Boat Fishermen Can Hit The Road To Avoid Mussels


March 29, 1992|By Bill Burton

With the zebra mussel debacle obviously deadlocked for the time being -- and probably for weeks to come -- the area's reservoir boat fishermen have just three choices.

They can leave their craft at home and fish Liberty and Prettyboy from shore, stay home with their boats, or fish elsewhere in their reservoir rigs.

The latter alternative, of course, is preferable.

Unfortunately, considering the nature of bass boat rigs, the options are limited.Our reservoir boats -- well rigged as they are -- are not equipped to run the open and much larger lakes in neighboring states, including, at times, Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County or Conowingo Reservoir above the Susquehanna's Conowingo Dam.

For the larger reservoirs, gasoline outboards are needed. Electric motors are used only for powering boats silently and precisely into fishing nooks.

Because gasoline outboards are banned from our water-supply reservoirs, our typical reservoir rigs involve multi-battery power plants and much less powerful electric motors, which of course are much more limited in fishing range, speed, and power so essential when the weather turns sour.

Converting many reservoir rigs is an expensive proposition. It isimpracticable or impossible given the size and weight of our reservoir rigs, most of which are made of aluminum instead of the heavier fiberglass that is the choice of most fishermen for large lake bass boats.

So, let's take a look at what appears to be the most appropriate and convenient alternatives -- Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge Reservoirs to the south at the Montgomery-Howard county line.

Often referred to among anglers as the "Twin Reservoirs" because the geographical configuration of both is about the same -- both are of about 800 surface acres. Both are water supply impoundments of Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Rocky Gorge is also known as T. Howard DuckettReservoir, renamed in honor of a former WSSC commissioner, although most users prefer the original name.

Guides Ken Penrod and Duke Nohe claim fishing these reservoirs is the same as Loch Raven, Prettyboy and Liberty. Nohe compares Rocky Gorge to Prettyboy in miniature and Triadelphia to a smaller version of Loch Raven. Both are not unlikeLiberty, he added.

But because the two WSSC reservoirs average about one-third the size of our reservoirs, they are concerned about crowding should too many fishermen from Liberty, Prettyboy and Loch Raven make the switch.

"Seventy-five rigs of our type can crowd the two smaller reservoirs," said Nohe.

Penrod, who operates Outdoor Life Unlimited, which specializes in the Potomac but whose 15 regular guides also operate in Virginia and Pennsylvania, said the two reservoirs are a bit different from each other.

Rocky Gorge has more bottom cover in wood -- left when the reservoir was created: "Triadelphiawas swept more clean and bottom structure removed when the Patuxent was dammed up."

With both, fishing much of the time can be more productive by working the old river channel, he said. Nohe prefers the upper end of both reservoirs, especially the large coves on the upperend of Triadelphia. But in summer and fall, he likes waters near thedam of Triadelphia.

Both reservoirs have the same species as ours, with largemouth and smallmouth the most popular offerings. Northernpike, crappies and landlocked rock are also available. Nohe said WSSC's philosophy is more oriented to combining fishing and other recreation with water supply than that of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, which controls Loch Raven, Liberty and Prettyboy.

For spring fishing, Penrod suggests working points for bass, especiallythose near the old river channel. Use plastic grubs, Jigs 'n Pigs, or spoons such as the Hopkins or Little George, he advises. Often, he said fish will hit the spoon as it falls toward the bottom in deeper waters.

When water temperatures get into the 60s and bass begin toseriously think of spawning, they move into the coves, where crank-baits, plastics and rattlers such as the Rat-L-Trap are effective, said Penrod, who added that once water temperatures edge to 65 buzz-baits and Rapalas are especially productive.

"The key to catching is to fish the coves closest to the old river channels," he advises. "As soon as the spawn is over, the bass head to deeper waters in the mainsectors of the lake where sometimes they surface when feeding on threadfin shad."

Penrod prefers Triadelphia for smallmouth; Rocky Gorge for largemouth; Triadelphia for walleye.

Sorry, all boat mooring sites at both reservoirs have been taken for the season, but fishing and launching on a daily basis is allowed. William W. Gormly, director of the Public Affairs Office of WSSC, said the zebra mussel threat is being watched closely at the Twin Reservoirs, but fishing and boating will continue as usual.

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