Friday, August 31, 2012

These two fishermen enjoy a day on the river even in the rain

Even in the rain, Marty Magone (that's him in his walking/talking Bass Pro Shop advertisement suit) and bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (his ad is on the left side of this page) go after the Potomac River's bass. In case you're wondering why Marty is going barefoot, you must remember that Marty grew up poor and shoes are something he never quite got used to.

Andy shows off a bass caught on a  topwater popper in the Mattawoman Creek, not far from the slow-down zone marker.

The rain stopped and Marty Magone was chugging topwater plugs at the largemouths. Let him tell it: "It was a very strange, yet rewarding morning of fishing," he said. "Andy and I launched at Smallwood around 0630 hrs under threatening skies, fully prepared to don rain gear at a moment's notice. There were no trailers in the parking lot and that was truly amazing. We saw not one bass boat all morning. Andy ran across the river to a feeder creek grass line where we proceeded to whack the heck out of the bass on topwater poppers. Rain showers visited us off and on but we were too busy catching bass. When we left this spot around 10 a.m., we had 22 bass. We then ran to the Mattawoman and craw-fished the grass turns for another eight fish. Our total was 30 bass." 

Andy Andrzejewski brings in a bass fooled by a surface popper.


Shortly after the boys stopped fishing, they motored across the river to Tim's River Shore Restaurant and ordered delicious cream of crab soup. Note how Marty and Andy hold up their saltine crackers. Marty convinces waitresses everywhere to give him free crackers. (He actually believes that the rest of us have to pay for them. Don't tell him.)

Occasionally, computers crash and create monstrous headaches

MAJOR COMPUTER SNAFU NOW FIXED

We had a computer malfunction for the past 3-1/2 days. Everything was put on hold until the Geek Squad found what was wrong and repaired it --- but not until I was put on a waiting list that made me sit on pins and needles. Now, it appears we're back in business and you'll once again be seeing fishing and hunting news, features and tidbits. Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A strange week for Southern Maryland saltwater anglers


Steve and Cindy Scheiner with Spanish mackerel.
 (Steve: I didn't snap this photo. Sorry.)
“It's been a strange week in Southern Maryland,” says Ken Lamb, the proprietor of the Lexington Park Tackle Box. “We had a monsoon rain suitable of Rangoon, dumping anywhere from five to eight inches of rain with chilly clouds and wind sandwiched between intermittent sunshine that was hot enough to peel skin. The weather caused confusion that was shared with fishermen and fish.”

Lamb says that trollers who used small spoons found Spanish mackerel and 2- to 4-pound bluefish in the mix at Buoy 77 at Little Cove Point, and from buoy 76 to Punch Island on the Eastern Shore side of the Chesapeake Bay. If you live-line spot, the stripers are on the Bay’s Gooses. 

J.R. Foster with fat perch from the Patuxent River's Cuckolds Creek
The lower Patuxent has big perch and spot on moving tides most everywhere, but they tend to become close-mouthed during thunderstorms. Local angler Tom Tippett finds rockfish, spotted sea trout, and Spanish mackerel on trips out of the Patuxent to the Eastern Shore’s Honga River. Peeler. Soft crab-tipped bucktails and Sassy Shad lures can do the job, although the mackerel at Buoy 76 went after cast or trolled spoons.

Rockfish, spotted trout, bluefish, croakers and spot were found by Capt. Brady Bounds on the "Mss Lena" for his party of four on Monday, fishing out of Solomons, Md. The trip spanned the Bay and eventually the Honga River. Capt. Bounds can be reached at 301-904-0471.

Reports had it that rockfish casters at Cedar Point (Patuxent River) had keeper redfish in the 18- to 27-inch class blowing up on plugs.
 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marty's and Dez's excellent adventure on (and in) Lake Gaston

Dez Rubesch lands one of 23 largemouth bass.
Our old friend Marty Magone and his neighbor, Dez Rubesch, live along the shores of Virginia's Lake Gaston. When the two bass-boating pals went out on Monday I asked Marty to send me a fishing report. 

Here it is: "Dez and I went out this morning looking for a topwater bite above the I-85 bridge near the mouth of Flat Creek and Lake Gaston did not let us down."

A friend in need is a friend indeed.
"We nailed 23 largemouth bass on popper type lures, casting to a grass-lined dropoff. The action lasted for over an hour before a slower pattern with plastics turned the trick. 

And to show what a friend Marty is, when Dez had a buzzbait get stuck in the grass and couldn't shake it loose, Marty jumped into the water and retrieved the lure.

What happens this November is up to you and millions of others

It certainly is none of my business which candidate in the upcoming Presidential, Senatorial, or Congressional elections you choose. However, if you're a recreational hunter, target shooter, and a fresh- or saltwater angler, much lies at stake in the voting booth.

Make sure your candidate isn't an animal rights groupie
who would love to end recreational hunting

Do you know how your candidate stands on the Second Amendment to our Constitution that says you, as an American citizen, have the right to keep and bear arms? It doesn't mean only the militia can be armed, and it certainly doesn't mean that you have the right to shoot only ducks. It means you can legally own guns for protection and sporting purposes. Anyone who would change the intent and meaning of the Second Amendment needs to be thrown out on his or her ear.

As a sport fisherman you must know that there are insidious moves under way among certain super-liberal conservation groups that already have gained and will try for more Marine Conservation Areas in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the name of wanting to protect fish species and their habitat. Some of those saltwater protective zones can be as big as the state of Rhode Island. While the original intent was to keep commercial fish netters from exploiting such waters, sponsors of past bills that would protect certain waters conveniently threw in prohibitions that apply also to recreational anglers.

Whether it is the President (who is anti-gun) or Congressional and Senatorial candidates up for election, either pick 'em -- or throw 'em out. If you have questions regarding all this, they can be answered by running Internet searches among such sites as the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Sportsman Association, Stripers Unlimited, and many other fishing and hunting groups.



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blue catfish on tidal Potomac growing --- A new record is caught

I have to give credit to outdoors writer Chris D. Dollar of the Annapolis (Md.) Capital Gazette, who reported that Ed Jones, of Aloha, Ore., while fishing with his son Matt and a friend of Matt's, Thomas Stevens, caught a brand-spanking new Maryland record blue catfish. The huge blue "cat" weighed 84.28 pounds. It was fooled by a slab of bottom-fished gizzard shad just outside the Ft. Washington light around the corner of Piscataway Creek.

Jones' group had engaged the services of Capt. Josh Fitchett, who operates the "River Cat'n" guide service. Capt. Fitchett specializes in hooking trophy-sized blue catfish. The blue "cats" are considered an invasive species and occasionally have been a bit of a headache for Maryland and Virginia fisheries biologists, many of whom figured that the blue catfish migrated up from the James River (which has been great trophy catfish water for many years), into the Rappahannock River, and now are regularly caught in the tidal Potomac.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Commercial striped bass netters continue to play games

When the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board met in Alexandria, Va., this month, it approved Addendum III to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The Addendum establishes a mandatory commercial tagging program for all states and jurisdictions with commercial striped bass fisheries and recommends increasing penalties for illegally harvested fish.

So far, so good, but one of the proposals for Addendum III suggested that any rockfish that was caught during a commercial netter’s work day should be tagged immediately at the point of capture. Sounds easy enough to me. However, when a kind of secret vote was held (states who voted for or against it were not identified), the tagging at the point of capture was voted down. Why?

As the conservation group Stripers Unlimited put it, “Why is tagging at the point of capture important, and why did some states vote against it?  If the fish do not need to be tagged until they are sold, a fisherman can then can catch a commercial limit of striped bass and drive away with them legally.  The fish can then be dispensed however one wishes – legally or illegally.  If no one sees what you have done you can report nothing and keep your tags, the fish are never reported against quota, and you pay no taxes on your income.  There is nothing good about this, yet some states with commercial fisheries weren’t ready to agree to take a simple measure to help protect the resource.  It is truly appalling.”

On top of all that, two states with large striped bass fisheries, North Carolina and Massachusetts, were given an extension until 2014 to implement their tagging programs. It appears that they weren’t ready to do so. Hhmmm!

The Addendum will be available on the Commission website (wwww.asmfc.org) under Breaking News.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lowest parts of the Chesapeake show off and on fish catches

The fishing dentist, Dr. Julie Ball, with two whopping flounder
(Ed. note: This is a stock photo, not taken this week )
If the lower Chesapeake  Bay and adjacent Atlantic Ocean is of interest to you, one of the best anglers ever, Dr. Julie Ball (drjball.com) says a predominant north-easterly wind direction over the past week has prompted some changes in the fishing scene along the mid-Atlantic coast. “And as kids prepare to head back to school, the overall fishing pressure is starting to back off,” says Julie. 

In addition, no one is sure what to think about the cobia fishing at this time. “While the decent-sized fish finally made their long-awaited showing around two weeks ago, now the bite seems to be touch and go, depending on who you ask. According to world record cobia guide, Capt. Ben Shepherd of Above Average Sportfishing, choppy sea conditions, overcast skies, and waves of rain, make the targeting of fish less than optimal for sight casters lately. Several folks are also expressing concern over the massive catches by the Omega Menhaden boats working at the mouth of the Bay and along the coast over the last month.

Flounder action is still good this week, says Julie. Nice flatfish are coming from most anywhere in the lower Bay, but deeper areas such as channel edges, ledges, and drop-offs are becoming more predictable for nicer fish. Most any lower Bay structure can produce for anglers working live bait or jigs, dressed with Gulp baits.

Trigger fish are still everywhere near structure in the lower Bay, with the folks at Atlantic Bait and Tackle reporting catches of 20 to 30 fish per trip near the rocks along the 3rd and 4th islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Big triggers, along with some nice flounder are also available on several near-shore wrecks. Sheepshead anglers continue to find good catches of fish on the bridge pilings of the Bridge-Tunnel and over the tubes of the artificial islands, along with good numbers of keeper sized tautog. Spadefish also  linger in these same areas, with the biggest spades still circling the 3rd and 4th islands, but not for long.

Bluewater anglers are finding increasing numbers of billfish. The Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament under way this week should see great results with a mixture of white and blue marlin, and a good number of sailfish. The billfish action is happening from around the 050 down to the 900-lines, in anywhere from 40 to 100-fathoms. Although tuna action is slow, a few yellowfins have been seen, along with dolphin. For more information, go to www.drjball.com.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Here's what can happen when you're after bass on the Potomac




When Warrenton, Va., bass fisherman Lee Martin and his dad, Larry, entered a VA Outdoors Weekend Series tournament on the tidal Potomac River last Friday, Lee had a 7.65-pound largemouth smash a Spro Popping Frog surface lure. (He wouldn't say exactly where the fish came from, but I'll wager it happened somewhere between Washington D.C. and Prince William County, Va.) Yeah, I'm a smart-aleck.


The background appears to be around Pohick Bay, Va., but I could be wrong. Either way, Lee Martin threw the same topwater frog and look what happened. A 15.04-pound Chinese snakehead crushed the surface bait. Large snakeheads are beginning to become the norm for bass fishermen in these parts.

By the way the Martin family team won the bass tournament with 17.55 pounds. I bet they wished they could have added the snakehead to their total, but you Martins did a great job for sure.

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's the summer doldrums one day and great fishing the next

Cory Janschek and spotted trout from Pt. Lookout beach
The owner of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Md., stays on top of local river and Chesapeake happenings. This week, Ken Lamb says  “We have enjoyed a mixed week of fishing and weather that has kept us guessing on what the fish will do next as we are in the August doldrums in some areas. The hotspot is up the bay near the mouth of the Choptank where live liners are whacking the rockfish, using small spot. These rockfish are mixed with bluefish of good size and even some schools of Spanish mackerel.  Trollers are doing well there too and this variety of fish respond to spoons and bucktails.  The stripers measure 18 to 25 inches and weigh up to five pounds.”
Bryce Martin and fat croakers from the Patuxent

Elsewhere, Spanish mackerel are here today, gone tomorrow from the Patuxent River’s Cedar Point to the Potomac’s and the Bay’s Point Lookout. But catches have been more consistent in the Northern Neck of Virginia, from Smith Point to Windmill Point. All the same, there’s a chance for breaking rockfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel in the Potomac River, from Piney Point to Smith Creek. Many of these are small, but with a little patience you’ll find keepers.

Tyler Caldwell and 24" stripers from the Patuxent's mouth
Croaker fishing can be good off the shorelines in the rivers and the Bay. Surfcasters can score nicely on  medium-sized hardheads. Spot, blues, rockfish and white perch also cooperate for beach-bound anglers.

If it’s spotted sea trout you want, they can be found in the holes and off the various land points in the Honga River and Tangier Sound on the eastern side of the Chesapeake. 

Be reminded that many white perch appear to have moved from feeder creeks into the main stem of the rivers. Ken Lamb says that this might be due to very warm water in the shallows of the tributaries. 
Cathy Black-Gallagher with a fat perch from the St. Mary's River

Friday, August 17, 2012

An invitation to snap fishing or hunting photos for our web page

If you'd like to see your fishing and/or hunting picture(s) on our web page, snap a photo (vertical shots can be best for holding up fish) and send jpg format pictures from a digital camera to channelbass@gmail.com . Cell phone photos can be okay, too, but we see quite a few that are fuzzy and those we can't use.

Here are a few tips for the best shots: Do not wear sunglasses (unless they're prescription glasses) because your face will look like it has two black holes in it. Please, don't have a cigarette in your mouth or a can of beer in your hand. That's a turn-off. And lastly, photos that show five or six fellows behind a row of 60 fish (you know what I'm talking about, I'm sure) cannot be published.

When you send a photo, identify the person in the picture and in a short sentence include the location, the species and lures or bait used (in the case of fish).
             
 Thank all of you,         Gene Mueller

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don't ever forget the spiritual leader of American bass fishing

By GENE MUELLER

Have the owners of the organization known as BASS forgotten the man who started an international bass fishing mania that to this day dazzles and befuddles students of the sport?

I will never forget Ray Scott, the friendly, generous Alabamian, who turned a fish species that at best can be described only as an average fighter --- when compared to far more explosive finned creatures --- into the most sought-after gamefish the world has ever seen.

Ray Scott, the Godfather of organized bass fishing
Scott, is the Godfather of bass fishing, and his brainchild, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) turned the angling world upside down. With the help of a handful of trusted associates, Scott made us practically plead to let us become dues-paying B.A.S.S. members, stick a colorful B.A.S.S. decal on the back windows of our cars and trucks, and follow the gospel of a man who to this day can easily be described as the spiritual leader of the biggest fishing club in the world --- B.A.S.S.

Mention the words bass fishing and sooner or later Ray Scott's name and accomplishments will come up.

Scott turned the largemouth bass (to a lesser degree also the smallmouth bass) into glamor species. Not only did he organize and conduct large bass fishing contests and create a national tournament circuit that turned hitherto unknown anglers into celebrities, he also took on polluters, legal beagles of every kind that wanted to throw a monkey wrench into the machine that was changing our style of recreational fishing.

Talk about being the spiritual leader of us all, it was he who made the wearing of life vests fashionable starting in the late 1960s. In the long run, that practice unquestionably saved thousands of lives. It was Scott who showed a nation that a bass could be caught, admired, photographed, and let go to be hooked another day. Catch-and-release fishing to this day is so common that now we become upset when someone actually talks about keeping a bass for supper --- as if there was something wrong with that.

It was he who saw to it that nearly every boater in America had a “livewell” aboard his or her craft. Fish could be saved and kept alive in aerated water, rather than having a stringer poked through their jaws like so many smoked herring, the way it used to be done.

The man who founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and later also the hugely successful Whitetail Institute of North America, eventually divested himself of B.A.S.S. It soon became simply known as BASS, without the periods, and a small succession of owners tried to run the organization. I emphasize they “tried” to run it, but in the eyes of many die-hard bass fishermen have failed miserably.

These days, BASS for the most part has become a fishing tournament group. When was the last time you heard of BASS fighting the good fight, taking on polluters or dictatorial government regulators the way Scott and his company did on a regular basis. When was the last time BASS has supported a bass-boater in court after he was threatened with bodily harm by an angry shoreline owner who figured that he not only owned the land but also free-flowing water, or perhaps arrange to study the piscatorial inhabitants of a large reservoir so his company could learn about the health of the fish?

During Scott's reign you couldn't drive down the road without seeing B.A.S.S. decals on vehicles and towed boats. If those decals are still available, I don't see them in the numbers of years gone by.

Most of all, as a newspaper outdoors editor for several Washington D.C. dailies who covered well over 20 championship B.A.S.S. Masters Classic events along with dozens of my colleagues from all over the United States, we journalists were always kept scrupulously informed of all B.A.S.S. happenings by Scott’s news and information staff, led by a former newspaper man himself, the bearded Bob Cobb.

In quite a few years, not one of the current owners has even bothered to clue me and others in on what was going on inside the organization. Sure, we could run a successful Internet search on tournament fishing results, but that’s where it ended.

If I owned a piece of BASS, I’d immediately make a phone call to Pintlala, Ala., and ask Ray Scott to "come home" and quickly infuse the group with a little life, a little enthusiasm, a little chutzpah. Perhaps some of the glitter and excitement of the 1970s and 1980s could return to a currently moribund outfit.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Florida fishing in the Bay? Plus snakeheads are shot with a bow

 Jack Roser and dad, Paul, with spotted sea trout from the Eastern Shore
--- photo by Christy Henderson
Christy Henderson of Buzz's Marina in Ridge, Md., (St. Jerome's Creek) sent us a picture of young Jack Roser and dad, Paul. The two fished on the eastern side of the Bay and found willing spotted sea trout, which some folks call speckled trout. Christy also said her husband, Michael, fished Sunday and they caught eight species of fish, including whiting, speckled trout, blues, oyster [toadfish], sea bass, croakers, rockfish and red drum. "They were over on the other side [of the Chesapeake Bay]," said Christy. "It is pretty cool over there, I know why "Walleye" Pete Dahlberg likes the fishing there. It almost looks like you're in another place, like Florida."


Frank Ripple, of Hollywood, Md., and a pal went bow-fishing in the Potomac River's Mattawoman Creek. They launched at the Mattingly Avenue ramp (formerly Slavins ramp) and not far from the launch found Chinese snakeheads in fairly shallow water. They shot 13 in all. The biggest seen here was guesstimated to weigh between 15 and 18 pounds. It measured 39 inches long. Three other snakeheads measured 29 inches. "It's the first time we launched at that ramp," said Frank, a machinist. I'll wager it won't be the last time.


How about this whopping tarpon? You'd think it came straight from Florida waters, but it didn't. The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, who is the president of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fishermen's Association, caught it early in the day along the Virginia Eastern Shore, not far from land. Did you know that the area from Wachapreague south to near the mouth of the Chesapeake is home to tarpon every summer? It has been happening for years, but when the water temperature drops, these huge lookalikes of the common herring disappear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, you need to know . . .


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's choice of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan  as his vice presidential running mate should be well received by sportsmen across the United States. Ryan is an avid hunter (he also loves to fly-fish) and is the former co-chairman of Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, the largest and most bi-partisan caucus in Congress.
Paul Ryan --- hunter and angler
He understands and appreciates the issues hunters and sportsmen care about, such as the effort to ban the online and mail-order sale of ammunition and President Obama's support for banning modern sporting rifles (MSRs). Ryan has received an "A" by the NRA for his overall voting record. Among other things, he has voted to protect the right of hunters to use traditional ammunition and to prohibit suing manufacturers and retailers for the criminal misuse of firearms. He has also supported a national cross-state standard for concealed carry.
    

White perch, trout, redfish, cobias and rockfish are biting

Tracy Norris and large white perch from Cedar Point
Rockfish are at the Calvert County, Md., Gas Docks and above if you plan to live-line with small spot, while Chesapeake Bay trollers find stripers at Buoy 77 (Little Cove Point ) and in the lower Potomac north of Ragged Point. All of these rockfish are in the 18 to 20 inch range, with some throwbacks mixed in.  Occasionally you’ll run into acres of young rockfish up to 17 inches, but keeper rock often are in the shallows, willing to strike cast lures during the early morning hours.

From the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, Ken Lamb says the bluefish have moved into the Point Lookout area’s shoreline. “These are snapper blues in the 15 inch range,” says Ken. “Anglers at the Point Lookout Pier had as many as they wanted last week. Bigger blues are taking trolled surgical hose lures from buoy 72 to the Mud Leads.  Some decent fish were also found at Hooper's Island.

Sarah Collins and her proud Pop with perch
and a striper from St. George's Island


Spotted trout and flounder are in Tangier Sound. Some of the flounder measure in excess of 20 inches. By the way, the spotted sea trout are available somewhere, somehow every day anywhere from the Chesapeake’s Honga River clear down to Cape Charles, Va.

Hardheads (croakers) are caught in all the creeks, rivers, and the Bay. Ken Lamb says, “A nice school of croakers can be found under someone's dock, boat, or riverbank right now, eager to take bloodworms, shrimp or squid-baited hooks.  Night fishing in the bay from buoys 72a to 72 has been excellent.

The white perch fishing is off the chart. Big fat perch are in all the rivers and creeks.

Huge red drum are in the 40- to 50-pound class will take a trolled lure (big spoons are favored), and sometimes take a bait intended for croakers on the Middle Grounds at night. The experienced captains claim they can smell them.

There are cobias found all the way up to Point Lookout. These big fish love hot, salty water, and we have plenty of that.  “Cobia fishermen go to likely spots and chunk fresh alewives to draw them in,” says Lamb. 

Chris Copp used peeler crab bait to catch this
fine 14-inch perch in Cuckold Creek (Patuxent River)


Clay Arnold with croakers from the
Patuxent Naval Air Station's waters

Monday, August 13, 2012

The name of the mysterious creature below is . . .

I’ve had friends call my cell phone, others who know my e-mail address sent messages, and some web readers also commented on the mysterious creature in the post below. One guessed it correctly. It’s an Atlantic ribbonfish (Lepturacanthus Saval) that quite often is also called a cutlassfish, but several scientific journals and web sites say the Atlantic cutlassfish (Trichiurus Lepturus) actually is only a cousin of the ribbonfish.

The one in the picture is said to have been caught on a crankbait by angler Piers Hackley in the tidal Potomac River. However, we cannot confirm any of the details, not having been able to talk to the man.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Let's have some fun. Do you know what kind of fish is this?


One of my friends sent this photo of a fish, caught in waters not normally inhabited by this species.

Do you know what it is? Yes, I'm aware that it's not a very good photo, what with the picture not showing its tail or giving a good size comparison, but give it a shot. 




Chesapeake Bay's quality is topic for CCA chapter meeting

Bill Goldsborough, the fisheries director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, will discuss “Restoring the Bay’s Filter Feeders” at the Monday, August 20 meeting of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Patuxent River Chapter. The meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at Stoney’s Kingfisher in Solomons, is free and open to the public. Attendees can order from Stoney’s menu at 6 p.m.

Goldsborough, who also serves as a Maryland representative on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), will review the status of oysters and menhaden and why they are important for recreational angling. He’ll also talk about the ASMFC’s recent work on menhaden management and discuss water quality in the Bay.

Friday, August 10, 2012

In the lower Chesapeake Bay, all is well in spite of the rains

Super lady angler, Dr. Julie Ball, reports from her Virginia Beach area that rainy weather has  kept many anglers off the water this week, and a widespread red tide is still threatening catches. However, the overall fishing is still good along the Mid Atlantic Coast, she says.

Super lady angler, Dr. Julie Ball, with a cobia
For  the many Southern Maryland and No. Virginia anglers who don’t mind traveling south to the lower Chesapeake Bay, there has been a good re-emergence of large cobias. “Although not breaking any records, both chummers and sight casters are back in business with some respectable keepers averaging over 30 pounds.  This pattern should improve over the next several weeks,” says Julie.

”Everyone is still raving about the solid flounder action. Larger flatfish numbers are way down this year, but the over abundance of nice-sized fish are keeping flounder-pounders content. Fish are striking at jigs and live bait presented along varying bottom structures in the lower part of the Bay. The 1st and 2nd islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and lower Bay wrecks are just a few of the best flounder hot-spots lately,” reports Julie, who added that drifters are having good luck with strip baits and minnows near buoy 36A and the Thimble Shoal Channel near Cape Henry.

Schools of bull redfish are still roaming the lower Bay, especially near the 3rd and 4th islands of the Bridge Tunnel. Hordes of small puppy drum continue to dominate the local shallows and inlets, with a few nice speckled trout hanging out in the vicinity, she said.

For more information, go to www.drjball.com

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Charges made and answered by Maryland DNR about striper tags

These stripers are about to be released by two sport anglers, something
commercial fish netters hate to do, but have our sport tax dollars helped
the watermen -- the netters -- buy rockfish tags?

Ever wonder what happens to the tax you pay when you buy certain fishing equipment? It is supposed to be spent on fishing/boating/public access programs, but it doesn't always happen that way.

The name of this federal fund sharing system is known as Wallop-Breaux, originally introduced by two U.S. legislators.

The disbursement requirement very simply demands that if you collect federal taxes from people who enjoy recreational fishing and such, it should be distributed to the states, to be used by them to enhance sport fishing programs, increase public access to the water and simply provide ways to make life more enjoyable for people who paid for it – the sportsmen and sportswomen of America.

Nowhere did the Wallop-Breaux Act stipulate that a state government could – or had the right – to divert such funds and use them to buy striped bass tags for commercial fish netters. That’s what is being charged in the case of several states, with the leader of the pack perhaps being the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
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Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, commonly called the Dingell-Johnson Act or Wallop-Breaux Act. It provides Federal aid to the States for management and restoration of fish having "material value in connection with sport or recreation in the marine and/or fresh waters of the United States." In addition, amendments to the Act provide funds to the states for aquatic education, wetlands restoration, boat safety and clean vessel sanitation devices (pumpouts), and a nontrailerable boat program. 
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A national striped bass conservation group known as Stripers Forever says Maryland’s DNR has diverted recreational fishing-intended funds from Wallop-Breaux to do just that. The DNR has been helping the watermen, the very people who are a pain in the side of conservation-minded  anglers and boaters. After many days of research by Ken Hastings, a Maryland member of Stripers Forever, it reveals how the proceeds from the  tax on equipment used primarily by hunters and fishermen can be misused. As Brad Burns, the president of Stripers Forever, puts it, “The money that should have been dedicated to enhancing recreational fishing opportunities was instead siphoned off to buy tags for commercial striper/rock fishermen, so they wouldn’t need to buy the tags themselves.”

“The way we see it,” says Burns, “the recreational fishery for striped bass in Maryland -- which [provides] more jobs and much greater economic value to the state than the commercial fishery -- is being degraded severely by the commercial fishing effort, and at the same time recreational anglers are paying the commercial fishermen’s bills. It is not a lot different in other coastal states, where there has been little appetite by regulators to ask commercial fishermen to pay the true cost of regulating themselves.”

However, the chief of Maryland Fisheries, Thomas O'Connell, immediately answered my question concerning this matter. In an e-mail to me, Mr. O'Connell wrote: "Gene, the Maryland DNR has used Wallop-Breaux funding for the purchase of commercial striped bass tags since the mid-1990s. The use of this funding in this manner was pursued by a previous Fisheries Service Director and was approved by [the] US FWS who administers this funding. Using this funding in this manner came to my attention last year, and when I learned about this, I immediately put an end to it.  I do not believe this is a justifiable use of sport fishermen's equipment excise tax revenues, and is why I immediately put an end to it. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fishing for bass in the rain --- a short and sweet fishing report

There's something supremely satisfying about catching fish in the rain

From Marty Magone comes the following report of a tidal Potomac River outing with long-time friend and top local fishing guide, Andy Andrzejewski. They fished in a soft rain and here's what happened.

Marty Magone with a topwater bass caught in a drizzle
"Andy and I launched at Smallwood around 6:30 a.m. as a light rain started to develop," wrote Marty. "We motored a short distance to a grassy flat where  in the span of 30 minutes ten bass blew up on our surface lures. No sooner the rain stopped, so did our topwater bite.

"We then left the creek and headed across the river. The rest of the morning we slammed bass on wacky worms and spinnerbaits. Final total for the morning was 28 bass and 1 bluegill. Water temperature was 88. Tide was coming in."

If you're wondering what Andrzejewski, a former Marine, was doing wearing a Marine cap, Marty explained, "The man had a serious flashback."  

Pro guide Andy Andrzejewski with a bass that sucked in a buzzbait. 
(Note the Marine cap atop Andy's noggin.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

American Eels Return to Mountain Streams After Dam Removal

From the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Outdoor Report comes word that American eels are declining across their range but are showing indications of a population revival following the removal of the Embrey Dam on the Rappahannock River. The dam removal increased American eel numbers in headwater streams nearly 100 miles away, according to research just published by U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service researchers.

American eels, the only freshwater eels seen in North America, undergo long-distance migrations from their ocean spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea to freshwater streams along the Atlantic coast from northern South America to Greenland. Dams may slow or even stop upstream eel migrations. However, prior to this research, little was known about American eel responses to dam removal.

The new study evaluated eel abundances in Shenandoah National Park streams before and after the removal of the large dam in 2004. The researchers found significant increases in eel numbers beginning two years after dam removal and continued increases nearly every year since. The rebounding eel populations in Shenandoah National Park present a stark contrast to decreasing numbers elsewhere throughout their range.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hot weather or not -- these people are catching plenty of fish

Hot or not, our friend Marty Magone fished Allen's Creek near the Kerr Dam on Virginia's Lake Gaston, using topwater chug baits and look what he came up with. Good show, Marty.

Not to be outdone, Marty's friend, Dez Rubesch, who lives on the shores of Lake Gaston, threw topwater baits just as Marty did and Dez brought home several good freshwater stripers for dinner.


The fishing dentist, whose boat is named the "Healthy Grin," Dr. Ken Neill, got into a bunch of summer flounder out in the ocean, just east of Virginia Beach. I'm sure this fishing phenom, who also is a representative for the International Game Fish Association, wasn't far out from the beach.

Ben Windsor likes to fish the Patuxent River and some of its lower feeder creeks whenever he wants to hook some perch for supper. The Patuxent and its tributaries this year have been excellent for white perch. They'll jump on small pieces of crab bait, bloodworm or even shrimp, but any of the local guys know that a 1/8-oz. white or chartreuse Beetlespin lure or any inline spinner in light colors, retrieved on 6- or 8-pound monofilament line, will get hammered around sunken trees, docks and rock walls.


NOTE: While Ken Lamb, of Lexington Park’s Tackle Box is away for a couple days, he left a report saying that a school of 1- to 2-pound bluefish has been hanging out and “tearing” up the water just south of Smith Creek in the Potomac River, not all that far from Cornfield Harbor. And if you really want some excitement, bait “chunkers,” fishing on the Middle Grounds in the Chesapeake Bay have caught a few cobias in the 20- to 40-pound range.

Spot, croakers, perch, and small redfish are everywhere, eating everything you drop into the water, and the live-lining for rockfish was red-hot at the Gas Docks, and straight outside of the Patuxent River. In fact, there could be good live-lining with spot bait at the Second Beach by now. Also, flounder fishermen in Southern Maryland find a keeper now and then.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What about deer whose hooves are shaped like Arabian slippers?

Our friend Brian Rehm forwarded a photo of a deer with overgrown, sharply upturned hooves. He and everybody else wants to know what happened to this white-tailed doe.

There are answers that include the deer having a condition known as acidosis whenever they feed on too much corn. People who raise deer in captivity and who provide a strong corn diet to their deer frequently call their veterinarian and ask him/her to come out and trim overgrown hooves. The shape of the hooves has resulted in them being referred to as Aladdin's Slippers. 

A deer suffering from "foundering," also called "Aladdin's Slippers."
(Photo courtesy of Paula Marquis. Thank you, Paula)
Actually, the condition is called "foundering," and various sources agree that it comes from the deer eating too much corn, too fast. The animal's rumen contains many types of bacteria that help digest proteins and starches, but if a deer eats a lot of corn there simply isn't enough bacteria to break it down. It sits in the stomach(s) where it begins to ferment, resulting in acidosis (low pH in the rumen). More bacteria is eliminated and the chance to digest the starchy corn is even further reduced.

What happens next is amazing, says one deer expert. Acid buildup causes the soft parts of the foot to begin aching. The deer begins to walk by putting more pressure on the rear of the hooves. The front of the hooves thus have very little contact with the ground and begin to grow and actually curl over.

There is some disagreement over the effects of Aladdin's Slippers on the deer. One thought is that they may not survive it because predators will have an easy time killing it since it can't run as fast as normal deer. Some research also shows that if the deer is a buck and it survives, the acidosis will stunt antler growth forever.