Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Have a ball fishing for trout in Charles County, Md., of all places

Byrd White shows off the trout catch made by three anglers
These trout were already stocked on February 21 -- We had been misinformed about the stocking of the 960 golden and rainbow trout in Charles County's Wheatley Lake in the Gilbert Run Park on Route 6, east of La Plata, the county seat. Stay on Route 6, and from the middle of La Plata (after you cross the railroad tracks) drive past 4 traffic lights. The park is on the left.

The county said it would happen on March 2, but a state DNR stocking crew had already dropped off the trout on Feb. 21 because the weather was perfect for it. So get going and try to hook some.

Charlie Stewart, Byrd White and Dave Prinkey -- all from neighboring St. Mary's County -- took advantage of the chance to hook a tasty dinner. They whacked the trout, using Berkley Power Trout Baits.

Charlie Stewart holds up two trout he'll have for dinner
For Southern Maryland residents who mostly go after tidal water species, this is a wonderful freshwater fishing opportunity. To join in the action, anglers will need a Maryland state freshwater fishing license and a trout stamp. Check your fishing license booklet for details about special stockings in county lakes.

During March, the park's drive-through gates are open only on  weekends, but walk-in visits are permitted weekdays during daylight hours. You can park your cars on the side of the park entrance road, but be sure you do not block any spot that might be needed by park personnel to drive onto.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yellow perch are in; ocean tautogs and freshwater stripers bite

Now and then Charlie Stewart leaves his St. Mary's County home and heads north into Charles County, Md., to catch yellow perch during their annual spawning run. Look at those whoppers  he's holding up here. He doesn't talk much about where he caught them, but we're betting they came from the Wicomico River around the Allen's Fresh sector. Charlie uses mostly live minnows for his catches.

Take a look at Charlie Stewart's bottom perch. It was longer than two $20 bills stretched end to end. The perch was more than 12 inches long since each bill measures 6 inches. Note also the white perch on top of the photo.

Mike Henderson of Buzz's Marina holds up a fish basket holding fat yellow perch caught by him and several pals recently in the Patuxent River. Mike used live minnows. Mike's wife, Christy, said the perch her hubby brought home were delicious.

From Lake Gaston, Va., our friend Dez Rubesch shows us a freshwater striper that was fooled by a white bucktail in 25 feet of water. Dez has been nailing the rockfish in his home lake on a regular basis this winter.

Bernie Sparrer, of Gloucester, Va., shows off a tautog he caught east of Virginia Beach while fishing with Dr. Ken Neill, the president of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association.
Dr. Neill shot the photo.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Northern Va. CCA Chapter wants you to come to its annual event

The Coastal Conservation Association's Northern Virginia Chapter will have its Twelfth Annual Dinner and Auction, Saturday, March 3, 2012, at 6 pm. This year’s event will be at The Shriners’ Kena Temple in Fairfax. Tickets are $50 per person.

The author
of "Chesapeake Light Tackle – An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay," Shawn Kimbro, will be the guest speaker. This event is an excellent opportunity to meet fellow conservationists, pick up wonderful auction items, and have a great time. Hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and a full bar are part of the  evening's enjoyment.

Featured raffle prizes include an L.L. BEAN Kayak, an HD TV, and a YETI Cooler, plus 35 more items and a cash drawing!

If you are like me, silent auctions are always enjoyable. The CCA'ers will have fishing gear, jewelry, cigars, baseball stuff (autographed Mark McGuire ball etc), custom fly collections, trolling lures, dinner certificates, golf packages, and more! In addition, the live auction offers more than 12 donated charter fishing trips, weekend get-a-way packages at a Bed and Breakfast, a handmade baby quilt, and custom-built fishing rods.
For more information, please call Carl Onesty 703-407-8921 or George Lenard 703-303-5125 or Tom Welch 703-201-6100, as well as Ernie Rojas 203-912-2173.

Friday, February 24, 2012

You could go directly to the factories for your baits

A number of our web and Washington Times newspaper fishing report readers have inquired about the 2-inch  Berkley Power Minnows that I use on dropshot rigs to catch yellow perch, crappies, white perch, even bass. Also, there have been some who can't find the avocado color 3-inch Mann's Sting Ray grubs that we carry with us all through winter and spring. They're great on bass, school stripers, and yellow perch -- as well as smallmouth bass.

You can order baits directly from the manufacturers. Check out these web sites; enter them in your search space and click on them.

For the Berkley's 2-inch Power Minnow that I like, order them in black shad, also in emerald shiner, at . . . . Click on Power Baits, then scroll to the 2-inch Power Minnows.

The Mann's Bait Company can be found at where you can look up soft baits and order the 3-inch avocado color Sting Rays, either in a 100-pack for $13.69, or a 20-pack for $3.39.

NOTE: If some other company's web site suddenly appears (it has happened), simply type Mann's Bait Company Eufaula, AL into the search space and click on it. The actual address of Mann's appears on top of the page and you can click on soft baits.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The yellow perch parade continues -- this time in the Nanjemoy

Right from the start, I promise not to overdo the yellow perch fishing blogs. The reason I do some is because it's the first species of anadromous fish that come up into the tidal creek shallows to deposit their eggs, have them fertilized by the milt of the males, then they slowly depart. So now and then we'll mention who is catching what and where, maybe run a photo or two, but generally it will be shorter than the Patuxent River blog I did, which you can see under this report. There are other fish to be caught right now. Meanwhile, have a look at some monster perch from the Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County, then see what our friends are hooking in the Shenandoah River.

That is one fat roe perch Andy Andrzejewski nailed in the Nanjemoy Creek yesterday. It goes to show that even professional bass fishing guides get in on the yellow perch fishing. It's fun and when the perch invade the tidal feeder creeks, they're not hard to hook. The one Andy is holding sucked in a Mann's Sting Ray grub.

Our good friends, Nancy and Dale Knupp, of La Plata, Md., had no trouble catching Nanjemoy Creek yellow "neds," as some call these fish. The two are experts, fishing with dropshot rigs, the "bait" usually being small Gulp grubs and other artificials.

Gene Mueller with a fat roe perch that inhaled a 2-inch, black/white Berkley Power Minnow on a dropshot rig. There are times when the perch beat a path to these Berkley Power Baits, but other methods work as well, including, of course, live minnows and grass shrimp. I've even seen people hook them on garden worms.

Fred Drury caught this 4-pound-plus smallmouth bass on a tube bait in Virginia's Shenandoah River. His friend Dick Fox, who shot the photo, says that this winter the smallmouth fishing has been exceptional --- especially for larger than normal specimens.

Dick Fox, who lives in Front Royal, Va., shows us a Shenandoah River crappie that he says is of an average size. Wonder how he'd describe a whopper size crappie?


Looking for my weekly fishing report? 
Go to and check it out. If you have a photo of a good catch, please send it with the name of the angler, hometown, and state to and please remember that you shouldn't wear sunglasses or have a cigarette in your mouth.

CCA Anglers Night Out event coming to Solomons Island

The Patuxent River Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD) will hold its third “Anglers Night Out” Monday, Feb. 27, from 6-8:30 p.m. at The Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill, Solomons. It will feature the film, “Tarpon.” This film presents both dramatic footage of fishing for the majestic tarpon and colorful scenes of 1970s Key West during the era of treasure hunters, smugglers and eccentrics. It traces the development of the tarpon fishery and some of the early tarpon anglers. The meeting is free and open to the public. Attendees can order from the Ruddy Duck’s menu and choose from their handcrafted brews and other beverages.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The yellow perch took a liking to live minnows and a fake baitfish

Charlie Stewart with a chunky female perch
Patuxent River yellow perch fans have longed for a decent, productive spawning run for several years, but in 2010 and 2011 it simply did not materialize. That, however, might soon be forgotten because early season perch hunters on the upper, tidal portions of the PAX River have been scoring. I mean SCORING in capital letters. If early results are any indication, we might be up to our elbows in yellow perch when the actual spawning run occurs in a week or so.

For me, it all began when Charlie Stewart, who lives in St. Mary's County, teased the bejeebers out of everybody with a Facebook message that mentioned how he had gotten into the yellow perch somewhere. He didn't mention the location, but Mike Henderson, who owns Buzz's Marina on St. Jerome's Creek (St. Mary's Co.), got hold of his longtime marina customer and friend, Charlie. Next thing you know, Charlie and his brother Monk Stewart, along with Henderson, arranged to meet me and the four of us climbed into Charlie's 16-foot fiberglass V-bottom. We ran up-river to an area that can be described as being halfway between Jug Bay and Hill's Bridge.

Mike Henderson set the hook to a bunch
Things were a bit tight, what with four grown men sitting in a fairly small, but safe, boat. Three of us, by the way, each tip the scales at well over 200 pounds. Only Mike Henderson apparently observes some measure of sane dining. Charlie, Monk, and I have never been known to turn down food -- any food as long as it tastes halfway decent.

During an ebbing tide, when Charlie slowed down the outboard and began checking the screen of his depth sounder, he suddenly said, "There they are. Get ready." Within a minute and a bit of maneuvering for a proper position, Monk dropped a Danforth anchor, let out the line and felt it grab bottom tightly. We now sat right over top of a school of fish.

Monk pulled out a pail filled with live minnows and the three live-bait users lip-pierced the minnows onto size 3 snelled hooks that were weighted with 2-ounce bottom bank sinkers. Each of my boat partners dropped their baits over the side, while I readied a dropshot rig consisting of a quarter-ounce dropshot sinker and a stand-away hook about a foot above the weight that held a 2-inch Berkley Power Minnow in silver/black. It was dabbed with Triple XXX Crawdaddy Smelly Jelly.

Monk Stewart and a fat roe perch
In a river depression with roughly 17 feet of water, it appeared that we set the hooks all at the same time. Everybody reeled in yellow perch. The fish inhaled either real or fake minnows -- it didn't seem to matter. Whenever a chunky female or well-fed buck perch was brought over the gunwale it was quickly judged. If Monk said, "Let's let it go," at least I was listening. If it went well over the minimum required 9 inches, it was deposited in a 5-gallon bucket.

Need I tell you that it didn't take all that long for each of us to catch a nice 10-fish limit. We're talking 40 yellow perch, fat and sassy, totally unaware that one day soon they'd be gracing our dinner tables. Not only that, we released perhaps another 45 undersized perch, and also some that might have measured, but looked a bit too skinny.

In addition to the yellow perch bonanza, several in our group also hooked white perch and at least one young striper.

Even on a blustery, chilly day, it wouldn't have been possible to enjoy an outing more than we did.
A few others showed up and they all caught yellow perch

From left, Charlie and Monk Stewart, along with Buzz's Marina owner Mike Henderson

Comments: I agree with two and disagree with a third writer

  1. Fat Boy wrote about Gov. O'Malley's constant push for new taxes and fees and in regards to boat registrations going through the roof, he wrote:
    "Unbelievable. This guy just doesn't get it. Tyranny, right before our very eyes."
    (Fat Boy knows when somebody wants to stick it to him!)

    2.  Then there was one "Anonymous" commenter who wrote:

    "I have no problem with the proposed fee increases. It's really a small amount, all things considered."

    (I figure "Anonymous" ought to lie down on a couch and tell the good doctor about his hallucinations. How can he say that the increases are a small amount when, for example, my boat registration fee will jump from $24 to $125.  Small amount? I think not. 

    3.  Yet another "Anonymous" writer, sent the following: "A small amount!?! That's over a 400% increase for most folks with trailer sized boats. But I supposed the state government does know better than me how best to spend my paycheck."

    (This "Anonymous"  commenter understands what I am so upset about. Thank you.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gov. O'Malley hopes to stick it to us with new boat fees

Maryland governor O'Malley wants to replace the flat $24 boat registration fee that we have to pay every two years. There's no end to the Guv's grab for our money by way of new taxes and fees. This time he wants boat registration costs to be determined by the size of your boat, which can begin with $50 for smaller craft and run up to $700 for larger ones. The new fees would be phased in over four years beginning this fall. There are nearly 200,000 boaters in Maryland and, if the bill passes, would provide a windfall for the tax-and-spend bunch in Annapolis. Some politicians apparently have no clue how Marylanders are already hurting. Please, remember them when election time comes around.

The registration cost for boats under 16 feet would jump to $50; boats measuring 16 to 32 feet would increase to $125; and craft from 32 to 45 feet would cost $250 to register. The fee for boats from 45 feet to 65 feet would be $500, and those of 65 feet would be increased to $700. For example, my 18-foot fishing boat's 2-year registration cost would increase by more than $100. Is it any wonder that some Maryland families, including ours, are planning to move to another state?
Looking for my weekly fishing report? 
Go to and check it out. If you have a photo of a good catch, please send it with the name of the angler, hometown, and state to and please remember that you shouldn't wear sunglasses or have a cigarette in your mouth.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It began with bass, then came a crappie, followed by yellow perch

Only eight hours after midnight on Valentine's Day, the usual fishing trio that consists of Andy Andrzejewski, Marty Magone and the guy who owns this web site met at a Potomac River boat ramp to hunt for whatever would bite. Never mind that the wind blew quite a bit harder than our local television meteorologists predicted. We've learned from bitter experience not to pay too much attention to them. For example, when they predict the wind will come out of the west at 5 to 10 miles an hour, go ahead and double the m.p.h. velocity and figure that the direction will change from west to north-west, which can add to the "fun" of running a boat upriver in 30-degree temperatures.

Marty Magone started to catch up
Andy, the professional fishing guide who objects to me writing that there's a Virginia side to our river because the entire river lies in Maryland, and Lake Gaston resident Marty Magone, who had some business to attend to up here later in the week so figured he might as well go fishing, told me to get comfortable and off we went, staying on the Virginia side of the upper, tidal Potomac.

In a cove that normally presents few problems even if there is a wind, things were different that day. The boat was shoved around by the breezes, but that didn't stop Andy (his ad is on this page) from putting two feisty largemouth bass into the boat before we even finished tying on the plastic grubs and dip them into our beloved, creamy Smelly Jelly. (Please, don't get tired of hearing about this fish-drawing elixir. It cannot be ignored.)

Gene Mueller with a 4-lb., 14-oz. largemouth
Marty quickly tried to catch up. He, too, boated a bass and soon had a second one, caught in water that fell from 3 and 4 feet to 12 feet or more. Me? I hooked gobs of dead bottom weed.

Occasionally, however, the fish gods smile kindly upon a fellow who seriously began thinking of taking up golf -- even if his entire family would be shamed by it all and probably disown him.

A bass suddenly picked up his grub -- a 3-inch-long watermelon color Erie Darter Jr, made by Poor Boy Baits of LaGrange, IN -- and a bit of a tussle ensued. "It's a nice one," shouted Marty, who quickly knelt down and "lipped" the largemouth that on Andy's digital scale showed it to weigh 4-pounds, 14-ounces. Yes, we know that a near-five-pounder is no big deal in good bass lakes, but on a tidal river it's a decent fish.

A Berkley Power Minnow dropshot rig
Andy, of course, was the top rod by the time the wind made fishing a chore. Marty was right behind him and I simply smiled because my one bass so far was the "heavyweight." We left the cove and headed upriver to another indention in the river's configuration. Andy moved along slowly and suddenly said, "I'm marking lots of fish. They're right under the boat."

Marty and Andy with yellow perch caught on Sting Ray grubs
Enough said. When Andy and Marty both tied into young largemouth bass with their Mann's Sting Ray grubs, then followed it with occasional yellow perch,  I switched to a drop-shot rig whose hook held a 2-inch-long Berkley Power Minnow in black back with a white belly. Twelve  yellow perch and one crappie later, I figured that the Power Minnow had done its job. But Andy and Marty also connected on the yellow harbingers that promise warmer days will be coming.

We'll be out this week and next expressly looking for yellow perch that might be staging in large numbers in deep creek bend holes. They haven't started their annual spawning run just yet, but it will happen soon. Then the fun starts, not to mention some rather fair eating. Fried perch fillets are wonderfully tasty.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Virginia's Back Bay being stocked; and forget the dip nets because there's no more fishing for river herring

Supplemental Largemouth Bass Stockings Planned for Back Bay!
The DGIF is working to restore top trophy bass fishery

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) will initiate a three-year largemouth bass stocking project in Back Bay, beginning in late May of 2012. An experimental stocking of approximately 75,000 surplus largemouth bass fingerlings was initiated in 2009. It is through the post-stocking sampling, results, and ultimate success of that project that DGIF was able to justify a large-scale stocking that will attempt to improve, and ultimately aid in restoration of, the largemouth bass fishery Back Bay.

An official stocking request has been made to American Sportfish Hatchery (ASH) in Alabama for approximately 125,000 fingerling (1-2 inches long) largemouth bass that will be stocked in Back Bay in late May of this year. These bass will be F-1 hybrids, a cross between the northern strain largemouth bass and the Florida strain largemouth bass. Both strains are the same genus and species of largemouth bass, with just a slight variation due to temperature and climate.

DGIF does not have any concerns with stocking these bass in Back Bay, primarily due to the fact that nearly 100% of the bass in the mid-Atlantic are hybrids to some degree. Pure strains of largemouth bass simply do not exist in the mid-Atlantic, east of the Mississippi River, as largemouth bass are not native fish to the mid-Atlantic or even east of the Mississippi, excluding some regions of Florida. As with the previous stockings, these fingerlings will be chemically marked to allow DGIF staff to track their movement, survival, and distribution within the bay.

Back Bay was noted in the late 1970s as one of the top trophy bass fisheries in the nation. This outstanding bass fishery peaked in 1980, when 240 citation-sized largemouth bass (bass that weighed at least eight pounds) were reported to be caught in the bay. In recent years, Back Bay has undergone a tremendous recovery in terms of water quality and the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). The growth and coverage of SAV is near levels not seen since the early 1980's, and the fisheries populations have shown a positive response to this increased and improved habitat. In the near future, DGIF staff will be sending out additional updates on the actual stocking timeline.

Moratorium on River Herring Fishing Now in Effect

On January 1, 2012, a moratorium on River Herring fishing went into effect. The VA Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) states that the purposes of the moratorium are to rebuild the Virginia stocks of River Herring and to comply with the requirements of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring. It is unlawful for any person to possess any river herring in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fishermen that traditionally fish for river herring with hook and line, dip nets, cast nets, gill nets or any other gear should be aware of this fishing closure and not purchase a gear license if they were only interested in fishing for river herring. For more info on the regulation establishing the moratorium visit the VMRC website.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cold air and fair water temps are good enough for bass or stripers

Can you recognize the buildings in the background? It's part of the National Harbor complex near Wilson Bridge on the tidal Potomac River. Here's bass guide Andy Andrzejewski showing off the first of a number of largemouths he found along a shallow underwater flat that suddenly fell into 12 and 13 feet of water. Sting Ray grubs, dabbed with 3XXX Crawdaddy flavor Smelly Jelly turned the trick.

We fished the Wilson Bridge's abutments, but did not connect on any bass, although a small yellow perch couldn't stay away from a grub. A little farther upstream, a few bass and one more perch cooperated, but the fishing wasn't the best we'd ever had in that portion of the river. However, one reader sent a message saying the Spoils Cove has been productive.

Here's Dez Rubesch, who lives on the shores of  Lake Gaston, in south-central Virginia, with a couple of freshwater stripers he caught in his home lake. The rockfish will eventually be turned into delicious dinners.

Our frequent contributor, Dick Fox, of Front Royal, Va., has been whacking the smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah River. Here he is showing us a 5-pounder (among smallmouth fanciers, that's a whopper). The "brown" fish struck a green tube bait that Dick slowly drifted over the river's rock beds. Dick and his friend Fred Drury say the winter months are best for big smallmouth bass. Apparently, the two are correct.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February bass in tidal water love grubs, but crankbaits work, too

Andy Andrzejewski, as always, was ahead
A few days ago, Andy, Marty and I had one of our typical upper, tidal Potomac River buddy outings. You know the ones I'm talking about. There were sandwiches, this time prepared by the guy who wrote the little book "Never Let A Skinny Guy Make Sandwiches." That meant, French rolls, slathered with good mayo and then layered with deli shaved Virginia ham and baked, thin slices of turkey breast. On top of the initial layer of meat came home-made pickle chips (my wife is a whiz when it comes to such things). After that came a layer of Braunschweiger liverwurst, thinly sliced Bermuda onion and sliced pickled pepper rings, topped off with slices of imported Italian salami that I believe contained donkey meat. I'm not sure about that, but I heard that it's not frowned upon in the land that looks like a boot.

Gene Mueller and a fat bass that sucked in a Sting Ray grub
Of course, Andy (his ad is on this page), being the professional bass guide, was the first to set the hook on his Sting Ray grub to a largemouth. We were up-river, in the coves around the gravel shorelines below Belle Haven Marina. On the wooden trail catwalk that snaked around the adjacent marshland, close to where we fished, stood a pot-bellied fellow in his 50s with his arm around a much younger, lean female. I'm sure he did his best to try and mate with her right there in front of our eyes and we wanted to shout, "Hey, get a motel room!" The couple eventually left, probably because the splashing of hooked bass within 50 feet of them disturbed the semi-bald guy's amorous advances.

Anyhow, after Andy caught and released his bass, Marty, who lives on the shores of Virginia's Lake Gaston, nailed a fair bass and I followed up with one of my own. All three of us did the thing some of you may be getting tired of hearing about. The avocado color Sting Ray grubs on 1/4-oz. exposed jig hooks, smeared with Baitfish or Crawdaddy Smelly Jelly. The stuff works, so why change --- unless your name is Gene Mueller. I had to give it a shot, tying a 1/4-oz. Deep Baby N sparkle-loaded crankbait in shad color to another baitcasting outfit.

Crankbaits can work in February
Two casts with the crankbait and a chunky largemouth inhaled it. So don't ever think that crankbaits are good only in the warm months. The main trick was to crank it down quick and hard, then as the lure was some five feet down, the retrieve could be relaxed. It worked.

However, my two partners continued to out-fish me with their grubs, catching bass and a few resident yellow perch, so I changed back to the Sting Ray. My mother didn't raise any fools.

In all, Andy had the most bass, but Marty and I had no cause to complain. Some 20 bass and 5 or 6 yellow perch were boated and let go. We caught fish, ate sandwiches fit for a king, and sipped on coffee or soft drinks. Life is good.

By the way, if you scroll down on our bass story, have a look at Ronnie Wedding's picture as he holds up two of more than 20 blue catfish he and his fishing partner, George Hashman, caught just down from the Marshall Hall boat ramp over on the Virginia side of the Potomac.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A blue catfish bonanza to benefit a Catholic church's fish fry

Ronnie Wedding with two blue catfish
Charles County, Md., residents Ronnie Wedding, of La Plata, and his friend George Hashman, of White Plains, don't just talk about being good fishermen, they actually go out and prove it.

For example, when the St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pomfret, west of White Plains, wanted to schedule a fund-raising fish fry that would be open to the public, Wedding and Hashman volunteered to get the needed fish. 

Wedding's big johnboat was loaded with stout rods, the reels loaded with 40-pound test braided line that was tied to 8/0 circle hooks. The hooks eventually held slabs of "fragrant" gizzard shad. The entire set-up was attached to a sliding fish-finder rig that held only a 2-ounce bottom sinker.

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The two fishing pals launched the sturdy aluminum craft that was big enough to handle the sometimes quirky Potomac River, at the Marshall Hall ramp in Charles County. After a brief downriver run they soon dropped anchor just outside Virginia's Gunston Cove, in water that dropped from 12 to 30 feet or more.

When their day ended they brought in 23 or 24 blue catfish of all sizes, but they intentionally released the largest specimens, including one that weighed 42 pounds and another of roughly 30 pounds. As Wedding and Hashman later said, "The big ones don't taste nearly as good as the little ones." Those "little" catfish weighed between 6 and 14 pounds each .

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tackle Box store joins in CCA/MD chain pickerel contest

This chain pickerel was caught in Mattawoman Creek
The Tackle Box in Lexington Park has joined the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland’s first Tidal Pickerel Challenge as the fifth participating tackle shop. Local anglers will be able to register at The Tackle Box and become part of its team in the challenge, which runs until March 15.

Awards will be presented to the tackle shop whose team member catches the largest pickerel as measured in inches and whose team member has the most net inches. Judging is done based on photos in the catch and release event. “There are many creeks in St. Mary’s County which hold pickerel during the winter months,” says Captain Brady Bounds, who is coordinating the event for the Tackle Box. “Pickerel are an exciting fish to catch on fly or light tackle and certainly can keep anglers busy during this time of the time.”

Anglers can obtain their official ruler and contest rules at The Tackle Box, 22035 Three Notch Rd., Lexington Park, or by contracting Capt. Bounds, 301-904-0471.

For information about other stores that participate in the pickerel challenge, get in touch with the CCA's Tony Friedrich, 202-744-5013.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Warm temps in January and early February turn up fish

Front Royal, Va., angler Dick Fox knows that wintertime can be great for bigger-than-usual smallmouth bass in all our mountain rivers, including the Rappahannock, James, Shenandoah, Potomac and Susquehanna.

Here he shows us one of a number of Shenandoah smallies that he caught with his pal, Fred Drury (who snapped the photos).

This is a totally different smallmouth that Dick Fox is holding up. Most of the bass were caught on green tube baits, fished just barely clearing the rocky bottom of the historic Shenandoah River.

Here's yet another fat smallmouth caught by Front Royal's Dick Fox. Just like other hard-nosed smallmouth bass anglers, Fox knows that the better "brown" fish can be caught during the winter.

Not far from Marshall Hall, along one of the Potomac River's many shallow-to-deep ledges, my good friend Marty Magone, of Bracey, Va., enjoyed catching largemouth bass in 60-degree January weather. I need to ask him if he thinks the tidal Potomac is better for bass fishing than his home lake, Gaston, where he normally has no trouble finding action.

That's professional fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski (his ad is on this page) admiring a football-shaped largemouth that jumped on a Mann's Sting Ray grub, reeking of delectable Smelly Jelly. On the same balmy winter day on the Potomac, Andy caught 18 or 19 such bass, most of them looking as if they had come from the same hatch.

If you missed our story about fishing the Western Branch arm of the Patuxent River, this is Bob Lunsford and a feisty crappie that inhaled a small Berkley Power Minnow (under a bobber) in shoreline brush.

January/February days on the upper, tidal  Patuxent River. That's me (Gene Mueller) with one of a bunch of crappies we caught on a cold day before the temperatures climbed into the 60s.