Here are some things to look for when casting eyes on fish finders

OUTDOORS

January 17, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Notes and quotes from the area's outdoor scene. . . .

"Don't be fooled into thinking that you'll see fish in shallow water, like you will find in the Upper Potomac. Instead, your fish finder will show bottom," Lowrance-Eagle Electronic's representative

Ken Penrod told me at last week's BASS Expo '93.

Penrod and I had been talking about his latest book, "Tidewater Bass Fishing," and video, "Fishing the Upper Potomac River," when I asked, "So, you have a friend who knows zip about fish finders, but has a year's worth of tobacco money scorching his pants pocket. What minimum features would you tell him to look for before parting with his fishing fund?"

Penrod said, "Well, first he wants to choose a liquid crystal graph because it will employ computer technology. The unit should use a minimum of 60 watts and have a gray-line feature to enable him to tell the difference between the bottom and objects like brush or fish that are on or near the bottom."

Pixels are the little dots on a unit's screen. Penrod advises you insist on no fewer than 60 of them and to avoid any screen that can't be seen in bright light or while you are wearing sunglasses.

The last minimum feature to look for, the sonar expert said, is a "zoom bottom lock" that will help eliminate the upper column of water and allow you to zoom in on bottom features.

"A good example of a quality beginner's unit, or one that will give the biggest bang for the buck, is the Eagle Ultra at around $250," said Penrod.

Most of you know Penrod as one of the nation's top fishing guides or from his now classic previous books, "Fishing the Tidal Potomac River" and "Fishing the Upper Potomac River." These two have become standard outdoors writers' references.

The new video ($30 postage paid) is a companion piece to the book of the same name and is superb. The new book ($24 postage paid) leaves no tidal bass unturned. You can order both from PPC Publications, 4708 Sellman Rd., Beltsville, MD 20705 if you can't find it on your bookstore shelf.

New rockfish stamp

Ben Florence, who runs the Department of Natural Resources hatcheries and aquaculture programs, told me that, "My stocking program will be getting a dollar for every rockfish stamp sold."

The $2 Striped Bass Stamp is new this year and a required purchase if you plan on catching and keeping any legal-sized rockfish during the special spring or fall seasons.

Florence and his staff of five stocked "over 880,000 fingerling stripers last year. We put a half a million in the Nanticoke alone. Rivers that also got large stockings included the Patuxent and Choptank," he said.

DNR studies indicate up to 40 percent of the striped bass caught could be stocked fish, "but," Florence said, "the overall average is 6 to 12 percent in most areas."

In case you haven't bought this year's fishing license yet, be prepared -- the cost went up.

The basic resident freshwater license is $10, up from last year's $8. This year's trout stamp jumped from last year's $3.50 to $5. The resident Chesapeake Bay Sport License is $7. There's also a new consolidated senior license costing $5 that allows fishing for everything, including trout.

Book a Potomac guide

The lower Potomac is within easy reach of Anne Arundel freshwater anglers and offers some of the finest bass fishing on the East Coast. Piscataway, Mattawoman, Nanjemoy and Aquia creeks, Gunston Cove and Occoquan River are a few bassing hot spots.

RTC Surprisingly good fishing can be had right now through March in this area. Use Silver Luckys, plastic grubs and pig-n-jigs throughout the tributaries of the Potomac, in deep water coves and around bridges. I like a medium-action rod with 10- to 14-pound test mono at this time of the year.

If you never have fished this area, a guide will be a wise choice any time of the year. Three that I can recommend are Life Outdoors Unlimited, (301) 937-0010; Tidewater Bass Guides, (301) 589-1644 and Potomac River Guide Service, (301) 840-9521.

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