Larry Jarboe, Recreational Angler
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Posted on October 15, 2012 | Permalink
Will Cold Weather Beat the Drum?
Location: Potomac River
With a cold front blowing across the water on Thursday morn, I fished from Liverpool Point to Sandy Point on the Potomac. The catfish bite had slowed. I caught ten cats (4 blues and 6 channels). The channels were hanging off the old Liverpool steamboat landing. I had to run my trusty electric skiff up to Sandy Point (looks like an old railway there) to catch the blues. I released 3 of the smaller channel cats. I'm now targeting 5-20 pound fish.
Mallows Bay is such a great place to ramp your boat. There is very good shore fishing from the old concrete side of the cofferdam. Canoes, kayaks, and trailerable boats all have a place to launch. While waiting for the bites, you can watch Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, and countless bird species fly overhead. Also, the helicopters from Quantico can be seen making their rounds. Between the national bird and our U.S. Marines buzzing overhead and across the Potomac, freedom rings loud and clear.
During the week, I pretty much have the place to myself which is OK by me but if I were you, I'd do a Google search on [Mallows Bay] take the day off and enjoy this good crisp weather at Mallows Bay before the Big Chill arrives. This advice applies especially to the DNR employees who teamed up with the Charles County Commissioners to make such an outstanding facility available to the public. You deserve to take pride in this unique public landing. As boaters and anglers, we paid for these ramps. The price of fuel may be high but kayaks, canoes, and electric skiffs are affordable to operate. A day on the water could be cheaper than working (at least in the business I used to run).
I did catch a few white perch and a small red drum that literally froze up when it hit the surface. Then it regained it's composure and took off when I released it.
Questions to DNR: What is the lowest temperature red drum (channel bass) can safely survive? Will the millions of red drum presently here be able to survive a harsh winter in the Chesapeake Bay tributaries or do they need to migrate into the Atlanic prior to cold weather settling in? I've seen what a cold snap does in the Florida backcountry. That would be a shame to see in the Chesapeake. Plus, those fish should be some fine catching if they can make it through the winter.
Instead of more catfish pics, I am posting a channel bass doubleheader caught on Mike Henderson's boat last week below the Target Ship. Catch 'em now. The Big Chill is coming!
DNR Response: Red drum migrate out of Chesapeake Bay each year, generally in late fall. The fish we are seeing this year may or may not return over the next couple of years. Once they reach 24 to 36 inches they will become mature and join the spawning stock that primarily remains offshore. When we have experienced increased numbers of juveniles in the past, we have not seen the fish come back in following years, but one can hope. The fish we have here now are primarily 1 year olds. We do not know what causes these fish to come up this far every so often. Juveniles generally will utilize estuaries, so if we were to have a mild winter, a portion of the fish we have here now may move over winter in Virginia’s portion of the bay and return, but I would expect the majority to leave the Bay and end up in NC. Laboratory studies indicate mortality is possible at 42 degrees F but most fish survived temperatures below 40 degrees (temperature tolerance is effected by other water quality parameters, such as salinity), and red drum have been collected alive in temperatures as low as 35 degrees F in the wild. Fifty degrees F is considered the low end of the preferred temperatures, and most individuals will seek warmer water when temperatures get that low.