Prettyboy is place to pick up perch

OUTDOORS

June 20, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

Duke Nohe unhooked the fat 14-inch white perch from his spinnerbait lure, admired the catch and flatly proclaimed, "I fully believe that this is probably the best white perch water in the state."

What Chesapeake Bay tributary were we fishing? None of them, but rather we were in picturesque Prettyboy Reservoir in northern Baltimore County.

How those fish got from the Bay to Prettyboy is a mystery.

The most popular theory is that the Department of Natural Resources either mistakenly or covertly planted them when they released hybrid striped bass in the reservoir some years back.

White perch also happen to be the Bay's most popular panfish and should be providing area anglers with lots of feisty action right now.

But, everything is late this year and the educated guess around the middle Bay area is that the white perching won't get hot for another couple of weeks. If you can't wait that long, load up the car and point it toward Prettyboy.

That the perch are abundant at this unlikely hot spot is an understatement. Nohe, who for more than two decades has fished this lake at least twice a week, said, "Most days an angler can catch 100 white perch without even breaking a sweat."

As I was fishing with him earlier in the week, initially for bass, we saw white perch fleeing hungry bass and stripers. We saw them jumping to nab surface insects and, on the fishfinder, we saw them in huge schools that covered the screen from bottom to surface. And, yes, we say them on the end of our fishing hooks, too.

Bay anglers usually favor hooks baited with bloodworms, grass shrimp or clam snouts. When you go to Prettyboy use either a small beaded single-hook spinner and half a nightcrawler or a similarly baited shad dart. We slowly trolled, but bank or bridge anglers should find success with slow retrieves. Set the hook the instant you feel a strike.

Prettyboy is owned and managed by Baltimore City, which closed the place (along with the Loch Raven and Liberty) when New York realized it had a zebra mussel problem. The reservoirs have only recently been reopened to the thousands of Maryland anglers who enjoy them each year thanks to the efforts of the Maryland Aquatic Resource Coalition and the good sense of Mayor Kurt Schmoke. To fish these waters from your boat requires a permit issued by the city.

Though the ban on all fishing has been lifted, the ban on the use of any aquatic bait (minnows, etc.) still stands. I understand that Baltimore City officials finally have given their OK for the departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture to come up with a set of regulations that eventually would allow you to use a minnow or crayfish in these waters.

Nohe and I fished from the boat ramp near Coopers Bridge to below Frog Hollow, a distance of about 2 miles and around Hoshalls Island.

The reservoir runs generally north and south. Bank anglers can gain good access to this area via Spooks Hill Road. Coopers Bridge, on Kidds Schoolhouse Road and Beckleysville Bridge, on Beckleysville Road are local hot spots.

And the bass fishing is superb. I had nice bass hitting everything I threw at them -- a green twistertail on a black jig, a motor-oil-colored 7-inch power worm, a shad rap and a gold plastic lizard. A 2- to 3-pounder practically jerked the rod from my hand when it hit a worm cast along a shady shoreline near Hoshalls Island. We spotted bass that easily would have topped 7 pounds and a couple of huge hybrid stripers.

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