Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Virginia's resident Canada geese had better watch out

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the Wildlife Services Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are trying hard to help Virginia farmers who are besieged by gaggles of resident Canada geese that eat young crops and, as a natural by-product, also foul much-needed farm ponds. Some ponds become so polluted with the droppings of the birds that fish are threatened, and algae or other weed growth increases because the droppings, after all, are a kind of fertilizer that promote growth of unwanted, oxygen-choking vegetation.

An Agricultural Depredation Order regarding damage done by the birds was first proposed in the Environmental Impact Statement on Resident Canada geese published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September 2006. By 2009 the depredation order was offered to Virginia. It authorizes landowners, operators and tenants actively engaged in commercial agriculture to use certain lethal methods to control resident Canada geese on lands that they personally control where geese are damaging farm crops.

All the state requires is a free permit. Agricultural producers can apply for the permit by calling the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, P.O. Box 130, Moseley, VA 23120  Phone: (804) 739-7739   FAX: (804) 739-7738.  The authorization process will provide a quick turn-around for permits and should make the process more user friendly for landowners and managers.

Activities allowed under this permit include the lethal take of Canada geese from May 1 through August 31, and the destruction of Canada goose nests and eggs between March 1 and June 30.  All management actions must occur on the property controlled/managed by the applicant.  Geese may not be taken using hunting methods such as decoys and calls.  Permit holders must keep a log of their control activities and must submit a report by September 30 of each year detailing the number of birds taken.  A copy of the Permit Application, detailing the terms and conditions of the permit, and an Annual Report Form can be obtained from the USDA at the address/number above. 

For additional information about Resident Canada geese and other waterfowl populations in Virginia, visit the waterfowl section on the Department's Web site (

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Taking the grandchildren fishing is a joy to behold

When it comes to fishing, better not say anything aloud when the grandsons, Jake, 13, and Lane, 9, are within earshot. Both of the boys love to drop a line into the water -- any water, it doesn't matter.

So when grandpa said he'd take them to a local lake when school let out, the guys were ready to go even when the old man said he'd be there just before 7 a.m. There would be no sleep-in that day.

Brothers Lane and Jake Jewell show off some of their catches.

Sure, by now you've guessed that I'm the old man and the boys are Sheri (my daughter) and Tony Jewell's children. They're my pride and joy (so is an older granddaughter, Lindsey, but she couldn't come along because she now has her own family to care for).

We picked the 200-odd-acre St. Mary's Lake, south of Leonardtown. It's a fine body of water and in years gone by I can't even begin to guess the number of crappies, bass and sunfish I've hooked in this Southern Maryland impoundment.

Well, imagine my surprise when the boys cast out tiny darts tipped with pieces of juicy nightcrawler, a bobber several feet above the bait, nothing happened. Cast after cast, not a nibble; not even a touch. We electric-motored along the upper and lower lake shorelines, stopping here and there, even got the boat temporarily hung up on a submerged stump, but the fish had taken the day off, it seemed.

I finally hooked a fair shellcracker sunfish and a tiny bass, on a small plastic grub and the boys each caught a couple of bluegills that were so small they shouldn't have been allowed to be away from their mother. That was it.

Time was flitting by and I called my friend Al Guy and asked if it was okay to bring the boys to his farm pond and let them try their fishing fortunes in usually far more productive waters. It certainly couldn't have been worse than our morning at St. Mary's Lake had been.

Long story short, Lane and Jake got into various sunfish, one crappie and some bass in no time at all. They used their chunks of nightcrawler with considerable hook-setting skills. The fish didn't have a prayer the moment the boys saw the slightest downward motion of the little plastic floats.

The youngsters and their grandfather had a ball even in the heat and high humidity. Nothing beats the look on the face of a happy kid  with a fish.  Well, maybe one thing could beat it, like me smiling after I hook a 12-pound bass, but other than that there's no competition.

Take your children fishing, please. They'll remember it for the rest of their lives and the experience will help mold a fair amount of their future endeavors.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Twenty bass, one snakehead, and one catfish later, we left.

Andy and a buzzbait bass
After we launched the bass guide Andy Andrzejewski's 22-foot Triton in the tidal Potomac River, I looked at the "Fishing Pole" and asked, "Where are we going?" He smiled and said, "Never you mind, and when we get there don't divulge the location to anybody because if you do, there'll be a bunch of tournament fishermen there in no time. They'll drag out all the bass in that creek and take them to a weigh stand somewhere and we'll wish we had kept quiet. Besides, I need these waters to take my clients to."

Okay. So I can't say where he went except that he went downstream, past that nice shoreline house that always has a well-trimmed lawn and a weather-beaten dock. Oh, yeah, on the other side of the river is a shore where we'd caught white perch a couple of years ago. Lordy, this secrecy business is wearing me out.

Anyway, Andy shot around a point, slowed down quite a bit, and entered the mouth of the feeder, then motored slowly upstream, past a bewildered boater who was just firing up his outboard with a perplexed look on his face. It appeared that he hadn't done very well and now was wondering why we were wasting our time coming to this place.

Gene Mueller and a 4-lb.-plus buzzbait bass
The sky was overcast; it was hot, humid, and the tide was in its final hour of ebbing. Andy picked up a baitcasting outfit that had a buzzbait on the business end of the line and aimed for a weed bed edge, dotted with hydrilla and milfoil. The lure sputtered and clacked across the surface and never made it back to the boat. A bass rose from under the greenery and hammered the buzzbait. Actually, some fishing magazine writers would have described it as a "bass exploded from the water and inhaled the topwater bait."

Several casts later, another largemouth came out from under a waterlogged tree branch and it, too, sucked in the topwater lure and along the way nearly stripped off the rubbery skirt that surrounded the hook. I finally had a bass do the big "whoosh" behind my surface bait and then it disappeared. It never touched the hook. Go figure what that was all about.

A young snakehead hammered the topwater lure
On occasion, we'd put down the buzzbaits and pick up rods with different lures on the lines. For example, when Andy and I began slowly reeling in short-lipped crankbaits, such as Mann's Baby 1-Minus or Strike King's Pro Model, he had a largemouth within the first several casts. "I think I have four bass now," he said, laughing at his confused partner who still had not boated a fish. Well, that changed almost instantly and bass Number 1 soon attached itself to my crankbait.

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The tide receded more and Andy continued upstream into places that most likely would worry strangers because there wasn't more than two or three feet of water -- sometimes less than that -- to maneuver in. "Looks like snakehead country," said the fishing guide, fully aware that the Chinese snakeheads that have taken such a firm hold in the tidal Potomac like hanging out in weed-strewn shallows and marsh bank cuts. The man is a luminary. His buzzbait received a tremendous hit and Andy instantly said, "I'll bet it's a snakehead." He was right. The unwanted alien might have weighed 2 to 3 pounds and Andy unhooked it (it had practically destroyed the surface lure) and put it into his livewell. A neighbor would welcome it as a preferred table fish.

Here's another bass for Andy
Personally, I don't think they're all that great, having dined on snakehead fillets, but that may be a matter of personal taste. Me? I prefer barbecued pork ribs; you can have my fish no matter what species they belong to. While we're on the subject, John Odenkirk, one of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries' top-notch  biologists, is an expert on the snakehead problem.

"They are not decimating the bass population," he told me two days ago in reference to all the fishermen out there who insist that the toothsome invaders are eating up all our local fish. "Not so," said Odenkirk, who does electro-shocking studies en masse. "The tidal bass have never been in better shape," he said. "Recruitment is excellent and the snakeheads aren't affecting the bass numbers." Odenkirk is convinced that the snakeheads will occupy a niche in the river's shallows, as have all the other alien species that were introduced by unthinking dolts. Oh, by the way, guess what other fish are not native to the river? It's the largemouth bass, carp, bowfin, blue catfish, etc., etc.

A fat bass was fooled by Andy's lure
Back in the creek, Andy was whacking me in the numbers department. I ended up with five bass, including the biggest bass of our 4-1/2-hour outing, a 4-pound, 1-ouncer; Andy had 15 largemouths up to 3-1/2 pounds, plus the snakehead and a beautiful channel catfish. 

The top lures for both of us were the buzzbaits, shallow crankbaits, soft plastic craws and wacky-rigged scented Zero or Senko worms.

If you're new to the area and don't know where to fish or how to best approach tidal bass, a guide can be invaluable. Andy  Andrzejewski is a fine teacher, plus he lives close to the river. He can be reached at 301/932-1509.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summertime and the fish are biting all over the mid-Atlantic region

Dr. Julie Ball, the fishing dentist and IGFA representative from Virginia Beach, prepares to release a fine sheepshead, caught near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Dr. Julie fished with Bill Knapp and he caught the biggest sheepshead of the day, a magnificent 12-pounder, also from around the Bridge-Tunnel.

That's Michael Guy, 9, and Eric Wathen, 16, with a cownose ray that was shot with a fishing bow in St. Mary's County waters. I hope they saved some of the "wing" meat.

Christy Henderson sent us this photo of Gary Masters, of Waldorf, Md., with a 22-1/2-inch flounder that he hooked right at the mouth of St. Jerome's Creek. He came out of Buzz's Marina on the creek to to a little fishing and look at the supper he took home.

Marty Magone, a frequent guest on these pages, shows of one the 10 largemouth bass he caught a few days ago in his home waters, Lake Gaston, Va. (Somebody said he used a Hildebrandt spinner with a hunk of Lebanon bologna on the hook to lure the fish, but I don't believe it. Marty is a purist when it comes to bass fishing.)

You might recognize that gentleman. It's Ken Lamb, owner of the Tackle Box store in Lexington Park. Next to serving his customers, he likes to catch fish the best. These nice white perch jumped on a Beetlespin lure.

Look at those blue catfish that Andrea Mills and Doug Delfavero caught in the Potomac River at Fort Washington. The two anglers stopped by at the Tackle Box to have their picture taken.

The man on the right, kneeling and holding tasty croakers just like everybody is doing, is Dexter Thomas along with Avanie, Ayanna, De'asya and Dexter Thomas, Jr. They hooked the hardheads from the shore in Spring Ridge on the Bay. All live in Lexington Park.

The McMann's, Chester and Mary, tied into these catfish in Cuckold's Creek, off the main stem of the Patuxent River. The McMann's live in Great Mills, Md.

Ben Windsor, of Valley Lee, Md., caught these fine white perch in the Patuxent River. They are beauties, indeed, and probably among the best tasting fish to come out of Southern Maryland.

Dawn Campbell, of Lexington Park, Md., shows off her catfish that she caught in the Patuxent River. I wished there were more lady anglers out there on the water. They always seem to look a lot better in photos than we old men.

Ty Zimmerman trolled a green umbrella rig just north of the Gas Docks and look what he came home with -- a 34-inch-long rockfish. Way to go, Ty!

Shaun Harding, of Pasadena, Md., shows us a nice-sized croaker that he caught out in the Chesapeake Bay. Hey, Shaun, smile a little. This fish is something to smile about.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To get big smallmouth bass, some guys will head north

Billy Patton and a 5-pound Maine smallmouth
One of my favorite people in the world, Billy Patton, loves to go fishing. But when you work with your dad at Patton Heating & Air Conditioning in Waldorf, Md., the summer months usually do not allow many fish outings. There's way too much work to do because air conditioning units break down in sustained heat and the phone calls from people in need of help come frequently. However, Billy somehow managed to convince his boss and father that he needed a break.

Before you knew it, Billy, 37, who lives in Mechanicsville, Md., was joined by fellow Maryland friends Piers Hackley, of Kensington, Brian Morgan and Tom Dixon, both of Charlotte Hall, and Eric Baden, of Pisgah. The five men were on their way to Maine to fish for smallmouth bass.

They headed to Weston, ME, which is in the northeastern part of the state to stay and fish out of Rideout's Lakeside Lodge, a family-operated fishing lodge since 1947. The lodge and comfortable rental cabins are found on the shores of the 22-mile-long East Grand Lake, half of which is in the U.S., the other half in New Brunswick, Canada.

The lake has a national reputation for exceptional smallmouth bass, landlocked salmon and lake trout fishing.

But let Billy tell you what happened while he and his pals stayed at Rideout's.

"I caught at least 100 smallmouth bass," he said. "My biggest was a 5-pounder that hit a Stanley Vibra-Shaft spinnerbait in chartreuse and gold with double willow-leaf blades. We also caught fish on wacky-rigged Zero worms and Berkley blue fleck Power Bait Chigger Craws. Most of the bass weighed between 3 and 5 pounds."

If you're a fan of smallmouth bass -- and who isn't -- a 5-pound "brown fish" is a joy to behold. For comparison sake, hooking a 5-pound smallmouth is like catching an 8-pound largemouth bass.

Are you interested in learning more about Rideout's Lakeside Lodge and East Grand Lake? If so, check out or The phone numbers are 1-207-448-2440 or 1-800-594-5391.

The entrance to Rideout's Lakeside Lodge 
and some of the cabins that visitors can stay in.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A great Lake Anna catfish outing for the Boy Scouts

When I was a Boy Scout, one of my most vivid memories include a fishing trip that our Scout Master arranged. He took us to a fee-fishing lake in the mountains. The owners were a gracious couple that let us catch stocked trout on worm baits and they never charged us a dime for the experience. Imagine, 15 or 16 boys squealing with delight when a trout picked up the bait and soon thrashed on the water's surface. For me, it was the beginning of a lifelong recreational pursuit that eventually also turned into an income producer when I began writing about piscatorial adventures.

Malcolm Longerbeam shows off a nice "cat"
My Boy Scout days are in the past, but now enter Terry Babcock, who lives on the shores of Virginia's Lake Anna, a nuclear power station reservoir that is a popular destination for bass, striper, crappie and catfish anglers.

Babcock and several friends had the idea to bring a bit of joy to a troop of scouts. Boy Scout troop 183 meets in Mineral, Va., which is close to the lake, so Babcock and his pals recently decided to invite the kids to do a little fishing.

The youngsters showed up with their rods and reels (and if anyone didn't have an outfit, the adults would supply one). One of the adult volunteers spooled fresh line onto reels, made minor repairs, and after a brief lesson on the fine points of catfish angling the kids went on a wonderful hunt for Lake Anna's whiskered inhabitants.

Every scout caught fish, casting baited lines from boats that the grownups brought. 
Daniel Marshall had no trouble hooking catfish
Soon, shouts of "Fish on!" were heard as the youngsters began to learn how to properly make use of the baited circle hooks. Of course, that meant not to rip the rod up the moment a nibble was felt. With circle hooks, you simply reel in the line firmly, but try hard not to pull the hook free from the catfish's mouth -- which happens all too often with standard hooks.

The boys learned quickly and the pictures prove their newly found fishing prowess.

A great time was had by all.

                              Photos by Dody Kundreskas

Preston Bourne caught a young cat as his brother Walker looks on

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Never a dull day when fishing with Andy and Marty

Marty Magone got a bass on a Chatterbait
A day such as the one I had with my pals, Marty Magone and the popular bass guide Andy Andrzejewski, will be treasured for years to come even if I didn't do very well with my bass lures. Marty and Andy caught enough to feed their tribes had they wanted to serve largemouth bass, but they let everything go. Me? I couldn't have fed myself with what I hooked.

Nonetheless, it was a fabulous outing. A cool north-westerly breeze blew across the tidal Potomac. I saw people in the Smallwood State Park wearing jackets; one woman even pulled her sweatshirt hood over her head. Come on folks, it was the middle of June -- certainly not a month in which to fear frostbite.

In fact, when my guide friend showed up he wore only a short sleeve shirt. Apparently, the cold didn't faze him even a little bit.
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Andy had no trouble finding bass

After launching the boat, we ran across the river to Virginia's Leesylvania State Park to pick up Marty, who came up from his home on Lake Gaston and had been staying in Woodbridge for a few days. You have to know Marty to appreciate him. He's a tall, muscular former Marine, tough as nails, but imbued with a delightful sense of humor. For example, when we said that we'd have lunch that day at a riverside eatery, Marty immediately said that he would order cream of crab soup, but then wrinkled his eyebrows and said, "If I order the soup, I wonder if I'll get a few packets of complimentary saltines. I like saltines. I hope they haven't stopped giving out complimentary crackers."

To listen to him, knowing that he was pulling our leg, was enough to set the tempo for the day.

The next thing Marty worried about -- tongue in cheek, of course -- was the lack of bass strikes on the Chatterbait lure he was casting into the river shallows and over the grassbeds in Belmont Bay. "They're not interested in the Chatterbaits," he said. "I need to use something else." All this while his long-time pal, another former Marine, Andy, used an identical lure and landed three bass before you could spell Chatterbait.

Marty used his muscles to try and move the boat
Eventually, Marty caught a bass, lost two or three others, and Andy was ahead of his boat partners in an ever-widening gap. He moved, running the boat toward a small cove that was dotted with stickups and sunken tree branches the size of  pier pilings. Oh, yeah. Before I forget, the boat got stuck, or rather hung up on the sunken wood in the little cove. No matter how hard Andy tried to move the 22-foot bass boat with the trolling motor during the ebbing tide, it wouldn't go far enough to the left or right to allow a complete turn and a return to deeper water.

Marty finally moved the 22-foot Triton   
No problem. Marty stripped off most of his clothes and only in skivvies and a T-shirt covering parts of his body he went over the side. Kerplunk! In knee-deep water, he grabbed the boat transom, pushed, pulled, cajoled, and urged the big Triton boat to please move away from the obstacles. He finally won and Andy, as well as me, congratulated the big fellow. Of course, we were dry -- Marty was wet. He didn't care and soon began to worry again about the gratis crackers at the restaurant.

A few more bass were caught and just before noon we tied the boat to the restaurant's dock. Yeah, Marty got his crab soup and his saltines, as did we. But when he ordered a hot dog he made the little waitress promise that she would bring him some mustard and not charge extra for it. The things some of us worry about.

We stopped fishing around 2 p.m., but before we stashed the rods and reels, Marty and Andy caught, lost, and again caught more bass in Leesylvania's little harbor. Even I got the skunk out of the box. Marty was pleased and made us promise to do an encore outing as soon as possible.

Post script:

The river guide, Andy Andrzejewski, kept catching bass while Marty did his best to dry out a bit so he could resume casting. Meanwhile, I was wondering why Lady Luck had deserted me. (If you're interested in booking a trip with this fine guide, call 301/932-1509.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Here are a few of last week's catches

That's Kyla Whitlaw, of Millersville, Md., who fished with dad, Nate Whitlaw, out of Buzz's Marina in St. Mary's County. They returned with a cooler filled with hardheads and other species, all caught on bloodworms or squid in the waters of the oyster sanctuary near the Point Lookout fishing pier. Kyla shows off a 17-inch croaker.

The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill (his boat's name is Healthy Grin), holds up a yellowfin tuna caught last week in the offshore canyon waters of Virginia.
Dez Rubesch, who normally fishes for bass near his home on the shores of Lake Gaston, Va., caught this 8-pound bowfin in Conaby Creek, a part of North Carolina's Chowan River. The bowfin is a prehistoric species of fish that fights like a demon, yet is regarded as a nuisance catch by most bass anglers.

Dez Rubesch's friend, Marty Magone, hooked this "schoolie" bass, as he called it, in North Carolina's Chowan River. Way to go, Marty!

Daniel Seal visited the Tackle Box in Lexington Park with an 18-1/2-inch croaker and now he leads the store's "Biggest Croaker" contest for the month of June.

Father and son angling team James and Johnnie Caldwell, of Lexington Park, caught these tasty rockfish while fishing in their sea kayak around Cedar Point.
Way to go, guys!

Melvin Nelson caught this fine croaker in the Patuxent River. He stopped at the Tackle Box and had his picture taken.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fishing for bass even when the mercury climbs to 100

All through the night the weather forecasts on the clock radio at home predicted the next day's temperatures to reach 99, maybe even 100 degrees. With the humidity figured into those numbers, the radio voice reminded us that it would be sunny, moist, nasty, awful and feel like 105 by 11 or 12 o'clock.

Steve Coates landed this bass shortly after sunrise.
To be honest, it felt like 120.

Our fishing day started at 7 a.m. when professional river bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (call him for a booking at 301-932-1509) arrived at the Indian Head municipal boat launch along Mattawoman Creek that long-time Charles County residents will always refer to as Slavin's Ramp.

But long before we slipped Andy's 22-footer into the creek, Steve Coates and Bill Crutchfield had motored downstream a bit in Steve's bass boat, casting a variety of lures toward the marsh shores while the tide slowly ebbed. We arrived to chat with the two men just in time to watch Steve flip a bass into the boat. "It's Bill who usually does that to me," he said with a laugh and he released the largemouth. I was compelled to play a little game with the two friends, pretending we were out-of-town tournament fishermen even though they knew who we were.
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Gene Mueller and a bass that went after a Baby Rage Tail.
"Excuse us," I shouted to the guys, "but we're in a tournament this weekend; how about moving away from there because that's where I found all my fish during practice. Actually, you're fishing 'MY' bass," I told the men with exaggerated emphasis on the word "my." Andy added to the banter and recounted how he actually had been approached by tournament pros in days gone by and had been asked to move.

Fat chance for that to happen with this stubborn former Marine. In no uncertain terms, he once had to enlighten an annoying Mississippi tourney participant who'd come to the tidal Potomac and then insisted that Andy should move. Andy quietly told the cast-for-cash fellow that he'd move him if necessary. "How'd you like to go back to Mississippi with knots and bumps all over your head," he asked the out-of-towner who quickly understood what was meant. He left.

Bass guide Andy Andrzejewski had no trouble.
Steve Coates and Bill Crutchfield laughed about it all and Steve even recounted how his brother, Wayne, would often complain about rude tournament anglers who occasionally let on as if they owned the Potomac River because, as some will say, "We're here trying to earn a living." Of course, that won't ripple our waters even a little bit. If you earn a living from a Maryland river, you ought to get a commercial fishing license, I've always thought. In fact, doesn't it take a lot of nerve to bring a profit-making organization into town, fill up all the parking spaces in a state-owned park that Maryland residents paid for, jam the launch ramps, and even tell local residents that they'll have to wait to put their boats into the water because there's a tournament under way. Maryland park officials ought to be ashamed for allowing this to happen.

After we had our fun with Bill and Steve, Andy and I moved on, fishing with Strike King's Baby Rage Tail craw-claw baits around the dropoffs adjacent to spatterdock fields. In no time at all we nailed eight bass, none of them worthy of a taxidermist, but fun to catch all the same. All of them were let go and Andy later on lost what appeared to be a large snakehead. Alas, the tooth-laden Chinese alien chewed his line in two and got away.

Both of us had several other bass give us the slip and it also seemed that blue-claw crabs were in the creek because our soft Rage Tail baits occasionally came back to the boat with half or a third of their bodies neatly sliced off.

Can you catch bass when the mercury climbs to 100? Of course, you can. But you have to be willing to suffer a little and drink a couple of gallons of water to keep hydrated.

The dropoff waters adjacent to fields of spatterdock
provided bass strikes in near 100-degree heat.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Here are just a few of weekend saltwater catches

The man who owns the Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, Md., Ken Lamb, not only sells fishing equipment and bait, but he also enjoys catching a few fish now and then. Here he is with an 11-inch white perch caught on an old Beetlespin lure in a feeder creek to the Patuxent River.

Melvin Newman caught the biggest croaker in June so far, a 13-1/2-incher. 
The Tackle Box store has a contest for the biggest hardhead every month.

Marvin Wiggins and Leroy Granby caught croakers and a catfish while dropping their baits in Southern Maryland saltwaters. I'll wager that dinner was good that night.

Roger Burnley, of Virginia Beach, Va., shows off his new state record snowy grouper that weighed 70 lbs., 7 ozs. The fish was caught May 22, 2011. The record-setting grouper bested the existing state record, set by Jere Humphrey of Norfolk, Va., in 2008, by nearly 2-1/2 pounds. Burnley is filing an application with the International Game Fish Association for acceptance of his catch as the IGFA All-Tackle Record for snowy grouper. Burnley caught his grouper in the Atlantic Ocean, “deep-dropping” near the Norfolk Canyon in 98 fathoms of water while fishing aboard the private boat Healthy Grin, skippered by Ken Neill, III, of Seaford. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Soldier appreciation bass event and increase in hunter numbers

Bullington, Hemsley win FLW Soldier Appreciation Event 

On Saturday, June 4, 1st Lt. Ben Bullington of Pa.,  and Sgt. 1st Class (RET) Mark Hemsley of Newburg, Md., won the National Guard FLW Soldier Appreciation [bass] Tournament held on the Potomac River. The team, fishing with National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., caught three bass for a total of 11 pounds, 10 ounces to barely take the title and bragging rights amongst their peers. They beat the 2nd place team by a mere two ounces.

“Ehrler was so upset about not making the first cut to fish in the FLW Tour event today that Mark and I had to show him where to cast,” joked Lt. Bullington. “Every time he cast where we told him to, he caught a fish. It was so good just to see him so happy to catch a fish.”

“What an awesome experience,” said Sgt. Hemsley. “I learned so much. Truth be told we all caught fish, but we only weighed Ehrler’s.

With the nation’s capitol as a backdrop, five National Guard teams were formed to compete in a tournament that paired a Walmart FLW Tour pro with two National Guard members, most of whom have had at least one tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. In this tournament each team was allowed to bring in three total bass. FLW Outdoors is operating Soldier Appreciation Tournaments in conjunction with the National Guard to show appreciation to our service members of the National Guard.

“What an honor it is for us to be able to take these service men and women out fishing,” said Ehrler. “I am so privileged to wear the National Guard jersey and can’t thank them enough for the service they do for this country.”

A total of 10 service men and women, five teams, participated in the tournament. Rounding out the teams were:

 2nd: Master Sgt. Steve Proctor Jr., Gaithersburg, Md., and Tech Sgt. Ronnie Tookes Jr., Bowie, Md., with National Guard pro Jonathan Newton, Rogersville, Ala., 11-8.

3rd: Master Sgt. Tom Imlay, Mechanicsville, Md., and Senior Master Sgt. Jim April, Bowie, Md., with National Guard pro Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., 8-11.

4th: Capt. Sean Combs, Jackson, N.J., and Sgt. 1st Class John Dillon, Willow Grove, Md., with Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McGhee, Blackstone, Va., 6-9.

5th: Sgt. 1st Class Lisa Merrill and son Tyson Merrill both of Gainesville, Va., with National Guard pro Mark Rose, Marion, Ark., 6-5

Shooting sports group notes hunting license increases
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, says a 3.6 percent rise in paid hunting licenses in 2009 is an encouraging sign for hunting, which has been slipping slightly, but steadily, over the past several decades. The number for some time has been hovering around 14.5 million American hunters, but now has increased to 14.9 million participants. (In the 1960s and ‘70s, hunters numbered well over 17 million.)

“More hunting license sales translate into more funds for wildlife conservation,” said Steve Sanetti, the president and CEO of the NSSF.

The shooting sports group accurately points out that among the reasons in the rise among hunters are the various state wildlife agencies who’ve initiated programs to increase hunting participation, particularly among the young. Of course, the fact that a hunter might bring home 80 to 100 pounds of nutritious meat (in the case of deer) also added to the allure of hunting.

In the Mueller household, wild game such as venison, waterfowl, turkeys, squirrels and cottontail rabbits is an important part of the family menu. It is particularly satisfying when you consider that wild game in every instance is more nutritious and free of chemical additives, such as growth hormones, and if cooked properly easily tastes better than the stuff sold in grocery stores.

And, please, forget the old question, “Does it have a wild taste?” There is no such thing as a wild taste. Yes, if you carry a deer’s carcass on the roof of your car for 3 days, it will have a “taste” it’s not supposed to have, if you get my drift. But as far as normal taste is concerned, a chicken tastes like a chicken, and a wild turkey tastes like a wild turkey, etc., etc. There is no “wild” taste --- only good protein.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lake Ontario outing brings smallmouth bass and other species

Dick Fox with a beautiful smallmouth bass
Our friend Dick Fox, who lives in Front Royal, Va., and spends much of his fishing time hunting smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah River, decided recently that he and a friend, Fred Drury, of Stephensville, Va., ought to check out the smallmouth bass of Lake Ontario in the New York state portion.
"We had a great trip," said Fox. "We caught a lot of smallmouth bass -- some over four pounds -- plus many nice largemouth bass, tons of pike, yellow perch, rock bass and even some freshwater drum."
Fred Drury shows off a couple of fat smallies
Fox added, "We fished the Redfield Reservoir when windy, plus Oneida, and the Henderson Harbor area of Lake Ontario. Most of the fish came on Senko's and tubes. The water temperature was still in the lower 60s and the fish were mostly pre-spawn."
The smallmouths never quit. That's Dick holding one.
Dick said that one can expect to catch 30 to 100 fish a day -- weather permitting. "I highly recommend the trip to any die-hard smallmouth bass fan." By the way, Dick also mentioned that there's super brown

trout fishing to be had in Mexico Bay right now if you have a boat and you troll along the shore with stick baits and small spoons. "The best method has been the use of side planers with light line some 150 feet back.
The only down side of the week was the price of gas, both fishermen agreed.


With plenty of fish and scenery like that, it doesn't get any better than that.

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