Gone fishin'

April 07, 2003|by Chris Copley

Pro bass fisherman Aaron Hastings says fish are like people: They are lethargic and slow in winter but quicker when spring warms the air and water.

Bass, however, are slower to warm up.

"Bass don't like to fight all the current at this time of year," Hastings said. "But when it gets warmer, they go for the faster water."

Hastings said he fishes for bass exclusively. ("That's where the money is," he said.) But bass are lazy. While the water is cold, bass hang out in still water near a current that might bring them food - or something that looks like food. That's where Hastings fishes for bass in spring - in still pools adjacent to a current that can bring his lure within reach of a hungry fish.

Fishing through seasons

Spring bass fishing is strictly catch-and-release in Maryland, said Sue Slick, clerk-manager of Wolfe's On The Square, a sport shop in Williamsport. Monday, June 16, is the first day anglers may catch and keep bass.

But cold-water-loving trout are active now, and the season is open, Slick said. The season runs through Sunday, June 1.

Trout are found in many creeks in Washington County, courtesy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. In March, April and May, the Department of Natural Resources releases thousands of trout into seven creeks and seven lakes and ponds in the county that otherwise could not support trout.

Stocking also takes place in Pennsylvania, where local fishing clubs place fish in streams and rivers. Kadin Thompson, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission waterways conservation officer for Franklin and Fulton counties, said trout season opens Saturday, April 12.

Bass fishing in Pennsylvania is open year-round, Thompson said, but from April 12 to Saturday, June 14, anglers may only catch and release bass. The regular bass season opens June 14.

Thompson said several waterways in Franklin and Fulton counties are popular with trout fishermen - Conococheague Creek and Letterkenny and Waynesboro reservoirs. Two other waterways are set aside for delayed fishing with artificial lures only. From Sunday, June 15, to Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1, fishermen may catch and keep up to three trout; during the rest of the year, trout must be released.

Another waterway - the East Branch of the Antietam Creek in Waynesboro - is set aside for delayed-harvest fly-fishing.

From June 15 to Labor Day, anglers may catch up to three trout; during the rest of the year, it's catch and release only.

Safety in the water

Early-season, wading fishermen should be careful, Thompson said, and follow safety guidelines.

"Water's cold and running fast at this time of year," he said. "Life jackets are a good idea even when wading. If you fall into cold water, it's an extremely dangerous thing. Cold water can kill people."

Fishermen in boats must have wearable life jackets for each person in the boat, he added; children 12 and younger must wear theirs at all times.

For basic fishing information, Thompson said, check the "2003 Summary" of fishing regulations that comes with a Pennsylvania fishing license. It is the bible for fishing in the state.

When and where to fish

West Virginia has no official fishing seasons, according to Dick Pharr, owner of Spark's Sports Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.

"You can fish anytime for anything," he said. "Particularly now, as regards the trout. They're stocking now - almost weekly."

The Potomac River is a popular waterway for many fish, Pharr said. Since the Potomac is part of Maryland, fishing regulations fall under Maryland law. So fishermen may only catch and release bass in the Potomac until June 16.

But other fish inhabit the Potomac - and the Shenandoah, the other large river in the West Virginia Panhandle. Walleye, muskie, tiger muskie, catfish, carp - all are in the big rivers along with smaller panfish, such as bluegill, perch and crappie.

Dam No. 4 and Dam No. 5 are popular fishing spots for a wide variety of fish. Dam No. 4 is beween Williamsport and Shepherdstown, W.Va. - get there on Dam No. 4 Road, a southern extension of Downsville Pike/Md. 632. Dam No. 5 is south of Clear Spring - get there on Dam No. 5 Road off Clear Spring Road/Md. 68.

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