The promise of bigger freshwater bass in Maryland this year will be the topic of thousands of anglers who visit the seventh annual BASS Expo that opens a three-day run today at the Timonium Cow Palace of Timonium Fairgrounds.
Thanks to the spawning season close last year, we can look forward to bigger fish in non-tidal waters, which under management techniques initiated in '90 require the release of all freshwater bass between March 1 through June 15.
Jerry McKinnis, host of ESPN's popular "Fishing Hole," will talk about widespread speculation that one of 20 pounds will be taken -- but not in Maryland. In bass'n circles the suggestion is that California and Texas reservoirs are the most probable sites.
Chances are slim for anyone to top the world record mark of 22 1/4 pounds set 58 years ago in Georgia, but don't be surprised if the Maryland mark of 11 pounds, 2 ounces set in a Calvert County pond is scrubbed.
McKinnis will conduct seminars tomorrow at 2 and 6, then again Sunday at 2 he will talk about big fish. Tonight pro basser Woo Daves of Richmond conducts a seminar at 6, and has others tomorrow at 11 and 5. The remainder of the seminar schedule: Tonight at 7, BASS Masters Classic veteran George Cochran will cover crankbait techniques; 8 o'clock, another classic vet Joe Thomas, bass'n in shallow waters.
Saturday: 10 a.m., pro Bob Pingle; noon, pro Greg South; 2 p.m., area guides, Glenn Peacock and Mike Draper cover the Potomac; 3 p.m., Cochran; 4 p.m., Thomas; 7 p.m., pro Gene Hord.
Sunday: 11 a.m., area guide Bill Mathias, deep structure fishing; noon, reservoir guide Bill Broadwater covers Loch Raven; 1 p.m., South covers light line fishing, and at 3 Mark Kovach of Mark Kovach's Fishing Service on the Potomac will cover fly fishing there.
Kovach's float trip-fly fishing school operation is shut down for the winter, but one of his guides Rick Larkin is carrying upper Potomac parties in his jet boat for smallmouths. Call 1-301-588-8742.
Also at the show will be Bill Bender and Tom Hardy, who have joined Glenn Peacock's Tidewater Guide Service for Potomac River and tidewater bass fishing elsewhere. Stop at their booth for info on continuing bass'n in the Potomac near Washington, though recently one of Peacock's clients took a 5-pound smallmouth of 20 inches upriver near Seneca Creek on a live shiner.
It's all deepwater angling with Gitzits, Pig 'n Jigs and grubs, said Peacock, who prefers waters near Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Bender likes the same baits, but adds bottom bouncing Silver Buddies, and also considers the Little Orleans sector another hot spot. He said 20 bass a day -- all released -- are not unusual.
Bender can be reached at 1-301-990-8977; Hardy and Peacock at 1-301-589-1644.
Ken Penrod's Outdoor Life Unlimited guide operation, which has already booked 500 parties for the year, will be represented, and will offer tips for the Spoils and Smoot Bay sectors of the Potomac. The waters near the Blue Plains Treatment Plant remain warm, and should produce whatever the weather, said Penrod.
"Watch for lighter bites, and largemouths of 2 to 4 pounds," he said. "Use 8-pound test line, and fish the drops, and be set for big crappies and yellow perch," advised Penrod, whose number is 1-301-572-5688.
Incidentally, bass aren't the only fish biting these days. Claude Bain, director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, reports big catches of tautog near the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel complex to Chesapeake Light -- not to mention endless schools of rockfish (which must be released) at the mouth of the bay. For tautog trips at $32 on weekends, call Capt. Freddy Feller at 1-804-422-5700.
The latest in bass tackle, lures and boats highlight the show, which continues through 10 tonight. Tomorrow it's 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 574-6139.