Here at last is a sure-fire, can't-miss, three-star mortal lock in fishing that is no secret.
"Tell anybody you want," said the source who discovered it.
One day Glenn Peacock, a bass fishing guide from Silver Spring, was exploring the Miles River on Maryland's Eastern Shore with one of his fishing parties. He dunked a plastic worm against the bank and felt a strike. When he reeled the fish in it wasn't a bass at all but a giant white perch.
"Let's get out of here," he said.
"No," said the party, "let's catch these giant white perch."
So they did. For a couple of hours they fished along the shoreline on the upper stretches of the Miles, which is a quiet, muddy stream above St. Michaels. "Every cast," said Peacock. "They'd hit before the lure got to the bottom. Just toss it out and set the hook."
Word got around about the white perch bonanza and before Peacock knew it he had a whole cadre of would be perch anglers demanding a charter trip. He took to hiding out and not answering the phone.
"I can only take it for so long," said Peacock. "Then I have to go bass fishing. I have to have a little challenge." They are called sport fishermen. The other 90 percent of people who wet a line go out because they like the peace and quiet of fishing and sometimes they come home with something great to eat. This story is for those people.
One such soul is Manuel MunozCarrasco, a duck hunting friend whose view on fishing is, "You call me. We go."
Peacock described the perch spot in great detail. The best lure, he said is a small lead-head jig of about one-eighth ounce with a plastic worm called a smoked grub threaded on the hook. The best smoked grub of all, he said, is something called a groovy grub. He handed me a pocketful.
Munoz was ready at 7 a.m. We towed his Boston Whaler across the Bay Bridge and down the Eastern Shore to a town called Newcomb, just above St. Michaels, where there is a launching ramp. We were coursing up the broad expanse of the Miles by 10. We ducked to go under a small bridge four miles upstream, then took the main bed of the narrowing Miles another two miles to the spot.
We were alone on the river but for a couple of easygoing crabbers working trot-lines from small skiffs in the September sun.
We rigged up our groovy grubs, Munoz chuckling over the name, and tossed them at the first prescribed target, a rotting dock projecting from an old mansion.
Half and hour later, no fish. A hoax?
"Let's try over on the other side, near that point," I suggested.
We noticed the tide, which had been dead low, beginning to ease in. We could see swirls of moving water around the dock pillings. Peacock had said a moving tide was best.
Munoz piloted the Whaler the 100 yards across the river to a tree shrouded point. He cut the motor and drifted. An oak tree, evidently damaged in a storm but still alive, hung over the edge. As we drew near, the water under the overhanging branches erupted with frightened fish taking flight.
Munoz casted in and instantly had a white perch. He flipped in again and had another, then another.
The New Jersey head boat operators have a name for this kind of fishing when everything is right and there is a hungry beast on every line. They call it "bailing fish." For an hour and a half we bailed white perch.
Munoz was delighted. "Unbelievable," he said. Then, with the sun high and the fish still assaulting the lures, he called for a break. "Siesta time," he called it, and drove the boat up on shore and collapsed on the lawn of an aging estate. There were 60 perch in the cooler, the largest about 1 1/2 pounds, most of the fish in the eight-to 10-inch range, which is perfect fish fry size.
We took our siesta, cleaned the fish, then went out and caught more.
This is traditional high season for white perch, better even than the spring when they invade the Potomac, laden with roe. Last year around this time Clint Bowman of Beltsville took me to his favorite spot, the pilings under the western end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Sandy Point State Park. We caught 100 or so there and he called that a slow day.
But the Bay Bridge lacks the esthetic excellence of the silent, brooding Miles, and for that reason the new spot proved more satisfying.
Best of all, it's not secret.
Specific directions to white perch city: Just above the Rte. 370 road bridge across the Miles the river branches into three legs. Take on the left leg, which is the main stem of the Miles. Head upstream 1 1/2 or 2 more miles until the river splits again, with the broad main stream to the right and a feeder creek to the lefty. At the crotch of this "Y" is action central.
The groovy grubs were groovy, but even better was a simple 1/16th-ounce spinner (Mister Twister or Beetlespin would work fine). Or clam snouts or worms for bait fans.
The perch should abound here until the water cools off. White perch, a member of the real bass family (large-mouth bass are actually sunfish), are spectacularly good eating, like their cousins the striped bass. Bread lightly and fry briefly.