Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's hoping the New Year brings health, happiness and fortune

With the approach of 2013 there's only one thing that I hope will change. However, I'm not complaining overall.

I'm having problems with my right knee. My fishing has suffered because of it, although I manage to get out in spite of considerable pain. Knee replacement surgery might be in the offing in 2013. I've been receiving joint fluid replacement injections (Ooooouch!), but so far this magic elixir has not done much to alleviate knee discomfort.

Other than that, our family is content although I'm itching to go crappie, bass, and striper fishing more often than I do now. Happily, there are good friends who supply plenty of fishing and hunting information and accounts. The web site is in good shape.. As far as our many thousands of web visitors are concerned, I wish each and every one a Happy and Prosperous 2013.

               Gene Mueller

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Indisputable, immutable facts of our life and times spent outdoors

Had this bass escaped before being seen, the guess
would have been that it weighed 8 lbs., not the actual 5.

While the wind is blowing and snow is falling pretty much all over the Northeastern U.S., and the first big holiday of the next year – New Year’s Day – looms, not much is happening in the lives of many outdoors people. Some states already have shut down the deer and turkey hunting, and the fishing is frequently curtailed either by wind, cold and rain (or a combination of all three), we might as well sit back and have a little fun facing certain immutable facts of life while pursuing our outdoors hobbies and avocations.

For example, it’s a fact that . . .

1. A fox isn’t fit to eat, even if you’re VERY hungry. We’re told it tastes as bad as a skunk smells.

2. A farm gate can only be opened by those who built it. Outsiders are forever baffled by the intricacies of opening and closing the unwieldy things and sometimes leave them ajar,  much to the chagrin of the farmer. That is especially true if a couple dozen of his polled Angus cattle escapes.

3. A squirrel up in a tree is incapable of sitting still and hiding for longer than 10 minutes. Unfortunately, a squirrel hunter is incapable of sitting perfectly still longer than 9 minutes.

4. If you enjoy cold showers with all your clothes on, build a warming fire beneath the branches of a snow-covered pine tree.

5. All largemouth bass that have attacked a bait or artificial lure, then break off only a nano-second before actually being seen are judged to have weighed at least 8 pounds. Smallmouth bass are always figured to have weighed 5 pounds; stripers 35 pounds; croakers 3 pounds; catfish 15 pounds, and white perch at least 2 pounds.

6. Related to the above fish weights, did you know that some anglers believe there is a built-in scale inside their elbow joints, hence they’re able to tell how much a fish weighed that just made a monkey of the fisherman.

7. It is estimated by wildlife experts that at one time or another nearly all hunters were briefly asleep up in their tree stands at the precise moment a “shooter” buck showed himself and then quietly departed.

8. Why does a cottontail rabbit prefer not to run down-hill at full speed? (His hind legs are much longer than those up front. At a full clip, the rabbit could tumble head over tail.)

9. And here's an immutable fact that our friend James Drake reminded me of. He said not to forget that any fisherman on any outing need only utter aloud the words, "It's not too windy today." You can count on a near gale force blow to arrive within minutes. Jim is absolutely correct.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Here's an invitation for your outings to be seen on our web site

After receiving a number of queries concerning our web site content and how to get one's picture and brief account of an outdoors experience published, here's all you do:

Briefly describe a hunting or fishing trip in no more than 4 paragraphs of average size. (Remember, unless your name is Ernest Hemingway, paragraphs the size of the Dead Sea Scrolls are not all that interesting.)

Shoot up to two or three pictures with a digital camera or a good cell-phone. Remember to ask your subject to remove sunglasses (unless they're prescription shades), push back the cap or hat enough so we can see the face. With fish or hunted game it's best not to show a lot of blood, and by all means do NOT hold a can of beer or a cigarette in your hand.

Be sure to enclose your phone number and the name and hometown of the hunter or angler.  That's it. Send the whole shebang to and remember when you send it, you're granting us permission to use it.

In Virginia, ocean striper and sea bass seasons begin in January

Rrockfish will be legal in the Atlantic starting in January, but Bay is closed
The Virginia part of the Chesapeake Bay rockfish season is going out with a bang, says the president of the
Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association, the fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill. (The Bay season ends New Year’s Eve.) The good doctor added, “It has been a month of impressive catches of very large rockfish. Several over 60 pounds were caught in December, with many weighing in over the 50-pound mark. On the other hand, the numbers of medium to large sized fish has not been great. It seems that the bulk of the coastal migrants were still to our north. Still, the largest stripers are falling to anglers fishing with eels at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and along the Kiptopeke to Cape Charles area."

"The water temperatures are warm enough that there will be rockfish remaining inside the Bay for catch-and-release fishing, but most anglers will move into the coastal Atlantic waters where they can be kept."

Dr. Ken said the New Year will begin nicely for all those who want sea bass. The season begins on the first day of the year, but it only last until the end of February. Based on hookups with sea bass in recent weeks, the fishing should be very good when the keeping  begins.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Trouble brewing for Maryland and Northern Virginia deer hunters?

My friend Jim says the Maryland DNR’s recent press release about deer kills during the modern firearms season being down 13-percent mentioned two factors: poor weather and an abundance of acorns.

There weren't as many hunters that enjoyed this kind of success in 2012
But there is a third, says Jim.

“Deer sightings throughout Southern Maryland are way down according to several experienced hunters that Jim knows. “It got me to think about [perhaps an] outbreak of
hemorrhagic disease (HD),” he said. He contacted Maryland deer project leader Brian Eyker who admitted that “this year Maryland was higher than normal for HD and we had some hotspots identified in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore."

And here’s a shocker that was pointed out by Jim. He said, “Over in Virginia's King George County, the Virginia Deer Hunters Association holds a special yearly hunt for disabled veterans at the Caledon State Park. Thirty-three hunters took part,  assisted by 40 experienced volunteers. Last year, an almost identical group killed 22 deer. This year the number was two!”

Only two. Think about that for a while.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It happened in the lower Chesapeake Bay just before Christmas

Hunter Southall with one of his Elizabeth River spotted sea trout
Dr. Ken Neill’s youthful friend, Hunter Southall, is a fanatic spotted sea trout angler in the waters of the very lowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay and any river that empties into the Bay. So over the pre-Christmas days Hunter went into the Elizabeth River along with his pal, David Brabrand. When their day ended they caught citation-size trout and finished with 60 in all, five of them in the 24- to 26-inch range.

Tidewater Virginian Wes Blow with his 52-lb. 3-oz. rockfish
Dr. Neill also passed along news about his frequent fishing partner, Wes Blow, who ran out to the high rise area of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and dropped eels over the side to bring in some big rockfish. All he got was one whopper that turned out to measure 50 inches long and weighing 52 pounds, 5 ounces. (later that day it was officially weighed and measured.)

Then Wes ran back in, picked up his wife, Amy, for a Christmas Eve sea trout outing in the Elizabeth River. 

Wes Blow's wife, Amy, and a bragging-size speckled sea trout

“Wes and Amy had a great day catching speckled trout,” said Dr. Neill. “They caught about 36 trout including some in the 23-and-7/8 inch range that Wes would not call a citation. Amy finally got one measured 25.5 inches long. It weighed close to 6 pounds on the boat's digital scale. Wes caught one at 25.75 inches long. They released them all.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Clearing out the old photo desk before the year is over and done

Thanks to the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries' "Outdoor Report" here's a picture of a whitetailed buck shot by Hunter Dean Matty. As you can see, the buck had what appears to be the beginnings of an antler growing between the muzzle and the eyes.

Here's a shot of a freshwater striper caught by my friend Marty Magone down in the waters of Lake Gaston that straddles Virginia and North Carolina.

Marty and his love, Pauline, like to eat fish, so now and then he brings a couple of these landlocked rockfish to the table (of course, not until after he cleans them properly).
The photo is a self-portrait, so we'll be kind about the outcome.

Finally, as we make our holiday rounds to see  friends and family members, let me wish one and all a wonderful and Merry Christmas! No matter how much we gripe now and then, we must remember that we live in the best country in the world. Thank God for that.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Could cold weather mar the holiday fishing in lower Chesapeake?

From her Virginia Beach area haunts, the best lady angler anywhere, Dr. Julie Ball, says, “If Santa delivers a repeat of last year’s extraordinary winter fishing combination of big striped bass and bluefin tuna for Christmas, anglers will be overjoyed. Up to now, the mild weather has supported a very good start to this year’s striped bass fishery. Looking ahead at the Nor’easter heading this way, all bets are off for our visions of mild temperatures for the Holidays.

 Matt Lusk fished from his kayak and look at the beautiful spotted
sea trout he nailed inside Virginia's Elizabeth River
”Big rockfish continue to come from the areas off the Eastern Shore Plantation Light and Kiptopeke areas this week. And the true cows have arrived. Boats drifting with live eels along channel edges and shoal
areas are encountering some super-sized fish ranging to over 50 and 60-pounds. Basically, the big striped bass are abundant. Anglers fishing with live eels at night along the high rise span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel are experiencing slower results this week. Some fish in the 40-pound range are still available, but you must pick your night. Decent numbers of striped bass are also still biting off Cape Henry, and along the seaside coast of the Eastern Shore.

”Speckled trout action is still very good in the Elizabeth River, but anglers are putting in an entire day in order to score a dozen fish. But these trout are big. Several anglers are hooking into some gator trout spanning to over 30-inches recently. The best action is occurring on slowly worked suspending twitch baits. The bite within both Rudee Inlet and Lynnhaven River is still slow this week.

”A few boats making it to deeper water were rewarded with good numbers of blueline tilefish and grouper recently, but the weather will likely keep boats closer to shore this week. Reports of bluefin tuna continue to trickle in, mostly from offshore of the Wachapreague area, and north. Rumors of tuna off Virginia Beach and closer inshore are floating about, but no confirmations of boatings have occurred as of yet. For more information, go to”

Friday, December 21, 2012

Maryland striper season over, but Potomac and Virginia are open

Warren Hoffmaster and 31-pound rockfish caught on the
the last day of the Maryland season at the HI Buoy
As Ken Lamb of the Lexington Park Tackle Box said, “There are plenty of rockfish and they’re plenty big. That's the story from the Potomac River as trollers consistently get fine striped bass in both the deep holes and on the 18- to 20-foot oyster bars.” On top of that, you can expect a good number of smaller stripers in the 18- to 28-inch range, and even the smaller fish don’t mind big trolling lures as they’re fooled into believing the lures are schools of alewives.

While the Maryland rockfish season has shut down, the separately managed tidal Potomac and the state of Virginia continues to offer opportunities to bring home a big striper, but hurry up because even the 
Ben Windsor and Heather Hewitt pose with Heather's
48-inch Potomac striper that she trolled for
Chesapeake Bay waters in Virginia will shut down on Dec. 31. After that it will be ocean rockfish only for boaters usually coming out of Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

Ken said that umbrella rigs and tandem setups are the most popular way to bring a fish to the hooks. Twelve-inch-long Sassy Shads are favored by the rockfish.

Incidentally, white perch will jump on any offered bait in 50-foot depths in the mouth of the Patuxent River. “There are lots of smaller 6- to 8-inch perch to wade through before you get a good mess of big fish, but you won't get bored,” said Ken. 

Rodney and Glen Zimmerman and Kevin Martin show off their Potomac River rockfish

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Eastern Shore, Md., fishing fans should know about Unicorn Lake

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources wants Eastern Shore pond fans to know that Unicorn Lake (near Millington) will be drawn down. Freezing weather is approaching and the Fisheries Service staff are once again starting their annual winter drawdown at Unicorn Lake on the Eastern Shore, the drawdown began December 18. The lake will remain lowered (+/- 24") until approximately Feb 15th. "We've been holding off due to the temperatures being above average and fishermen have been a bit active on the lake,” said hatchery manager Russ Parsons.

There are a few additional public lakes in the area that fishermen can utilize in place of Unicorn Lake if they want to fish, they are Wye Mills, Urieville and Smithville; these additional lakes all have the same species as Unicorn. The purpose of winter drawdown is 3-fold. First, it freezes out shallow water vegetation - deterring vegetation growth in the warmer months. Second, it forces all species closer together allowing fish to feed with less effort. Third, Unicorn staff uses this time to clean the filter boxes which supply the production ponds with water.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crappies and carp alike often prefer tasty scented plastic "food"

Dale Coon with a fine crappie
Dale Coon of Mechanicsville, Md., shows off a well-fed crappie on the Virginia side of the upper tidal Potomac – not far downstream from Wilson Bridge. Dale caught the “speck” on a 1/8-oz. jig head trimmed with a white swimming tail grub.

Meanwhile, pro fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski also hunted for crappies, using 4-lb. testline and a 1/16-oz. jig head rigged with a one-inch Sassy Shad-type bait. Of course Dale’s and

Fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski with a "bugle-mouth bass"
Andy’s baits were dabbed with Smelly Jelly. As you can see, not only did the crappies like those lures, a carp also went after Andy’s offering, fished from an ultra-light St. Croix spinning rod.

Photo's by Dennis Fleming

Stripers, chopper blues, and tautogs command tons of attention

A bluefish comes to the net in offshore Virginia waters
From the general Virginia Beach area and down in the lowest parts of the wide Chesapeake Bay, the top-flight saltwater angler Dr. Ken Neill says, “Big rockfish are on most anglers Christmas wish list. Many large striped bass [weighing] 40 pounds, with some breaking 60 pounds, were caught this week. Anglers fishing with eels are still accounting for most of the largest fish. The Eastern Shore side of the Bay has been the top producer for large fish with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel also producing some big rockfish for anglers fishing with eels at night.”

Dr. Ken Neill and a chopper blue from the Triangle Wrecks
The fishing dentist, whose boat is named the Healthy Grin, continues. “The oceanfront striper bite is picking up daily. Limits of nice rockfish were caught by boats trolling the Cape Henry area this week. [All other bridge tunnels in Tidewater, 
along with the] James River Bridge and most every other crossing in the area are holding rockfish. The middle of the bay from York Spit on over to the Baltimore Channel and on up to buoy 42 has been a good area to troll for rockfish. Anglers running up the seaside of the Eastern Shore have run into schools of large rockfish. Basically, they can be found pretty much everywhere. This does not mean it is easy. While impressive catches are being made daily, there are plenty of boats out there not catching fish. Water temperatures are still warm and there are still a lot of fish to our north,” he says.

“Tautogs are active on structures in the bay and on the coastal wrecks. Some 10-plus-pound ‘togs were caught on some of the inshore wrecks this week. Big bluefish are available about 20 to 30 miles off of the coast. The Triangle Wrecks are holding big blues. Offshore bottom fishermen are catching tilefish and some grouper and wreckfish as they wade through the dogfish, bluefish, and sea bass. Sea bass are thick on most wrecks from the Chesapeake light Tower area on out to the deep. We were catching them as deep as 65 fathoms as we kept moving deeper to try and avoid them. There is a chance that we may have a January-February sea bass season in 2013.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Here's a fellow who loves to go hunting, fishing and crabbing

Jimmy Harris, a popular St. Mary’s County, Md., crabber and taxidermist, is my kind of man when it comes to the outdoors. There is no weather so bad that he’ll stay home when it’s waterfowl season, and when it’s time to bring in some venison for the family, Jimmy will stay in the swamps and woods of his home county until something good happens.

Jimmy Harris with an 8-pointer from a St. Mary's County swamp
So it went on Dec. 15 when Jim put his Thompson Center 50-cal. muzzleloader into the truck and drove down to a friend's bottom land, not all that far from his house. By 9:10 that morning, an old buck with a broken rack passed by, and there also was a 4-pointer that he saw.

Then, after an agonizing wait of 10 minutes, while a fine-looking 8-pointer sashayed around in the brush, but finally allowed enough open space for a decent shot, Jimmy’s TC Shockwave sabot found its mark. Jimmy waited for more than an hour, but then started trailing the deer’s blood spoor. He found the dead buck in dense cover less than 35 yards from the spot he was shot in.

The buck dressed out at 135 pounds (live weight roughly 162 pounds). Later, Jimmy said, “He was my best deer with a muzzleloader so far.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Before you go fishing, start out with Marine Corps fried chicken

You've seen his mug on these web pages before, but this time my Virginia pal, Marty Magone, wants us to know that before a man goes fishing he ought to have what he calls U.S. Marine Corps Fried Chicken. And, yes, his beloved Pauline actually approved of the way he cooked it.

Here he is with a Lake Gaston crappie in what appeared to be crappy weather.

Marty's occasional fishing partner Randy Carter also got into the crappies. Here's one that will fill a frying pan, but hopefully not the pan that Marty fried his USMC chicken in.

On a previous Lake Gaston outing, Marty (looking perfectly miserable) caught his bass on a crankbait.


The sadness of the blame game and senseless shootings of innocent children and adults

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that all decent folks in America are immensely saddened about the terrible shooting of innocent children and adults in that Connecticut school. As a father and grandfather myself  I cannot begin to imagine my grief, sorrow, and anger if one of my beloved little ones had been murdered while sitting in a school room.

What also is so sad is the fact that certain people with an anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment agenda now will go on a political rampage to find supporters among state and federal legislators to rid all of us of our rightful ownership of firearms. They somehow believe that taking away my gun(s) will solve the problem of homicidal maniacs and lawless thugs roaming about.

There will be politicians who’ll respond to the call of more gun control, perhaps even gun confiscation. After all, if it worked for Stalin, Hitler and Mao Tse Tung, why shouldn’t it work here? And there’ll be anti-Second Amendment advocates who will say that all they want to do is keep handguns from being sold, but they don’t want to interfere with our right to hunt or shoot at targets with our sporting guns.

However, the Second Amendment doesn’t say that the right of the people to go duck hunting shall not be infringed. No, it says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. What part of “Shall Not” don’t they understand.

Meanwhile, our prayers and tears of sorrow go out to the good people of Connecticut.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Maryland about to close "rock" season, but not Va. and Potomac

Jim Hollis trolled this beauty up near the HI Buoy in the Chesapeake Bay
The Tackle Box in Lexington Park reminds all of us striped bass fanatics that the Maryland "rock" season is about to close, but the Potomac River (which has separate regulations) and Virginia seasons continue to stay open until December 31. So don't put away your fishing gear just yet. 
Steve Helmrick scores again. This time at Buoy 77.
"Meanwhile," says Ken Lamb, the proprietor of the Tackle Box, "the Potomac River has been excellent for both big and small rockfish, and should continue to provide plenty of action until  the end of the month."

In addition, there are catfish to be caught up and down the tidal river, from Washington D.C. clear down to Cornfield Harbor. The quickest way to get a mess of catfish is to find a store like the Tackle Box and buy a couple of alewife baitfish to be cut up and used on bottom rigs. The photo below shows a fellow's "cats," all caught at Cornfield Harbor, a long stone's throw from Point Lookout. Personally, I wished he'd have washed those catfish down before taking a picture.

Bill Davis and a bunch of catfish caught on alewife bottom bait at Cornfield Harbor.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Dr. Julie says the lower Bay in Virginia is giving up action galore

Dr. Julie Ball --- as skilled at fishing as she's good looking
Dr. Julie Ball says, “Most anglers have their attention focused on the huge rockfish pouring into the lower Chesapeake Bay. Although each day is different, for the most part the striped bass fishing is very good. Several techniques are effective, but many boats are still heading to the Plantation Light and Kiptopeke areas in hopes of hooking a big fish while live baiting with eels, with many of these fish ranging up to around 50-pounds.

“This technique involves either free-lining eels or suspending them under big bobbers as boats drift along the edges of the channels. The live eel bite has been good over the past few weeks, but some days are better than others. Boats are also finding rockfish in the 30-pound class trolling off of Cape Henry this week. The night-time Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel fishing is strong, with most boats scoring with limits of nice fish in the 40-pound range. Smaller school-sized rockfish ranging from 22 to 38-inches are still hitting along all the lower Bay bridges and tunnels. Casting top water lures, jigging, and wire lining around the four islands of the Bridge-Tunnel are all effective methods lately.

“Speckled trout are still available and biting, but the pressure from anglers has backed off with the arrival of the larger rockfish. The best numbers of specks are still coming from the Elizabeth River, where many boats are scoring with dozens of fat fish up to around five pounds or more. Live baiting with mullet, gudgeons, and shiners is working in the Cove area, but most anglers are hooking dozens of nice fish from within the River, both day and night." For more information go to

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ducks from the Eastern Shore and a fine rock from So. Maryland

Ken Miller and Dr. Jack Scanlon with "eating" ducks
Here's a report from Dr. Jack Scanlon of Maryland’s Eastern Shore who told of the opening day of the last split for hunting waterfowl in Maryland. “We had a fine morning on the Nanticoke River,” he began, “shooting a limit of mallards, black ducks and greenwing teal.” 

In the photo you see Dr. Scanlon and Ken Miller, of Bozman, Md., holding a bulging stringer of tasty. The retriever up front is Quinn the Wonder Lab. Quinn is owned by Butch Chambers who shot the photo. This Labrador is the 2011 Maryland Gun Dog Champion. Dr. Scanlon says, “He’s an ace at finding downed ducks on the marsh.”

Al Guy (left) and son Francis with a fine rockfish from near St. Clement's
Then along come my friends from Southern Maryland.   There’ll be some smiling faces at the dinner tables of several households of the well-known Guy clan in St. Mary’s County, Md. Al and  Francis (father and son) went out trolling on the lower Potomac River yesterday and caught this 40-inch fish .They caught this fine striper at the Bell Bouy, just off St. Clement’s Island, reported Francis’ brother, Mike.

The Williamson Banjo Eye bucktail & trailer

The lure that turned the trick was a Williamson Banjo Eye bucktail with a Lunker City 6-inch Shaker as a trailer. “Francis hooked the fish and Pop netted it, so it was a team effort,” said Mike. Indeed it was and a nicer pair of anglers would be hard to imagine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marty fished beautiful Lake Gaston, Va., and look what he got

Marty with an eating-size Lake Gaston freshwater striper
My friend Marty Magone, who, like me, came to this wonderful country from Europe (legally, by the way) many years ago, is as crazy about fishing as I am. Along with the third member of a kind of Three Musketeers group that includes our leader, Andy Andrzejewski, we've shared many a memorable outing. Why is Andy the leader? He owns the boat we usually find ourselves fishing from even though Marty and I also have boats of our own. Thus, Andy calls all the shots, which isn't bad since he's a professional fishing guide.

Of course, Marty, a former Marine and Prince George's County (MD) policeman, is a little different than Andy and I. For example, he has a rain suit he refers to as his Rain Room, with space for more than one boat partner. He makes sandwiches so big that the average little person couldn't jump over them. And there's a scale to weigh fish with. Well, you'd better ask him about that. The code word is Scuppernong. He'll know what it means. I'll say no more.

One of the 14 largemouth bass Marty caught
Finally, let me get around to Marty fishing his home waters, Lake Gaston, the day before yesterday. He said, "It was a very mild morning and I started out catching this beauty of a freshwater striper (it weighed 13 lbs.). That fish would make for some nice eating. Then I fished with crankbaits all morning and came up with 14 largemouth bass. The one in the picture came from a deep point in Great Creek. By the way, the striper hit a white hair jig. The water temperatures were in the low 50s."

Thank you, Brother Marty. For shooting nothing but self portraits without any professional instruction, you're doing fine.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lower Maryland parts of the Chesapeake deliver big stripers

Cole Koenig (left) and his dad show us a
42" striper hooked near Buoy 72
From the Tackle Box in St. Mary’s County’s Lexington Park comes word that plenty of huge rockfish are active in the Chesapeake Bay from the Gas Docks to buoys 77, T, the HI, Hooper's Island, Point No Point, and Buoy 72.  The Potomac has both big sea-run stripers and smaller resident fish off St. George’s Island and St. Clement’s Isand.

Proprietor Ken Lamb says the fishing goes from excellent one day to just good the next in any given area.  Excellent fishing days finds trollers loading up in a short time at the rate of 7 or 8 fish an hour. The good days means spending half a day with only one or two fish, but the 38 to 50 inch trophy size makes the effort worthwhile.

The Potomac seems most consistent with a nice mix of big, medium and small fish.  The Bay has big ones, but they will only bite when the tide gets to running and conditions suit them. Most commons lures are tandem rigs and umbrellas. 

By the way, the Potomac River and the Virginia seasons last only until December 31, so better get going..

There are plenty of perch in the Patuxent River between Sandy Point and Point Patience.  Bloodworms and double hook bottom rigs fished in the deep holes will bring big, fat white pech into the boat two at the time.

 Steve Helmrick with a 40" rock caught
at the Gas Docks

Marvin Ranta and Mynor Chacon got these
two beauties at the Point. No Point Light area

Monday, December 10, 2012

Virginia's Chesapeake Bay rockfish and trout bonanza continues

Remember that Virginia’s spotted sea trout (a.k.a. speckled trout) regulations changed as of December 1. Dr. Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association and a well-known Tidewater area dentist reminds us that through the end of March, the bag limit is reduced to 5 per person and only 1 of those fish may be 24 inches or longer. This is to protect the great wintertime Elizabeth River fishery.

A striper is netted near the Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Dr. Neill also says, “Our main December fish, the striped bass, is here in force. Jumbo-sized rockfish are mostly being caught along the bayside of the Eastern Shore and at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Anglers fishing with live eels are [catching] most of the largest fish, though anglers trolling artificials in these same locations are coming in with limits of large fish as well. Large [rockfish] can be found along the Baltimore Channel and more are showing along the oceanside beaches.”

The fishing dentist continues with, "The York River has produced good catches of striped bass in the 36 to 40 inch range. Smaller striped bass can be found at the James River crossings. When you have had enough of rockfish, tautog are waiting on the Bridge-Tunnel and on other structures in the Bay and close to the coast. They are on structures further out like the Tower Reef and Triangle wrecks also but those places are so loaded with sea bass (season closed) that catching a ‘tog will be a challenge."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Former Maryland freshwater chief goes after Georgia redfish

Bob Lunsford and a shallow water redfish caught in Georgia a few days ago
Former Maryland freshwater fisheries chief, Bob Lunsford, is enjoying retirement and one of his “must do” items on his annual Bucket List is an outing in the salty waters of Port Royal Sound, found just east of Savannah, Ga.

Capt. Scott Wagner holds one of Pam Lunsford's redfish for the camera
Bob and wife Pam firmly believe that you find redfish a lot quicker if you engage the services of a good guide. In this case it was Capt. Scott Wagner, who specializes in small-party trips with his center console boat. The name of his service is Savannahfly (912 308-3700). Capt. Wagner and his boat find it easy to reach the shallow backwaters where the redfish hang out.

“I bet we fished in less than 10 inches of water,” said Bob after landing a pretty red drum. “They stay in very shallow water, sometimes so shallow you can see their dorsal fins showing above the water surface.”

Bob and Pam used spinning tackle and small plastic jerkbaits to entice the juvenile channel bass to bite – and the little lures did very well, indeed.


Colder weather and a chance of rain doesn't stop these fellows

Guide Andy Andrzejewski and a crappie in a gloved hand
My two fishing pals, the bass guide Andy Andrzejewski, of La Plata, Md., and Marty "Scuppy" Magone, of Bracey, Va., yesterday put Andy's 22-footer into the water from the tidal Potomac River's Marshall Hall ramp.

As Marty said, "Our morning adventure started out with  threatening rain clouds and a cold wind, but within a half hour of launching Andy's boat we were sitting comfortably only 10 minutes from the ramp,  casting Mann's Sting Ray grubs or a tiny Roadrunner spin-jig for whatever was willing to bite. 

Andy got into the bass almost immediately
"Andy was in the zone right off the bat nailing eight bass in a row. He later switched to his light 4-pound-test rig and a small jig/grub combo and caught crappies and bass."

"Other sucessful lures were the ShadRap crankbait and a small sinking twitch bait. All told, we caught 23 bass, 3 dozen crappie, 6 yellow perch and 1 bluegill."

Marty Magone and a good crappie
While fishing on the Virginia side of the river, the boys ran into Kevin Wilson who runs the Fat Boy's Outdoors web site. Check it out.

You'll find a link to Kevin's web page on the lower left side on this page. Click on it. You'll like it. Kevin was fishing with a pal, Rodger, and they were catching fish as well. "I finished with 80 crappie, 21 largemouth and three yellow perch, with one of the bass going 18-1/2" long," said Kevin. "Rodger caught a mess of crappie, some 'gills, and some bass, too."

Kevin Wilson, owner of Fat Boy's Outdoors web site
The good part: There wasn't a boat to be seen anywhere else, which is rare in these parts. However, the fishing game changes on the Potomac when cold weather arrives. Far too many boaters winterize their craft and hang it up when they could actually have a ball during the winter.

During dreary overcast skies, Andy sets the hook to yet another bass.

This fellow sometimes is known as "Rain Room" Magone. Here he is seen on the Marshall Hall ramp, ready to fight the elements with his world-famous (according to him) Rain Room outfit and a wind-stopping face mask.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Do it right and rockfish or sea trout are yours in lower Bay waters

Top mid-Atlantic lady angler Dr. Julie Ball says fishing fans down in her Virginia Beach neck of the woods are watching the weather trends carefully in hopes of a repeat of last year’s amazing winter inshore fishery. “In 2011," she says, "the mild temperatures encouraged an unprecedented extended layover of striped bass and bluefin tunas in shallow coastal waters right off Virginia Beach well into the New Year, attracting attention nationwide. Now that the larger rockfish are here and sightings of bluefin tuna are finally trickling in, the only remaining element is Mother Nature. So, time will tell.”

Julie adds, “In the meantime, the Chesapeake Bay’s rockfish season is in full swing. Even more big stripers continue to filter into the lower Bay, with many fish averaging around 40 pounds [and] some hovering to around 50 pounds in the mix. Most of the larger fish are coming from the Eastern Shore side of the Bay where fishing with live eels is the key.” 

David Lusk with a 7-lb. seatrout caught on a suspended
 jerkbait from a kayak in the Elizabeth River
The lady dentist and fishing world record holder adds that many of these brutes are the result of presenting live eels along the floodlight lines and pilings at the High Rise section of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel at night on moving tides, but some rockfish are also caught during the day. The biggest specimens currently come from drifting live eels along the channel edges off Plantation Light, Kiptopeke State Park, and Fisherman’s Island. 

”Shallow-water anglers continue to experience excellent speckled trout catches of respectable fish ranging to well over 20-inches. All the popular trout holes are producing well lately, but the Elizabeth River continues to hold the most consistent action with larger fish. Remember, the new speckled trout regulations allow a limit of five fish per person with only one measuring 24 inches or longer.”

Julie reminds us that flounder are available on both inshore and offshore wrecks right now, along with nice triggerfish and jumbo seabass, but the seabass are still illegal to keep. "Deeper wrecks can also produce some nice tautog if you can get past the seabass.  Big chopper bluefish are still prowling many of the deeper wrecks, and will gladly take most any fresh bait. You may even see some bluefin tuna rolling in the same areas but be sure to check the bluefin regulations before you target these brutes," she says. 

Deep droppers continue to bring in good numbers of decent blueline tilefish and blackbellied rosefish from depths of 300 feet of water or more near the Norfolk Canyon. For more information go to

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Maryland deals with bass tournaments – but, sorry, no cigar

Maryland’s Tidal Bass Program specialist, Joe Love, says to improve black bass fisheries management, his Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service now will require qualifying bass tournament directors to obtain free permits and report catch information. The regulation has been established to increase communication between tournament directors and fisheries managers, and improve data reporting.

You might think you tried your best, Dr. Love, but you don’t win even a little cigar for your efforts. 

The object of tournament anglers' affection -- the bass
Dr. Love says, “With hundreds of tidal and non-tidal tournaments each year, Maryland’s black bass fishery, including largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, is one of the most important in the State. This permit will help us identify directors and accumulate valuable catch information from them, which will improve black bass fisheries management.” What he does not address is the state’s wrongful belief that bass tournaments provide an important economic boost to the localities in which fishing contests are held. They don’t.

So why be so concerned about out-of-towners coming to the upper tidal Potomac, for example. Local residents already are fed up with the kow-towing by state park officials to tournament participants. Many a local fisherman has been forced to wait before he or she could launch a boat, while preference is shown to the sparkleboats from around the country. Parking spots are long gone if a father and son who live in the neighborhood decide to launch a boat from “their” state taxpayer-supported facility.

Yet, Dr. Love apparently doesn’t care about that. He only wants to get to know the people who make a ton of money from their cast-for-cash tournaments, but do not have to fork over heavy sums to the state for clogging up boat ramps and parking lots. It has long been a wish by local fishermen that the state should charge commercial fishing permit fees since the contestants fish for money, not to have recreational fun. Just like the state’s watermen, who also fish for money and pay through the nose for the privilege, the visitors do not require more than a temporary sport fishing license.

What also was not addressed by Dr. Love is the irrefutable fact of something called “delayed mortality” of livewell-kept fish that are eventually released after much showing off and handling by the human “conservationists.” That part is a sad joke – the part when tournament organizers pat themselves on the back and talk about how all the fish are let go alive. Sorry about that. A large percentage of the fish dies later on from stress.

So no cigar and no kewpie doll for your efforts, Dr. Love.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Virginia outdoor shows are coming with the start of the New Year

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Action up and down the Chesapeake and nearby Atlantic Ocean

Chris Stanton with a well-fed Chesapeake Bay striper
Lanny Couch and a Buoy 72 "rock"
The fishing for striped bass in Maryland portions of the Chesapeake Bay has changed quite a bit. “Huge schools of feeding fish moved from Point No Point south to buoys 61 and 60 near the mouth of the Cut Channel off Virginia’s Rappahanock River,” reports Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park. “The big stripers from the ocean continued to infiltrate the Bay and trollers using big baits and big weights scraped them off the bottom from Buoy 72 to Point Lookout. The trolling there still is very good.” 

Ken also said that the local population of rockfish in the Patuxent and Potomac rivers is excellent. “Trollers and jiggers using small bucktails trimmed with pork rind are catching stripers from 22 to 30 inches. The fish are on the oyster bars in small schools and there are small knots of birds feeding on leftovers to show where  to after the stripers.”

By the way, if you like deep-water bottom fishing, the white perch in the Patuxent River – around the Solomons Bridge are -- is very good in the 60- to 70-foot range. Small pieces of bloodworm on spinner hooks can get you plenty of perch for dinner during tide changes.

Dr. Ken Neill with a 16-pound ocean bluefish
Meanwhile, down in Virginia's part of the Atlantic Ocean, Dr. Ken Neill, III, an International Game Fish Association representative and the president of Virginia’s Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association, Inc., sent the following message from the Virginia Beach area, “After the great rockfish action yesterday, I ran out after bluefish today (Dec. 3)."
There were plenty of sea bass --- all were released

"There were plenty of sea bass at the Triangle Wrecks (all of them were released). I jigged up a few bluefish with other bites that did not stay tight. The one bluefish I kept weighed in a bit over 16 pounds. I [had no bites trolling] and there were no signs of bluefin tuna. It was calm, sunny and warm -- a really nice December day."

(Ed. note: Many people who enjoy fishing during the warm days might not be aware that some of the hottest fishing of the year occurs throughout the winter months. It happens in the lowest parts of the Chesapeake Bay and out in the Atlantic where a number of wrecks deliver the goods.)

David Maass once again wins Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Dec. 3, 2012 – Wildlife artist David Maass of Long Lake, Minn., is Ducks Unlimited's 2013 Artist of the Year (AOY). His winning painting, "Pitching into Cypress," earned Maass his fourth AOY award, more than any other artist.

"Pitching into Cypress" painting wins for David Maass
"I don't think an artist who paints mainly waterfowl and upland birds could have a higher honor than being named Ducks Unlimited's Artist of the Year. And winning it for the fourth time in a career is almost unbelievable," Maass said. "I am both tremendously honored and humbled."

As an avid conservationist, Maass has fostered the protection and restoration of wildlife habitat through his involvement with DU's Artist of the Year program, winning top honors in 1974, 1988 and 2004. He has also designed 38 duck and conservation stamps, including two federal duck stamps.

"David Maass is a pillar in the wildlife art community and has been an integral part of DU's Artist of the Year and overall art programs for nearly 40 years," DU CEO Dale Hall said. "His amazing artwork and his dedication to waterfowl and wetlands conservation have earned him much-deserved awards throughout his career, and Ducks Unlimited is proud to honor his work again in 2013."

Maass's renowned wildlife art career spans five decades, making him a pioneer in this genre. Known to some of his fellow artists as the "Dean of Wildlife Art," Maass continues to produce lifelike depictions of many waterfowl species, habitat types and favorite hunting locations across America. Limited edition prints will be available through Ducks Unlimited in January 2013.