Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh, the fun some people have with wildlife on their lawns

My friend and former neighbor, Joe Novak, a businessman who also is a licensed hunter education instructor in Maryland, stays in touch and this week he sent a photo of a young deer busily working around the edges of Joe's neatly manicured property.

A spike buck in training
"I've been working with this little spike buck the last week or so, trying to get it to eat the weeds from our  mulch beds," wrote Joe. "I still have to break him of straying from the planned menu and grabbing a flower here and there. I'm thinking if it works out I could cut my weed spray cost by a $130 a summer, which could be better spent on more arrows for use on the non-trained deer."

Yeah, Joe is a bow hunter and a very successful one at that. As that spike buck grows and advances with his "weed eating training," I hope the deer remembers that.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A fine variety of fishing action is had in the Bay between MD/VA

Ruth Lamb, of Austin, TX, with a few Patuxent white perch
More bluefish have moved into the Southern Maryland portions of the Chesapeake Bay. They’re striking trolled surgical eels and spoons off Point Lookout, about a mile east of the public fishing pier. The blues, says Ken Lamb, of the Lexington Park Tackle Box, range from one-and-a-half pounds up to four pounds and they measure close to 24 inches.

The bay and mouth of the Patuxent are now the home of schools of bait fish that have been absent since early June.  The predator rockfish, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel will now gather and hunt for any such available food. By the way, quite a few Spanish mackerel now are down around Buoy 68.

Steve Helmrich with a 22" Honga River spotted sea trout
Lamb, who like most local fishermen refers to spotted sea trout as speckled trout, reports that the Eastern Shore’s Honga River has been the hotspot for trout. “[But] they play hide and seek daily,” he says. “The good days have ice boxes full of 18 to 22 inch specks, then on off days [there’ll be] some undersized fish and disappointment.

Stripers can be caught on live spot baits near the Gas Docks on any given day. The rockfish are in the 18- to 24-inch range, so remember to use the smaller spot.

Leesburg's Leon Joyce, with a 21" flounder from Target Ship
Spot, perch, and croakers are everywhere in the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac and the Patuxent rivers. Get some bloodworms, cut them up, put the pieces on the hooks of high-low bottom fishing rigs and you might catch a bunch. By the way, there are a lot of small redfish around that will jump on the hooks, looking for an easy meal. But remember the redfish have to measure at least 18 inches before you can think of keeping one --- and one is the daily limit. (The spot on its tail, or several spots on its back, give it away. If you see one like that, it’s a redfish (also known as channelbass or red drum).

Ken Lamb and Honga River spotted trout and a croaker
Talking about red drum, big specimens in the 30- to 50-pound range are cruising around Buoy 72. Spoons in white, chrome or multi-colors can attract them. These fish have a 27-inch maximum, so most are released.

Finally, what's pleasing so many Northern Neck, Va., and St. Mary's County, Md., anglers is the apparent return of flounder fishing. It seems to get better every day, although I haven't heard from my friend Charlie Stewart yet as concerns the outside stretches of the Potomac River's Cornfield Harbor.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chesapeake Bay's Target Ship area delivers spotted sea trout

Chuck Wiggins and Matt Luxford with spotted sea trout
From Buzz's Marina in Ridge, Md., Christy Henderson sent us this picture of Virginians, Chuck Wiggins and Matt Luxford who fished around the Target Ship area of the Chesapeake and look what they come back to the docks with. These spotted sea trout (or speckled trout, as some call them) hit jigged plastics on 3/8-ounce jig hooks.

"This weekend we are seeing Spanish mackerel, blues and specks mostly," said Christy. And that's a good thing..

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The biggest freshwater fish ever caught in North America?

A monster white sturgeon weighing an estimated 1,100 pounds and measuring 12 feet, 4 inches was caught and released on July 16 on the Fraser River, a British Columbia (Canada) river known for large sturgeon. The angler was Michael Snell, guided by Dean Werk of Great River Fishing Adventures.

Catches of white sturgeon averaging 30 to 100 pounds are not unusual on the Fraser, and even 250-pounders won't raise an eyebrow. But how about one that weighs more than half a ton? The sturgeon very likely is/was the largest freshwater fish ever caught on rod and reel in North America.

"I've been a professional guide on the Fraser for 25 years and I've never seen a sturgeon this big," said Werk, owner/guide of Great River Fishing Adventures. The huge fish was thought to be around 100 years old, said one report. You can see a picture of the fish if you click on the blue-highlighted Great River Fishing Adventures.

A whopping Virginia state record wahoo caught by lady angler

Susan Nelson and her Virginia state record wahoo

A 122-pound, 1-ounce wahoo, caught June 23 by Susan Nelson, of Whiteford, Md., has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Nelson’s catch surpassed the existing record of 109 pounds, caught nearly 20 years earlier by Delmo Dawson, of Zuni, Va.

Nelson made her record-setting catch in the Atlantic, off Wachapreague, in an area known locally as the Lumpy Bottom, while fishing with Capt. Keith Neal aboard the Wachapreague-based charter vessel “Teaser.” The monster wahoo hit a Joe Shute lure and ballyhoo combo rigged on 130-pound mono line.

Friday, July 27, 2012

When Charlie Stewart invites you, get ready for fishing action

On the left is Michael Henderson, owner of Buzz’s Marina on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County, with Southern Marylanders Charlie and RJ Stewart next to Michael as they look over a bonanza catch of 2- and 3-pound bluefish. The fish were caught trolling surgical tubing lures, or by jigging metal, such as the Hopkins and other spoons in the Chesapeake Bay, not far from the mouth of the creek. Robert Stewart shot the photo, so he wasn’t in the picture, but he surely helped catch fish. I’m mentioning that just so no one will think that catch limits were exceeded. (Actually, it was Christy Henderson, Michael’s wife, who pointed out that no creel limits were broken.)

Michael, Charlie, RJ and the blues. Robert shot the photo, but he fished as well.
By the way, I’ll wager a fair sum that one of the guys will have filleted those blues and began firing up the smoker on the same day. Smoked bluefish fillets are a taste delight. Also, when fillets are seasoned, lightly battered and pan-fried almost to a crispy stage, watch out! They’ll be devoured. The ones in the picture are of a perfect size.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

These smart-alecks should get a 15-yard penalty for taunting

Andy "The Grump" Andrzejewski's eyes glazed over
It started when my pseudo-brother, Marty "Scuppy" Magone, relayed a message after finishing an outing with pro guide Andy Andrzejewski in a Virginia tributary to the tidal Potomac River a few days ago. 

But the morning wasn't over until the man who has a questionable reputation as the Scuppernong River Weighmaster --- hence the name "Scuppy" --- snapped a photo of Andy "The Grump" Andrzejewski preparing to gulp down a sandwich to die for.

"We wet our lines in Quantico Creek this morning," he began. "As you can see the highlight of the day was a home-grown tomato and applewood-smoked bacon sandwich slathered with mayo." Marty suggested that the look on Andy's face appeared to be glassy-eyed and delirious.

Marty "Scuppy" Magone and a Quantico Creek bass
Oh, let's not forget the fishing. "The bass were striking spinnerbaits, wacky worms and Chatterbaits in the grass beds to the rear of the creek," said Marty. "It was very hot and humid. We quit at 11 a.m.

So let me stop for a moment and tell these scalawags how sorry I feel for them. Imagine, being forced to eat piled-high tomato and bacon sandwiches, and catching those doggone basses. Yeah, I feel real bad for you guys while I'm nursing a freshly contracted case of shingles (which feels ever so good ---- NOT!) in the home state of the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, the Revolutionary War hero who kicked the Brits' butt.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A super fishing week in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore

Michele Chelednik and a striper from a Patuxent River beach
What a great week of fishing we just had, reports the owner of the Tackle Box, Ken Lamb. The water temperature is in the low 80s and some tropical fish have shown up on the fringes. We saw whiting and sea robins, and of course the tiny redfish continue in huge numbers. 

Jumbo spot were caught in the Patuxent River at Fishing Point and the Hawk's nest. There are plenty of small and medium spot most everywhere. Croaker are in the rivers and the Chesapeake Bay in all sizes, and white perch are the best we have seen in years. Live-liners are using spot to catch rockfish around the Gas Docks.

Nena Thompson and a dozen fine Patuxent River perch
(A reminder from the DNR: Make sure you know the difference between a spot and a small croaker. You can't live-line a croaker if it doesn't meet the minimum 9-inch size.) 

Rockfish were caught in good sizes and numbers around structure along the shoreline in the mouth of the Patuxent by casters using top water lures. Some fish were seen breaking near the old lighthouse site at Cedar Point and some snapper blues were caught there last weekend.

Steve Helmrich with spotted sea trout from the Honga River
Spotted sea trout were in the in the Honga River early in the week prompting a group of us to venture over the "speck" hole on Wedensday. We caught about eight undersized trout and a few tiny reds and rockfish, but came home with the fish box empty. The trout fishing can be terrific on any given day, and the next can find the water barren. Such is fishing, says Ken.

Bill Roberts with a 14-inch croaker from the Potomac River

Some red drum (a.k.a. channelbass or redfish) in the 40- to 50-pound range were caught by trollers using big spoons across the Mud Leads. Some experienced captains have landed as many as 14 on a good day. Bluefish are in the Mud Leads too in the 3 to 5 pound size. Surgical eel lures work great for blues.

 Cornfield Harbor has lots of medium sized spot, and they are getting bigger daily and big hardheads are in the St. Mary's River. They’re getting that golden hue.

Ken Lamb caught these tasty Patuxent River white perch using a Beetlespin lure

Sunday, July 22, 2012

DNR suggests ways to keep bass alive in livewells . . . but

Many black-bass anglers hold onto their catch for an hour or more throughout the fishing day, says a Maryland DNR report from Dr. Joseph Love, PhD, the man in charge of tidal bass -- a man who also appears to be firmly on the side of bass tournaments. "Keeping the bass alive in a livewell can be a challenge especially during summer months," he says. “Many people have different ideas on how to keep those fish alive. We recently studied some of those ideas and just how good water quality is in the livewell. We learned that recirculation with fresh water every 30 minutes for at least 3 to 5 minutes is very important.” For questions or comments, respond to Joe Love, jlove@dnr.state.md.us and you can read more of the work in the attachment Keeping Bass Alive in the Live Well  

However . . . bass boat livewell oxygen levels and weigh-in bags that were tested in Texas revealed disturbing dissolved oxygen (DO) content and clearly demonstrated that the livewells were "deathwells" and in the case of tournament anglers waiting in line to tally their catches, holding the bass in a bag, the bags might be "kill bags.” So says the study made in July  in the Lone Star State.

Will this bass get enough oxygen in a livewell?
Carl Wengenroth, the National Conservation Director of the International Federation of Black-Bass Anglers, writes that when livewell water pumps are running, spray bars aerating the livewell water as usual, such a boat would be classified by most tournament officials as having a "functional livewell."

"Functional livewells" in July and August when water temperatures can exceed 80 degrees? Wengenroth says it’s a shill game played out thousand of times [on hot summer days] by tournament officials responsible for certifying bass boat livewells as "functional.”

A functional livewell must contain water that must be safe for all the fish being transported all day long in the summer or any other time of the year. Bass boat livewell (aerated) water quality can be deadly according to dissolved oxygen (DO) meter test results. Wengenroth says the reality is that aerated livewells are not safe, nor functional,  when they contain a tournament limit of bass in July in Texas [ed. note: or any other state when water temperatures reach 80 degrees.]

Carl Wengenroth and his dissolved oxygen meter tests have blown the lid off current tournament beliefs because the tests showed a consistent lack of oxygen. According to his DO meter, all is not well in livewell land. Check out what Carl has found and published http://lonestarbass.com/bass-fishing/livewell-care-for-bass-step-by-step-a-day-on-the-water/
Wengenroth wrote, “Everytime I have tested [my livewell] without [added] oxygen, running just aereators --- after a full 8 hours I was lucky enough to have 15 lbs. or better for 5 [hours]. The ppm in my livewell was less than 4 ppm. I was basically slow-cooking and oxygen-starving my fish."

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's so hot that one of our friends fishes in German Lederhosen

That's Lake Gaston, Va., resident Dez Rubesch showing off two fine largemouth bass that were caught in his home lake. And take a look at his Bavarian Lederhosen, the famous leather shorts that have been popular in Germany for centuries. One thing is certain, you can't destroy these shorts. In fact, Dez's good friend, Marty Magone, wished he had a pair, but he said, "Unfortunately, they don't sell them with an embroidered Marine Corps insignia." Semper Fi, Marty!

Bob Lunsford, of Anne Arundel County, Md., nailed this bass on a shallow-lipped crankbait while fishing with bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (his ad is on the left side of this page). "We were so busy catching bass, we didn't have time to snap any more photos," said Lunsford. In the background is the Chicamuxen Creek, one of the fine tributaries to the tidal Potomac River.

Marty Magone really got into the landlocked stripers that for years have been the fisherman's staple in Virginia's Lake Gaston. He used a Rico topwater lure to catch these four, but also let others go. The fish made a mistake when they started a bit of a commotion on the water surface and Marty spotted them. It turned out to be a fatal error on their part.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Keep an eye on skilled tournament angler Andy Montgomery

Montgomery found fish under awful conditions

ANDERSON, S.C. --- Why a man with a civil engineering degree from Clemson University would forsake potentially lucrative job offers and begin a new life as a professional bass tournament angler is anyone's guess, but that is precisely what Andy Montgomery, of Blacksburg, S.C., has done.

When the 29-year-old met me in the parking lot of the Portman Marina (not far from Interstate 85's Exit 14) on the shores of the 56,000-acre Lake Hartwell, he didn't wear a convincing look of optimism. At 7 a.m., the temperature already began to climb toward 80 degrees; forecasts said it would reach 98 or more. The humidity was so thick you could slice it, while the water temperature stood at 84 degrees.

The huge man-made lake, which is very deep, currently has lost some of its mass -- blame the prolonged drought that has covered the entire state. Yet, only 50 feet out from sun-scorched red clay shorelines, the water depth can easily range from 50 to 100 feet or more.

Montgomery launched his 20-foot-long Ranger Comanche, then looked around the shallow dock waters, picked up one of a half dozen baitcasting rods attached to expensive level-wind reels and checked the lure. It was a Strike King "Sexy Dawg" topwater "walk-the-dog'" cigar-shaped beauty with treble hooks fore and aft. A few seconds later it landed in a shallow stretch of unused launch ramp waters and quickly began to leave a left-right-left wake as it was retrieved. It didn't travel very far.

Andy Montgomery carefully watches his electronics as he searches for fish
"Woosh!" A largemouth bass sucked in the Sexy Dawg. It wasn't a very big bass, but it was the first fish of the day, which served to remove some of the tension in Montgomery. That  delighted me because, to be honest, I didn't expect much of anything on such a sultry, humid day. However, Montgomery appeared to know that if you do it right, you can catch fish anytime.

As we cast our surface lures, occasionally watching hordes of small bream chase after them, Andy Montgomery and I chatted about things that are important to a fisherman's existence. To my horror, I learned that Andy will not eat fried chicken livers and gizzards. "I can't stand 'em," said the Southern-bred, Southern-raised South Carolinian. If Gen. Robert E. Lee could have heard the young man, I'll wager he'd have started spinning in his grave.

Montgomery's second good-sized bass of the morning
Eventually, I offered him one of my carefully crafted, world-class triple-meat hoagies. He was anxious to give them a try until he learned the bread was slathered with mayonnaise and also contained sweet pickle chips. "I don't like mayonnaise and just to look at a pickle makes me sick," he said. I was flabbergasted.

However, what didn't turn Montgomery's stomach was the next bass that jumped on the Sexy Dawg just inches from dry land along a gently sloping shoreline. The point of attack came in water that was no more than 2 feet deep, but where Andy's boat sat, the expensive GPS/Depthsounder/chart screen said it was 15 feet deep. "You need to remember that," he said. "Try to find shallow shorelines with similar kind of land behind them. Ignore high banks and bluffs during summer. In these shallow strips of water you might find topwater lure action all day long, even in the hot sun. I can't explain why, other than that the bass right now are hunting for the small bream and that's where the bait hangs out."

As he made long, accurate casts that landed within inches of the dry dirt, Montgomery spotted a tiny bit of commotion in the water farther down the shoreline. He stepped on the trolling motor pedal and began casting. Only moments later a chunky largemouth of about 4 pounds thrashed the water surface. "I love it," said Andy as he skillfully lipped the bass, waited for a photo to be snapped, then quickly released the fish, watching it disappear in the clear lake water.
That's what portions of the 56,000-acre Lake Hartwell look like
A small bass is about to be set free.

Andy Montgomery has been very successful as a professional angler. Since 2005 he's earned over $700,000 in a variety of cast-for-cash contests, some run by the FLW organization, others by the B.A.S.S. tournament group. He's earned a competition berth in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic, and has qualified for five FLW Championship events. However, the South Carolinian says he now will concentrate only on the B.A.S.S. Elite tournament series.

Montgomery is being sponsored by the Strike King Lure Company. He dutifully warned me that if I tied on anything but a Strike King lure, he would tell his sponsors of my misdeeds.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Woman being treated for rabies after being attacked by a deer

A woman from Lavale, Md., is being treated after being kicked in the face by a rabies-infected deer.

News of this was first learned after a story, written by Michael A. Sawyers, appeared in the Cumberland Times-News. Sawyers is the newspaper's popular outdoors editor.

Around 6 a.m. on July 6, when Theresa Stevens let her dog out, she found herself face-to-face with a deer. The deer suddenly stood up and struck her cheek with one hoof and her shoulder with the other.

Eventually, the deer crawled under a vehicle and Jim Mullan of the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources was called. Mullan recalled the deer being emaciated and possibly injured by a vehicle. In its weakened condition, Mullan believes that the deer may have had contact with a rabid animal.

The deer was euthanized and after samples were tested to see if it had chronic wasting disease (a current worry by wildlife officials concerning white-tailed deer), it was confirmed that the animal was rabid. Mrs. Stevens, meanwhile, is undergoing a series of preventive injections to combat a disease that in some cases can be fatal.

For details, check out Sawyers' story at http://times-news.com/latest_news/x1447686627/Deer-with-rabies-kicks-LaVale-woman-in-the-face

Spotted sea trout, stripers, croakers and perch anglers score

Sam Brenman with fat Patuxent River perch
From the Tackle Box store in Lexington Park, Md., owner Ken Lamb reports that stripers are plentiful for live-liners using tiny Norfolk spot as bait north of the Gas Docks on the Chesapeake Bay side of Calvert County. In addition, the rockfish are farther up in the Patuxent River in shallows around structure. "Do not be surprised if some big ones move in and take baits intended for hardhead and spot," says Ken, then adds that the Potomac River has fine rockfish opportunities up the river on the Virginia side. Trollers using small bucktails are finding success, says Ken. By the way, people who fish from the Patuxent River's public pier at Greenwell State Park (Hollywood area) report keeper rockfish, spot, perch and croaker in good numbers.

Scott Burroughs and a 12-1/2" white perch from Mill Creek
If it's spotted sea trout you want, Ken reports that the "specks" have moved into the Honga River. Trout in the 14- to 22-inch class are very active during moving tides. "They love Sassy Shads, Gulp baits on jig heads, live minnows fished on Carolina rigs and bucktails," says Ken. Incidentally, the trout have started to bite also in the mouth of the Patuxent.  One angler said he caught a limit of fish (10 per person) off the sand bar at Drum Point. 

Croaker fishermen can score evrywhere, it seems. The Chesapeake's Buoy 72A turns uo plenty of hardheads, with charter fishing captains saying that night fishing trips has his customers pulling up two croakers at a time, non-stop, all you want to catch. Lamb says the most common bait is squid, but peeler crab chunks, bloodworm pieces, and shrimp will also score. The Potomac River tributary St. Mary's River has been giving up large hardheads way up into the inner river, while the Patuxent has a broad assortment of small and eating-size croakers.

J.R. Foster with a fine farm pond bass in Southern Maryland
Norfolk spot are plentiful most everywhere and they love pieces of bloodworm best of all.  "The Patuxent has good spot fishing at Green Holly, the mouth of Town Creek, Sandy Point, the Three Legged Buoy, Second Beach, Hawk's Nest, the Dolphin, and the mouth of St. Leonard's Creek," says Ken. Cornfield Harbor in the lower Potomac River is infested with spot. The marker at Ragged Point has spot white perch and hardhead in abundance.

Ken Lamb loves to fish for perch --- and here he shows part of a good catch

Monday, July 16, 2012

If you've never fought a cobia, you don't know what you're missing

Beth Synowiec and a 66.5-pound cobia
If you ever get a chance to fish with friends or as a customer aboard a charter boat that specializes in finding one of the toughest fighting fish anywhere in the word --- the cobia --- drop everything and go.

The picture on the right was taken by well-known Virginia Beach fisherman Wes Blow. It's of Beth Synowiec with a 66.5 pound cobia. She caught it (and fought it big-time) while fishing with Wes in the area of the lower Chesapeake Bay's Bluefish Rock. In all, they hooked up with seven of these incredible battlers before they returned to port.

A 66-plus-pounder is not a huge cobia, what with specimens weighing over 90 pounds being caught fairly frequently. My biggest ever was a 56-pounder, caught in the backwaters of North Carolina's Pamlico Sound. At the time, I thought I had the devil himself on the business end of the line. It took a seeming eternity before the cobia came close enough to be gaffed.

Why did we gaff my cobia? Its flesh is delicious and with plenty of butter/dill sauce on large broiled fillets, we kept it from being too dry. Lordy, did we ever stuff ourselves. What a fish!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hunting season is coming; do you need permission slips?

Here is a permission slip that you can print out and use when visiting landowners to ask for permission to hunt on his/her private lands. In most states, written permission is required. Don't get caught without it.

                                     Permission to Hunt

I hereby grant permission to the person named below to hunt
on my property located at ____________________________


during open seasons for wild game that can be legally hunted.

Signed: __________________________________________

                        In return for the privilege of hunting on this property, I agree to 
                        obey the laws, to observe all safety precautions and practices, 
                        to take every precaution against fire, and to assume all 
                        responsibility and liability for my person and my property 
                        while on the landowner’s property.

Signed _________________________________________

Address ________________________________________


Hunting license number ___________________________

Date __________________________________________

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chigger Craws and Ribworms did the job in Mattawoman Creek

Steve Riha (left) and Dale Knupp. Why no picture of Nancy, I'll never know
My friend Dale Knupp dropped his boat into the tidal Potomac's Mattawoman Creek the day before yesterday. His steadfast fishing companion and wife, Nancy, was in  the boat, so was long-time friend Steve Riha, whose name a lot of Southern Marylanders can remember from Steve's croaker fishing parties down around the Route 301 Bridge in days gone by.

The threesome was after the bass that so often cooperate in the Mattawoman. When the day was over they  had caught well over 40 largemouths and Dale said, "It turned out to be mostly a Berkley fishing day. All of my fish, except one, came on a 4-inch Chigger Craw, either in sapphire blue or green pumpkin colors. Steve Riha was using the old Blue Fleck Ribworms and a black/blue jig'n'craw. Nancy caught a dozen bass on a watermelon/gold-flake Zoom finesse worm."

Steve Riha with a fine Mattawoman largemouth bass
The creek portion that Dale fished in was clear and every fish was hooked in over five feet of water.

A word about lure choices. Dale likes the Berkley Chigger Craw and so do I, but I also love Strike King's Baby Rage Tail, which also does a "craw" job on the bass. The same goes for various plastic worms. Use what you prefer. I'm a big fan of the Berkley Ribworm, but also Strike King's garlic flavored Zero worm.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Incredible statistics concerning white-tailed deer meeting vehicles

Ever wonder how many deer are killed during something known as DVCs (deer/vehicle collisions)?

The numbers are mind-boggling. For example, Pennsylvania has led the nation four of the past five years in DVCs, averaging about 99,000 per year. Michigan led the nation once and has been in second place four of the past five years, averaging roughly 93,000 deer that were killed by vehicles.  Pennsylvania and Michigan more than double the average of the next top five states. 

At the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii averages less than 50 DVCs per year, and I didn’t even know there were deer in the Aloha State. In the continental U.S., the District of Columbia and Nevada average about 300 and 900 per year, respectively. The top 10 states for DVCs over the past five years are Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In spite of hot weather and very warm water, the fishing is good

From Southern Maryland comes word that Norfolk spot moved into the mouth of the Patuxent River last week. So says Tackle Box proprietor, Ken Lamb, from his Lexington Park store and he adds, “Good catches of spot in all sizes were made at Sandy Point, Kingston Hollow, and Hawk's Nest. Spot will continue to move in and [be available to anglers] at Helen's Bar, St. Leonard's Creek and other locations all the way to Benedict. Spot also are in the Potomac River at St. George’s  Island, Smith Creek, Ragged Point and Bushwood,” said Ken.

Jacob Caldwell with a 30-inch rockfish from Cedar Point
Meanwhile, the croaker fishing will perk up now in the lower Potomac. Pound netters made  huge catches of croakers (hardhead) last week and all I can say is that I’m hoping there will be some left for recreational fishermen. Ken says that new batches of croakers are  coming in from the lower Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic. “Big croakers, up to a reported 22 inches, are in the mouth of the St. Mary's River, off the Potomac [and] the Patuxent has decent croakers in all areas.” 

Steve Helmrich and spotted sea trout from Tangier
“White perch in the 8- to 11-inch range are plentiful in the creeks and rivers. The spot invasion has allowed live-liners using live spot to catch rockfish at the Gas Docks.  Most anglers using live spot and bait-runner reels slammed the rockfish last week. The fish are not huge, but very respectable,” said Ken, who also mentioned that breaking rockfish are coming up in the afternoons during rising tides at buoy 77, Little Cove Point, in the main Bay. About one in ten of these are keepers (over 18 inches).

Speckled trout are in the lower Bay and in Tangier Sound. Boaters not turned off with an hour's ride to Pokomoke Sound are getting their limits. The trout moved up to the Honga River last year about mid-July, so they may get closer next week.

Johnnie Caldwell with two Patuxent River rock

Monday, July 9, 2012

Why is it that the geese are all over the place in summer, but . . .

Why is that during gunning season for Canada geese you sometimes sit and wait all day and never see a goose close enough to aim at. But when the season is closed you could darned near hit them with your car. My friends Francis and Mike Guy, of Guy Bros. Marine in Clements (St. Mary's County), Maryland, sent this picture that was taken very close to a field the three of us have hunted in.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A demonstration of lure and fly action in a swimming pool

Two veteran Chesapeake anglers -- Scott McGuire and Chris Moe -- will utilize a swimming pool to demonstrate techniques for fishing with a variety of artificial baits and flies at the Monday, July 16, meeting of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Patuxent River Chapter.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at Zahniser’s Yachting Center Pool Bar on Solomons Island. It is free and open to the public. In addition to the planned demonstrations, anglers may show off or experiment with their own favorite artificial baits or flies using the swimming pool. Anglers are welcome to bring their families to enjoy a swim prior to the meeting. The Pool Bar will be serving beverages, sandwiches and a variety of appetizers.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Talk about a fishing cornucopia, the Potomac delivers the goods

Marty Magone spent the day fishing the tidal Potomac and a few tributaries with his long-time friend, the bass guide Andy Andrzejewski. Sure enough, Andy led Marty (who sometimes is known as Scuppy) to the fish. Here is Marty showing off a largemouth bass that jumped on a wacky-rigged fat worm.

Of course, Andy isn't surprised when a feisty blue catfish inhales a bass lure, as this well-fed young "cat" did for him. Actually, if he wants a catfish, he scoffs at using real bait for Mr. Whiskers -- that's how sure he is that he can find one using only artificial lures. I've seen him do it dozens of times.

While fishing the main stem of the Potomac, Andy and Marty ran into a local angler, Yang Liu, who had just tied into a fair Chinese snakehead. What surprised me was Marty saying they kind of had to convince the fellow to take the fish home and eat it.

On a separate note, can anyone tell me what this red-breasted bluegill was going to do with that topwater popper after it caught the lure? Talk about being aggressive, if bluegills grew as big as, say, a full-grown striper, they would probably try to tear the prop off your outboard motor.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Good news for duck hunters from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has released its preliminary report on breeding ducks and habitats, based on surveys conducted in May and early June. Total populations were estimated at 48.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed area. This estimate represents a 7 percent increase over last year's estimate of 45.6 million birds, and is 43 percent above the 1955-2010 long-term average. This year's estimate is a record high and is only the sixth time in the survey's history that the total duck population exceeded 40 million.

Of the 10 species traditionally reported, nine were similar to or increased in number from 2011. Two species (northern pintail and American wigeon) remained below their long-term average. Mallards, northern shovelers, blue-winged teal and scaup were the bright spots on this year's survey. For the first time since 1999, mallard populations have exceeded 10 million. Northern shovelers and bluewings again reached record highs (5.0 and 9.2 million, respectively). Scaup numbers showed improvement and are above 5 million for the first time since 1991. Scaup numbers showed improvement and are above 5 million for the first time since 1991, but still remain below the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) population goal. Only three species—northern pintail, American wigeon and scaup—remain below NAWMP goals.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Web readers sound off about mishandled bass tournament

Local fishermen, upset about a recent poorly handled Potomac River bass tournament out of Virginia's Leesylvania Park in Prince William County (see blog entitled "When will fisheries officials do something . . .) are weighing in about several things, one of them being the audacity of various for-profit tournament groups apparently believing they have a right to do as they wish with a publicly-owned natural resource -- our fish.

A La Plata, Md., bass boater wrote, "This does not surprise me. Some tournaments are run by people who care for the river and have a stake in its health, while others are run by people who don't (see FLW Tournament on Potomac 2009). Although I am not for tournament fishing (for reasons too lengthy to discuss here), its hard to tell someone what they can, and cannot, do with a fish that they are legally allowed to kill/eat. The truth is, until our state legislators enact laws that ban tournaments (or at least limit tournaments on hot days, and ban them during the pre-spawn/spawn period), this type of situation will continue to happen."

Then a Waldorf, Md., angler wrote, "It seems that fishing tournaments are the only organized sport that directly impacts our natural resources. In our 'new law’ happy state, how is it that no legislation has been aimed at tournaments or a tournament tax been mandated?

DNR sets seasons on every other aspect of fishing, the good Lord only knows why they won’t act upon this one. The tournament anglers are clearly commercial fishermen and should be governed as such. Whereas they are compensated with cash and prizes at the expense of the general public’s natural resources. But yet the State of Maryland bends over backwards to accommodate them.

The tournaments by out of state organizations are a farce in that they come to Maryland only because their home states protect bass from being kept for weigh-ins during the spawn. So they come here, where “No Rules” apply other than the misguided size limit changes.

A dissenting voice (that now says I was inaccurate in my using those words): Sorry Gene, but only 2 comments does not speak well on this matter.....Curly

(Dear Curly, we showed only 2 of a larger number of comments, all of them saying virtually the same thing. Space limitations simply do not permit unlimited publishing of all the material we receive. By the way, Curly, I am in no way obligated to publish everything I receive, even if you apparently think I should, or should mention that letters appeared elsewhere. Please, understand that.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's a steamy summer and inspite of the heat the fish are biting

Brian Cooper with a 9-inch croaker from the public
Elms Beach in the Patuxent River 
Rockfish of good sizes have moved into the Little CovePoint area in Calvert County, Md., says Tackle Box proprietor, Ken Lamb, from his Lexington Park location. "The rockfish were seen breaking the water surface there all last week at some point during the day. The best time is from 5:30 a.m. to around 8 a.m. before the crowds arrive and scare off the fish," said Ken, who also added that there are plenty of small rockfish in the 15 to 17 inch category  just about everywhere in the mouth of the Patuxent River. "Individual rockfish are cruising the shallows, eager to take surface lures, bucktails and Sassy Shads. Here again, the fish bite best at daybreak," he said.
There are also rockfish (striped bass) in the Potomac, from Ragged Point upstream to the Route 301 Bridge on the Virginia side. They are willing to take all types of trolled lures and be reminded that these rockfish measure from 20 to 30 inches in length.

If it's croakers you want you can catch them just about everywhere in all of Southern Maryland's waters. Most of these tasty fish measure from 6 to 10 inches, so please remember that the keeper size is 9 inches. The Chesapeake Bay offers croakers during the night at Buoy 72A. A good night will see limits of fish (35 per person), but poor nights can produce only a handful.
Tackle Box boss, Ken Lamb, with white perch from the Patuxent
Bluefish of good size are taking trolled spoons and eels in the Mud Leads and Norfolk spot are hooked off and on in the Paruxent. The eastern side of the Bay produces good numbers of spot in many locations, but the Honga River is one particularly fine area.
Currently, in the saline and brackish waters of Maryland, white perch are found everywhere. Ken Lamb says, "If you can see water, you are in the presence of perch. You can bottom fish in the deep, or cast tiny spinners to structure in the creeks, the perch will cooperate.The perch are big and they taste great."

Jacob Caldwell

Jacob Caldwell fished with his dad off the O'Club in the Cedar Point area of the Patuxent River and look what he came up with. Good show, Jacob!

Monday, July 2, 2012

When will fisheries officials do something about this outrage?

From a bass fishing web log reader comes the following message:

This will make your blood boil!

The National Capitol Bass Federation held a tournament out of Leesylvania yesterday. It was 103 degrees. These clowns held their weigh-in in the parking lot. They had no holding tanks with water for anglers to hold the bags of bass in while waiting to weigh. Many were seen laying the bags with bass on the hot asphalt while waiting to be weighed. The bass were then released into 18 inches of hot mud soup at the Leesylvania ramp. Now you tell me, what are the chances of survival for the bass. And these posers claim they are conservation oriented. What a disgrace!
         (signed) Anonymous

(We invite the federation to respond to this charge.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Huge tautog was 19, plus a giant cobia comes from Virginia

The 24-pound, 3-ounce tautog, caught on March 25 of this year by Dr. Ken Neill, of Seaford, Va., turned out to be a state record, to be sure, but Dr. Neill wanted to know how old the female bottom dweller was. It turns out the huge tautog was 19 years old. What a fish when you consider that the typical 'tog caught by deep-water wreck and rock bed anglers usually weighs 3 to 5 pounds.

Dr. Neill, a well-known Virginia Beach area dentist,  surpassed the long standing record of 24 pounds, caught by Gregory Bell in 1987.

In case you want to know where such trophy 'togs hang out, Neill made the record-setting catch at the Morgan wreck, which is one of the vessels contained within the popular Triangle Reef site, located slightly over 30 nautical miles off Cape Henry.

The 95-pound cobia being shown off by Virginia saltwater angler, Zachary Bowers, was at first thought to be a state record. It measured 65 inches long and had a 32-inch girth. Alas, it wasn't a record, but a super cobia all the same.

A 109-pound cobia caught on June 10th by Joseph F. Berberich II of Hayes, Va., has been certified as the new state record. Berberich caught his fish in the Chesapeake Bay at York Spit on his private boat, Sea Berb.