Cold Water Fishing: A Different Kind of Challenge

The Severn River has to be one of my favorite places to fish.

Not only because it is close to home, but because it offers great light tackle opportunity whether your casting from a boat, beach or dock.

The past few late afternoons/early evenings I have been testing the ‘local’ waters of Chase and Saltworks Creek, exploring the chilly waters (58 degrees) trying to raise a few white/yellow perch or the always exciting to catch chain pickerel.

My lures range from gold to spotted fire tiger Kastmaster’s to 1/2 ounce white-lead head with either chartreuse or rainbow soft plastics. It seems to be too early to shoreline cast because I haven’t had one nibble after a couple hundred casts. There has been a little action on the fish finder in deeper water, so I have been drifting along the shelfs and ledge pulling my lures slowly with just a little rod tip action.

My first success came as the sun was beginning its final descent for the day in Chase Creek. On the outer edge of a little cove in eight feet of water I was drifting in with the tide and felt a little tug on the lure. Instinctively I dropped the rod tip forward and gave the ‘prospect’ a little more line and time to consider the lure. After a three count I slowly brought the tip up and then began a slow motion crank of the reel. The fish made its intentions known. Bam, it wanted my lure!

Unlike the typical response of fish when the water is warm, fish in the creeks this time of year react slower and more lethargic and this time was not an exception. This fish just pulled firmly, it didn’t fight, but from the bend in my rod tip I knew this was going to be a nice fish. A few minutes later I pulled the beast into the boat — a very fat 24 & 1/8 inch chain pickerel.

This was the biggest and fattest one I have ever caught.

Severn River perch
Gary Oster with the 24” long chain pickerel

Days later I was using the same tactics as the prior trip however I was now in Saltworks Creek. After about 100 casts — and nearly every one bringing up dead leaves and river grasses — I saw something I have never seen before. I was about four feet from the outer edge of a boat dock when I saw the treble hook of my gold Kastmaster dragging an oak leaf. Again. But wait. Am I really seeing this or is it my imagination?

The lure and leaf were only five feet from the boat, and only inches behind the leaf was a pickerel following it all the way to the boat. Once it saw me, it dove deep. I quickly pulled the lure into the boat, snapped the leaf of the hook, repositioned the boat and immediately made a half-dozen fanned casts, each separated by a few feet in the same direction where I last saw the fish.

The retrieves were slow and had a slight right to left movement of the tip to give the lure a little more action. Then the tug and jerk came, the fight was now on. Moments later and with only a few remnants of daylight left, I pulled the fish into the boat, measured it at 22-inches and released it to be caught another day.

Light tackle creek fishing is so much fun and with the water warming up, it is only going to get better.

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