Patapsco spot is user-friendly

OUTDOORS

June 08, 1993|By PETER BAKER

Two drake mallards aborted their landing as we stepped out of the brush. Fry scattered through the shallows as we stepped into the river, and on the first cast a 6-inch rock bass, perhaps thinking itself a more formidable predator, banged a small popper and tail-walked for a second or two before shaking the hook.

We were fishing the Patapsco River Friday morning, with the last of a light drizzle giving way to patches of sunshine. The area was not our first choice, but car trouble delayed us from departing for the Brunswick area of the Potomac, and we fell back on the section of the Patapsco at the foot of Johnnycake Road.

This part of the river draws its share of fishermen on weekends and weekday evenings. It is close to town, easily waded and studded with small rapids, midstream boulders and partial ledges.

Below the bridge, an island divides the stream, offering a long riffle to one side and a 3- to 5-feet deep pool to the other, before the river rejoins and bends away into yet another rapid section of water.

And then, after another long pool broken by occasional boulders, the river broadens and deepens and wading becomes more difficult. We chose to fish the section from the bridge to where the river broadens.

Trophy fish? Not on this day, and probably not on most days.

The biggest bass of the day measured less than 11 inches; the smallest was less than 6. But the action was steady -- largemouth, small mouth, rock bass, sunfish -- and certainly this section of the river can offer a lot of fun for anybody on a tight schedule.

In a couple of hours we caught perhaps three dozen fish, mostly rock bass in the 8- to 9-inch range.

The rock bass were close along the shoreline, where a small crankbait cast under overhanging trees and retrieved across the weaker outside edges of the current seemed to work best. Most of the strikes came as the crankbait dove from a foot or less of water, over the edge of channels 2 to 3 feet deep.

A pair of smallmouths and the largest largemouth of the day were taken with a 3-inch pumpkinseed salty grub. The smallmouths came from the down-current sides of ledges and the largemouth was pulled from behind a log in less than 2 feet of water.

The key to fishing this stretch of water is simplicity.

There is parking along the railroad tracks near the bridge as well as a number of roadside pulloffs. The walk to the riverside is short.

Bring a handful of 2- or 3-inch artificial grubs and lead heads, a crankbait or two, a popper or torpedo lure, a spinning rod and reel wound with 2-, 4- or 6-pound test and hip or chest waders -- and enjoy.

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