If the temperature holds in the mid-to-upper 40s, or better, chain pickerel fishing should be picking up in the lakes, ponds and backwaters of the Eastern Shore, and bass fishing should quicken in tidewater.
Chain pickerel, also called pike, like live bait (preferably small-to-medium minnows) but also will take night crawlers and smallish bass lures fished along murky weed lines or just off reedy banks.
Unicorn Lake in Kent County, the lake at Tuckahoe State Park in Queen Anne's County and Broad Creek off the Nanticoke are three good bets for chain pickerel.
A decent place for bass, pickerel, perch and crappie at this time of the year is the Blackwater River southwest of Salisbury. The Blackwater is shallow and warms quickly, but it also is small boat country where ramps near the wildlife refuge are best suited to jon boats or canoes.
If the weather is still too cold for your liking, the Chesapeake Bay Boat Show opens Saturday at the Convention Center and Festival Hall and runs through Feb. 9.
Feb. 7 is family day at the show, and children 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by their parents. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children on all other days.
Among the top exhibitors at the show are:
* Shady Oaks Yacht Sales, which will introduce the Silverton 34X, complete with wet bar, transom doors, an island bed in the master cabin and twin 454 Crusader gas engines.
* Florida Boat Sales, which will show the Odyssey 210 from Sunbird, a pontoon boat that will hit 37 mph with a 120 horsepower outboard.
* Island Marine, with the 1992 Sea Ray 230 Sundancer LTD., indirect lighting in the cockpit, integral swim platform and a host of creature comforts.
* Hartley Marine, with Pro-Line's new 2950 Mid-cabin Walkaround, which is designed for cruising and fishing, from its luxurious interior for four to the built-in rod racks, fish boxes, live wells and built-in tackle boxes.
* Baltimore Chris Craft with the Boston Whaler Rage, a jet-propelled boat that will fish or ski five.
And somewhere, among all the glitter and glass, there certainly will be more than a few shallow draft boats that can take you into the backwaters of the Blackwater, where the chain pickerel, crappie and bass soon will be hitting big.
Feb. 1-9: Baltimore Boat Show at the Convention Center. Monday through Friday, the show opens at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the show opens at 11 a.m.
Saturday-Sunday: The Fly Fishing Show, first annual extravaganza for fly fishermen and by fly fishermen at the Garden State Exhibit Center, Somerset, N.J. World-class casters, fly tyers, rod makers, book dealers, lodges, etc. Seminars by experts. Admission is $8 for adults, children under 12 $2 per day. Seminars may require a fee. Call (800) 848-1020.
Sunday: Western Regional Bass Club of the Maryland Bass Federation annual flea market and tackle show at the Frederick Armory, 9 a.m to 5 p.m. $2 admission. Call (301) 842-3200.
Feb. 4: Public informational meeting on key elements of black bear management plan for Western Maryland. Northern High School cafeteria on Route 219 in Garrett County, 7 to 9 p.m.
Feb. 5: Public informational meeting on key elements of black bear management plan for Western Maryland. Seneca Creek State Park visitors center, 11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg in Montgomery County. 7 to 9 p.m.
Feb. 5: Monthly meeting of Freestate Fly Fishers Inc., 7:30 p.m., Hillsmere Elementary School in Annapolis. Program scheduled is DNR chief of cold-water fisheries Dr. Robert Bachman's review of Maryland waters.
Feb. 8-17: Eastern Sports, Boat, Camping, Travel and Outdoor Show at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.
Feb. 9: Laurel Team Bassmasters fishermen's flea market at American Legion Post No. 60, 2 Main Street, Laurel. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. $2 donation. Call (410) 381-5006 or (410) 766-3600.
Feb. 14-15-16: Maryland Fishing and Hunting Show at the National Guard Armory in Pikesville. Comprehensive show dealing with all aspects of fishing and hunting in Maryland. Hourly seminars, archery demonstrations and trade booths. Show opens at 6 p.m. Friday and at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call (410) 841-6974.
Feb. 22: Saltwater Sportsman Magazine's national seminar series at Towson State University in the Chesapeake Room. Seminar times are 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. National experts, as well as regional expertise from captains George K. Horn, Bob Marshall, Ed Darwin and Len Belcaro. Ticket price is $35. Call (800) 448-7360.
NEW IN PRINT
Finesse fishing for bass -- splitshotting, doodling and darter jigging, for example -- is a fine art practiced by a relatively small number of conventional and unconventional bassers. It is light-line fishing in a sport sometimes dominated by heavy-line tactics.
Michael Jones, an outdoors writer from Southern California, has written a concise, 128-page book detailing the strategies and advantages of light-line fishing, "The Complete Guide to Finesse Bass Fishing."