The wild world of the Blackwater River is only two hours from Washington, just past Cambridge on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It is a land of tidal marshes and pinewoods where bald eagles and ospreys soar, where the ducks and geese sometimes darken the sky, and where the tannin-stained waters hold crappie, bass and pickerel. The fishing on the Blackwater can be good, even spectacular at times, but it is the wildness that lingers in the memory. March is an especially delightful time to visit. The fish are beginning to hustle, some waterfowl have not yet headed north, and best of all, the mosquitoes still are dormant. The center of fishing activity is the Route 335 bridge over the Blackwater just below the village of Church Creek. Most species can be caught right from the old wooden bridge with an inexpensive spinning outfit, a bobber, and minnows for bait. It's perfect for introducing a youngster to fishing. To get there take U.S. 50 through Cambridge and turn right on Route 16 just past the city limit. Follow 16 for about five miles to Church Creek and turn left on Route 335. The Blackwater crossing is about four miles beyond Church Creek. At this time of year crappie and white perch will be active both in the shallows and in the main channel. This is tidewater with no license required. The fish seem to bite better during periods of moving water, so if you have a choice, fish the first two hours of the rising or ebbing tide. Live minnows are the favorite bait on the Blackwater. Outside the main channel, on the shallow flats, they can be fished as little as six inches below the bobber. In the channel the bobber can be slid up the line to put the minnow down about two feet. Expect to see plenty of crappie and white perch but don't be surprised if you hook up with a nice largemouth bass or chain pickerel. The local season for pickerel (locally called pike) is closed from March 15 thru April 30 so they must be released. Crappie and perch can be taken in any quantity or size; largemouth bass must be at least 12 inches with a creel limit of five. Latest regulations can be found in the Tidewater Sportfishing Guide, available free from the Department of Natural Resources, Tidewater Administration, Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401. This informative booklet also contains fishing maps, tips on the use of natural bait, boat- ramp sites and other useful information. Canoes or cartop boats can be put over near the bridge, opening up numerous opportunities for fishing and exploration. Stick to the area upriver from the Route 335 bridge. Downriver is the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, with some areas off limits during certain times of the year. The better fishing is above the bridge, and the deeper channels are easier to locate. Look for fish around old duck blinds, points, fallen timber and along the edges of the channel. On windy days the upper reaches of Button Creek will offer protection as well as excellent fishing. Artificial lures are also effective. Small jigs, fished below a bobber, will take crappie and perch nearly as well as a live minnow. Pickerel and bass will attack spinner baits and surface lures. Fly fishermen do well with popping bugs and streamer flies. Later in the spring weedless lures are needed because lily pads blanket much of the river. If you have a youngster along who tires of fishing, close out the day with a stop at the wildlife refuge. Backtrack along Route 335 for a mile and turn right on the first blacktop road. From this intersection it is only a short distance to the visitors' center. The center wi have excellent opportunities for spotting white tail or sika deer along the edges of the pines. The best spot for viewing waterfowl is usually at the pond near the entrance to Wildlife Drive.