Sunday, April 29, 2012

More trophy rockfish and a whopper bass from North Carolina

Ben Windsor caught this fine rockfish during Maryland's trophy striper season on opening day. Ben trolled around the Piney Point area of the Potomac River (which is open to striper fishing, while other rivers are not).

Gary Guthrie of Lusby, Md., got into the trophy rockfish in the Point Lookout area shared by the Chesapeake Bay and the lowest parts of the Potomac River. This is a 46-incher. It went for a trolled white umbrella rig.

Joshua Clements trolled a chartreuse umbrella rig around the St. George's Island stretch of the Potomac River and nailed this 49-inch, 35-pound rockfish. Wow! 

Marvin Ranta trolled a tandem rig of parachute bucktails in the area of Buoy 72A near St. Jerome's Creek and this striper couldn't wait to chase after the lures. 

In less than 10 minutes, Tony Barrett caught two trophy stripers around the Little Cove Point (Buoy 77) area of the Chesapeake Bay. Tony kept this fine specimen and let the other one go.

While fishing in the Chowan River, N.C., with friends, including Dez Rubesch and Marty Magone, near the town of Plymouth, Lake Gaston, Va., resident Ken Baron caught this bass that on a certified scale weighed 10-lbs., 1-oz.
It was fooled by a brown Paca Craw bait.

Here is Ken Baron's friend, Dez Rubesch, who also lives along the shores of Virginia's Lake Gaston. Dez and friends caught 29 bass on craw baits in the Chowan. This is one of the fine looking hawgs Dez fooled.

On Sunday, Northern Virginia fisherman Carl D. Brown and several friends left Deale and headed toward Eastern Bay. In 40 feet of water Carl's rod doubled over and after a respectable tussle Carl brought in this 33-inch Chesapeake Bay striper.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The first rockfish on Saturday, plus bass and a turkey

Ron Drinkwater, of Leonardtown, Md., left Buzz's Marina this morning (Saturday, April 28), headed out of St. Jerome's Creek and went into the Chesapeake Bay. Before you knew it, he came back in. He had his one legal fish, a beautiful 40-incher. Good show, Ron! (Photo by Christy Henderson)

That fellow on the right who looks like he has two black holes in his head  is Fred Drury, of Stephens City, Va. He's holding up two fine largemouth bass caught in the tidal Potomac River's Fenwick area that most people call the Greenway Flats. The bass jumped on Rat-L-Traps.

On the right of the photo is Jorj Head  with his father, both of whom shot two tasty wild turkeys in Isle of Wight County, Va. Jorj is a teacher and a well-known charter captain in the Virginia Beach area.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A sensible viewpoint on tackle, and a tournament angler has ideas

Well-known local angler Steve Hawks has some interesting thoughts about our recent blog regarding the equipment used by professional fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski.

Steve wrote, "After about 35 years of serious bass fishing and hundreds of tournaments, I can attest to having wasted a lot of money on the newest hot lure or the best rod or reel. Like Gene says, there are many companies out there making quality products, so when you read that this pro or guide uses this brand or that bait, they probably do. That doesn't mean they don't use anything else.

Andrzejewski prompted reader comments
"Fishermen continue to use what puts fish into the boat. If you're a novice things can be pretty confusing, but what you should remember is that most of the guys who are promoting these products are excellent fishermen who are able to catch fish on a variety of lures. You'll probably have more success if you stick to the basics and try to master different lures and techniques instead of trying to "buy" more fish at the tackle store.

"When you read about the hottest new lure, think about how it was being used and where. Chances are you already have something similar in your tackle box. When you do buy new lures try to think about the areas where you fish and [ask if] this new gadget allows you to target fish that you would not have caught without it. Try to stay with just a few basic colors that you know will work and become a more skilled fisherman first. As for "best" brands, I believe there is no such thing.

"Joe prefers the Loomis rods, I have owned more than a few and they are most definitely of high quality, but I have found that they seem to break easier than others and Loomis is very picky about returning damaged rods, and frankly they're out of most people's price range. There are plenty of rods out there with a much smaller price tag that will catch just as many fish. Joe prefers Trokar hooks and again they are high quality but I haven't seen a better treble hook than the Mustad KVD short shank ultra point, which allows you to upsize your hooks. When worm fishing I won't be without an Owner and for punching, I use Gamakatsu.

"When rod shopping, try to think what this rod or reel will let you do that your present equipment doesn't. Everyone has favorites and yours don't have to be the same. I get more enjoyment catching a bunch of fish on a lure that I bought for a dollar in the bargain bin than some $25 imported Japanese super lure. Sure, listen to what the pros are using because you can learn a lot, but don't run immediately to the tackle store and spend your hard-earned bucks on products that you don't really need to catch bass. Save those bucks for a little gas money and get on the water, which is the only way you're going to catch fish anyway!"

Right on, Steve. Who could possibly disagree with what you wrote? I couldn't. Gene M.

A tournament fisherman who didn't sign his name nonetheless had a number of ideas regarding our recent story that dealt with competition fishermen getting the royal treatment on state park launch ramps, while local residents who simply want to go fishing have to take a back seat. Fair warning, I don't agree with half of what he suggests, particularly the number of tournaments he so generously recommends.

For space reasons, some editing took place, but the gist of  his letter is here.

Anonymous wrote: "I have been a participant in countless bass tournaments on the Potomac River as well as many other places. I’m torn in half when I read articles from you and others about how horrible these contests are to the local fisherman. Because I am a local fisherman also, I see both sides of the argument. I feel that there can be a middle ground that we can all deal with. I know that we tournament fishermen 'as a group' don’t tend to spend a lot of money at our destinations. We usually come well prepared and don’t need much or when fishing single day events sometimes nothing. 

What's more important? Fun family fishing or tournaments?
"As far as local citizens being chased out of ramp  facilities and bullied by tournament participants, this  is real and I’ve seen it and been on both sides of it . Having to go home, when you had planned a day on  the water with your family because the ramp parking  lot is full of tournament boats from another state  sucks. I believe that some restrictions could make  the use of [the Potomac River] acceptable to  everyone. 

"Number 1, tournaments should be [conducted]  Monday through Thursday when there is [less local traffic].  If these guys have enough money to own a $50,000 bass boat and towing vehicle, surely they can afford a day off from work to fish in a tournament. There are only a handful of ramps available to the public on the Potomac, so enforcement should be possible. Some suggested rules and regulations are as follows:

* No holiday weekend tournaments. * All tournaments over 20 boats must register with the state 60 days in advance. * No tournaments over 10 boats allowed at any facility other than Smallwood State Park. * Only one tournament of 60 boats or more will be allowed in any 2 week period. * Only 1 tournament of 100 or more boats allowed per month. * Only 3 tournaments of 20 to 60 boats will be allowed on any one day. * All “out of state vehicles” must purchase a permit to use “any” Maryland ramp facility. * All tournaments must abide by a 5 fish per boat (not per fisherman) limit. * All tournaments must use the 15” minimum size limit year round. * All tournament vehicles must park in the parking places furthest from the ramp. * Tournament organizers must buy a permit to conduct a weigh-in. * Tournaments between March 15th and May 15th can only be organized by Maryland residents and participation limited to 75% Maryland residents
* Tournament boats and their towing vehicles must be marked in some way (flag, sticker, etc.) with a color to indicate the tournament they are participating in and a number assigned to indicate the participant. Marking must be able to be seen easily. If that organization, or that individual receives enough complaints about their behavior, after review, their Maryland ramp sticker may be revoked and or if enough complaints are made about participants in a particular tournament, after review, those organizers’ ability to stage any further tournaments may be revoked.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trophy rockfish season started and there's a parade of catches

The Maryland season for trophy stripers began Saturday and the Silvers, Brent and Greg, checked in the first rockfish of the day at Lexington Park's Tackle Box. The fish came from the Point No Point area of the Chesapeake Bay.

On opening day of the trophy rockfish season, Dan Campbell, of Oakton, Va., trolled between the Point No Point Light and Buoy 72, not far from St. Jerome's Creek. He came up with this fine rockfish. Good show, Dan!

Heather Hewitt and James Patton, of Valley Lee, Md., caught these beauties trolling in the Chesapeake. Their photo was taken at Lexington Park's Tackle Box. By the way, the Tackle Box kind of serves as the top check-in place for good fish catches of any kind down Southern Maryland-way.

Joe Gale and Ron Lewis nailed these fine stripers near Hooper's Island Light in the Chesapeake. They used home-made white lures to catch their trophies. The biggest one (left) measured 48 inches and it weighed 39 pounds.

Joe Maloof of Lexington Park, Md., caught this fine rock around Buoy 77, in the Little Cove Point area. Way to go, Joe!

Nate, Timmy, Adam, Robert and Jake Wheeler show off their catches made near Piney Point in the Potomac River. Look at that "horse" in the middle.

And how about Steve Helmrick of Lexington Park, Md., who fished the Honga River on the eastern side of the Chesapeake and came up with these tasty spotted sea trout.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

U.S.S.A. wants us to remember who voted against hunting/fishing

The U.S. Sportsman's Alliance, a national hunting/fishing advocacy group wants us to remember who our friends and enemies are. On Tuesday, April 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most significant legislation in the last 15 years.

Entitled The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, H.R. 4089:
  • Classifies Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service lands as open to hunting, fishing and recreational shooting unless closed or restricted based on scientific evidence;
  • Confirms that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot ban lead in traditional ammunition or in sport fishing gear;
  • Protects recreational shooting on BLM National Monument land
In other words, it will guarantee the right of Americans to hunt and fish on many designated federal lands in spite of well-financed anti-hunting and anti-fishing organizations lobbying to stop access to such lands.

Here's how Maryland's Congressional representatives voted. I hope you remember them come election day. Only Republican Representatives Roscoe Bartlett and and Andy Harris voted in our favor. The rest (all of them Democrats) voted against anglers and hunters. They were: Elijah Cummings, Donna Edwards, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes and Cris Van Hollen.

The 11-member Virginia delegation responded quite differently. Only three, Gerald Connolly, James Moran and Robert C. Scott (all of them Democrats) voted against HR 4089. The other eight, Eric Cantor, Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, Robert Wittman and Frank Wolf (all Republicans) voted for people whose recreational pursuits include hunting and fishing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The fishing was fine in the rain and occasional blasts of wind

The first thing I saw when I arrived in the approach lane of the Smallwood State Park boat launch ramps was a congregation of bass boaters, several of which had no intention to slip their sparkle boats from the trailers even though they had partially backed down on two of the ramps. What appeared more important to them was a  chance to talk and brag about fish they'd caught during their last outing.

Andy Andrzejewski with a fat bass
The men were part of a 10- or 12-boat local bass tournament. Ramp etiquette and proper behavior when a non-tournament boater arrived apparently was of no great importance to at least four of them. In fact, one of the guys was far too busy to allow others to launch because he was in the process of telling his pals that he had a spot "staked out" on the river that was loaded with 4-pounders. "Nobody knows where it is," he said.

Yeah. Fat chance of any part of the tidal Potomac being known to only one person. As the four-time world bass fishing champion, Rick Clunn, once said about the river, "The Potomac is great, but there isn't any productive place on the river that not a thousand others already know about. Everybody knows everything."

We finally made it into the water after all those wannabe Roland Martins departed or parked at the loading dock, waiting for their partners to answer nature's call.

Andy's catfish would provide a tasty dinner
We left Mattawoman Creek amid threatening, dark clouds. Rain was in the forecast and for once the weather ninnies on the local TV stations had it right. A soft rain began to fall. It was nothing to worry about. In fact, my fishing pal, the pro guide Andy Andrzejewski, and I didn't even bother to slip on rain gear because the light precipitation ended quickly. Andy stuck the hook to several largemouths, even a fat young blue catfish, using a deep-diving Little Deep N crankbait along a rocky shore. I lost one and then the rain began again. It didn't stop the fish from looking at our lures.

I finally latched onto a bass that appeared to already have finished spawning. We weren't certain about that, but  she looked like she had been busy, if you know what I mean. The female charged into a 3/8-ounce chartreuse/white Pure Poison bait that is made by Strike King. Andy continued scoring either with the deep-diving crankbait or a red rattle bait appropriately known as a RedEye.

Gene Mueller and a bass that hammered a Pure Poison lure
When the wind started pushing us around a little too emphatically, Andy took his 22-footer into the Mattawoman and up into the slow zone where we found one bass after another along the edges of a spatterdock field. Andy used a Chatterbait to start with. I cast the Pure Poison lure that looked just like Andy's lure. The bass loved it. In fact, so did another catfish that Andy landed after a respectable tussle. (We kept it to provide a fine evening meal.)

This bass looked as if she had finished spawning
Andy eventually switched to a Berkley Pulse Worm and set the hook to a number of bass. It was clear that the fish weren't the least bit bashful. Better yet, we never saw another boat in the upper portion of the creek. Rain or not, it was a wonderful morning for two friends to get together, hook around 17 bass (yeah, Andy caught more than I did) and two catfish, also a yellow perch; then finish up with lunch that consisted of roast beef and salami sandwiches that also featured slices of dill pickle and thin rings of sweet onion. Can life be much better than that? I think not.

A question regarding the story about the bass fishing guide

A reader who did not sign a name to his comment on our web page wondered about our story about the pro bass fishing guide, Andy Andrzejewski. His question is indeed legitimate. It started with:

"Great post! Does [Andy] have any preference for knots and hooks? I was just curious." Then he followed with, "Sometimes I have a hard time trusting certain fishing reports that, instead of just saying a "4-inch worm," they have to mention the whole brand and model name because the guide is sponsored by that company. Makes you wonder!"

Wonder no more, my anonymous friend. If a fishing guide mentions a particular brand that he prefers he is doing it because his sponsors send him needed equipment. But you can bet a year's wages on the fact that the guide would not use the tackle if it was of inferior quality. A professional angler cannot afford to lose a fish, or see a client lose a fish to poor equipment. So rest assured that if he says "I use a 4-inch Berkley Pulse Worm, a Revo STX baitcasting reel, or a St. Croix rod," it's because it is top-flight equipment, not because he gets it free or at a huge discount. I hasten to add that brand name mentioning does not mean it's the only brand worth owning. There are others that are worthy of your dollars.

By the way, if a newspaper or web site fishing report mentions a brand name, such as fishing lures, it is done because many fishermen want to know exactly what it was that attracted the catch. Just saying he/she used a crankbait doesn't help much. Instead, the mentioning of the type, weight and color of the lure can make a big difference.

Meanwhile, Andy Andrzejewski uses a Palomar knot to connect his line to various lures, and he prefers Tru-Turn hooks made by the Daiichi company. Again, that doesn't mean there are no other good hooks, and for many anglers an improved clinch knot also serves well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This pro fishing guide insists on using only the best gear

Pro guide Andy Andrzejewski talks about his tackle
Right from the start, allow me to say that most fishing guides are honest, hard-working men who eke out a living under very trying conditions. I've fished with bass guides from Maryland to both Carolinas, and from Florida and Georgia to Louisiana and Texas. Believe me, I know which ones are superb anglers, while others are only great teachers, and once in a while you run into one who is great at fishing, teaching, making you feel comfortable and -- this is extremely important -- as safe as if you were at home in your easy chair.

My favorite among all the guides I've been with over the decades is the Charles County, Md., U.S.C.G.-licensed bass guide Andy Andrzejewski. Andy primarily works the tidal Potomac River for largemouths, but  also finds "by-catch" species such as the Chinese snakehead, crappies, blue and channel catfish and several species of perch. He will stand in the bow of his 22-foot bass boat, quietly running a powerful trolling motor and, without touching his rods and reels, simply point out where a client should cast to, what types of lures he or she should use (he has a veritable mini tackle shop in his boat's lockers), and offer helpful instruction if a newcomer has casting problems. Needless to say, if you don't have tackle, Andy will provide it. And if the bass aren't biting and you begin to have doubts, he can be talked into actually casting his lures to see what will transpire. Fair warning: Don't bet any money on this friendly former Marine not scoring very quickly.

There can be no doubt that this guide loves St. Croix rods
Having said that, we recently promised to pass along the type of gear Andy favors. Remember, the top guides in the land insist on the best possible equipment. When you fish nearly every day of the week, you simply can't afford to fish with bargain basement tackle. It has to be of the finest quality -- which does not mean it has to be the most expensive.

First on the list of Andy's "must" have items are his fishing rods and that means they "must" be St. Croix rods. The Park Falls, Wisc., company that has been marketing quality fishing rods of all styles and types for the past 60 years is Andy's top choice. "My rods have to be super strong, yet reasonably light, and they must provide reliable performance under the most difficult situations. My St. Croix rods have never failed me.," he says of a product that features exclusive Integrated Poly Curve® and Advanced Reinforcing Technology.™

Whatever lures Andy slings into grass beds, sunken wood, or stony rip-rap, all of his St. Croix baitcasting rods are 6-1/2-foot medium action/fast tip models. Just like his rods, the baitcasting reels and monofilament lines that he uses must be able to handle fish that the average angler rarely expects. Yet, in the Potomac don't be surprised if a 20-pound striper, a 14-pound Northern Chinese snakehead, or a 25-pound blue catfish suddenly decides it would like to inhale a lure that looks like it's food even though it was intended for a 3- or 4-pound bass. In such cases, his Trilene line usually stays in the 15- to 17-pound range. The spinning reel lines are more of the 10- to 12-pound-test variety.

The RedEye, Chatterbait, Pulse Worm and Chigger Craw will find your fish
This time of year, Andy likes to cast Chatterbait or Pure Poison vibrating sub-surface lures across emerging vegetation and along rip-rap and sunken wood that offers at least 3 feet of water even when the tide has ebbed. A second rod will hold a RedEye rattle bait (often in red or firetiger colors); the third rod is home to a Berkley Pulse Worm, or a 4-inch finesse worm, and let's not forget his fondness for Norman Little Deep N crankbaits.

There is an advertisement on this page that provides Andy's contact information

Monday, April 16, 2012

Look at those catches -- and read part of a legitimate complaint

That Ernest Hemingway lookalike on the left is none other than Brent Nelson, one of the better anglers you'll ever run into. Brent guides on Deep Creek Lake, in Garrett County, Md.

Brent can be reached at (

Here's Brent and his friend Kent Johnson with two beautiful redfish (a.k.a. red drum or channel bass) that they caught in the Wando River, north of Charleston, S.C. They used chunks of blue crab in river holes up to 11 feet deep. Their circle hooks on Carolina rigs did a great job.

Christy Henderson, of Buzz's Marina, on St. Jerome's Creek in St. Mary's County, Md., sent us this photo of Caesar Martinez, who fished the Chesapeake Bay around the Buoy 72 area. He and his fishing pal, John Francone, caught four fine stripers, all of them measuring well over 40 inches. Because the season for trophy rockfish hasn't started yet, they released all their fish. The season begins Saturday.

La Plata's Joe Facchina shows off an 8-pound, 13-ounce largemouth female that he caught on the main stem of the tidal Potomac River. He released it quickly because the big bass was in the process of spawning. "I didn't know they spawned on the main stem," said Joe, figuring the bass would be on beds in protected creek coves.

Incidentally, Joe isn't very happy with the current throng of bass tournaments on the river, most of them coming out of Smallwood State Park in Charles County, Md. He writes:
"This [past] weekend at the boat ramps can be summed up in one word...CIRCUS! I never realized that launching a boat could be so difficult. According to my good friend Phil Hornsby (who unlike me has the patience to deal with tournaments, and non-boaters) the ramps at Smallwood were packed beyond belief, and to make things worse, none of the New Jersey anglers were capable of using the last few slips at the ramp. It took a very long time to get everyone in the water and tempers were flaring.
"Unfortunately, we will have to deal with at least two more weeks of CIRCUS-like conditions at the ramps: Next weekend there is a big SATURDAY tournament [for Pennsylvanians] out of Smallwood, and a few small ones on Sunday [and the] LAPR Team Tournament out of Leesylvania. Than on the weekend of April 28 we have the BASS Weekend Series out of Smallwood (so count on the ramps being crowded on FRIDAY for their 6:00 p.m. meeting and all weekend)"
I cannot disagree with Joe Facchina. He hits the nail right on the head with his statement.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Southwick survey shows the brands most fishermen will buy

Dale Knupp with a 6-lb. bass. Wonder what he uses?
The surveying firm Southwick Associates’ tells us the brands and products that anglers purchase most frequently. The list was compiled from nearly 30,000 Internet based surveys completed by anglers who volunteered to participate in 2011 in polls. Be aware that "favorite" brands does not necessarily mean "best." In fact, favorite brands might be governed more by the amount of money in the purchaser's wallet than the quality of the product. However, most of the names in this list are indeed top quality brands.

In 2011, the favored brands include:
Top rod: Shakespeare; reel: Shimano; fishing line: Berkley Trilene; hard bait: Rapala; soft bait: Zoom; spinnerbait: Strike King; fly rod: Orvis; fly reel: Orvis; fly combo brand: Cabela’s; fly line:  Scientific Angler; tackle box: Plano; landing net:  Frabil; fishing knife: Rapala.

* Largemouth bass remain the number one targeted species of freshwater fish, with 52% of fishing activity targeting largemouth bass.

Pam Lunsford went for bass in the Pomonkey Creek and look what she got 
* Saltwater anglers were more varied, with 31% of trips targeting redfish/red drum, followed by any saltwater fish that bites (25%), flounder (24%), spotted seatrout or weakfish (23%) and striped bass (20%). Please note these refer to species targeted on trips and not the number of fish actually caught.

Coming next: What does a top-rated bass fishing guide use during outings that can present tough weather and water conditions? The U.S. Coast-Guard-licensed guide, Andy Andrzejewski, of La Plata, Md., opens up. Newcomers to bass and any other kind of fishing could learn a thing or two.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alabama Rig questions again answered by Maryland DNR

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources once again points out to bass fishermen everywhere that a multi-lure fishing outfit known as the Alabama Rig is NOT legal in Maryland, also the main-stem of the Potomac River, which is governed by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, and in District of Columbia waters. However, it IS LEGAL in Virginia waters.

A typical Alabama rig looks like a Chesapeake Bay trollers' umbrella rig, with five lures spread out on separate leaders, but connected to the main fishing line on one swivel or a simple joining knot. While the Alabama rig's lures all contain hooks, in Maryland it may not have more than two lures (or baits) that have hooks. In D.C., only one lure with a hook is permitted. In other words, if you follow Maryland law this thing is no longer a real Alabama rig.

Here's a question. How badly do you want to catch a bass if you think a rig with 5 lures that all have hooks is what you need? Hey, a stick of dynamite would work even quicker. Whatever happened to SPORT fishing? If it is so important to catch a fish, why not buy a commercial license and drag a haul seine around until you've caught all the fish in a given area. Just be sure they're not bass because it might land you in jail. Hoo, boy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Charity Sporting Clays Tournament in La Plata, Md.

The Brian's Hunt for the Cure -- Race for Hope -- DC sporting clays shoot is scheduled for Saturday, April 21 (check in at 1 p.m.), at Larry Bowling's property, 9775 Sporting Clay Place, La Plata, Md. 20646. The cost to participate is $75 for individual shooters, $300 for a team of 4, or $25 for those who simply want to attend and have dinner with the rest of the folks who are helping to raise funds to cure a terrible disease.

The dinner features awards, door prizes and a silent auction beginning at 5 p.m. This portion of the day will be held at Thomas and Jill Wathen's place, 10250 Penns Hill Road, La Plata, Md.

Please RSVP by April 14. E-mail or call 301/934-1646, (cell) 301/643-8107.

Individual shooters will be assigned to a team. 50 rounds of clay targets are included, but you must bring your own shells and safety gear. No alcohol will be allowed on the course.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In spite of fishing pressure, Facchina nails big Mattawoman bass

Joe Facchina with a 6-pound-plus Mattawoman Creek bass
Joe Facchina, of the well-known Facchina construction company in La Plata, Md., agrees that there are far too many bass tournaments on the tidal Potomac River. In spite of that, and having to
confine his fishing hours to week-day afternoons to get away from crowded launch ramps and parking lots, he does quite well, as you can see here. He's holding up a 6-pound-plus largemouth caught in the Mattawoman Creek.

Facchina shows off an 8-pound, 7-ounce largemouth. Guess where?
Being a local Charles County fisherman, Facchina has a big problem with the never-ending string of tournaments, often having to deal with rude out-of-towners (those from Pennsylvania, especially, he says), who do not operate their
boats safely, and in general ignore good conservation practices regarding the Potomac's bass population. He believes -- and I join him -- that we haven't even reached the river's potential for producing big bass, but the long string of bass tournaments, often consisting of anglers who could not care less about proper handling and staying away from spawning fish, is damaging the bass.

What all of us would  like to see is an immediate cessation of bass fishing contests during the spawning period and for national tournament organizers having to pay a hefty fee to the state before any tournaments can be scheduled. I mean they should be large enough to make them think twice  before even thinking of coming to the Potomac. Meanwhile, the small local club tournaments that attract 10 to 20 boats (no more) are not thought to be a major problem.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good news: The croakers have arrived in Maryland waters

Robert Clements caught the first croakers
From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Md., owner Ken Lamb sent word that Robert Clements, also of Lexington Park, fished off Hog Point in the mouth of the Patuxent River yesterday (April 4) and he caught four croakers (a.k.a. hardheads).

They were the first croakers seen by Lamb, who has a yearly contest that awards a $50 gift card for the angler who shows up with hardheads before anyone else does.

Additionally, Ken says there has been scuttlebutt that croakers have been caught from the beach above Cove Point.

Ken says that these tasty fish will continue to migrate into our waters and they should be a dependable source of dinner fare until late autumn.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is there a better nearby fishing area than the tidal Potomac River?

How about young Elijah Drayer, of Nanjemoy, Md., who fished with his brother Raymond inside Mallows Bay on the Potomac River in Charles County when a 1/16-ounce white curly-tailed jig convinced this great crappie to go for the artificial bait. That's a whopper, Elijah. Congratulations!

My friend Kevin Wilson, of Boyds, Md., fished with friends in the Potomac River, near Marshall Hall, somewhere down on the Greenway Flats, when this fat river rockfish inhaled a Lucky Craft Pointer lure. Of course, Kevin let it go.

By the way, Kevin operates a fun fishing/hunting web site.
 Visit it at:

Kevin's frequent fishing partner, Howard Boltz, of Laytonsville, Md., cast and retrieved a Chatterbait inside the Potomac River's Piscataway Creek in Prince George's County. Among others, he came up with a chunky largemouth bass.

Steve Kelley, of Laurel, Md., caught this 21-1/2-inch largemouth in the Potomac. Steve is another of Kevin Wilson's fishing friends. He used a 4-inch Zoom Dead Ringer soft bait. That's a fine looking bass, Steve!

Monday, April 2, 2012

An excellent viewpoint regarding our story about tournaments

If you check below for my gripe about the Maryland DNR and other state offices apparently endorsing large bass tournaments that irritate and anger local resident fishermen who also are taxpayers in the Free State, a concerned fisherman named Gary sent the following:

Out-of-state tournament groups jam parking lots
"I agree! But you didn't mention the multitude of club anglers from our neighboring states that have closed bass seasons. They use Maryland waters because they can put fish in the livewell and have a weigh-in during the spawn while they aren't allowed to [do the same] in their home states. Their numbers per tourney don't match B.A.S.S. or FLW, but they surely outnumber [them] in total users during April & May.

"I find the discourteousness occurs more in the ramp/parking areas. And the influx of vehicles on weekends, as you mentioned, is just too much. I wonder, when you enter Smallwood Park, they charge you $10 at the gate, would they refund it when you immediately return because of no available parking? I spend the $75 for Maryland's 'Park Pass' but I can imagine what I would face if I paid the admission/ramp fee only to find one narrow parking space a half a mile from the ramp.

"The "Fee State" lives up to it's name."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Some states simply don't care about its own tax-paying citizens

Since this is the first day of April, I'm betting that there are Maryland anglers who the powers in Annapolis believe to be April Fools all year long.

For example, the state's tidal bass manager (for the Potomac, Susquehanna and other bass-containing waters that enter the Chesapeake Bay), Dr. Joe Love, apparently is a firm supporter of bass tournaments. The state's tourism officials also think they're a good thing, although I can't find any business owners in the top bass tournament-hosting county, Charles, who agree unless it's a Popeye's or KFC chicken emporium -- hardly the kinds of businesses that bring in the big bucks to boost local economies.

Shouldn't everyday local anglers be shown more courtesy by the state?
Even one of the DNR's top fisheries bosses, Don Cosden, treads lightly when the subject of bass tournaments and the inconveniencing of the residents during such events is mentioned. Cosden believes that anybody who buys a Maryland fishing license has a right to fish the state waters, and that of course is correct. But he is not openly supporting any moves that would sharply curtail large out-of-state, for-profit organizations who mostly come to the upper tidal Potomac and virtually take over the waters and all parking spaces during a bass contest.

One of the local tax-paying bass fishing guides I talked with said that the big money-making tournament groups, such as FLW and B.A.S.S., sharply inhibit his ability to earn a living on weekends, which is a typically good time for most people to book an outing. But they are also the preferred days for small and large bass tournaments. 

This local Marylander covers up the last line of a park sign
When hundreds of tournament boats, tow vehicles, and cars of associates jam-pack the often used facilities of the Smallwood State Park in Marbury, Md., or fill the smaller Marshall Hall, Md., parking lot to overflow, the local citizens who hope for a fun fishing weekend suddenly back away.

The fishing guide remarked that he paid all sorts of fees for required licenses in order for him to legally earn a living from the river's bounty -- the bass. The tournament fishermen buy an out-of-state recreational fishing license and that entitles them to "earn a living" from the fish they catch. Some of the top names in organized bass fishing actually earn enough to live very well (although the majority won't even be able to stop at the local KFC to buy a box of wings).

All the same, if you fish for money -- as bass tournament anglers do -- should they be allowed to do it for the relatively cheap fee of a recreational license while a man who takes a couple of anglers out on his guide boat has to pay a commercial fishing-style fee to do his job? And while we're on the subject of fairness, should a tournament group be allowed to take up every parking space in a state park and clog up all the boat ramps while the very people who paid for the park and its year-around maintenance are told to come back when the tournament people are gone?

Think about it. Think about fairness, local taxpayers' rights, and local businessmen's rights to earn their keep. Then tell me what is more important -- some fellow from Hellsapoppin, OK, or Orangeblossom, FL., running up and down the river, often being discourteous, even telling local boaters to move over because they might be fishing in a stretch of water the out-of-towner scouted out days before, or the local resident who works all week and now looks forward to a day on the water.

Other states have put the brakes on tournament fishing. Why would Maryland (and also Virginia) insist that they know more about such things than anyone?