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By dam, young angler is filled to gills with joy


One evening last week, three of us drifted across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore for a couple of hours of fishing. The word from Jim Phillips and his son, Justin, was that the action would be fast -- and it was -- even if the quarry was small.

As soon as the engine was shut down in the parking lot at Wye Mills Community Lake, Justin was out of the car and down to the edge of a weedy tailrace below the small dam.

"Dad! Bluegills! Thousands of them!" was the sixth grader's immediate report.

And as quickly as possible, Justin was back to the car and off again with an ultra-light, a 1/32 ounce marabou jig and a white, half-inch twister tail.

Before we had rigged our flies, Justin already had caught a couple of fish -- two bluegills -- and was devising ways to go after some of the hefty carp he could see along the weed line.

Now, being adults, Jim and I were, of course, more interested in the bass that cruise the lower lakeshore in the evening. Great place to fish a fly, you see. No trees or shrubs to snag on the back cast, enough 8- to 10-inch largemouth to keep you busy and an occasional 4-pounder to rattle you silly.

But first, before the sun got down below the tree line, we, too, ambled down to the tailrace and cast our flies upon the water. Bluegills are not shy. They are, in fact, about as aggressive as anything that swims.

And within 20 minutes, each of us had caught and released a half-dozen fish, with the biggest a respectable 8 inches.

Justin, meanwhile, had staked out a position along a concrete wall that channels the water from the spillway into the creek, from which he could see the fish clearly.

Through the evening, the young man with the itty-bitty white twister tail fished well. Bluegill by the dozens, crappie, bass and two yellow perch over 12 inches.

With each catch a giggle of delight, with some catches the ruler came out for a quick check for citation length.

Truth be told, the adults had a pretty good time, too -- each of us taking and releasing a couple of nice bass from the lake after we had had our fill of bluegills -- but overall the kid out-fished us, at least 10 to 1.


The lake at Wye Mills is an interesting place. The waters above the dam are non-tidal, while the creek that wanders away below the spillway is tidal.

Above the spillway is a good small ramp for boats with electric motors, and at the lower end of the lake, a concrete skirt fronts the dam.

If there is a drawback to shoreline fishing the lake, it is that the majority of the bank is private and anglers are pretty much limited to fishing parallel to the concrete.

From the southern end of the concrete skirt, however, a long cast will put a popper in close to the banks where there is some deadfall and the living trees hang low over the water -- and where the bigger bass seem to hang out.

The creek, which is too small to float, is full of carp and a popular area for bow fishermen, but it, too, holds yellow perch, bluegill, crappie and bass.


OUTDOORS CALENDAR Today: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Careful Catch Program workshop. Careful catch is a program to educate fishermen on the values and proper techniques of catch and release. 7 p.m. No fee required. CBF office in Annapolis, 162 Prince George St.

Tomorrow: Opening of the shark tournament at Bahia Marina in Ocean City. Call (410) 289-7438.

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