendments at their May 3, 2011, meeting.

Sadly, considering the huge population numbers in Northern Virginia, the closest on-site comment meeting for Washington area Virginians will be held March 29, 2011, at the Arlington-Fairfax Chapter Isaac Walton League, 14708 Mount Olive   Road, in Centreville, Virginia  20121; 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM. The staff contact is Jerry Sims, 540-899-4169.

CCA MD calls for more action on gill, pound nets

In a letter sent to Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John R. Griffin, the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD) asked for a long-term study of gill and pound nets in the commercial fishery.

DNR photo of illegal gill net catch
The commercial industry has called for more intense and frequent Natural Resources Police (NRP) patrols to help control the outlaws within their ranks,” wrote Ed Liccione, CCA MD state chairman. He cited that illegal gill nets were set last month even with increased enforcement efforts.

“Is there a place in Maryland for a fishery that so easily lends itself to abuses while consuming such a high level of the Department’s resources?”, Liccione continued. “Does the Department believe a fishery that requires extreme levels of law enforcement, coupled with stationing DNR personnel at check stations, is sustainable both from a manpower and financial standpoint?”

Liccione also expressed concerns in the letter about accountability, enforcement and conservation issues within the pound net fishery.

“Handling non-targeted fish while emptying pound nets may result in significantly high mortality that is not fully understood,” he wrote. “Pound nets set in the spring have the ability to catch the spawning populations of striped bass, not to mention hickory shad, American shad and river herring. Meanwhile, the Department expends considerable financial and manpower resources elsewhere protecting these very same species, the majority of which can’t be commercially sold.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Inspite of wind, local fishermen begin to score

Mike Henderson and Dan Campbell with creek perch
Let's begin with the annual yellow perch scene. If you're a tidal river and creek perch hunter, you'll probably agree that the yellow perch spawning season -- and the catches of roe fish, in particular -- has been an up-and-down situation. One day the yellow "neds" bite well and the next moment they seem to have disappeared, only to show up again on subsequent days.

Marty Magone and his love, Pauline, load up on perch
Is it the greatly varying day and nighttime temperatures that can be blamed that might drive the fish from shallows into deep water and back again? Not if you ask my regular bunch of fishing pals. Andy Andrzejewski and Dale Knupp have had no real trouble finding perch in the upper Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County, Md. Neither had Francis Guy of the Guy Brothers Marine store in Clements, Md. Francis, along with a friend named Al, fishing in Andrzejewski's boat on Tuesday during the gang's annual perch fry get-together, nailed one yellow "ned" after another, including some roe fish.

Mattawoman perch hunt turned up a bass for me
I did poorly, but on a weekend search for perch in the Mattawoman Creek, the first fish to strike a shad dart under a bobber was a little largemouth bass. It tickled me to no end. On Wednesday I went out again to hunt for perch and found a few willing buck perch, but no females.

Then local pier hoppers at Friendship Landing on the Nanjemoy talked about white perch biting as far up as Marshall Hall on the Potomac River. With a week of warmer weather, the white perch will be caught way up in Washington, around the Fletcher's Boat House area of the Potomac, where they'll be busy with their annual spawning chores.

Small spoons, Silver Buddies and white or chartreuse spinners will get them wherever the water isn't too deep, including the Wicomico River at Allen's Fresh. But you'll score better on bloodworm-baited bottom rigs if you need to catch a mess for supper around the Potomac's Marshall Hall stretch -- that is if you can afford to buy bloodworms without having to take out a second mortgage on your house.

Bass hunters on the Potomac and its tributaries between Washington and western Charles County are beginning to find a few willing fish, but with the current rain forecasts we doubt that there'll be a slew of bass boats out looking for them in the Mattawoman, Aquia and Potomac creeks, maybe the coves below Belle Haven Marina, or across the river in the Spoils Cove, not to mention the Blue Plains treatment plant sector of the river.

Area anglers did great on Florida's Okeechobee

Our Front Royal, Va., fishing reporter Dick Fox, who normally passes along information from the Shenandoah River, had a dynamite trip to Florida's gigantic Lake Okeechobee. He was accompanied by friends Warren Cooksey, of White Plains, Md., and Mike Willett, of Charlotte Hall, Md. The trio caught 50 to 60 bass every day.

Dick Fox with an Okeechobee bucketmouth
"Several of them weighed well over 7 pounds," said Fox. "But we had none of the famous 10-pounders everybody expects when they head south. Most of our fish came on flukes, 10-inch worms and Skinny Dippers. We stayed at Roland Martin's Marina (in Clewiston), which is a great facilty that caters to fishermen," added Fox.

As concerns the cost of the trip during these days of high fuel costs, Fox said, "We paid $3.85 per gallon for diesel -- well over $600 for fuel. However, we split the cost three ways. It helped. The total expense, including the cost of rooms and food, came to $500 for each of us during the 7 days we were there."

Warren Cooksey and Mike Willett found many bass
And how was the weather? "It was great," said Fox, "but during the last two days the wind blew at 25 m.p.h. We still caught fish in the wind, but had to hold on to the reeds as we fished. We even anchored and fished with some jumbo shiners but they did no better than artificial lures that day."

P.S.: Upon returning home, Fox found the Shenandoah River high and muddy. "It will be about a week before it's fishable again," he said.

What's this about early flounder catches?

From Virginia Beach, Dr. Julie Ball ( reports that a group of anglers who fished the Quinby area on Virginia's Eastern Shore claimed they caught a few keeper flounder. "Hopefully this will kick off a good early flounder season, which usually jump starts about mid-March," said Ball.

When the wind doesn't blow too hard, deep-water fish species draw boaters out into ocean areas where lures and baits have to be fished down as much as 300 feet. Ball adds that you can also find blueline tilefish, nice grouper, and black bellied rosefish. "Seabass will also take your bait, but be sure to throw them back for now while the season is closed," she said.

The fishing dentist also reminds us that some anglers are heading down to North Carolina to hop on charter boats for bluefin tuna. "The bluefin bite has been good, with several fish pushing well over 100-pounds."

Upper Bay's Yellow Perch Appreciation Day a success

More than 130 people attended the second annual Yellow Perch Appreciation Day in North East Town Park on March 5 and Mark Astfalk, of Elkton, Md., won the top prize in the fishing contest. The event, sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association and its Upper Bay Chapter, is held to celebrate the restoration of the yellow perch fishery and brings together recreational anglers, parents fishing with their youngsters, and state officials.

Astfalk took the top prize of $250 with a perch weighing 21.8 ounces. Others winning prizes were Mike Windell, of Wilmington, Dela.; with a second place 20.5 ounce perch that earned him $200; Eric Braley, of North East, Md.,caught a 19.4-ounce perch and placed third for $150.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Top Hunting, Shooting and Fishing Brands for 2010

Assortment of popular rifles, shotguns and binoculars
The sportsmen's polling firm Southwick Associates has compiled a list of the most frequently chosen gear bought by hunters and target shooters. It surveyed 41,923 sportsmen and women who volunteered to participate in the survey.

(Editor's note: Please remember that if you disagree with some of the chosen product names, the survey does not claim these items are necessarily the best; it only shows that they sold better than a competing brand. For example, if the top rifle scope was made by Bushnell, it doesn't mean it's the absolute best, although Bushnell manufactures fine scopes. However, it can't compare in price and quality to, say, Steiner. Steiner scopes often cost 8 times as much as a similar Bushnell brand, hence is bound to sell fewer.)
Top rifle brand: Remington
Top shotgun brand: Remington & Mossberg (tie)
Top muzzleloader brand: Thompson Center
Top handgun brand: Sturm Ruger
Top scope for firearms: Bushnell
Top rifle ammunition brand: Remington
Top shotgun ammunition brand: Winchester
Top handgun ammunition brand: Winchester
Top blackpowder brand: Pyrodex
Top balls, bullets, or shot brand: Hornady
Top bow brand: Matthews
Top arrow brand: Carbon Express
Top fletching brand: Blazer
Top broadhead brand: Muzzy
Top archery target brand:  The Block
Top decoy brand:  Mojo
Top game call brand: Primos
Top reloading bullet brand: Hornady
Top reloading primer brand: CCI
Top reloading powder brand: Hodgdon
Top binocular brand: Bushnell
Top holster brand:  Uncle Mikes
Top knife brand: Gerber

Top Fishing Equipment Brands for 2010

A varied assortment of rods and reels
The national Southwick Associates’ has announced the brands and products anglers purchased most frequently in 2010. The list below was compiled from the 31,082 internet-based surveys completed by fishermen who volunteered to participate in polls.

(Editor's note: Remember that the best-selling brand is not necessarily the highest quality product. For example, many fishermen will argue that Shakespeare does not manufacture the best rod, but it  seems that the brand outsells all others.)

In 2010, the top brands:

Top rod brand: Shakespeare
Top reel brand: Shimano
Top rod and reel combo brand: Shakespeare
Top fishing line producer: Berkley
Top hard bait brand: Rapala
Top soft bait brand: Zoom
Top spinner bait brand: Strike King
Top hook brand: Eagle Claw/Lazer Sharp
Top sinker brand: generic, Water Gremlin
Top fly rod brand: LL Bean
Top fly combo brand: Pflueger
Top fly line brand: Rio
Top fly leader brand: Rio
Top fly tying material brand: Wapsi
Top fish finder/sonar brand: Humminbird
Top tackle box brand: Plano
Top fishing knife brand: Rapala

* Largemouth bass remain the number one targeted species of freshwater fish, with 48% of fishing activity targeting largemouth bass.

* Saltwater anglers were more varied, with 24% of trips targeting any fish that bites, followed by striped bass (23%), redfish/red drum/channel bass (23%), spotted seatrout or weakfish (20%) and flounder (19%). Please note these refer to species targeted on trips and not the number of fish actually caught.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why isn't the original B.A.S.S. Boss part of new deal?

Ray Scott could energize new B.A.S.S.
(Gene Mueller editorial opinion)

Here's a question for the new owners of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.): Why wouldn't you want the founder of B.A.S.S., Ray Scott, play some kind of role in the organization? I mean, this is a no-brainer. Isn't this their chance to score a homerun? Folks, you're not stepping up to the plate.

Jerry McKinnis, who heads the 3-man group that purchased B.A.S.S. from ESPN should make a smart move before it's too late. ESPN, by the way, did a terrible job managing the world's biggest fishing club, as well as the most prestigious bass tournament organization in the land.

Ask Scott, who now is in his 70s, but looks, acts and talks like someone in his early 50s, to get back and tout his "baby." Scott could boost membership and interest in B.A.S.S. like no one else. That is something that has been absent: Genuine enthusiasm. Besides, when I asked Scott during a telephone interview if he was interested, he did not respond in the negative.
Scott loves to play to the crowd

It was Scott, after all, who, in the 1960s when he started B.A.S.S., infused the newly signed-up members with real involvement, fellowship and loyalty. The fishing world had never seen the likes of it. Scott, whose tournaments always were squeaky clean, became a kind of P.T. Barnum and country preacher all wrapped into one.

The rise of B.A.S.S. was meteoric, thanks to Scott's dogged pursuit of excellence that attracted the cream of the crop in the bass fishing world. The likes of bass pros Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston, Denny Brauer, Rick Clunn and others became role models for hundreds of thousands of up-and-coming bass fanatics. Scott turned these men into stars. It takes more than winning a mega tournament for your name to become a household word, but once the cowboy-hatted Alabamian took a successful angler under his wing, it wasn't long before every bass hound in the country talked about him.

Even if only a small percentage of American fishermen -- even some from other
countries -- ever made it to a professional tournament, the vast majority of people who would never participate in a tournament wouldn't miss their Bassmaster magazine, join B.A.S.S. clubs, belong to a special federation, or attend a B.A.S.S. Masters Classic (as it was spelled then). I ought to know, having covered 25 Classics for several Washington, D.C. newspapers during the early years.
Scott knows how to catch bass

When Ray Scott rolled into a town to conduct one of his bass fishing championships, there was electricity in the air. Newspaper reporters, magazine writers and TV fishing show personalities wouldn't miss it and neither would the public. (By the way, Jerry McKinnis was one of the TV fishing show hosts who gained a measure of added popularity simply because of how Mr. Bass himself, Ray Scott, advanced the product.)

If there was talk of catching bass, hardly a minute would pass before someone brought up Scott's name. He was a fishing messiah and I, for the world of me, cannot understand why McKinnis wouldn't leap at the chance to ask Scott to do a steady number of emceeing jobs for B.A.S.S. rather than rely on boring unrecognizeable characters who bring very little to the table when it comes to firing up a crowd. If you've never seen Scott run a huge weigh-in ceremony at a Classic or even a regular tournament, you've missed seeing an American original.

Scott should be featured in B.A.S.S. advertisements, at tournaments and other
functions that can boost the group's popularity. If nothing else, he should be named the B.A.S.S. group's ambassador-for-life and travel throughout the land making personal appearances.

What can it cost? A pittance compared to what he could earn for B.A.S.S., Mr. McKinnis and his associates.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Southern Maryland's Nanjemoy Creek is ready for you

Andy caught the day's first perch
Pro bass (and all around super guide) Andy Andrzejewski and I had to see if the yellow perch spawning run was under way in the beautiful Nanjemoy Creek in western Charles County.

We launched Andy's 22-foot Triton bass boat at Friendship Landing (from the soutbound lanes of Route 301 in La Plata, turn right onto Route 6/west and
follow to a left turn on Route 425, which will lead to Friendship Landing Road and the launch ramp).

Typical perch gear for us always consists of light rods and reels, with lines most often staying in the 6- to 8-pound test range. The light spinning gear would be used with 1/16-oz. and 1/8-oz. jig hooks that held curly-tailed grubs in brown/green, or black back/silver body Berkley Power Minnows that could be fished when tied straight to the nylon, or when we tied dropshot rigs with special "stand-out" hooks that would hold the Power Minnows without needing the lead-headed jig hooks.

Each of us also carried one medium-action baitcasting rod and levelwind reel loaded with 15-pound monofilament that is tied to a 1/4-oz. round-headed jig hook that eventually is pierced into the head of a Mann's Sting Ray grub in avocado color, pushed down about halfway, with the hook point allowed to re-emerge out of the broad side of the Sting Ray. And, before I forget, every lure we use is dabbed with baitfish- or crawfish-flavored Smelly Jelly.

Using either of the lures mentioned above, Andy and I connected on fat "buck" perch a fair distance upstream of the ramp. They hung out in small schools in 4 to 7 feet of water. Once in a while, I'd cast a 1/32-oz. white/red shad dart, held from bottom snags with a bobber, toward the shorelines and, sure enough, occasionally would find a male yellow perch that most often would meet the 9-inch minimum with room to spare.

"I guess we had about 30 or more yellow perch," said Andy a little after 12 noon as the tide reached flood stage. We kept 17 in all, although 20 would have been legal for the two of us. Of the 17, four were roe-filled females. So get ready for the usually bigger female perch. They're on their way to the shallow spawning reaches of the creek.

A mix of male and female yellow perch is available in Charles County's creeks

Allen's Fresh delivers the goods for shoreliners

Web site friend Bob Wysong told us he fished the Allen’s Fresh portion of the Wicomico River in Charles County, Md., on Tuesday during a high tide that was about to turn and ebb.
"I tied a red and white shad dart to 4-lb. braded line with a bobber 3-1/2 feet above," he said. "My first cast got a  yellow perch. I caught three fish with three casts, and then it kind of stopped for the next half hour. Then I tied on a red tip/chartreuse rubber tube jig  and caught about 25 fish in three hours. Most were too small to keep, but I managed five keeper yellow perch  (all male, but a couple of really nice ones), and four nice white perch. I just cast it out without a bobber, using a white jig head, and did a slow, jerky retrieve [with] very small shakes of the rod tip.  I seemed to be doing a lot better than everyone else with this."

Bob thanked us for the information he found on our web site regarding Allen's Fresh ( "I’ll try to get there a couple more times and hopefully the females will be there," he said.

Here's betting they'll be in full-force this weekend and be reminded that when the roe-filled "girls" arrive, the run will not last long; probably no longer than a week, if that long.

Lake Gaston continues to give up largemouths

Marty Magone keeps catching bass at Lake Gaston
Our friend Marty Magone, who lives on the shores of Lake Gaston, Va., sometimes refers to himself as the Latvian-American Prince. That's fine with me because Marty is a top-flight fisherman and a good person to boot, no matter what his ethnic roots are.

"I caught seven bass and two white perch on Monday," he said. "The largest bass weighed 5-pounds, 8-ounces and it fell for a Lazer blade bait near a 4- to 9-foot drop in Holly Grove Creek just past the rockpile."

Flounder catches might materialize this month

"Optimistic flounder hunters are watching the calendar closely," says Dr. Julie Ball ( from her Virginia Beach home. "The first wave of spring flounder often debuts in mid March. The regulations this year have flounder pounders [smiling], with no closed season, and a bag limit of 4 fish per person at a length of 17-1/2 inches."

Dr. Ball also reminds us that some boaters are  looking for offshore tautogs. Last week, some keepers along with a few scattered citations were noted. Most of the 'tog anglers are using clams or frozen crabs since blue crabs are hard to find right now. "Cod, a fish popular in more northern regions, are also hitting bait intended for 'togs," she says and adds, "Don’t throw these fish back, they make great table fare!"

Meanwhile, Ball says that boats venturing out to deeper water between blows are still finding decent catches of blueline tilefish, with seabass as a by-catch. "Remember to toss the seabass back since the season is closed," she reminds us, then switches to Carolina action. "Anglers are driving to Hatteras to get in on the bluefin tuna bite. Many of these fish are weigh over 100-pounds. A few blackfin and yellowfin tuna are also reportedly in the mix," she reported.