Friday, October 28, 2011

Bass and chopper bluefish head the list this week

By now, our web page visitors are becoming familar with this fisherman's face. He's Dick Fox, of Front Royal, Va., and here he shows off yet another smallmouth bass caught on a tube in the historic Shenandoah River.

When Dick Fox fished the Riverton area of the Shenandoah River, using a dropshot rig and a grub, this smallmouth bass couldn't stay away from the artificial lure that looked like food as far as the "brown" fish was concerned. When the Shenandoah begins to slow down a bit, Dick enjoys fishing the upper tidal Potomac for cold-weather largemouths.

The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, shot this photo of a chopper bluefish a few days ago in the Atlantic, east of Virginia Beach. Currently, the ocean is alive with whopper blues that jump on trolled or jigged lures.

Local fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski took a party of two anglers out into the tidal Potomac below Marshall Hall earlier this week and his clients caught 28 bass. Andy knows where to go and how to do it. That's for sure. If you're interested in spending a half or full day with this fully-licensed pro, you can reach him at 301/932-1509.

Lee Martin, of Warrenton, Va., is proud to show off his personal best largemouth bass, a 6-pound, 15-ouncer (at left), caught on a Shad Rap during a VA-outdoors weekend series tournament on Lake Anna. Lee fished with his father, Larry, and those 2 bass, weighing just over 9 pounds won the tournament on a nasty, cold day.
Learn more about this tournament circuit by going to:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First cool weather fishing day of autumn was simply great

Marty Magone caught the first bass of the day
The time finally came when nights were cool, the grass damp with morning dew, and when you launched a boat for a day of fishing you needed to zip up a jacket or slip a sweatshirt over your noggin to keep warm. Hallelujah! I'm a cold-weather fan and don't mind admitting it. To blazes with sweating by 9 a.m. and humidity so thick you can slice it. Ditto for 98-degree weather.

Indeed, it was a glorious morning when my frequent fishing partner, the professional guide Andy Andrzejewski, (he can be booked at 301/932-1509) slipped his 22-footer from the trailer at Sweden Point Marina. The previous night's temperatures had fallen into the 40s, and even now it barely made it to the 50-degree range.
Andy had no trouble finding bass
Andy had agreed to pick up his long-time friend, Marty Magone, across the Potomac River at Leesylvania State Park's marina. Magone had promised to bring sustenance for the three of us, which translates into massive roast beef or egg splatter sandwiches. (This time it turned out to be medium rare roast beef, held between slices of multi-grain bread that were slathered with mayonnaise and trimmed with sweet onion slices and dill pickle. That alone was worth getting up for.)

When the three of us left Leesylvania and Andy slowly rounded the "slow down" buoys, then pushed the big Evinrude's accelerator handle forward, the slick-looking Triton boat leapt from the water, planed, and settled down while the occupants had to hold on to their hats. Our first stop was not far from the Possum Point Power Plant on the Virginia shore. Within the first several casts, Magone, who lives on the shores of Virginia's Lake Gaston and is used to setting the hook to bass, had a largemouth charge into a firetiger color crankbait.
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Gene Mueller's Deep Baby "N" fooled some of the fish
For some reason, the chunky fish appeared to be the only one willing to look at our lures, but things changed by the time our second spot was visited. Andy and Marty, both, saw action on bass and catfish. Yes, catfish don't mind charging after a lure that looks edible.

As is customary, the fishing guide, Andy, limited out on bass fairly soon. Marty did fine around a stone-laden river point, and I wasn't complaining when my Norman's Deep Baby "N" lure was attacked by a rockfish, followed by a decent lartgemouth bass. Not only that, when we experimented with soft baits, including various craw baits and an avocado color Mann's Sting Ray grub (fished with a round-headed jig hook whose point was totally exposed), Andy landed several bass, a yellow perch and a catfish, while Marty and I lost a few bass, which of course permitted us to say anything we wanted to say.

The boys stood side by side, casting and hooking fish
Marty had an apparently  good-sized fish (we know  not what species) shake the  hook and he promptly  claimed it as a 9-pound  bass. Hey, who's going to  argue with him? No one saw  the critter.

I did the same, lying like a  rug whenever a bass,  catfish, or striper made a  fool  of me. "Did you see  that?" I asked my pals when  my rod was bent like a  pretzel. But neither of them  would admit they saw a  thing. "You probably hooked  a tree under water," said  one, "and the hook finally  tore loose."

However, all that didn't matter. It was great to be out in the cool, fresh air, eat sandwiches that sated body and soul. Hallelujah! Fall really is here and the fishing will get even better in the weeks to come.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catching a 54-pound, 10-ounce carp on 10-pound-test line!

Lake Anna, Va., fishing guide, Chris Craft and his boat partner, Brian Oxendine, competed in a Virginia Outdoors (VAO) tournament recently. They ran into Anna’s Contrary Creek to see if the bass held on some rip-rap at the bridge. That’s when thunder struck! As Craft was retrieving a Rat-L-Trap lure he felt resistance – a lot of it. Craft had snagged a grass carp in the top of its tail and you know how tough any fish can be when its head is free and only a piece of its tail is hooked.

Chris Craft and his huge, record grass carp
“To say the fight was on is an understatement,” said Craft later. The battle with the behemoth carp lasted nearly 30 minutes. Now consider that later when the fish had been landed and officially weighed, it turned out to tip the scales at 54 pounds, 10 ounces. It measured 46-1/2 inches and had a girth of 34 inches. Craft’s grass carp beat the existing record by over 10 pounds.

Are you ready for the next phase of this incredible catch? The huge carp was landed on 10-pound-test Izor Line. It didn't snap in two. Craft used
a Lew’s Speed Spool reel and a 6’6” Loomis rod. All of it deserves a loud "Wow!!!"

To see Chris’s entire rundown of the catch, check out

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fish netter wants to control upper tidal Potomac bass fishing

Read about this serious threat to local bass fishing:

When the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission held a public meeting recently at the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) headquarters in Colonial Beach, Va., the primary purpose was to receive input about ways to reduce the continued commercial netting of steadily declining schools of menhaden -- a forage fish species that is the primary food for a number of predator fish species, including striped bass, bluefish, sea trout, red drum and cobias. It also is sought by commercial netters that supply thousands of tons of menhaden to the reduction industry every year. The little oily fish is turned into various products, oils, fish meal, even certain cosmetics.

Imagine that! Bass are eating all the menhaden. (Not!)
However, instead of providing input to help during a time when the menhaden population is at an all-time low, Robert T. Brown, the head of the St. Mary's County Waterman's Association, who also is the PRFC's chairman of its Finfish Advisory Board, allegedly opposed regulations regarding the harvest of menhaden in the tidal Potomac River. Do you know why he is said to oppose them?

Brown, whose credentials as a fisheries statistician and/or biologist are sadly and totally lacking, was reported to have said that the real problem with the low numbers of menhaden in the Potomac are the river's catfish and largemouth bass. We can all have a good laugh about this fellow's outrageous and stupid claims, but he's serious. In fact, he ordered the executive secretary of the PRFC, Kirby Carpenter, to put the menhaden problem on the agenda of the next meeting of the Finfish Advisory Board. 

Brown, who I'm sure is not a leading candidate for MENSA, wants to increase the creel limit for largemouth bass (it's 5 at this time), also require anglers to stop practicing catch-and-release fishing (which means he wants every hooked bass kept and not let go), and require any bass tournament group to pay a fee to the PRFC before conducting a contest. 

Are you listening, Maryland. It's time to bump your noggin into a wall and WAKE UP. Abolish the PRFC once and for all. The fisheries commission was established to keep Maryland and Virginia watermen from shooting at each other way back when JFK was president. It's a waste of taxpayers' money and is no longer needed. They're not fighting with each other these days. Besides, the river belongs to Maryland, lock, stock and barrel right up to the high watermark on the Virginia shore.

Take the river back and tell this waterman, Brown, to quit griping about something he knows nothing about. Show a little guts, Maryland. WAKE UP!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A 6-pound-plus largemouth from the Shenandoah? And more . . .

Dick Fox, of Front Royal, Va., fishes the Shenandoah quite often. His usual catches are smallmouth bass and crappies. So imagine his surprise, when a few days ago, Dick caught a 6-pound-plus largemouth bass in the historic river that most people believe doesn't have a largemouth bass population. The fat bass inhaled a black tube.

The same day that Dick Fox set the hook to a well-fed largemouth bass, he caught this fine smallmouth, which is more like it considering the Shenandoah is home to plenty of the "brown" fish, and currently they're biting big-time.

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And how about Wayne Willett, of Waldorf, Md., who caught this fine flounder in the waters of the Patuxent River, at Solomons.

That's Dr. Ken Neill, the fishing dentist, whose boat, the Healthy Grin, comes out of Virginia Beach when he chases after whatever is biting in offshore waters. Right now, Dr. Neill finds chopper bluefish either trolling or jigging them up.

What about this "catch"? It's Rob Wiley with a monster mule deer shot in Wyoming. The trophy muley was part of a hunt with "Nontypical Outfitters" company. For information about booking a hunt, check the web at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Can anything be better than introducing a kid to the outdoors?

Can you see Pierce, high up in a tree?
Sometime this November I hope that my grandson, Jake, will get to see a deer. No, not the kind that stand along the roadsides before sunrise. He's seen plenty of those. Instead, Jake and I will be on a 2-man metal ladder stand.

We'll be 15 feet off the ground, in a dense growth of trees, not far from the Port Tobacco River's shoreline. The whitetails he's likely to encounter are not as trusting as those that believe they can make an automobile come to a halt.

Jake, 13, has passed his Maryland hunter education course, received a free license (a special treat for a first-time young hunter), and he has been practicing with a special 20-gauge slug-loaded shotgun. He's getting better every time he shoots. His bedroom closet is home to a fluorescent orange cap, a bright orange vest, gloves, boots, and plenty of warm clothing that he is anxious to slip into when the opening day arrives.

!3-year-old Pierce with his mentor and grandfather, Joe Novak
Not far up the rural road from me, my friend Joe Novak is in the same happy boat. Joe is a certified hunter education instructor (he spends many unpaid hours helping newcomers learn and pass state-mandated tests) and he has fully taken grandson, Pierce, 13, under his wing. Pierce already is an old hand at hunting. Last year, he shot a fine whitetailed buck on grandpa's property. It was all done under Joe's careful supervision and no one that I had ever seen looked happier than Joe Novak did on that very special day. In a manner of speaking, Pierce completed a rite of passage, kind of like we did when we were his age.

Nowadays, during the current bow-hunting season, Pierce and Joe spend as many hours as possible in deer stands, safety harnesses firmly attached, waiting for a sure killing shot. Grandpa will not allow drawing a bow on a deer that is out of range. Everything has to be just right.

Right now, my money is on Pierce getting a fair amount of venison. That boy has become a natural-born hunter. My grandson Jake, hopefully, will follow Pierce's tracks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Last week's terrific catches, in addition to news makers

Northern Virginian, Jeff Palmer, shows off one of a number of bass he and his fishing partner, Carl D. Brown, hooked in Quantico Creek a few days ago. The two used spinnerbaits and Mann's Baby 1-Minus lures. 

That's my friend, Kevin Wilson, who used a Chatterbait in a side arm of the Potomac River to nail this well-fed bass. He and a fishing pal, Howard, had a grand day fishing from shore. Check out Kevin's fine website

Joyce Thomas of Augusta, Georgia, with a super rockfish she caught live-lining Norfolk spot while aboard charter fishing captain Greg Buckner's boat, the Miss Susie. Call Capt. Buckner at 301-837-1327 if you're interested in fishing with one of the most talented skippers on the Chesapeake Bay.

Bobby Thomas with two fine stripers also live-lined from aboard Capt. Greg Buckner's Miss Susie.

Virginia Beach area fishing phenom Julie Ball holds her 121-centimeter-long black drum, caught in May. It was an all-tackle world length record that has now been accepted by the International Game Fish Association. Note: We earlier reported Dr. Julie's black drum to be 121 inches. It was our fault. It should have said "centimeters" all along. The drum would have been a little over 48 inches long.

The same Julie Ball (actually, she's Dr. Julie Ball, a Virginia Beach dentist) holding her 107-centimeter world length record red drum (a.k.a. channelbass or redfish). Note: We earlier reported the Dr. Julie's red drum to be 107 inches. It was our fault. It should have said "centimeters" all along.

Northern Virginians, Tom Ekasone and Seuk Ekasone, came out of Buzz's Marina on St. Jerome's Creek, went into the close-by Chesapeake Bay, and later came back with a bluefish dinner.

Outdoor writer and photographer Ric Burnley, will give a talk at the October 18 meeting of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association. He will be talking about the fall run of thresher sharks off Virginia's coast. Meetings are free and you do not have to be a member to attend. For more information, visit:

The owner of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Md., Ken Lamb, had a ball catching tasty white perch in a lower Patuxent River feeder creek. He used a small Beetlespin lure.

Phil Mazurek caught these rockfish on peeler crab in the Myrtle Point area of the Patuxent River.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Please, help protect the menhaden from the haul seiners

The Coastal Conservation Association/Virginia says that the current menhaden management system has allowed this critically important fish species to decline to the lowest abundance ever recorded. The CCA/VA urges concerned fishermen to register their concerns. It wants the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to know that sport fishermen want action to protect this vital forage stock that bluefish, striped bass, cobia, sea trout, flounder, red drum and sharks depend on. Not only that, seabirds, including the osprey, also feed on menhaden.

Stripers need menhaden to feed on.
Currently, overfishing of menhaden by the “reduction industry” (it includes Northern Neck commercial netters who sell the menhaden to plants that turn the little oily fish into various products) is occurring and has been for 32 of the last 54 years, says the CCA. In August the ASMFC approved Draft Addendum V to the Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan while proposing new rebuilding targets, all of which will increase menhaden abundance. A copy of Addendum V and the public hearing schedule for the Atlantic Coast can be found on the ASMFC website at

The public will have an opportunity to comment on a new threshold and targets at public hearings in Virginia:

October 17, 6:00 p.m.                               October 18, 6:30 p.m.
Va Marine Resources Commission                Potomac River Fisheries Comm.
Northumberland H.S. Auditorium                 John T. Parran Hearing Room
201 Academic Lane                                   222 Taylor Street
Heathsville, Virginia 22473                         Colonial Beach, Va 22443

ASMFC will formally adopt new population targets and fishing limits at their November Meeting after they review the public hearing and written comments on Addendum V. ASMFC may develop appropriate management measures on quotas and allocations in 2012.

Monday, October 10, 2011

This may not guarantee venison, but it can improve the odds

A scrape is a sure sign that a buck deer has been here.
My annual scouting for whitetailed deer has entered the serious stage. No more, "Look, there's a big doe over there," or, "That buck looks like he's lost one side of his antlers," when I drive past the Charles County woods where the majority of my hunting takes place. My generous landowner hosts allow me all the free movement and access I need, hence they don't question the presence of my pickup truck along a forest edge before the gunning season for deer arrives. They know that I'm either hunting squirrels or checking out signs the deer left behind.

I already have two deer stands that  in past years were wonderfully productive, so much of my scouting centers around these well-camouflaged stands.

The forested acreage I hunt in is home to beech, oak, gum, holly and locust trees in addition to fairly dense nearby bottomland that is covered in shrubs and brush, which is ideal for deer bedding or hiding. 

Talk about being a lucky so-and-so, last week I discovered a large amount of small nuts that have begun to drop from massive, light-grey, smooth-bark beech trees. The tiny pyramid-shaped nuts eventually fall out of their husks and every creature in the forest will try to feed on them. The deer love 'em, so do wild turkeys and squirrels, even bluejays and other birds peck away at them. 

Acorns on the left, beech nuts on the right. They draw deer like a magnet.
Then there are a number of large white oaks that are loaded with acorns. The same wildlife that enjoys the beech nuts also go after the acorns. If you have one or both of those types of trees near your deer stand, chances are good that you will see feeding wildlife eventually.

Now, while you're scouting out a likely hunting area, if you suddenly spot a good "rub" on a tree, produced by the antlers of a buck, all the better. Local lore has it that the bigger the tree is that has been rubbed, the bigger the buck.

Near both of my tree stands, I eventually hope to see a good scrape made by a buck, a sure sign of an active deer that hopes to breed with a doe. The male scrapes aside leaves and twigs with his hooves, urinates in the cleared area, which could interest a doe that is in estrus. Well, you can imagine what might transpire from then on.

Venison can be yours if you do a little scouting
Briefly, what you want is a great feeding area (i.e. beech nuts, white acorns, perhaps some lush greens) and signs that the deer have been in the area (i.e. scrapes and rubs, also seeing droppings around the general vicinity).

Finally, to make certain that I chose the proper location, I strap my motion sensor camera to a tree in an area that appears to be on a steady deer visiting list. After one or two days, I remove the camera and the computer card, check it out on my lap-top computer, save what information I can glean, then move the camera to another spot.

All of these factors combined can deliver a better-than-average chance for tasty venison. In other words, do your woodland scouting, and don't leave all your hunting only to chance. Lord knows, even if you do it right there are still plenty of things that can go wrong.

That will be the subject of another column.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You can feel the changing of the seasons -- and fishing improves

"Meet me at 8 a.m. at the Marshall Hall launch ramp," said my friend, the bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski. When I arrived only two boat trailers sat in the parking lot and they belonged to haul seiners, not sport fishermen. Not a single bass boat had been slipped into the Potomac even by 8 in the morning. Had it been July or August, I would have bet that the lot would be at least half full, but let the nights grow a little colder and morning temperatures hang around 50 degrees, a change comes over many bass boaters. That change will intensify with the dropping temperatures expected in November and December.

Gene Mueller with a fall bass caught on a shallow-lipped crankbait.
Lord, there have been winter days when Andy and I, or our friends Dale and Nancy Knupp (who also enjoy cold weather fishing) had the entire Potomac to ourselves. All we might see were the commercial boats of the fishing Grinder family, who normally set nets in  Charles and Prince George's County waters.

Andy wore a sweatshirt, me a light jacket, but I had a long-sleeve shirt under it when the Fishing Pole slowly idled away from the boat ramp. A quick stop at the Mt. Vernon cuppola showed that nothing that had fins was interested in our lures. But a little farther up the river, not far from the mouth of the Piscataway Creek, we caught our first bass. In less than three-and-half feet of water, with scattered clumps of milfoil and hydrilla seen here and there, one largemouth jumped on a Chatterbait; another liked a 1/4-oz. shallow-lipped Strike King Pro Model, which is Strike King's answer to Mann's Baby 1-Minus.
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 By late morning, Andy removed his sweatshirt.
The little firetiger-patterned crankbait lured two more bass shortly after the first one. In a nearby creek -- the Wilson Bridge clearly visible in the distance -- Andy began to connect with 4-inch plastic worms, a fair amount of Smelly Jelly dabbed on them to make the offering more palatable.

We did well enough on the bass to eventually switch rods, reels and lures in a search for crappies among a marina's dock pilings. But the tide was low and it sat at a standstill. If the crappies were there, they didn't like our small grubs and darts. However, an assortment of sunfish was present and these little critters just about drove us batty, jerking and pulling on our soft baits, but never being able to inhale enough of them to get hooked. Andy did pop a hook to one and I had a bluegill snatch up a small shad dart under a bobber.

Andy and I were forced to leave just as the tide began to rise. But we had appointments in town and couldn't stay. We'll make up for it in a few days when we'll play time and tides properly.

If you're interested in a booking with the fully-licensed guide, Andrzejewski, call 301/932-1509.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

For charter captains, hunting/fishing guides, marinas, retail stores

If you are interested in running an advertisement on either side of this popular web page, send an e-mail to and we'll be in touch with a message quoting our very reasonable costs.


Among some of the fish catches this week was a beautiful smallmouth bass hooked by James Lawrence, of Waldorf, Md. The photo was taken by Dick Fox, of Front Royal, Va., as the two fished in the Mexico Bay area of Lake Ontario. Way to go, Jim!

Marty Magone, who lives within a stone's throw of Virginia's Lake Gaston sent us several photos that he shoots himself. This is a 5-pound, 4-ounce largemouth that jumped on a Rico topwater bait Wednesday morning.

No it's not the same Lake Gaston bass as the one above. Marty Magone caught this bucketmouth a couple of days ago.

Here is Marty with a largemouth bass on what appeared to be a chilly morning at Lake Gaston last week.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

AuCoin Report: Interesting news items from around the country

(My friend Bill AuCoin, a well-known public relations specialist, product representative and outdoor newsman, occasionally sends us news items that I'm sure will be of interest to hunters and anglers.)

Louisiana wildlife officer killed
Paul Stuckey, 47, an 18-year veteran agent with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, was shot and killed after responding to a call of night hunting. His body was found by a fisherman on the banks of the Mississippi River near St. Francisville. (WWL via

Animal activists block F&W offices
About a dozen people from the Portland Animal Defense League put horseshoe-shaped bicycle locks around their necks and through door handles, blocking entry to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife building. Protestors held signs and chanted through bullhorns against the decision to kill two wolves responsible for killing livestock. (Statesman Journal)

Are sport angler numbers declining?
Sport angler numbers decline
The number of U. S. sportfishing participants declined by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010, and most of the drop was between 2009 and 2010. In 2006 there were 49.7 million participants. The Outdoor Industry Association conducted 38,742 online interviews with individuals and families. Other conclusions: males constitute 68.2 percent of total participants. The seven seaside states of the South Atlantic region have the most anglers of any region, 18.4 percent of the total. (Outdoor Industry Association)

Texas Pork Choppers shoot feral pigs
The U.S. has a wild pig problem in search of solutions. One getting the green light from Texas state officials is helicopter hunting. Texas has declared October “Get the Hogs Outta Texas” month allowing Lone Star State “pork-choppers” to target feral pigs through 2011. (Fox News)

Carp Tournaments: highly seasoned
Professional fishing tournaments are big in America but now there's a new kind of fishing tournament, a very different kind – the carp tournament. Instead of lures, carp pros set the table for carp by chumming heavily with strong aroma foods like mixed ground grains, corn, chili peppers, germanium oil, garlic and cinnamon. In Chicago’s recent Chicago Carp Classic winner Amos Behanna shared his secret recipe: 18 ounces of quick oats, 24 ounces of old-fashioned grits, 18 ounces of homemade bread crumbs, 3 ounces of instant grits, one can of creamed corn, one can of drained sweet corn and two packages of banana pudding. (Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times)

Asian Carp: Louisiana chefs say just eat 'em
Asian carp numbers are soaring. Illinois is ground zero in the battle to manage the rapidly populating invasive from China. Now Illinois is partnering with a couple of big name chefs from Louisiana to get people to serve Asian carp. "We’ve got to show people that this fish tastes good. It can be worked with preparation wise, and this fish can be very servable and very edible in every capacity," said Travis Loyd, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Louisiana chefs Philippe Parola and Tim Creehan are on the case. Parola insists the fish is just as good looking as a salmon or a lake trout. "So quit calling it ugly because it's not ugly," he said. (Voice of America)