Friday, September 30, 2011

Northern Chinese Snakehead headsup and some hunting news

Joseph W. Love, the man in charge of the tidal water bass and other species in Maryland, says the DNR now believes that northern snakeheads are present in the Eastern Shore's Nanticoke River, also the Rhode River and ponds near the upper Patuxent on the western side of the Bay. Of course, we already know about the wide distribution of this unwanted alien in the tidal Potomac River.
Marty Magone with a Potomac River snakehead that was killed and eaten.

Love and his fellow biologists, including those of the U.S. Fish & Willdife Service, have put together a video that shows how to identify and legally kill a northern snakehead. The links are below.  The first link takes you to the Maryland DNR page where the video is posted. The second link takes you to the youtube page where the video is posted.

“We are very serious about preventing the spread of this species beyond the Potomac River. We are asking anglers who spend a lot of time out on the water to help us out. There are a lot of misidentifications and some confirmed sightings go unreported for a long while,” said Love. “Also, some anglers still illegally transport live snakehead, even though the angler may not know the snakehead is alive. I don’t want anyone getting fined for carrying around a live snakehead. I also don’t want anyone stocking ponds with live snakehead. Our hope is that the short video we’ve put together will show: 1) how to identify the snakehead; 2) how to kill the snakehead; and 3) how to report the snakehead to state and federal agencies,” he added.
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News for hunters:

Check the Regulations before Taking Your Deer Carcass out of Virginia

Since Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected in two deer shot in Frederick County, Va., deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Virginia (see the following website:

Hunters anywhere in Virginia going into Kentucky or North Carolina must bone-out or quarter their deer carcass so the brain and spinal cord are removed. Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Virginia's CWD Containment Area (see for a map) in which case, carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord are removed.

For Tennessee, whole deer carcasses are allowed except those originating from anywhere in Frederick County and Shenandoah County, where carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord are removed. For Virginia deer hunters hunting out-of-state, please make note of the following change to Virginia’s carcass importation regulations.  Whole deer carcasses from carcass-restriction zones, rather than from the entire state or province where CWD has been detected, are prohibited from entering Virginia. For example, only the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, and Morgan in West Virginia, and the county of Allegany in Maryland, are now restricted.  For information regarding other carcass-restriction zones and deer parts allowed to be brought into Virginia from these zones, please visit

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Patuxent River striper parade (and a few fish from elsewhere)

Becca Farra of Lexington Park, Md., shows off the two stripers she hooked at Myrtle Point in the lower Patuxent River.

Lee Davis, who lives in Lexington Park, Md., caught this pretty 19-inch rockfish at Hog Point in the Patuxent River.

Matthew Jordan landed this 13-inch white perch at Sheridan Point in the Patuxent River. Good show, Matthew!

Johnnie Caldwell, of Lexington Park, Md., used a Heddon Super Spook surface lure to fool these rockfish at Hog Point in the Patuxent River.

Jacob Caldwell apparently takes after his dad (above) with a fine rockfish catch, but his striper came from the Cedar Point waters in the Patuxent River.

Larry Shields, of Lexington Park, fished from a beach in the Patuxent River, using a Mirro lure. It worked just fine on the rockfish (left) and the bluefish that mistook the lure for 

Tate and Harry Chambers, of Trappe on Maryland's Eastern Shore, fished with grandpa Butch Chambers in the Little Choptank River and look what they came home with.

Sally McCarey, of West Palm Beach, Fla., fished in a Patuxent feeder creek and found these fat, tasty white perch.

Take a look at that monstrous white perch in between the two rockfish that J.R. Foster, of Lusby, Md., caught at Myrtle Point in the Patuxent River.

Monday, September 26, 2011

You'll dance for joy when you find this giant, edible mushroom

My friend, Brent Nelson, a fine fishing guide and topflight recreational hunter, owns a cabin up in Allegany County, Md., where he and his wife, Kathy, go to recharge their batteries, enjoy the mountain scenery and simply love life.
Kathy Nelson and the delicious Hen-of-the-Woods mushroom
But something happened recently that is rare, indeed. Behind their cabin, the Nelsons found a huge mushroom, known colloquially as Hen-of-the-Woods.

"This mushroom is delicious and will be a welcomed staple for us all winter" said Brent and then promptly provided a thorough primer about the Hen-of-the-Woods.

"Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks," explained Brent. "Hen-of-the-Woods (sold in health food stores under its Japanese name, Maitake, to fight cancer and strengthen the immune system) has a deep, rich flavor. It’s a great eating mushroom, with characteristics similar to a white button mushroom, with a denser texture, and a pleasant woodsy flavor."

Brent also added that Maitake, in Japanese, means dancing mushroom "because finders of this mushroom often dance for joy to celebrate their great find (I danced for joy when I found it.)"
"We’ll serve this along with wild turkey and venison at the cabin on Thanksgiving," said Brent, and he isn't kidding. During the various hunting seasons, he and Kathy connect on the game found in his beloved western Maryland mountains.

In a final note, Brent said, "Last evening Kathy made Risotto con Fungi (rice with mushrooms) with the above 'Hen-of-the-Woods' mushroom. It was by far, the best and most delicious I've ever had."
Wow. I hope you can guess what I'll be looking for whenever I go tramping through the woods from now on.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Here are a few of this week's salt- and freshwater catches

Our Eastern Shore friend, Jack Scanlon, sent a picture of himself holding up this pretty spotted sea trout. But let him tell how it happened.
"We have been doing well since the floods," he says. "The water has cleared nicely, cooled off a bit and stripers are taking silver poppers with ferocity. I just love that vicious initial surface strike when they try to kill the plug."
"This lovely speckled trout came to a 1/2-ounce jig carrying a 4-inch  glow/chartreuse cocahoe swim bait. My friend Butch Chambers and I were fishing Choptank River shallows in his boat. We caught and released about 50 rockfish (except for 4 participants in our catch-and-filet program)." Jack said that about two thirds of the stripers measured over 20 inches. The photo was shot by Butch Chambers.

My occasional fishing partner, Marty Magone, snapped this picture of a weed-embedded largemouth bass that he caught (along with a number of others) in Virginia's Lake Gaston.
Marty used a Rico topwater popper to convince the bass to strike. You see it at the top of the photo.

Dez Rubesch, who lives on the shores of Lake Gaston, Va., shows off one of 10 bass he and friend Randy Carter caught in the lake's Allen's Creek.

Here's Randy Carter with a good largemouth bass. The two men used Rico topwater poppers and also some Senko worms. In addition to the bass they also nailed several stripers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Imagine a man coming all the way from Australia to hook a bass

Some years ago, my Maryland born-and-bred nephew, Lou Mueller, married a lovely Australian girl here in the U.S., and before you could even attempt to spell dickerydoo (never mind what it means) he pulled up his roots and moved to the land of kangaroos and saltwater crocodiles. Not that he's in any danger of turning into a snack for a croc, but there are parts in the country where they can pose a problem if you get too close.
Lou Mueller and a typical Mattawoman Creek bass.
Lou got a job in the airline industry and as the years passed, his bride, Karyn, presented him with three fine sons. Although the new father always was a fanatic fisherman, he now had to worry about paying bills, taking care of the boys, and putting recreational fishing on the back burner.

All that changed this week when Lou and his entire clan came to vacation in the U.S. where his mother, a brother and sister, not to mention an aunt and an uncle (me) reside. And what was among the first things Lou -- who has a voracious appetite -- ate? Barbecue. Barbecued ribs, the works. When my daughter, Lou's cousin, Sheri, invited the visitors to her St. Mary's County home for a pool party, Sheri and my son-in-law, Tony, provided imported beer, wine and soft drinks, while my wife, Margaret, brought her special barbecued pork ribs and pulled pork, along with a knock-your-socks-off good sauce and other goodies. The Australian Muellers felt at home, that much was clear to see.

Lou ate and drank -- and drank and ate -- then repeated it once more. Where that nephew of mine puts all this food is beyond me. To boot, unlike his uncle, he is trim and fit.
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Lou prepares to set a little dink free.
Then came the inevitable, "Uncle Gene, when are we going fishing?" We picked a day, I charged all the batteries in my 18-footer, made sure the gas tank was filled, and the outboard started on the first turn of the key like a typical E-Tec Evinrude is supposed to do. It didn't disappoint me.
When Lou saw the marshes and distant woodlands that surround the Mattawoman Creek up at the Mattingly Avenue boat ramp that used to be called Slavin's, Lou smiled broadly and said, "Nothing has changed. Look at that beautiful creek. Let's catch some bass."
I fixed him up with a baitcasting outfit that held a chartreuse/white Chatterbait and a small Sassy Shad on the hook to serve as a teaser/trailer. A spinning rod and reel was fixed up with a Baby Rage Tail crawdad. I used a whacky-rigged Strike King Zero worm on one rod, a Sebile jerkbait on another, and a quarter-ounce spinnerbait on a third rod.

We fished the slow zone of the Mattawoman during the final stages of an ebbing tide, found a few bass that liked Lou's crawdad and my whacky worm, but eventually fired up the outboard and charged from the creek, hooked a left and soon entered the Chicamuxen Creek where the tide was just beginning to come in.

I wasn't sure if he kissed that largemouth or not.
Lou was in his element. Both creeks delivered the goods. He stuck the hook to bass, yellow perch and a catfish. I caught bass, a fat crappie and a couple of yellow perch. We easily exceeded the Maryland bass limit of five each, although that didn't matter since Lou wanted every fish to be set free. He didn't feel like cleaning fish, I suppose.
By noon, Lou was hungry. He ate German bratwurst sandwiches and washed it down with cold tea. Lord, can that boy eat!

Life is good.
Lou with a small Chicamuxen Creek bass.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Boaters do not want more ethanol in gas tanks; and deer news says with the EPA recently allowing fuel companies to increase the amount of ethanol found in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent, the move could mean more damaged boat engines for unsuspecting owners who use the fuel. Ethanol increases the acidity of the fuel, which in older boats and motors can dissolve fuel tanks and lines, which can ultimately damage, clog and stall engines.

This boater will not want more ethanol in his gas tank.
A recent survey conducted by found most anglers who operate boats were unaware of the increase in ethanol and the threat the change poses. Asked if they were aware of the increase in permissible ethanol levels, 55.9 percent of respondents said “no,” while only 41.2 percent reported being aware of the change. Asked if they agreed with the change, nearly 60 percent said “no.” Virtually the same amount of those surveyed said the amount of permissible ethanol should be reduced back to 10 percent.

“It is important that boaters educate themselves on the specific damage fuels mixed with ethanol can pose to certain boat motors and take steps to minimize harm to their engines. Many boaters will simply want to avoid using fuels that include the higher percentage of ethanol and need to pay attention when fueling,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at, and

To help continually improve, protect and advance this treasured way of life, all anglers are encouraged to participate in the surveys at, and Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice. For more information on the threat ethanol poses to boat engines, visit the Boat Owners Association of the United States at or visit their page on ethanol concerns at

Feeding deer is illegal in Virginia
While there is no prohibition on feeding whitetailed deer in Maryland (although there soon may be an exception to this in Allegany County), in Virginia things are quite different.

Effective now, it is illegal to feed deer statewide in Virginia. The annual prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January. In addition, it is now illegal to feed deer year-round in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties and in the city of Winchester as part of the Department’s chronic wasting disease (CWD) management actions established in April 2010. 

This regulation does not restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences. 

Problems with feeding deer include: unnaturally increasing population numbers that damage natural habitats; increasing the likelihood for disease transmission, and increasing human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and diminishing the wild nature of deer.  

In addition, feeding deer has law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia. Prior to the deer feeding prohibition, distinguishing between who was feeding deer and who was hunting over bait often caused law enforcement problems for the Department's conservation police officers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

For serious crabbers, the Trotline Tamer is foolproof

GOLDEN BEACH, Md. --- If commercial trotliner Jimmy Harris every invites you to join him for a half day of crabbing in his home waters, the Patuxent River, drop everything and go with this gentle, innovative man who looks more like a bearded heavyweight wrestler than a waterman.

These crabs will soon be seasoned and steamed.
I did just that a few days ago. "Be here at 6 a.m.," said Harris. "That'll give us plenty of time to get a couple bushels of crabs and get you back on the road by noon or 1 o'clock." Only a couple of bushels? What gives?

Harris sells his crabs to a local seafood establishment or to residents near and far, but he is not the typical crabber you might run into in Southern Maryland or anywhere else. For example, he insists that his crabs contain enough meat to make them worthy of ending up in one of his baskets. "White" crabs, those who are still on the light side, are put back into the water even if they measure well over the required minimum size. The same holds for female crabs (sooks) who could bring a few dollars on the market. Harris is allowed to catch some females, but he ignores them.

The Trotline Tamer is custom-made and can be bought.
What he looks for whenever possible are the heaviest, fattest "Jimmies" he can find and, indeed, there are days when he returns to the boat dock with four or five bushels of highly desired No. 1 males, even occasional jumbo-sized blue-claws that best-selling author William W. Warner called "Beautiful Swimmers."

Jimmy Harris measures crabs.
Harris left the launch ramp a little before daylight, the boat's running lights glimmering in the dark. Three specially designed reels, each containing 1,200 feet of eel or "bull lip" baited line, sat waiting in the stern of the boat. Mounted on a sturdy swivel base on the starboard side of the boat was a neatly built device he calls the Trotline Tamer that holds the baited line reels, a line guide and an electric motor-powered belted wheel system that is used to pick up the lines at the end of the day. The name Trotline Tamer is trademarked. Harris manufactures it and sells it to anyone who is serious about crabbing. "You can make a living off crabs, but it's hard work, so why not do all you can to make it a lot easier," he said. (If crabbing is done right, you could make decent money what with No. 1 Jimmies selling for $80 a bushel, wholesale.)

Harris netted crabs two, three at a time.
When Harris reached an area averaging five-foot-deep water even at low tide, he picked up one  aluminum reel and popped  it into the Trotline Tamer, attached a large, red, round, floating marker to the line, cast it overboard, allowed the reel to turn enough to free more line, then snapped a mushroom-style lead anchor to the looped end and now began the laying of the thin rope. It wasn't the way I do it,  hand-over-hand, pulling chicken neck-baited string from a bucket. No, Harris simply let the reel do the work, running smoothly at a fair clip for 1,200 straight feet until the line neared its end and the attaching of a float, followed by another weighted anchor, came easily, swiftly.

Finger-long pieces of eel or neatly cut strips of cow snout (i.e. bull lips) now rested on the bottom of a creek mouth within casting distance of the Patuxent River's main stem. Harris moved over by several hundred feet and repeated the same steps, dropping another 1,200-foot line. Ditto for the third reel, which was released around the corner of the creek mouth in water that looked slightly stained.

Stainless steel line guide never alarms crabs.
As soon as he was done, Harris returned to the first line that was marked by red buoys, expertly picked up one end and slipped the nylon over a PVC guard and inserted it into a wide, rounded stainless steel trotline guide that is the best working line guide I've ever seen. (By the way, Harris manufactures those, too, and sells them for a very reasonable price.) Crabbers know that a standard hoop guide allows the baits to pass through, but when they do they often rise up a little, kind of popping, sending a warning down the line to crabs that might be attached several baits away. The crustaceans then let go and that's it. Not so with Harris' line guide. I saw female crabs, which he didn't want to keep, hang on so long until they popped free when they struck the guide. Not in the least alarmed, male crabs stayed on the baits until Harris slipped his wire-mesh net under them and often got the second, third and fourth crab --- all in the same net.

It was the most successful trotlining system I had ever seen. With three bushels of crabs that were straining against curved lids, it was time to quit. Harris picked up the first line after removing the anchor and float, then set the take-up reel's electric motor into motion. "When I pay out line I could do it with the boat on full plane, but when I pick it up I have to do it a lot slower," said Harris. All the same, he was running along at a fair clip, certainly a lot faster than anyone could reeling in the line by hand, or putting it into a basket hand-over-hand. The way Harris did it -- with the electric motor doing a neat, swift winding job -- I was overwhelmed with the smoothness and efficiency of the entire affair.

 Jimmy Harris is working his Trotline Tamer. To the right of the device is an electric motor.
(Here's an aside: Jimmy Harris, who does taxidermy work when he isn't crabbing, recently was picked by the producers of the "Larry the Cable Guy" television show for a taxidermy segment to be shown sometime in the future. "I laughed the whole time that Larry was with me," said Harris. It ought to be a lot of fun. Watch for it.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Some more of the catches after the heavy rains left our area

J. R. Foster, of Lusby, Md., was fishing with peeler crab off the beach at Myrtle Point Park in the Patuxent River. Have a look a these beautiful rockfish J.R. hooked and landed. Terrific!

Tammy Caldwell, of Lexington Park, caught this 30-inch striped bass off the rocks near Hog Point in the Patuxent River. Tammy used a surface lure to coax this fine striper into the hooks. That's one super catch, Tammy!

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Vincent Tobias, of Fort Washington, Md., fished in the waters that surround Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary's County. Along with spot, perch and other fish species, Vincent caught this 17-inch croaker. The hardhead now leads the Tackle Box store's Big Croaker contest for September.

John Adams, of Reston, Va., was jigging a soft-bodied Bass Kandy Delight lure over the Woodrow Wilson Reef and caught a Spanish mackerel.
Photo by Christy Henderson, Buzz's Marina (St. Jerome's Creek)

Our friend Dez Rubesch, who lives on the shores of Lake Gaston, Va., apparently has no trouble finding freshwater stripers in his home lake. These four struck Rico topwater lures in the upper lake, near Allen Creek.

Mark Baker, of Purcellville, Va, was on the Middlegrounds in the Chesapeake Bay when this flounder decided to take his bait.
Photo by Christy Henderson, Buzz's Marina (St. Jerome's Creek)

 Christy Henderson, the lady boss of Buzz's Marina in Ridge, Md., shows off a tasty Spanish mackerel, no doubt caught in the Chesapeake Bay near her marina's St. Jerome's Creek.

That's Michael Henderson, Christy's husband, who's holding up a well-fed Spanish mackerel. Michael is the boss man at Buzz's Marina down in St. Mary's County -- a great guy to do business with.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This could have turned into a bear encounter of the third kind

A long-time good fishing friend of ours, Dick Fox, who lives in Front Royal, Va., recently was in his backyard, accompanied by his Labrador retriever and the house cat while he was grilling goodies on the barbie. Suddenly, the cat acted a bit strange.

There, in Dick's large backyard, was a black bear and three cubs.
"I saw her staring at something," he recalled. "I turned around, and there was a black bear and three cubs no more than 50 feet away."

"I grabbed my dog, who was going nuts, and I held on to her in case the bear headed my way. If it did, I was going to zip into the house." (Ed. note: That in itself would have been worth seeing because Dick isn't a tiny fellow by any means. When he "zips" it's best not to get in his way.)

Instead of heading for the safety of the house, though, Dick watched the mama bear. "She just poked along, showing no fear at all," he said. "In the meantime, I yelled at my wife to come and see, but she was already out with the camera."

"By now, the bear and her cubs were about 100 feet away when I took the pictures," he added. Eventually, the bruins, who most likely were scavenging for food, departed.

She just poked along, showing no fear.
Dick said that over the years he and his wife, Joyce, had seen bears plenty of times, but this was by far the closest encounter. When you live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, bear encounters are not unheard of and the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries is more than a little concerned. The state's black bear population is growing steadily and more than one suburban or country resident has found it necessary to call the game officials to help them when a bear wanders onto to their properties.

If you see a bear as close up as the Fox family did, be sure not to take matters into your own hands. For example, don't try to shoot it. For starters, in the case of the bears that Dick and Joyce saw, if the bear mother were dead, the cubs would be in dire straits and helpless to fend for themselves. In addition, it is highly illegal to shoot a bear other than during legally prescribed hunting seasons in certain areas and all hunters must be properly licensed. Front Royal is not a place where hunting is allowed.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How was our fishing after the monsoon rains stopped?

The day finally came when the monsoon rains let up and the Washington area once again was bathed in sunlight. Sure, the humidity was still high and the sun baked our hides, but at least the downpours stopped, which in my home area, Charles County, Md., amounted to the most rain ever recorded in such a short span of time.
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Andy brought in a nice bass, plus gobs of milfoil.
The fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski called and said, "We need to get out on the Potomac and see what it looks like." We did just that, but only after Andy stopped at a muffler shop in the morning to have his exhaust system repaired. When he pulled away from his La Plata home, his 22-foot Triton bass boat in tow, he soon discovered that his truck's tail pipe was dragging on the ground. As fastidious as he is, he wouldn't think of tying the pipe up with a piece of baling wire. No, not him. It would be repaired, then we'd go fishing --- and, eventually, we did.

An out-of-stater at the launch ramp in Smallwood State Park asked about the Potomac's tidal bass fishing. "Is it as good as the fishing we have in Louisiana?" he asked. I laughed and told him that bass fishing star Denny Brauer, who hails from Missouri, once told me that he places the tidal Potomac among the top 5 bass waters in the country. "And, friend," I said, "he never even mentioned Louisiana."

Somewhere behind the weeds is a largemouth bass.
Andy and I finally left the boat ramp. The water was muddy, but it appeared to clear up a bit by the time we reached the mouth of Mattawoman Creek. Minutes later, after heading downstream for a short distance, we sat inside the Chicamuxen Creek, casting topwater lures, Chatterbaits and shallow crankbaits to open water pockets in the weeds or along the edges of the massive vegetation that makes the Chicamuxen a favorite of bass anglers.

A weed-skipping spoon soon brought Andy his first bass, then he followed it up with a small chartreuse/white-skirted spinnerbait that attracted several well-fed yellow perch, another bass, and a white perch.

I had a similar spinnerbait on one of my rods and began to work it along the marsh edges and in the open pockets of long strips of milfoil. Bingo! A good bass struck the 1/8-ounce spinnerbait. Although we hoped to perhaps hook a Chinese snakehead (which are in ample supply in the Chicamuxen), we never did coax one of the nasty-toothed invaders to strike. But a fat redbreasted bluegill attacked and we couldn't figure out how a panfish like a bluegill, which has a tiny mouth, was able to wrap its gums around the lure's hook.

The water  in the creek changed from murky to clear, back to murky, even muddy, with exceptionally fishable stretches here and there. The fishing was fine, but when Andy idled up into the narrow portions of the Chicamuxen it quickly became evident that strongly discolored water was coming  down from up above. It had to be part of storm-generated rain runoff that pelted mud banks and normally pristine pine, oak and sycamore laden shorelines like never before.

We decided to head back downstream, have a couple of ham sandwiches and a soda, then also remembered that we had business back in town, so decided we'd head back in and attend to it.

To show you how a good bass guide functions, Andy had to check out the river and some of its feeders so he could plan ahead when clients called. He surely didn't want to book a trip and not know in advance what his customers faced once he entered the water. He can be reached at 301-932-1509.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Some of these fish were caught during the monsoon rains

The heavy rains that inundated the middle Atlantic states (including Maryland) hadn't even stopped when Michael Henderson, owner of Buzz's Marina on the fish-rich St. Jerome's Creek in St. Mary's County, Md., caught a speckled trout (lower part of the photo) in his home creek. He used a Storm Shad on the trout, then later went out into the Chesapeake Bay and trolled up enough bluefish for supper --- Photo by Christy Henderson.

Photo gallery regular, Marty Magone, who lives on the shores of Lake Gaston, Va., continues to rack up bass catches, including this 4-pound-plus-largemouth  that struck a Rico topwater lure during a time of day when flooding and heavy storm rains made us miserable, but in Marty's area not much was happening --- other than him catching fish.

Just before the monsoon arrived, Ruth McCormick caught these beautiful flounder in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay in an area known as the Hump. The flounder bonanza at or near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel continues as you look at Ruth's photo that came to us courtesy of Dr. Ken Neill.

The man who not only knows how to take care of your pearlies, Dr. Ken Neill (his boat's name is the Healthy Grin), but who also is known by every serious saltwater angler along the Virginia coast, shot this beautiful photo of a white marlin trying to shake the hook. The billfish was caught and released before storm warnings kept most anglers indoors.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Have you ever fallen in love with a pair of pants? (I have)

More than 16 years ago I bought a pair of Wrangler insulated hunting pants that were and still are tough as a grizzly bear, look just fine, and keep me warm when the temperature drops while I'm sitting in a duck blind or on a deer stand. There are tell-tale marks from me wiping barbecue sauce-stained fingers on them after making a lunch stop at the local rib joint down here in Charles County, and there might also be remnant spots of blood after field-dressing a deer. They've been washed only six or seven times in all those years, but plenty of rain, sleet and melting snow have kept the pants "clean" enough for my hunting trips. My wife would love to take them to a local laundry and/or dry-cleaning establishment. She refuses to touch the garment and put it into our washing machine. She probably knows that I'll get a divorce if she does.

Now, here comes a bit of blatant commercialism.

Within the past two weeks, I've become the proud owner of the latest Wrangler Rugged Wear "Eight Pocket Cargo Pants" that are constructed with smooth, tough cotton twill. They look very handsome. I believe another love affair with pants is on the way because this garment has enough storage space to hide a small Volkswagen. Like most outdoorsmen, I like having plenty of places to stash things in. I mean, where else am I going to put a bag of porkrinds, a cell phone, car keys, boat keys, checkbook, a half-eaten hamburger and a small bottle of Snapple?
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Let's face it, if pockets are a man's best friend (not counting the dog, of course) then you're going to like these pants. My friend Bill AuCoin says, "If it were me I'd stuff soft plastics, weedless hooks and jig heads in the cargo pockets. Plus, there are two deep front pockets, two back pockets, and two smaller tool pockets. Tool pocket No. 1 is on the right cargo pocket. It's a zip-up pocket for, say, car keys. Tool pocket No. 2 is on the port side and it gives you quick access to a mobile device, trail map, or perhaps treats for the dog."

The company's advertising flacks say Wrangler Rugged Wear specified cotton twill is tough enough to crash through brush but soft enough that it doesn't rub skin the wrong way.

Wonder if my wife will agree to wash these new pants after I've eaten crabs, barbecued ribs or spicy chicken wings? "Porcus e um, Gene" she would say if she had studied Latin as I did in what seems like a hundred years ago at St. Boniface middle school in Germany. (It means "You are a pig, Gene.)

But do not mess with my newest Wrangler Rugged Wear pants. I'll get ugly if you do.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Carl D. Brown's excellent, but painful, summer adventure

My friend Carl D. Brown, a transplanted Southern Marylander who now resides in up-scale Northern Virginia, not long ago bought himself a sweet center-console boat that is perfectly capable of handling the Chesapeake Bay when it doesn't blow a nasty gale. Carl has been -- and still is -- a bass fisherman, but he wanted to expand his angling horizons and go after the Bay's saltwater species whenever possible.

After a 20-minute fight, Ben Wyatt slipped a net under the ray.
He and his pal, Jeff Palmer, have been live-lining Norfolk spot south of the Choptank River mouth, in the area known as False Channel, catching keeper stripers now and then. Carl knows he did the right thing when he bought the center-console. However, there'll  be days when the fish gods do not smile gently upon those who wet a line. Ask Carl.

It began when he, Jeff, and former U.S. Marine pilot, Ben Wyatt, tried to catch enough of the juicy little spot in the Choptank's mouth so they could move on and begin live-lining for rockfish. Carl felt something nibbling on his bait and he set the hook to an angry blue crab. "I never thought there'd be a problem," he said. "I grabbed the crab from behind, like I'd done so many times before, but this time something went wrong." The crab twisted enough to get a hold of Carl's right thumb. Ouch!!

When he and his crew tried to remove it, the crab somehow turned enough to get it's pincers on the left thumb. Double ouch!!!
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"I got my butt kicked by a 6-ounce blue crab female," said Carl. "She got me with the devilish 'Russian double thumb lock.' [But] little did she know this was a tag-team bout, and, at my urging, Jeff came in with the pliers.  That's when the Americans gained the advantage. After the bleeding stopped and I applied Band-Aids to both thumbs, we went back to fishing."

Soon, a slab of spot bait attracted another denizen of the deep --- a cownose ray. "I have no experience with rays," said Carl. Nonetheless, he did just fine, fighting the wet-winged critter like a pro. "I had to go around the boat 360 degrees and under the anchor rope four times," said Carl before his fishing partner, Ben, slipped a landing net under the ray. Jeff shot a few photos and the guys released the big ray. Back into False Channel it went.

Carl said he used a 6/0 circle hook on the piece of cut spot; a 20-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, and a Shimano 4000 bait-runner reel on a 6-1/2 foot bass rod. "The circle hook caused no damage." (I'll bet a week's wages, however, that the crab did.)

Incidentally, besides the crab, Norfolk spot and, later a cownose ray, there were a few rockfish and quite a number of bluefish in the False Channel area.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

News items from all over the land, including our area

Our friend Bill AuCoin occasionally sends us news clips from the outdoors world and some of them are lulus, trust me. Let's begin with these:
Virginia: Developer Sues Wade Anglers
Who owns the river bottom on Virginia's Jackson River? Allegheny County and Virginia courts will decide who owns the bottom of the Jackson River, anglers or The River's Edge residential project. The developer of the residential project has sued three anglers – one is a pastor – because they were wade fishing in front of the development. The developer says it has river bottom ownership deeds dating back to the eighteenth century. The recreational anglers say they were following state fishing maps that show, in effect, that the state is owner. (from the Roanoke Times,

Asian Carp Win One
A federal appeals panel has ruled an invasion of the Great Lakes by voracious Asian carp does not appear imminent. The judges rejected the five-state request to close Chicago-area shipping locks. The U. S. Seventh Circuit judicial panel said closing the locks might not stop the carp invasion but, in any case, suggested it might reconsider the issue if carp prevention measures stall. The requesting states are Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. (from the Chicago Tribune)

Anglers are asked to boycott Wal-Mart
Anglers asked to Boycott Wal-Mart
The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) has called for anglers to boycott Wal-Mart because the Walton Family Foundation gave $36 million to organizations that want to limit fishing. “The fishing community supports conservation, but we're not willing to accept preservation, exclusion or privatization,” said RFA's Jim Donofrio. (from Trade Only Today, Indybay)

Bow Hunting City Deer in Georgia
Marietta, an Atlanta suburb, is continuing its successful program that allows bow hunters to hunt deer on public and private property. Hunters must get a permit and, for that, they need to be able to place four out of five arrows in a target at 20 yards. Archery testing will be held on Saturdays in September. The season opens September 24. Hunters are also required to have a $100,000 liability insurance policy and permission from the landowner. (from The Marietta Times)

More Anglers, including Hispanics
The number of people going fishing for the first time is going up, but slowly, according to new research by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and The Outdoor Foundation. The report determined that 3.36 million persons fished for the first time in 2010, an increase of two percent since 2008. The study reported 3.4 million Hispanics anglers, a 1.3 million-person increase since 2007. (RBFF research)

Cougars: Eastward Ho!
It turns out the large cat hit and killed by Connecticut vehicle in June was a wild mountain lion. DNA tests confirm that it had passed through suburban Lake George, New York last winter and it was probably the first wild cougar confirmed in New York State in more than 100 years. Officials say the 140-pound male cougar started out in the Black Hills of South Dakota and, moving east, passed through several upper-tier states on its way to the U.S. East Coast. (from the Press & Sun Bulletin,

Angler Reels in Artificial Leg
In cartoons, anglers catch rubber boots. In real life, they catch somebody's prosthetic leg. That's the catch Beth Krohn reeled in recently on Lake Ida, near Alexandria, Minnesota. At first she thought it was a real leg. When she realized it was an artificial leg she phoned some specialists and it turned out the leg belonged to Pam Riley of Morris, Minnesota who lost it about three years ago while swimming in Lake Ida. The women met and Riley got her leg back. Both will remember the trophy that didn't get away. (Pierce County Herald via

Local National Hunting & Fishing Day celebration
The members of the Izaak Walton League of America-Rockville Chapter will celebrate National Hunting & Fishing Day, Saturday, September 24, 2011. It's open to the public. The free event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the IWLA-Rockville chapter's facility at 18301 Waring Station Road, in Germantown (Montgomery County).
This fellow celebrates fishing every day
This National Hunting & Fishing Day celebration is a family-oriented event, with fun and educational hands-on activities that everyone will enjoy. It's a great way to introduce youth and newcomers to outdoor sports while teaching them about the important role that hunting and fishing play in Maryland’s wildlife conservation programs. 
Activities include archery, trap shooting, fly-fishing, canoeing and kayaking.  There will also be opportunities to learn about many conservation efforts such as wood duck nest boxes, Save Our Streams monitoring, deer management, hunter safety and recycling at home and in the community. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland National Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery County Government Department of Solid Waste, Maryland Deer Management Association, Trout Unlimited and other sportsman’s and conservation groups will also have exhibits. For more information, contact Theresa Daly, NH&F Day Coordinator, 301-972-1645.



Friday, September 2, 2011

This week's photo gallery includes some real trophies

One of the best saltwater anglers anywhere, the fishing dentist Dr. Julie Ball, of Virginia Beach, Va., shows off a 90-pound cobia that may turn out to be a line class world record. Dr. Ball is known all along the Atlantic coast for her record catches.

James Westbrooks of Fort Washington, Md., fished at the Hog Point area of the Patuxent River when something extra heavy struck his bait. James was skilled enough to bring the fish to the net -- an 80-pound black drum. Wow!
In addition, he also caught bluefish, stripers and croakers.

Our good friend, Marty Magone, who lives along the shores of Virginia's Lake Gaston, has been whipping up on the freshwater stripers in his home waters. This one struck a Rico surface lure.

That's Heather Hewitt, of Valley Lee, Md., with a fine batch of Norfolk spot, most likely caught in the Patuxent River, although she didn't tell us.

Johnnie Caldwell, of Lexington Park, Md., used a Yozuri Minnow to fool these two rockfish around Cedar Point, down in St. Mary's County.

On the left is Archie, whose last name we couldn't get, but there's also Ronnie Wedding and George Hashman, all of the Welcome and White Plains, Md., area, with a nice catch of bluefish, croakers and spot. They had one bluefish so big, it snapped a rod into 3 pieces and the fish couldn't be landed. It got away.

Redskins fan Vincent White shows off his 15-inch croaker that he caught over the Target Ship in the lower Maryland parts of the Chesapeake Bay. Vincent used a strip of squid to hook the hardhead.

Our friend Goldie Glotfelty often fishes alone, so when he catches a good bass (or a pickerel as he did a few days ago) he takes his cell phone/camera and snaps a photo with one hand while he holds the fish in the other. This largemouth bass from the Mattawoman Creek weighed four pounds. It was hooked on one of Goldie's homemade crankbaits.