With the first white perch of the year caught Wednesday in Washington, the spring march of spawning fish up the Potomac has begun.
Once the run is on in earnest, which should be any day, perch offer the opportunity for anyone to have a successful fishing day. They arrive in such profusion that it's hard to avoid catching them. They are one of the tastiest fish in the river, having just arrived from saltier climes in Chesapeake Bay. Even fried perch roe is delicious.
Approved tackle for cashing in on the perch run is any light or medium-weight fishing rig, including handlines, spincasters, spinning rods or anything else that will get bait down to the bottom. Please, nothing more than 20-pound-test line. Ten-pound-test is more than adequate.
Perch are bottom-feeders. Do not fish for them with a bobbler. Use a lead weight of about an ounce or two, with an inch-long glob of worm impaled on a size 4 or 6 hook suspended a foot or so above the sinker. Get that sinker ON THE BOTTOM or you won't catch anything at all.
If this sounds complicated, it's not. Bottom-fishing is about the simplest kind of fishing there is. Fletcher's Boathouse below Chain Bridge sells everything that's needed and rents rowboats to get to the deep holes. You can fish from the bank there, as well.
It's nice of Mother Nature to provide this kind of spring. There is no flood, the river is at a perfect level and the water is clear so far. This is rare.
A good rain could mess it all up, so the best recommendation is to get out now while the getting is good.
According to the Dicky Tehaan book of records, the next arrivals on the spawning calendar should be herring and shad, which generally get here around mid-April, and then striped bass, which arrive the first week or two of May.