Never mind the chill in air, fishing is starting to heat up

Bill Burton

March 15, 1991|By Bill Burton

WASHINGTON -- As guide Glenn Peacock's bassboat slowed down on the chilly waters of the Potomac at Blue Plains Treatment Plant, a bowrider in a bass'n craft already fishing there was reeling in a largemouth of 2 pounds.

Hurriedly, Calvert Bregel cast a silvery Gitzit, and before three cranks on the reel he was battling a bass of about the same size. What a start for a windswept early-season day practically in downtown D.C.

The weather was cold, but the fishing was hot.

Cooler waters resulting from periodic cold snaps had much to do with our luck. Bass like comfort, and the few degree drop in river temperature brought bass scurrying into waters warmed by the outflow from Washington's sewage treatment plant.

Don't picture dingy, littered and stinky waters. The effluent is clean, we're told, and a half-dozen shoreside anglers didn't mind wading in to cast their baits farther from shore.

Obviously, they -- and others in a few nearby boats -- weren't concerned about other aspects of pollution because they kept all their bass, catfish, perch and mud shad.

Peacock's first fish, a 3-pounder, came on a brown Gitzit, and Bregel got another on his third cast. What fish. They were plump and obviously healthy -- and remained so because they were promptly returned to the Potomac.

There was no choice with the next fish. It was a silvery and lively rock of about 1 1/2 pounds that preferred a silver Gitzit. Hardly had it zoomed deep and out of sight when still another species made its debut.

"What should I do with this one?" Bregel asked Peacock as a tail-hooked 1-pounder splashed atop the water.

"Do what the president did," was Peacock's response. "When he hooked one, he asked me what to do -- and before I had a chance to answer he said people in China enjoyed them, so he kept on reeling."

The only difference in the carp hooked by George Bush when fishing with Peacock last summer and Bregel's was that the president's was an 8-pounder. Peacock declined to say how his distinguished client's fish was hooked, or what he did with his "golden bass," but Bregel's went back.

Our technique was simple. We cast to a drop-off near a piling from which Peacock got an 8-pounder in early March of last year, then we let the lure sink to the bottom. Next came very light jigging with the rod tip, occasionally reeling in very slowly.

At times, almost every cast had a strike, but not every one scored. Weedless hooks have that disadvantage, but they are also a blessing. We didn't lose more than a half-dozen lures to the thick nutrient nourished vegetation. That isn't bad when continually grubbing the bottom -- and that's where the bait had to work.

Thankfully, other boat fishermen were courteous and didn't crowd in, though we were catching more and larger fish than they were at other pilings, or the pier to which the listing cruise ship Williamsburg is probably docked forever.

There's a disadvantage to catching bass consistently. It gets boring, so I switched to Rattletraps, spinners and spinnerbaits, all of which got nothing. Peacock turned to a Pig 'n Jig worked in the same fashion, and continued catching -- but larger fish.

In all we released 55 bass, all but five within a half acre at Blue Plains. Four were 5-pounders, a dozen or more went better than 3 pounds, and only a couple were less than 2 pounds.

Warming our cold bodies was the satisfaction of knowing we had taken more and bigger bass than some anglers will catch all season. They wait too long before they head out. Peacock can be reached at 1-301-589-1644.

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