Weighing in with winning day of bass fishing

Carroll Outdoors

April 28, 1996|By Lonny Weaver | Lonny Weaver,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Largemouth bass fishing on the Potomac is just about ready to peak.

"Normally, these bass begin spawning in March, but because of the lingering cool temperatures, the indications point to the first or second week of May before the prime spawning period gets under way," professional bass guide Richie Gaines told me during a great bassin' trip last Wednesday.

In deference to a strong northwesterly wind and unseasonably chilly temperatures, Gaines suggested we launch his fully equipped bass boat from the Smallwood State Park ramp and confine the morning's fishing to the much calmer Mattawoman Creek.

Mattawoman Creek is one of the Potomac's top largemouth tributaries. This is one of the spots that I fished last May with bass pro Andy Andrzejewski and was confident that we would find excellent fishing.

A mile or so upriver from Smallwood, Gaines positioned the boat parallel to a huge mud flat, green with lily pad growth.

"I call this the K-mart bank, because last April I brought a couple of K-mart executives here on a day exactly like today," Gaines said. "They were fishing an informal tournament -- just like you are today -- and we nailed down first, second and third place right here."

Richie told me to cast right up against the bank, which immediately drops off to nine feet. I tossed a lime-green rattling crankbait to within inches of the flat, gave the lure a dozen cranks and nearly had my spinning outfit jerked from my grip.

The fish pulled line from the reel, jumped entirely out of the water a few times and eventually lost the fight as Gaines dropped a net under the huge bucketmouth.

The bass weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces and won me a snazzy new Quantum Energy outfit, similar to one I had been furnished to use in the tournament.

We put the fish in the live well, re-bent a couple of hooks that the big bass had managed to straighten, and I put another cast right where the first one had landed.

Wham! Another monster bass hit the crank bait. This turned out to be the third best fish of the tournament at 3 pounds, 11 ounces. Sandwiched between these two trophies was a 3-pound, 15-ounce largemouth boated by Kermit Henning, taken at the same spot an hour or so later.

By day's end, Gaines had managed to put another half dozen respectable bass on the end of my line and was kind enough to overlook about as many missed hits. Each of the other 10 participants in the day's activities averaged more than a dozen nice bass in the 2- to 3-pound range.

Most of us caught our best fish on the same rattling crankbait. That's because the water was very muddy from the strong tide and wind. This forced the bass to rely on sound to locate food.

"In off-colored water, fish become more object-oriented and it's smart to make several casts to the same stump, fallen tree or treetop," said Barry Vuolo, of Reel Bass Adventures guides. "Throwing to the same area repeatedly will increase your odds of success."

Reel Bass Adventures is probably the top guide service working the Potomac for largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as striped bass on light tackle. It is an association of 10 top guides I rely on regularly.

Shooting range approved

The Carroll County Public Shooting Range has cleared final approvals by the County Planning and Zoning Commission. Construction of the range will begin in May, with a projected opening date of Oct. 1. A daily fee will be charged and the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks, which will oversee the operation of the facility, expects annual profits to reach close to $5,000, which will be used to help pay for construction of the 10-lane, 200-yard range.

Funding for the construction includes $16,000 donated by the Carroll County Sportsman Association, a $15,500 grant from the Department of Natural Resources and two grants from the National Rifle Association totaling $8,500. The range will be at the Northern Landfill, off Route 140 in Westminster, and will have its own entrance.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

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