Friday, March 29, 2013

No one helped more with this web site than these valued friends

Gene says it's almost time to say farewell to the web site
As March 31 approaches when I say farewell to all our many web site visitors, something needs to be said as concerns the production of a web page. You simply can't do it alone and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. First on the list is Ceilon Aspensen, whose Code Rustlers, Inc., web design talents and the many times she helped when I was totally lost will never be forgotten. Thank you, Ceilon, from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you, Andy Andrzejewski
Then come all the men and women anglers who've supplied me with information and photos over time. Without them, I would have needed to rely on my personal exploits alone, which would never have filled the pages day in and day out. (If you've noticed, I tried to publish something new and fresh every day of the week. Other web sites often leave their content up for a week or more before publishing new material.)

Many of the following are dear friends. On top of the list is Andy Andrzejewski, a professional fishing guide who lives in La Plata, Md. Andy plies the waters of the tidal Potomac River where I spent more time fishing with him than anyone else. Andy's skill in finding bass, crappies, Chinese snakeheads, sunfish, perch and catfish for me and my cameras is hard to describe. The man who supplied me with material for countless columns in The Washington Times and my web site is phenomenally talented. Thank you, Andy!

Thank you, Dale Knupp
Let's not forget Dale and Nancy Knupp, also of La Plata, Md. This husband-and-wife fishing couple are not only good friends, they also are super anglers who on many occasions in the past delivered the goods when I needed to hook a bass, fat perch, crappie or other species. I remember the time when Dale marked rather large fish under the boat in Nanjemoy Creek and figured they might be carp. “Let's see if we can't get one on a Sting Ray grub.” The lure would normally be thought to be too large for carp, but Dale did it several times. I wrote an article about such unusual carp catches and sold it to a magazine.

Thank you, Nancy Knupp
There also is our good friend Marty Magone, who lives on the shores of Lake Gaston, Va., but who also fishes the tidal Potomac River whenever possible. There have been times when this fine angler and all-around cut-up went out in the worst weather possible to catch bass and stripers --- and he delivered the goods. If you ever meet him, ask him to tell you about his rain room, or the Scuppernong River incident.

Another good friend and happy fisherman is Bob Lunsford, the now retired former director of Maryland's Freshwater Fisheries and tidal water bass for the state's DNR. 

Thank you, Bob Lunsford
Many of us have always thought that Bob would have made a fine Secretary of Natural Resources, but I guess he was more fond of sport anglers than commercial netters. It might have presented problems had he become the boss. Bob fishes for walleyes in the upper Potomac, bass in the tidal rivers, redfish in the Southeastern U.S., and anything else that beckons for his visits.

Thank you, Marty Magone
In matters of coastal and lower Chesapeake Bay saltwater fishing, no one supplied better information than two Virginia Beach area dentists – Drs. Julie Ball and Ken Neill. Between these two well-known fishing dentists, who also are sportfishing activists often seen at outdoors shows, TV clips and in magazines, I was never short of material when I needed news from the Bay and ocean. Also, a special thanks to Dr. Neill who supplied me frequently with high-quality fishing photos.

Speaking of the Chesapeake Bay, in Maryland no one was more helpful than Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, as well as Michael and Christy Henderson of Buzz's Marina (both businesses are located in St. Mary's County). Those three supplied our web site with hundreds of photos and useful fishing news. Thank you Christy, Michael and Ken!

Thank you, Dick Fox
Before I forget, I must also tip the old fishing hat to Front Royal's Dick Fox and Virginia fisheries biologist John Odenkirk. Dick Fox and I have spent some happy hours fishing on the Shenandoah and Rappahannock rivers and when I wasn't with him he would send photos and information on places where he caught bass, ranging from the historic Shenandoah to Florida's Lake Okeechobee. He has been a good friend for many years and we will stay in touch. The same goes for John Odenkirk who perhaps is the most knowledgeable man in the country as concerns the unwanted presence of the Potomac River's snakehead population. John is an expert on Chinese snakeheads as well as all local fish species. His counsel and information was much appreciated.

Thank you, Dr. Ken Neill
In matters of my hunting, there are only two persons that I must always be thankful for: Dr. Peter Malnati and his wife, Gail. "Doc" Malnati and Gail allowed me free run of their sizable property. Over the years Doc and I, along with good friends Bob Rice, Dean Lee and Dr. Howard Haft, hunted and shot many deer and squirrels -- although the wild turkeys usually made a fool of me.  Thank you, Doc, for the wonderful times and the freedom you allowed me to have on your property.

Thank you, Dr. Julie Ball
I will always be thankful for friends like Al, Francis and Mike Guy who made sure my boat ran smoothly and if anything wasn't right, they knew how to quickly take care of it. Thank you, Guy family.

Other people too numerous to mention also deserve my gratitude. They've supported my efforts to bring anglers and hunters a fairly informative and entertaining view of our outdoors endeavors. 

I hope I succeeded.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

News you can use if you're a Maryland Chesapeake Bay angler

From the Maryland Department of Natural Resources comes word through Keith Lockwood that the Chesapeake Bay's water temperatures currently run around 42-degrees, which isn't warm, but already the striped bass (a.k.a. rockfish) are moving up the Bay and into the tidal spawning rivers. 

Catch-and-release striper fishing is okay in Maryland parts of the Chesapeake Bay
The Bay is open to catch-and-release fishing and anglers have been jigging up a few rockfish at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (Calvert County) warm water discharge recently. Catches are not guaranteed, but they do occur now and then. Keith Lockwood says, “Large soft plastic jigs and butterfly jigs are two of the most common jigs used, as fishermen drift in the current. Heavy tackle and quick releases at the boat are the drill for fishermen who care for these large pre-spawn striped bass.”

Keith also reminds striper fans who want to head to the upper Bay that catch-and-release season is now open at the Susquehanna Flats area. “But with water temperatures hovering around 41-degrees there has not been much action reported,” he says. “A few smaller male striped bass have been caught by fishermen working Rat-L-Traps and jigs along channel edges and channel catfish have even been chasing down lures close to the bottom, but so far this fishery will need warmer water temperatures to develop.”

Lockwood also reminds us that shoreline fishermen are not to be left out of the opportunity to catch and release striped bass as they move up the Bay this week. Sandy Point State Park (off Route 50 near Annapolis) is one of the most accessible and productive places to fish. Fishermen there can use heavy surf fishing tackle and bottom rigs with circle hooks and bait such as bloodworms or fresh cut bait. But anyone lucky enough to hook a big striper must be prepared with stout tackle and rubber boots to meet the fish in the water to avoid dragging them up on the sand and causing injury, says Lockwood. 

Fishermen who enjoy fishing from the shorelines of the Potomac River in St. Mary's County will find three popular fishing piers has been recently renovated to provide easier access for those with disabilities at Fox Harbor Landing in Ridge, River Springs Landing in Avenue and St. George's Island. Follow this link to find directions and locations of boat ramps and fishing piers. For the above fishing piers just click on St. Mary's County and then on each labeled fishing pier icon for directions and descriptions. 

Ocean City fishermen have been venturing out to the wreck sites when the weather permits to fish for tautog. The catches have been good and some impressive sized tautog are being caught. Water temperatures in and around the inlet are barely 40-degrees so the tautog fishery has yet to develop there. A few more weeks of warmer weather will do much to improve the chances of catching tautog at the inlet this spring.

The Maryland DNR announces that the recreational summer flounder fishery reopened at 12:01 a.m. this morning (March 28). The season will remain open through 11:59 p.m. December 31, 2013. Recreational anglers may keep up to 4 summer flounder per person per day. The minimum size for summer flounder is 16 inches in all Maryland state waters. The commercial hook and line minimum size is also 16 inches in all Maryland state waters. The Department may close the recreational season early if projections indicate the recreational harvest target will be caught before December 31, 2013.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Is it really spring? There are signs of it, judging current hookups

Dr. Ken Neill reports, “Snow at the end of March, winter just does not want to quit. Spring is proceeding anyway. The first flounder were caught this past week. David Freeman caught a 16.5 inch flatfish in the York River. Catches were made out of Wachapreague this week. The first citation flounder was weighed in at 7.5 pounds but that doormat was caught while deep-dropping for blueline tilefish."

Hunter Southall with a fat tautog caught east of Virginia Beach
"Another sign that spring is proceeding are the first catches of big red drum on the beaches of Ocracoke and Hatteras. Typically, that means we can expect the first big red drum in the Eastern Shore in a couple of weeks. Puppy drum are already making a showing inside the inlets and in the shallows on the western side of the bay. Some calm weather allowed boats to get out this past week which resulted in some very impressive catches.”

The fishing dentist continues with, “Tautog fishing on the coastal wrecks has been nothing short of excellent. Boats are catching as many as fifteen citation-sized tog in a trip and multiple double-digit fish were weighed in this week. The largest weighed 18-pounds 7-ounces and that same boat weighed in another fish at 17-pounds, 11-ounces! Tautog fishing has been slow inside the bay. That should pick up over the next week as winter finally is out of here and warmer temperatures are forecast.”

“Boats running out of Oregon Inlet (Outer Banks, N.C.) continue to experience impressive bluefin tuna action. Some Virginia boats have made the run south to get in on the action. There is a wide range of bluefin being caught from around 100 pounds on up to over 600 pounds. In addition to the bluefin tuna, there are some bigeye, yellowfin, wahoo, and even a few blue marlin being encountered.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

While the weather is atrocious let's have fun with wacky friends

Who among us doesn't have a fishing or hunting pal that acts a little wacky now and then? Heck, I've been accused of it while deer hunting, sitting in a huge pitch-roofed tree house 14 feet up in a powerful oak. It happened while I was sitting on one of the bench seats when a friend I was with said he believed in American Indian prayers, promptly mumbling, "Oh, great Manitou, send me a buck." I handed him two quarters and asked, "Will half a buck do?"

He sat on the bench seat pouting for quite a while.

Marty is practicing the ancient art of fish stalking
I've also known fishing captains who swore that they could smell fish. Not only that, they could smell the species they were after. I've been with
charter fishing captain Eddie Davis down in St. Mary's County, Md., looking for sea trout when Capt. Eddie suddenly said, "They're here. Right here. I can smell 'em." Sure enough, we'd start jigging bucktails in 20 feet of water and 'bang!' a grey trout would hammer the lure. What we forgot was Eddie's great skill in reading a depth sounder and seeing tell-tale splotches of a fish school under us.

Did the ancient art of fish stalking result in this bass?
Now enter my pal Marty Magone (you saw his pictures on yesterday's blog). Marty again went out on Virginia's Lake Gaston the very day he graced our web page. He said, "Today was all about patience. The main lake water temperatures dropped five degrees. I found nothing on the rocky points, then went into Great Creek and tried some wind-blown points, using a Rapala crankbait. Eventually, a 5-lb., 8-oz. beauty nailed it. The water temperature in the creek was 47."

What Marty forgot to mention was the ancient art of stalking bass and his new-found ability to do it properly. The big fellow has said, "I know where they hang out, so I begin to stalk them until the moment is right for me to execute a perfect cast and --- well you know the rest." The rest is him holding up a bass in a photo that he shoots of himself.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The trials and tribulations of a tough fellow fishing in bad weather

Self portrait of Marty with a bass  caught in the sleet
Anyone who has ever visited this web site will be familiar with my friend, Marty Magone, and his exploits fishing with our mutual pal Andy Andrzejewski in the Potomac River (with me occasionally joining them), or by himself in Lake Gaston, Va.

However, not all fishermen are fanatic enough to go out onto a big lake in wind, rain and sleet --- but Marty doesn't care. He's a former Marine and he also believes that in a past life he might have been a Teutonic warrior wearing a winged helmet, bear fur leggings and all, or he was Curly, one of the Three Stooges. We're still trying to figure out which of the two he might have been.

See the sleet on the boat seat and the carpeting?
Anyway, Marty went out yesterday when every weatherman in the middle Atlantic states asked folks to stay indoors. But Marty sent the following message: “Sleet, rain, wind --- what the heck. Sorry about the photos. The weather went south fast. I caught a few bass in Great Creek on Rapala SR7 crank baits." 

Marty also asked me if I had ever gone out in my boat with a thermos bottle of coffee that didn't have the stopper screwed in place. In fact, there was no stopper. All he had was the screw-on cup. "What a *******  mess," he said. The word he used wouldn't be proper to repeat on a family web site. In fact, I'm still embarrassed because there's a photo of my mother in my wallet.

Another bass was caught and an unsmiling Marty hoists it

A note about feeling bad because the photos weren't the clearest and best. Marty, brother, by now everybody knows that you shoot pictures of yourself because no one is brave enough to go out with you down in southern Virginia. (Andy and I would, but we weren't available.)