Spring comes in on fins of perch

OUTDOORS

March 19, 1995|By PETER BAKER

The gold blade of the spinner shimmered as it moved across the submerged end of a blowdown, its revolutions causing vibrations to carry down the rod, a pulse that with each faint beat reinforced the newness of spring.

Already the spinner had taken two 7-inch yellow perch from the creek, and the day was as young as the season. Cast. Retrieve. Walk a few yards. Cast. Retrieve. Release. Walk a few steps more. Cast. Retrieve. Release. And so on.

Three ducks bathed in a backwater left by heavy rains a week or more ago. Tracks marked the creek banks, where earlier a raccoon had paused at water's edge and then ambled away.

Several deer had forded the stream at a riffle shortly before, the edges of their hoofprints still sharp in the soft soil of the bank.

And here and there along the edges of the creeks, where the current was slow and the sunlight would be at its brightest through most of the day, strands of eggs sacks could be observed clinging to submerged debris.

This is the time of the perch, yellow and white, when the rivers of the Eastern Shore lead the spawners into creeks and coves and anglers again come out to cast and retrieve or drift a minnow or piece of nightcrawler beneath a bobber.

The warm, dry weather of the past five or six days has the yellow perch moving up the rivers and creeks to spawn in areas where their eggs can attach to submerged snags and bramble.

White perch, too, have started moving, although typically they -- lag a bit behind the yellow perch. But over the five weeks or so, while bay fishermen await the opening of rockfish season, the perch runs will bear the brunt of recreational angling efforts in tidal waters.

It is fun fishing using simple rigs and light rods because even the leviathons of perchdom are no match for four-pound test line.

When possible, try fishing the northwestern shores of coves or backwaters, where the perch can find cover in which to spawn and also in which baitfish hide.

With spinners or small spoons, it's best to fish tight along the edges of cover close to dropoffs, although getting into the thick of cover with spinners eventually will exact a price in lures.

Fishing with minnows or pieces of nightcrawlers under a bobber is a popular method and, in the absence of strong current, this method allows the bait to be fished in smaller pockets.

Areas where the spring fishing is getting better daily are mostly on the Eastern Shore so far because the shore rivers seem to warm more quickly than the larger western shore rivers -- such as the Susquehanna, Patuxent and Potomac -- where the drainage area collects colder water.

Shallow rivers with darker bottoms also warm more quickly.

Some areas where the fishing has been picking up over the past week are:

* Blackwater River -- Perch, bass and crappie.

* Upper Choptank River -- White perch, yellow perch and crappie.

* Upper Chester River -- Yellow perch and white perch.

* Millington -- Yellow perch and some white perch.

* Tuckahoe Creek -- Yellow perch, pickerel and very few white perch so far.

* Patuxent River, Wayson's Corner -- Yellow perch.

* Marshyhope Creek, near Federalsburg -- Perch and bass.

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