Walleye a part of Deep Creek feast


DEEP CREEK LAKE -- It's dark out here on Maryland's largest lake. The moon is obscured by patches of low drifting fog.

Fishing lights mounted on the gunwale of guide Bill Teeter's bassboat reveal a small rocky island nearby; elsewhere there are lights from shoreside summer homes, and the green, white and red blubs of other boats cutting the waves in all directions.

On summer nights, Deep Creek Lake is a busy place. There are joyriders and there are fishermen -- and some of the latter are scooting by in bag bassboats after a cast or two here 'n there. They are sampling waters for one of two bass tournaments that (( start in the morning.

Last weekend, there were five separate bass club tournaments on this 3,900-acre lake, which 30 years ago was tabbed "Maryland's problem waterway." One species gets much of the credit for changing all of that -- and it's that fish that brought Teeter and I out this night. We want to catch walleyes, which are known for their nocturnal wanderings from deep daytime haunts to feed in darkness in the shallows.

On several occasions, the Department of Natural Resources and its predecessor departments stocked walleyes here, and they finally took hold. They ate small fish to create living room for bigger fish, and -- though many from more eastern sectors of the state don't realize it yet -- this reservoir offers the best overall fishing of any in Maryland.

Probably the best smallmouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch and northern pike fishing is at Deep Creek, and it certainly produces more walleyes than all other Maryland waters combined.

We cast toward the rocks, realizing they drop off deep. Bill uses a small crankbait, I'm trying a Rat-L-Trap. He gets a perch, then a smallmouth, and both go back. We want walleyes.

I make another cast, and in the darkness there is a slight over-run in the casting reel, I pause to untangle it by flashlight, then start reeling in. Darn, I've snagged bottom.

I jerk the rod, and pull the snag free -- but I still have it with me. A branch? Probably.

As I reel it close to the boat, there is a large swirl, then a limp line. I have paid for violating the cardinal

rule of walleye fishing; always set the hook, they bite like sunken boots.

They don't fight until near the net.

We move to another part of the lake where a dock light casts its rays on the water, which attracts smaller fish. Teeter figures walleyes will come to feed on them.

The only trouble is that this 15- by 15-foot nook is loaded with large bluegills. It's not easy to get a live worm bait near the bottom without hooking a 'gill. Finally Teeter does, and he has a walleye; then another.

But the pesky bluegills remain, and soon the live well is bouncing with them. I have a passive strike, not the jolt of a bluegill. It's my first walleye, and a few inches above the 14-inch minimum.

An, so it continues, mostly bluegills, but a bait on the bottom practically guarantees a walleye.

For information on Deep Creek Lake's walleye fishing, call Johnny's Bait House at 1-301-387-5562; for info on a guided trip, call Teeter at 1-301-334-2787.

BASS Classic deadline near

Time is running out for those who would like to see participants in the Aug. 22-24 BASS Masters Classic practice for the world championship to be held in the upper Chesapeake complex.

None of the 40 contenders will be allowed to fish the area afte Sunday -- until official practice starts Aug. 19. Among bassers seen in the area are Larry Nixon, Guido Hibdon, former Marylander Roland Martin and four-time winner Rick Clunn, who was spotted on the Dundee last weekend.

BY-Bill Burton

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