Streams, rivers brim with bassin' opportunities

CARROLL OUTDOORS

February 09, 1997|By Lonny Weaver | Lonny Weaver,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Without question, streams and rivers offer some of the best bass fishing found in Maryland.

Really top-quality local streams include Big Pipe Creek and the North Branch of the Patapsco in this county, plus, in adjoining Frederick County, Catoctin Creek, the lower reaches of Owens Creek, Big Hunting Creek and Toms Creek.

Other high quality streams in Central Maryland include the South Branch of the Patapsco River in Baltimore County and Deer Creek in Harford County. Then, we have the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers, which are probably the two top smallmouth waters in the United States.

For the most part, area stream bass spawn from mid-April to mid-May, and it is probably not wise to fish these spots heavily at these times. Stream bass are more vulnerable during spawn than reservoir or lake bass, and a population can take a heavy hit at this time.

Also, biologists have told me, heavy rains, such as we experienced all of last year, also adversely effect spawning rates in streams.

River bass also spawn in this time-frame. They are not as vulnerable as stream fish. Nice-size fish can be hooked at this time of the year, but if you want to pull a trophy-sized bass from a local river or stream, be on the water during September and October.

Regardless of the time you enjoy stream or river bassing, return what you catch.

Most anglers mistakenly bypass streams and rivers in favor of large lakes or local reservoirs, and that's just fine with me. If you like crowds and competition for the best fishing holes, then this probably isn't the best place for you to cast a lure or bass bug.

Because of the sparse fishing pressure, these fish are likely to nail just about any lure you drift out or drag past them, so you don't need three trunks of tackle. In fact, I seldom carry more than a half-dozen choices, and the whole works fits nicely into a pocket-sized plastic box.

Small lead-head jigs and plastic trailers are universal favorites with 1/16 to 1/8 -ounce being the most useful size. I like 1 1/2 - to 3-inch long twister-tails in pumpkin, smoke and chartreuse colors. Small, shallow running crank-baits like the Rebel crawfish have accounted for a lot of my stream and rivers successes. I also recommend No. 1- to No. 3-size Mepps in-line spinners, rigged with a small barrel swivel to reduce line twist.

Propeller baits and poppers are great top-water choices during the hot summer months, but for all around top-water use, I like floating minnows such as the Rapala.

For bottom probing during the spring, a 3 1/2 -inch tube bait is mighty hard to top. Rig you tube bait on a round-head jig weighing between 1/16 and 1/8 ounce. I rig my plastic crawfish (in natural colors) Texas-style, using a 1/0 hook and 1/8 - to 1/4 -ounce bullet weight.

Fly fishing is an especially productive (and fun) way to enjoy our ++ local streams and rivers, and offer a number of rod choices, as well. I tend to grab a 9-foot graphite rod throwing a bass taper WF8F line when on the Potomac or Susquehanna rivers.

For stream fishing, where bass tend to be smaller, I simply overload my 5-weight trout rod with a WF6F line. Clouser minnows and muddler minnows, plus imitations of land-based bugs, are the correct bait choices.

For accessories, carry a pair of needle-nose pliers for tuning lures and removing hooks, sunscreen and clippers for cutting line -- and wear Polarized sunglasses. Hip waders are useful, but during the warmer periods, a pair of cut-offs and old sneakers are even better.

Notable

The Mount Airy Isaac Walton League of America will conduct a hunter safety course April 2, 4, 5 and 7. Call Wendell Rothgeb at (301) 829-2475 or George East at (301) 829-2990 for details and sign-up.

Hunters bagged 2,257 deer during the special two-day extended deer firearms season Jan. 10-11. No hunting was allowed in Carroll, Allegany, Frederick, Garrett or Washington counties. The top five counties were Dorchester at 206, Kent with 190, Montgomery's 167, with Baltimore and Charles counties each producing 156 whitetails.

Duck numbers were up and Canada goose numbers dropped, according the recently completed Department of Natural Resources annual mid-winter waterfowl survey.

Canada geese numbers declined from 295,000 in 1996 to 217,400 this January. Duck numbers jumped from 191,900 counted in 1996 to 230,400 this year. Especially encouraging were increases in black ducks, canvasbacks and redheads.

The snow goose count exploded from 45,900 last January to 217,700 this year.

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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