Now is time to angle for Potomac's hybrid muskie


March is probably the best time for Carroll fishing fans to catch a tiger muskellunge from the nearby Potomac River. You will find them at the mouths of the larger feeder streams and rivers that flow into the Potomac as these sharp-toothed trophies feed on suckers.

Maryland began stocking hybrid tiger muskies in the mid and upper Potomac in 1989 by crossing male northern pike with female true muskellunge. The result is an extremely aggressive fish of large size with little or no reproductive capacity. At stocking, most measure 8 to 10 inches, but need only three years to reach Maryland's 30-inch legal minimum.

Typically, one of these fish reaches 13 inches after one year, 25 inches the second year and 32 inches its third season. Ed Enamait, the DNR's Area III (Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties) freshwater fisheries manager, reported last year that during the fall of 1993 fisheries personnel collected and released a tiger muskie that measured 46 inches in length and was estimated to exceed 28 pounds, which was a possible state record.

The best muskie pulled out of the Potomac last year that I am aware of was the 18-pound, 9-ouncer caught by John Dees of Swanton.

In addition to river and stream mouths, you will find Potomac muskies in and around slow water eddies and deep holes, not in strong current areas.

Use big tackle on these fish. I have a 6 1/2 -foot, medium-heavy Fenwick reserved for muskies. A 25-pound test line teamed with a steel leader and matched with a beefy Daiwa reel rounds out the combo. In my tackle box you will find big lures like the 7-inch Bomber Long A crankbait, the Mepps Giant Killer and a 7-inch Rapala.

Plan spring bass trips now

These last couple of weeks I have been filling out my spring fishing calendar by nailing down prime times with guides and charter captains. Though I do the bulk of my fishing on my own, I do make the most of experienced fishing guides and Bay or ocean captains. Prime spring bass fishing will hit the area by early to mid-April and two of the best bassing rivers in the country are the Potomac and Susquehanna. Three of the top outfits working them are Reel Bass Adventures (301-753-8172), Ken Penrod's Life Outdoors Unlimited (301-937-0010) and Potomac Guide Service (301-840-9521). The promising trophy striped bass season will get under way in the Chesapeake on April 26, but most of the prime fishing for keeper rock should be completed by mid-May. I've already arranged to fish the first two weeks with Captain Gordon Haegerich (410) 255-5792, Harrison's Chesapeake House (410) 886-2121 and Captain Eddie Davis (301) 872-5871.

Also, call (800) 662-2747 to get your free copy of the "Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River Public Access Guide," which is a fold-out highway map format that includes a directory of 500 places of interest to outdoor enthusiasts. The guide lists specific information on boat ramps, swimming areas, bank or pier fishing areas, trails and parking availability.

Is your drag set properly?

Most anglers replace their old fishing line before the start of a new season, but forget to check their reel's drag.

Drag is important because it helps you fight big fish by making it difficult for the fish to pull line. Drag also makes it more difficult for the fish to break your line because it releases tension on the line.

With the reel mounted on the rod, thread the line through the guides and tie it to a spring scale. The hand-held one in your tackle box is perfect. Lift the rod tip slowly and pull against the scale as if you were fighting a fish. Check the pounds of force required to pull the line off the reel. Now, adjust and check the drag force until you reach about 25 percent of the line's test rating. For example, the drag for a 10-pound test line would be 2 1/2 pounds.

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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