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By James DrakeThis intense heat we’ve been enduring lately has already caused deaths and those often rough seas during thunderstorms are yet another deadly threat.

Those of us who love to be outdoors absolutely must pay attention to the weather this time of year and that’s especially so if you’re heading out on the water.

You can buy a really nice portable weather band radio for under $50 at places like Walmart, Radio Shack or Amazon.com and these things will definitely warn you when bad weather is approaching.

Always take plenty of water along and keep yourself hydrated. Make it a habit to have an eye on the sky and head back to port before conditions get dangerous.

Enjoy our natural world but always be vigilant and watchful out there.

Southern Maryland lakes and ponds If you’re going to be laid-back and have a second or third cup of coffee and finish reading the whole morning paper before heading out, you might as well stay home and mow the lawn.

If you’re serious about fishing, put that coffee in a thermos and get going. You need to be casting at first light in the morning for the best chance of any real success. Poppers and little torpedoes would make a good first choice.

Mattawoman Creek Up in the 6 mph zone you may notice some of the spatterdock turning brown. Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials said it’s just the work of a beetle and the plants will recover.

There are still bass around and finding milfoil is key now in this sector, said Ken Penrod with the Life Outdoors Unlimited guides (301-937-0010). Find green grass and you’ll notice clearer water and you’ll probably catch bass.

If you’re heading out to the main river from the state park, stop in a few of the little coves and throw buzzbaits, frogs or Case Magic Stiks.

Nearby, Penrod said the grass at Belmont Bay and Chicamuxen Creek are drawing bassboats like winning the lottery attracts lots of your old friends. You might be better off working down in Mallows Bay or crank up the big motor and head into Aquia Bay.

Upper Potomac River Water temperatures are in the mid-80s, the water is almost too clear and submersed grass is flourishing. That said, the algae on the Virginia side downstream of the Shenandoah is a major concern.

At Lander, Penrod cautions to keep a careful lookout going in and out for there is a huge washout that could be hazardous to your suspension if you’re not paying attention. It’s about 100 yards from the crossing.

The best hours to be fishing are from 5:30 to 11 a.m. for there is substantial aquatic hatch activity in the morning. Whites Ferry and Edwards Ferry are not fishing as well as the area around Lander.

Tidal Potomac River To beat the heat, Andy Andrzejewski with the Reel Bass Adventures guides (301-932-1509) recommended that you get on the water early and leave early before the sun can beat you down.

Poppers worked around the grass or frogs right over it will draw strikes until the sun gets too high. Once the action on top slows, Andrzejewski starts throwing a wacky-rigged stick worm and said you can expect to be surprised with the big yellow perch you may also find.

The LOU guides are taking bass around the bridge foundations up in town and it’s not just around Long Bridge either. By the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, they are connecting in Smoot Bay, around Hog Island, Fox Ferry Point and the south shore of Pohick Bay.

Lower Potomac River Usually on the Virginia side, some nice keeper rockfish are found from Ragged Point all the way up to the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge.

Ken Lamb from the Tackle Box in Lexington Park said that good catches of croaker are happening at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, Ragged Point and Piney Point.

My friend Franco Foraci told me white perch are everywhere, and the deeper the water, the better. Foraci also found a surprising number of decent spot in 20-foot depths around Swan Point.

Patuxent River Lamb reported plenty of small rockfish all around the mouth. In the shallows they’re taking surface lures, Sassy Shads and bucktails. Croaker are found throughout the lower river as are the white perch.

Lamb also wants to remind fishermen that the Maryland rules dictate a nine-inch minimum size for croaker with a daily bag limit of 25.

Deep Creek Lake Night fishermen using floating lights have been catching a few trout down around the dam. Bluegill hunters using a little piece of worm or cricket under a bobber are taking some very nice specimens around some of the better docks.

LOU guide Bret Winegardner (301-616-9889) is also catching some impressive smallmouth on topwaters early in the day in the grass and around those same docks.

Lake Anna Around 8 a.m. you should be heading back in instead of just venturing out. The best fishing now starts at dawn and only lasts a few hours.

If you’re pretty good at skipping lures, a dock pattern is working well on the bass. Stripers are hitting topwaters early and late in the day, while the catfish bite anytime on chicken liver baits.

Chesapeake Bay Very early mornings, besides being a lot cooler and far more comfortable time to be outdoors, offer the best fishing opportunities. Rockfish have been breaking early most days before the crowds come and scare them off.

Lamb said that night fishermen are taking croaker around Buoy 72A, and, on a good night, you can expect a 25 fish limit, while on poor nights you might only see a few. Around the Mud Leads, decent-size bluefish are hitting trolled spoons and eels plus spot have showed up in force over in the Honga.

Atlantic Ocean Sue Foster at Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City said that the action has picked up for flounder. At Indian River Inlet, both flounder and stripers are being taken at night and there are lots of little spot everywhere for the live-lining crowd.

The surf fishing is just so-so, but offshore the catches have been good around the close-by wrecks. Way out in the canyons, marlin and tuna catches have been respectable.

zbasser@aol.com