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Anglers get a charge fishing near PEPCO plant in Dickerson


The PEPCO power plant in Dickerson is a popular winter fishing hot spot convenient to Anne Arundel County anglers and one that I fish periodically.

Smallmouth bass, crappies, catfish, carp and the occasional tiger musky are the main targets of winter anglers armed with jigs, white buzzbaits, Rebel Pop-R's or #11 black on silver Rapalas.

"At full power, 285,000 gallons of Potomac River water will be cycled through the plant, heating the water more than 22 degrees during the winter months. This warm water discharge has a significant effect on the Potomac water temperature, which may extend as far as Seneca, some 18 miles downriver," said Potomac fishing guide Ken Penrod.

Warns local fishing pro Jim Gronaw, "Although hot water discharges at power plants always attract fish in the winter, they don't always produce great fishing.

"Things like river levels, water clarity, power plant operations and weather play roles in determining fish activity in such areas."

Gronaw regularly fishes the Dickerson plant and the Peach Bottom atomic power plant near Mount Wolf, Pa., on the Susquehanna River.

When you fish the Dickerson plant area, don't make the mistake of fishing directly in the immediate discharge area where the water is the warmest. These warmer sections draw large numbers of fish, but not quality-sized fish.

Because of output variances, discharged water temperatures can get very warm very quickly or drop drastically at the snap of the fingers. Because of these fluctuating temperatures fish are always moving in and out of the warm water chutes and fishing them is feast or famine.

I usually find the best fishing a mile downstream from the Dickerson plant and on the Maryland side of the Potomac. At this distance, the water temperature is less affected by rapid hot water discharges and on a 30- to 40-degree day, the river temperature along this discharge lane will run 50 to 60 degrees. When that happens, the bass fishing can be spectacular.

The level of the river also is important when fishing at Dickerson. High, muddy water, which is common this time of the year and through early spring, pushes fish in close to the banks to confined eddys. Lower water levels move the fish back into mid-stream holes or eddys.

xTC Fishing is not allowed on PEPCO property, which ends just below the discharge.

At Peach Bottom on the Susquehanna River, fish for smallmouth bass, walleyes, carp and catfish, plus the occasional musky. The Susquehanna has been running quite high and causing flooding along its path.

Speak up on perch

For generations of local anglers, March has meant fishing the annual yellow perch spawning runs and the historical hot spot is Anne Arundel County.

Sadly, the bottom fell out of this form of fishing years ago due to bad water and bad management, but it is on the rebound.

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking comments on new yellow perch regulations that will establish a 9-inch size limit for both recreational and commercial fishermen. Currently, yellow perch size limits range from 8 1/2 inches to 10 inches depending on which tributary you happen to be fishing.

The DNR says that recent data has suggested that bay-wide yellow perch stocks have been improving. In response to that information, it wants to open certain tributaries now closed to angling. It also claims that the proposed 9-inch minimum "will increase yield and egg production."

Public hearings have been conducted in Annapolis and Queen Anne's County. If you happened to miss them, but want to make your feelings on these matters known, you have until Feb. 29 to get them into the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division, Tawes State Office Building, C-2, Annapolis, MD 21401. For additional information on the regulations, call (410) 974-2241.

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