Mild weather inspires early start on fishing smallmouths respond

Carroll Outdoors

March 12, 1998|By Lonny Weaver | Lonny Weaver,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The mild weather finally got to me last week, and I began the year's fishing a few weeks early. No serious fishing, mind you, just some casual fun stuff.

Late Saturday morning, I parked my car just below the bridge spanning the North Branch of the Patapsco River, off Emory Road, in Finksburg, pulled on a pair of hip boots and armed myself with an ultralight spinning rig and a small, pocket-sized box of assorted in-line spinners and 1/4 -ounce crank-baits.

My first cast was over water directly under the bridge. I had tied on a chartreuse Roostertail in-line spinner, and about 15 feet from my shoreline perch, a feisty 14-inch smallmouth bass nailed it. What a way to start the year!

For next couple of hours, I slowly worked the Patapsco's banks to within quarter-mile or so of the Route 140 bridge, and retraced my tracks back to the car, casting to likely spots along the way.

For some reason, this area never has been very heavily fished, but it has always proven productive to me, especially in the early weeks of spring. Saturday was no exception. I also got a pair of crappies.

On Monday, I had to attend to some business in Brunswick and wisely tossed the fishing rod and waders in the trunk. The Brunswick section of the Potomac River is one of my all-time favorite fishing holes. The area is perfect for summer wading with the fly rod, and the late July white miller hatch here is legendary.

My business meeting took place within sight of the river, just below the Brunswick Bridge, and I was like a schoolboy waiting for the afternoon bell to spring me free of classrooms. It was raining off and on by the time the meeting broke up, but that wasn't about to stop me from wetting a line.

I was especially anxious to try out a new 7 foot G. Loomis rod that had recently forced me to reach for the checkbook, and this was the perfect spot for its test run. The rod and a Shimano 1000A sustain reel had been specifically chosen for big river smallmouthing on the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers, and I had fitted the rig up with 6-pound test mono.

It didn't get much print last year, but this upper section of the Potomac experienced a massive fishkill early last spring that claimed great numbers of mature-sized bass. I fished this very same area in mid-May and, for the first time ever, never caught a single fish. Then, in mid-September my son-in-law and I waded this Brunswick section armed with fly rods and managed to hook and release a reasonable number of 8- to 10-inch smallmouths.

Bob Lunsford, of the DNR Fisheries, confirmed to me that even though mature bass numbers had been seriously hurt on the Potomac, the damage had been done after most of the spawn had been completed.

Anyway, I spent a little less than two hours getting very wet and catching a single small-mouth. I was using 1/4 -ounce chartreuse Mepps spinners with a gold blade, hoping the flash and color could be seen in the extremely muddy water. The water was so muddy that if the calendar read May, I wouldn't even have been on the water.

I positioned myself by one in a series of ledges in this area and cast upriver, letting the lure swing down over the ledge. Then I retrieved it against the rather fast current. The bass I caught hit the bait as it swung past the ledge.

Free license offer

From March 15-28, Dick's Sporting Goods stores are participating in a "Fish For Free in '98" offer that may be the first of its kind. Purchase a Shimano Spirex 2000RB spinning reel, Carbomax medium action spinning rod (model SCM-66MA) and your Maryland fishing license at Dick's and get a rebate form good for the purchase price of the license.


Tonight's meeting of the Patapsco Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will feature a talk and slide show on the Potomac River VTC by noted fly angler and guide Bob Abraham. The free meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Bear Branch Nature Center.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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