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Pitching to Perch and Pickerel

The river gave up gold

It had turned into a beautiful day despite a forecast of high winds and rain. Trees were whipping overhead, but down the well-worn path we followed on the forest floor, it was sheltered and calm. When we broke out of the tree-cast shadow line, the bright sun warmed us so that we had to open our jackets and slow our pace.
    When we arrived at our destination on the Tuckahoe, we had the place to ourselves. Separating, Frank went upstream, and I went down. Rigging my four-pound outfit with a three-way swivel and a small gold Tony on a 12-inch leader and a medium-sized chartreuse shad dart on a shorter section, I lip-hooked two bull minnows and sent them sailing across the stream.

New President for the Maryland Watermen’s Association

  Robert T. Brown Sr. of St. Mary’s County was elected president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, following the death March 14 of Larry Simns, who founded and presided over the organization for over 40 years.
  Brown was in the news recently when apprehended by Natural Resources Police illegally setting nets off of Chapel Point State Park. It will be interesting to see what direction he now takes the Association, back into a contentious past or forward into the 21st century.

    As I twitched them slowly back, I heard splashes upstream. Frank had a fish on. Then I felt a slight tug on my line and paused. When I raised my rod tip, I felt firm resistance and, with a snap of my wrist, set the hook.
    My rod tip bowed down deeply, and the line sliced through the water as a hefty fish made its way cross-current. I played the rascal carefully and soon had it close to the bank. Its broad flank was flashing yellow-green out of the depths when the hook pulled.
    “Just lost a good one,” I called out to Frank as I reeled in my line to rebait.
    “Right, I heard that before,” he replied as he released an undersized ned, hooked up a fresh minnow and flipped his line back out. He was
quickly into another perch.
    Perhaps, I thought, we’ve drawn a lucky day.
    Within in a few casts I was into another yellow of my own. This one and the next proved undersized. My partner upstream, by this time, had put at least one fish in the bucket, but the majority of his fish were proving small as well. Then my bite dropped to zero.
    Another half dozen fruitless casts ended with a bang as a monster hit bent my light rod down to the corks. My drag sizzled, and a sizeable pickerel rolled just under the surface, then shot across the river. I waited it out on run after run until it finally tired. Then I slid it up on the shore for a quick picture and release.
    I imagined that a pike of that size would move any perch out of the area, so as I re-rigged my gear I moved farther downstream. Upstream, Frank was hooking one fish after another.
    My quest resulted in two more large pickerel but no more yellow perch. Finally, as I moved back upstream to avail myself of the minnow bucket, Frank called me over to his honey hole. “They’re all right there,” he said as he pointed out a small rip just past a submerged log that lay across the river.
    I flipped out my minnows just as he amended his statement, adding “but be careful there are snags all around it.” Immediately, I lifted my rod tip only to find that I had hooked one of the submerged obstacles. Re-rigging after breaking off my spoon and dart, I changed my approach to a single heavier shad dart. Lip-hooking another minnow, I dropped it in the boil of the rip.
    Right away I was into a perch. The hole was choked with skinny males barely nine inches in size and hardly worth keeping. Frank and I experimented, trying to tempt the larger females that had to be in the mix.
    The final solution was using our largest minnows and letting them swim deep until a big perch finally gobbled them up. That tactic proved a success. But within barely an hour we had used up all of the larger minnows, I had lost a number of fouled darts and we were again back to catching throwbacks.
    We also had more than a dozen nice keepers in the bucket.