Only thing doing better at Deep Creek than bluegills are 0) anglers catching them
Bluegills are deceiving critters, thanks to their broad sides and their scrap. Most everyone thinks they're bigger than they actually are -- especially when discussing the ones caught.
But let's face it, a bluegill of 8 inches is a biggie -- in most places, that is. But not in 3,900-acre Deep Creek Lake, where a 9-incher isn't uncommon, and 10-inchers are checked in regularly at Johnny's Bait House on Route 219.
Bluegills thrive in Deep Creek Lake, and anglers thrive on their availability. So, join the crowd if you want a fish that fights, is tasty, and is easy to catch day or night in about any depth from shore, docks or boat.
All you need is a small hook and a tidbit of worm; maybe a bobber to place a couple feet above the hook -- but it's not necessary. These fish are exceptionally cooperative.
Look for a downed tree in the water, and you'll find the catching even better. They also hang out around docks and drop-offs. You might say they are everywhere.
Also, you might get a bonus. The Department of Natural Resources-stocked brown trout are on the rampage, big ones -- many of 15 inches or better, and they also like worms. That's what Wendell Winkler of Uniontown, Pa., was using when I encountered him in the cove behind Alpine Village.
He placed a worm on the hook, no weight, bobber or anything, and just let the line drift out. That trout was his prize of the still young season out in the mountains near Oakland, where days are moderate and nights are cool. Incidentally, walleyes also love real worms, so do yellow perch, which also grow large out here.
A rundown of some of the latest 'gills checked in at Johnny's: John Mears, Glen Burnie, 9 3/4 inches; Marvin Bean, Dundalk, 10 1/2 inches (1 pound), Annette Brewer, Baltimore, 10 1/2 inches, Michael Kirby, Derwood, 9 1/2 inches; George Redifer, Glyndon, 10 inches; Kathy Bambarger, Baltimore, 8 3/4 and 8 7/8 inches (which she took on live leeches), and the list goes on and on.
And check these for usually large yellow perch: Ron Friend, Oakland, 133/4 inches taken on a worm; Alton Camp, Fort Meade, 1314 inches, (also a 93/4-inch bluegill); S.M. Kirby, Derwood, 121/2 inches; Frank Morgan, Ellerslie, 14 inches of 1 pound 2 ounces. John Mears also took one of 14 inches to fry along with his citation bluegill.
* Tomorrow: Opening of Ocean City Sharkers annual fishing tournament based at Bahia Marina, Ocean City. Call 1-301-289-7438.
* Sunday: Sail Free, a program to allow the disabled to sample sailing on the Chesapeake, sponsored by Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., aboard 20-foot Freedom Independence sailboats with special controls and other accommodations, at Sandy Point State Park. Reservations requested; call 974-2628. A second Sail Free is planned July 28. CRAB depends on volunteer labor, donations and memberships. Call the same number.
* Monday: DNR public meeting on fall rockfish regulations, 6 to 9 p.m., Department of Agriculture Building, Harry Truman Parkway, Annapolis. Proposal calls for two fish a season for recreational anglers; two a day for those aboard charterboats. Call Frances McFaden, 974-3365.
Planning ahead ...
* July 11-14: Fourth annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament. Call 1-301-289-8121.
Names and places ...
* Homer Schmidt of Lancaster, Pa., might be blamed for
getting the new luxury headboat OC Princess back to the docks a bit late the other night after a far offshore bluefishing trip, but no one was blaming him. At the end of the night's bluefishing trip he hooked a 75-pound mako shark, a member of the fightingest fish clan in any ocean.
Schmidt finally got the fish -- and about everyone else had their limit of blues averaging 9 to 14 pounds on the chumming expedition. The OC Princess' chumming trips sail 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays for $40, reservations requested. On July 14, she will sail on her first 24-hour offshore tuna trip. Call 1-800-457-6650.
* Frank Scott was bass'n in the Dundee the other day, and guess who he saw fishing nearby? Rick Clunn, four-time winner of the BASS Masters Classic that comes to Baltimore Aug. 22. Last year's winner on the James River at Richmond, Clunn was warming up for the 21st annual. "Look around and you'll see the pros everywhere," Scott said of the contenders, who know little or nothing about area waters with the exception of former Marylander Roland Martin who, incidentally, also has been seen scouting old haunts. Also add Randy Romig and Guido Hibdon to the list.
* If you think crabbing is good now -- and it is -- wait until late summer and early fall. Beginning to turn up with legal size crustaceans is an abundance of undersized crabs of 3 to 4 inches. While crabbing in the Wye, Joe Bernard said it was 5- or 10-to-1 throwbacks, but after a few more sheddings they'll reach the legal minimum of 5 inches.