Fishing Report Late report: Jug Bay (Pax), 12/15
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  1. #1
    Plays by sense of smell. ictalurus's Avatar
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    Smile Late report: Jug Bay (Pax), 12/15

    After a grueling and, ultimately, frustrating week, I decided to play hooky and fish on Tuesday. I've heard from multiple sources on TF that launching at Jackson Landing on the Patuxent and heading upstream can be productive in the spring, so I thought I'd check it out. Specifically, there's the remains of an old bridge about 0.7 miles upstream of the boat ramp. Also, there's a deep hole at the mouth of Western Branch that is supposed to hold pre-spawn yellow perch, and Western Branch is supposed to be pretty and productive for yellow perch during the run.

    I ran into a park ranger that handed me a bunch of pamphlets about the Patuxent River kayaking trail. There are a number of launch points and camping places that can be reserved so you can kayak and camp between Selby Landing and Solomons. Sounds like a fun trip I might do with the missus next summer. You have to reserve the camping locations beforehand. There's also a camping spot on Western Branch that looked nice. Launching at the various Patuxent River parks is free, but I had to be back at the ramp by 4:30. The Patuxent was 8-15ft in the channel, except in the deep hole, and Western Branch was 4-7ft as far as I went.

    I fished from 10:30 to 3, and went against the tide both ways. The tied rolls through that area surprisingly fast. I left my thermometer at home, but my fishfinder said 43-45* most of the day after I had been on the water for a couple hours. I hit the old bridge remains with a silver buddy (which I lost) and various white and chartreuse jigs with 1/8 - 1/4oz heads without any hits. There were lots of big and small marks in the deep hole at the mouth of Western Branch, which is about 32ft at the deepest. I didn't have any hits on the silver buddy or the other things I jigged, but I caught a little bullhead on nightcrawlers on a bottom rig:



    That there has to be one of the most expensive little catfish ever caught (~$15 in gas, $2 for ice, and $2 for a lost silver buddy).

    I went upstream in Western Branch to about a quarter mile above the camping spot. The creek transitions from a marshy creek to a heavily wooded creek with lots of large woody debris for yellow perch to spawn in. It's probably awesome in the spring. It would've been really pretty, too, but there was lots of trash everywhere. I guess it washed down from all the recent rain. What was really interesting was the quantity of sports balls that I saw--basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls, and softballs. If I had a perch for every ball, I could've had a fish fry for my entire street. I wonder how they got past the sewage treatment plant? The only other downside is that stretch of river from Wayson's Corner to Western Branch smells kind of funky to me. The smell reminds me of a paper plant on the James River in VA--it kind of smells like when you cook pulled pork on the stove--not a great smell.

    Anyway, I didn't have any luck in Western Branch. In addition to the other things I mentioned, I also used a 1/2oz blue and black jig-n-pig in all the fallen trees trying for bass.

    I hit the deep hole again as the tide was coming in. There were fewer marks, and I didn't have any hits on the jigs or nightcrawlers. The wind was kicking up at this point, so I called it a day. It will definitely be worth hitting again during the perch run, and it's probably a little less crowded than Wayson's Corner--at least there'll be fewer shore fishermen to avoid.
    Anadromous fish come and go, but catfish stay forever.

    Yellow Hobie Revolution
    Yellow Tarpon 120

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  3. #2
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    I know a little about the area you fished. The old bridge is best known for crappie starting in late winter thru early spring. The best area there is the under water pilings on the left side of the channel as you head upstream. As for the deep hole in front of the Branch, it's a staging area for everything that spawns in the Pax. First to arrive are the yellow perch, usually in Jan. Assuming the river isn't frozen and you can get there it helps to have something to hide behind (like a windshield) Best bait is grass shrimp followed by bull minnows on double hook bottom rigs. Next up are the white perch then stripers.
    You mentioned the smell. Sounds like you were there on low water and got the smell of the marsh mud. You should have been far enough from the wastewater plant.
    Western Branch runs through Upper Marlboro and past the county rec center. That could explain your stray sporting goods. There's a great white perch run right next to the county courthouse in upper marlboro anytime from late Feb through March depending on the spring temps. You mentioned the treatment plant. That's a really good place to load up on perch to 12" during the run. The clean water discharge leaves the plant through a small canal that flows into the branch The combination of the current and super clear water make for a good holding area. Small tube jigs and shad darts are the ticket here. Be sure you're ready for the occasional Hickory shad, lmb and even striper. I've only been up there in a 16' C Hawk under power, but I want to try yak fishing in the branch. This was my first year, and that looks like a long paddle. I've heard that you can put a canoe or kayak in at the plantation right at the mouth of the branch, but haven't researched the access there. Maybe next spring. Sorry for the novel, got excited for a minute.

  4. #3
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    Glad you made a trip before the snow hits. I heard people are fishing for yellow perch in winter. I am assuming that YP are fresh water fish not brackish water. YP will be my target fish some day after I learn how to catch WP in winter. I copied and pasted your report to my fishing log for future reference.

    Thanks for the report, Bill

    Joe

  5. #4
    Plays by sense of smell. ictalurus's Avatar
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    Joe--The things I learned about the Patuxent trail were more interesting than my actual report, so I figured others might like to know, too. I really like yellow perch fishing and pickerel fishing. You should hit the Occoquan in February and March--it's a lot closer to you, and there are some nice perch there.

    Capt C--Thanks for all the great info. I think you were the one that told me about the crappie by the old bridge. You're not kidding about having something to hide behind. That hole is wide open from every direction. I'll have to bundle up more and whip out my mad bomber hat and ninja mask. Hopefully, Homeland Security doesn't have any surveillance there. I was there on low water, and the pilings on the left side of the river were well above the surface when I first got there and almost totally submerged when I left. Despite losing the silver buddy, it wasn't as snaggy there as I thought it would be. The old mansion at Mt. Calvert is on the water trail route, and there's a floating dock there and nice bit of grass to launch from. I couldn't see where you park, though, so it might be a long way to the water, but you'd be launching in a sweet spot. Distance-wise, it wasn't too bad from the Jackson Landing ramp, but I was looking to get some exercise. I've only caught yellows on slack tides, so if you time it right, you could ride the tide pretty quickly to and from the ramp. I found out that going against the tide wore me out more than I thought it did when I got out of my yak and walked to my truck. It's been a while since I've been out. Incidentally, if that was marsh mud I smelled, it's not like any I've ever smelled before. Usually, the saltwater marshes I've been around smell way more like sulfur (which I kind of like for some reason ), but I haven't spent that much time in freshwater marshes. Interesting. I liked that area more than Wayson's Corner. There's more structure and depth changes to fish.
    Anadromous fish come and go, but catfish stay forever.

    Yellow Hobie Revolution
    Yellow Tarpon 120

  6. #5
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    Ict - I had to laugh at the pic of the tiny catfish. As soon as I saw it I knew you probably had tuff fishing.

    Lots of good information here. I've never fished the Jug Bay area, its a bit far from Emmitsburg. I thought I remembered hearing reports of a power plant with a WWD up in Western Branch somewhere. Is this true? or maybe I'm thinking of the waste water plant.

  7. #6
    Plays by sense of smell. ictalurus's Avatar
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    Since I was all but counting on getting skunked, I was pretty happy to get that little cat. I thought about taking it home for my fish tank, but the madtom I have in there would've clobbered it.

    There's a wastewater treatment plant off of Western Branch. I didn't go up quite that far. There's a power plant on the Patuxent near Benedict, MD that has a warmwater discharge. I haven't fished there in the winter, but I've seen reports by others who have done well. It's another place on my list of locations to check out.
    Anadromous fish come and go, but catfish stay forever.

    Yellow Hobie Revolution
    Yellow Tarpon 120

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