Thursday, January 31, 2013

The poor quality of TV outdoors shows is almost indescribable

Let me make a few things clear. All my television viewing comes to my house via Dish Antenna. I have no complaints with it. The service is interrupted only when there is a frog-strangling rain storm or a thick layer of snow and ice covers the outside dish. The snow scenario is not likely to happen where I reside.

Besides movies of every stripe, local and distant news channels and a plethora of paid commercial channels that want you to buy everything from vegetable choppers and knife sharpeners to lawn tractors and exercise programs that can give you a Brazil Butt Lift, the satellite provider also offer a steady number of outdoors channels --- i.e. hunting and fishing programs.

I'll wager that this buck would elicit
loud whispers of "That's a shooter!"
Without question, these hunt & fish channels deliver the worst kind of television ever.

Mind you now, I have earned my living and taken care care of my family for over 40 years as an outdoors writer. I've hunted and fished ever since I was a pre-teen. Then why do I dislike the steady stream of such shows brought to me via satellite dish?

Have you ever watched the Hank Parker show? Hank is a former Bassmaster Classic champion and a good deer and turkey hunter, but I can't stand to watch more than 5 minutes of his shtick without switching to a different channel. I mean he's B-O-R-I-N-G with his good-ole-boy kind of talk, surrounded by his sons, and running seemingly endless commercials for deer attractant powders and heaven only knows what else.

In fact, the biggest complaint I have with just about every outdoors show is the non-stop, often non-sensical  talk-talk-talk. The chatter never stops. When it does, you might be lucky enough to see someone shoot a deer, but that appears to be of little importance. The face of the host covering the screen and endless yakking seems to be far more important. Not only that, a fair number of these fellows talk like someone who fell off a turnip truck. Some have beards, and others simply look dirty in their 3-day growth of facial hair.

Oh, one more thing. What's up with all these bow-hunting shows? Most are actually non-stop commercials for archery equipment manufacturers and when you see someone drawing back and letting an arrow fly, chances are that the next footage you see is a deer running full-tilt off into the woods and later, much later (usually by the time the moon shines), you see a fellow kneeling behind a fine buck, saying, "That's what it's all about." Oh? Is that what it's all about? Tromping through the forests after dark, hoping you can find an animal that might have dropped in its tracks had a good rifle or shotgun been used?

Just listen to some of the show names. There's "Major League Bowhunter," "Silent Draw," "Antler Insanity," "Lake Country Whitetails." 

Don't forget the Outdoor Channel's "Gettin' Close," "Pro Hunter Journal," and the Pursuit Channel's "Struttin' Bucks," "Sweet Addiction" (that one focuses on wild turkeys), and don't forget the fishing shows, such as "Canadian Sportfishing," (oy vey!), "FLW Outdoors," "The Scott Martin Challenge" (actually Roland's son does better than most), and the one half-way decent fishing show that features Minnesota's Al Lindner. Maybe there are too many segments about walleyes to suit me, but every one of the participants on Lindner's show actually speaks understandable English.

That is a refreshing change from guttural grunts that appear to say "I tell you what" a dozen times in the space of 20 minutes, or the aforementioned "That's what it's all about," and the ever-popular "That's a shooter." In the case of fishing shows it's, "Be careful, don't lose him. That's a big bass," and pretty soon you'll see a wimpy 2-pounder being lifted over the gunwale.

Mark your calendars if you live in the D.C. Metropolitan area

13th Annual Save a Fish
Dinner and Auction – March 2, 2013
Coastal Conservation Association Northern Virginia Chapter

Support your local CCA Chapter! Have a fun Saturday evening with great food, good friends and auction excitement. This is our only fund raiser of the year; it supports the Kids Fishing trip, expenses for meetings, speakers, and contributions to CCA Virginia’s Conservation efforts. We look forward to seeing you there. - EARLY BIRD discount Coupon of $20.00 for tickets purchased prior to February 22 to be used in Silent or Live Auction.

Shriners Kena Temple, 9001 Arlington Boulevard, Fairfax, VA 22030
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Social -- 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Dinner -- 8:00 p.m. Live Auction
Dress: Smart Casual
For reservation information:
Contact Carl Onesty, Banquet Chairman at 703-407-8921 or: e-mail:
Auction Items include:
LL Bean Kayak -- Electronics -- Gift Certificates -- Light Tackle -- Lures -- over 12 Charter/Guided Fishing trips -- Home Furnishings -- LL Bean Fly Rod -- Hand-Made Quilt -- Custom Fly Collections -- Golf  Packages -- Framed Artwork -- Power Tools -- and much, much more!!!!!!

Special Raffle: Hugh Miller Custom Rod – Custom built for CCA Virginia!

Directions From 495 Beltway in No. Virginia: Go 2.4 miles west on Route 50 (Arlington Blvd). Turn left at Barkley Drive (traffic signal) Immediate right onto service road to end. Kena Temple on left.

We'll remind you one more time before February 22. This is a very worthwhile event.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Before nasty weather arrived these two fellows hooked good fish

Hunter Southall and a 24-inch spotted sea trout

Yesterday, just ahead of all those ominous weather forecasts for today this teenager, Hunter Southall, came home from school (down in Virginia's Tidewater country) and wasted little time slipping a boat into the waters of the Elizabeth River where he caught this beautiful 24-inch-long spotted sea trout.

If you saw yesterday's web page and the photo of Marty Magone with a largemouth bass caught on Monday and a shot of a Road Runner lure that he likes to use when hunting for freshwater stripers in Lake Gaston, Va., he went out again yesterday to specifically target the big lake's rockfish.

As you can see, that Road Runner lure did the job even if the photgrapher didn't. 

The Road Runner lure and trailer works on the rockfish

Marty shoots self portraits and now and then it's  tough to get a good-sized fish's tail into the picture. However, as you can see, he managed to get his "beloved" USMC camo cap into the photo.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Things can be tough in freshwater, but some guys don't give up

Marty Magone caught this 5-pound Lake Gaston bass yesterday
My good friend Marty Magone, who lives by the shores of Virginia’s Lake Gaston, says, “Sometimes nice things happen, even to a grump like me."

"Yesterday, I went out at about 8 a.m. and headed for Great Creek. I noticed that the back creek area still had some surface ice, so I slowly motored to the mouth area where a creek ledge drops from 18 to 26 feet."

"I was casting a Lazer blade bait and also hairy jigs in hopes of maybe enticing a striper, but it was no go.”

Marty's new rod and reel proved to be a charm
Then Marty added, “Get this now, I just purchased a new rod-and-reel combo (see picture) and on my second cast I nailed this 5-pound largemouth. Of course, that made my day. I ended up with five bass and a catfish. The water temperature on the main lake was 44; in the creek it was 40. 

Not to be outdone, Allen Cox, of King George, Va., caught this nice 5-pounder on Monday, Jan. 21. It was the first time out for him at a local pond where he nailed a pretty bass.

Allen Cox and a fine 5-pounder from a farm pond
The largemouth sucked in a black-back and chartreuse color lipless crank bait that is sold by Bass Pro Shops. That lure is Allen’s go-to bait and word has it that he “burned” the bass up on the same lure in an identical color pattern in several different bodies of water last season. Way to go, Allen!

It simply goes to show that even in January, there's no need to stash away the fishing gear. Quite a few hardy souls give the fishing a try and occasionally are richly rewarded.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cold and rough seas make for difficult fishing this time of year

Young Deven Simmerman and his first-ever tautog
The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, reports from the Virginia Beach area: "We ran out after tautog [Sunday]. It was cold and rough. Too rough to 'tog-fish but we tried it anyway."

"We fished wrecks within sight of land using clams and shrimp for bait [and] caught 20 tautogs up to 21 inches long. Four of the 'togs had tags in them. We also caught some sea bass. Mostly small with a couple large enough to keep. Deven Simmerman caught his first-ever tog today."

As you can see, there are some blue-nose anglers who give the fishing a shot no matter what. Good show, Doc!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Maryland trout stocking schedule and fishing regulations online

The 2013 Maryland spring trout stocking schedule and Maryland fishing guide is now available online as a pdf file, this file is suitable for printing.  Additionally, the 2013 spring trout closure dates are as follows:
Closure 0: No Closure  --- Closure 1: March 10 to March 30 --- Closure 2: March 24 to March 30 --- Closure 3: April 14 to April 20 --- Closure 4: April 22 to April 27

For further information go to

The DNR trout stocking program is funded entirely by the sale of freshwater fishing licenses, trout stamps and Federal Sportfish Restoration Program (Wallop-Breaux) funds which are generated by anglers and boaters' tax dollars.

The 2013 guide is now available as a pdf file, suitable for downloading to your home computer or viewing through a browser with pdf capabilities. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Winter found us," says saltwater fishing phenom, Dr. Ken Neill

"Winter found us," says saltwater fishing specialist Dr. Ken Neill from his haunts down in Tidewater Virginia. "Now, the question is what will this week of cold do to our fishing? The hope is that it will improve our rockfish action. Mild water temperatures have allowed fish to stay well north of us, up the coast and up in the Chesapeake Bay. A drop in water temperatures may encourage these fish to migrate to where we can catch them. We will see."

This has nothing to do with tidal saltwater fishing. It's Virginia brothers
Matt and David Lusk on a "skiing" vacation in Colorado. Some skiing, eh?
Dr. Ken says that prior to the recent cold blast, rockfish action has been hit or miss in the coastal waters where the season is open. "More rockfish have been encountered out in the Chesapeake Light Tower area by anglers trolling for bluefin tuna, but even there the rockfish are not thick. Catch-and-release striper fishing has been available inside the Bay but the cold temperatures may have put a freeze on that. Maybe this cold snap will help turn on the coastal waters."

Matt Lusk with a Colorado trout. Wonder if he was
trolling on his skis when he caught it?
Meanwhile, the tautog have been active at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and on other structures at the mouth of the Bay, says the fishing dentist. "Now, you will probably need to move out into the ocean a bit to areas like the Tower and Triangle Reefs," he says.

Speckled trout remain available in the Elizabeth River and the deep-water wrecks are loaded with jumbo sea bass. Offshore bottom fishermen who can put up with spiny dogfish are catching some nice blueline tilefish. Bluefin tuna anglers are still having some encounters off Virginia Beach, but not many are hooked. Dr. Neill says it has been a week since one was landed. On the other hand, boats to our south are not doing any better. Those fish are out there somewhere. The few boats running out of Oregon and Hatteras Inlets (N.C.) are coming back with good catches of yellowfin tuna.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Eastern Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., throws in the towel

The Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa. (Feb. 2-10), has been put on ice. The show promoters obviously had no idea how big a firestorm of protest would erupt from exhibitors of all types, including those who aren't part of the firearms industry, when they decided to ban displays of certain guns at the show. The promoters obviously are part of the national mea culpa currently under way because of the recent horrible shootings in Connecticut.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Canadian hunters come to Pennsylvania and score on big bucks

What happened to three Canadian hunters who visited the fabulous DannerHolz Whitetails, LLC deer facility in the Alleghany Mountains of Pennsylvania is the stuff dreams are made of.

Luc and his 8-year-old son, "One Shot" Eliot
There was Ben and Luc, along with a tough 8-year-old, Eliot, who is Luc’s son. We believe that from here on the kid might be better known as “One Shot.” The three were hunting trophy whitetails in the broad wooded expanses of the DannerHolz property when young Eliot came to within 30 yards of a magnificent buck. It probably isn't an exaggeration to say that raised heartbeats were felt all around.

Here’s how it happened. The hunters slowly worked their way up a steep hill, the wind blowing fairly hard into their faces when they spotted the buck. The trio used ample woodland cover to hide them from the deer’s view and, finally, Eliot squeezed off one shot. The buck was down, dead.

To do this is tough even for experienced hunters, let alone an 8-year-old boy. However, Eliot wasn’t a raw recruit in the army of hunters. He’d already successfully hunted in Africa and obviously has been well taught by dad, Luc.

Luc, Eliot and Ben with their trophy whitetails
All three of the hunters from the North connected on excellent trophy deer under rugged, snowy, wind-swept conditions. Eliot “One Shot” now had a buck with a 167-inch (15 point) rack; His dad shot a 157-inch (14 point) beauty, and Ben a 130-incher (9 points). It was a wonderful way to end the 5th season at DannerHolz.

Overall, the DannerHolz hunting produced 41 bucks with antler racks measuring from 127 to 258 inches SCI. Although some of the hunters had to stay extra days to get the trophy they wanted, in the end everyone was successful and now the managers are looking forward to next season and already there’s a tremendous carry-over of large bucks that weren’t permitted to be shot because of their age. But wait until later this year!

To get in touch for this kind of spectacular hunting, go to  or find it on Facebook at DannerHolz Whitetails LLC or phone   814/626-0056.

These hunters were happy with this pheasant shooting preserve

Northern Virginians Carl D. Brown and his pal, Jeff Palmer, decided to do a little pheasant preserve shooting and since they don’t have great Pennsylvania farm lands available where pheasants thrive, they went the only sensible route a hunter can take if he wants to dine on this wonderful bird: Visit a preserve and have a ball.

Jeff Palmer (L) and Carl Brown with a tailgate full of potentially great dinners
“Jeff and I went to the Twin Ridge Preserve in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., for our hunt,” said Carl. “The place was nice, nestled in the low mountains in the West Virginia
Panhandle. The Brittany Spaniels were excellent and hunted up the pheasants  like champs. We bagged 14 birds, and I made pheasant chili and fajitas.”

(Editor’s note:  I've never heard of anyone taking a glorious pheasant and turning it into chili and I’ll wager Julia Child would have disapproved. The only way my German mother prepared plucked, dressed and washed pheasants was to rub them inside and out with salt and pepper, then stuff a quartered onion and apple into the body cavity. She roasted them no differently than she would a chicken, served surrounded by apple slices and cranberries. However, my good friend Carl has a way of doing things his own way -- and so be it.)

Anyway, Carl said he wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Twin Ridge Preserve to anyone. “It’s only 90 minutes from the nation’s capital,” he added.

Interested? Call Twin Ridge at 301/834-7632 or go to

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

58 exhibitors pull out of Pennsylvania outdoor show in protest

I don’t precisely know how many exhibitors were expected to be at the upcoming Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa., (Feb. 2-10) but so far at least 58 exhibitors have pulled out --- and all because the show promoters wanted to go the almost always stupid “political correct” route to assuage those who are against guns to begin with, and so-called assault rifles in particular.

The pull-out of exhibitors is the result of an announcement by show organizer Reed Exhibitions that so-called assault rifles ( AR15′s ) and high-capacity ammunition magazines will not be allowed to be displayed or sold at the show this year. What it really amounted to was the prohibition of modern sporting guns. The term “assault rifle” has never been properly explained or addressed, but there are some who would call my semi-automatic waterfowl shotgun an assault-type weapon, hence it should be outlawed.  

Exhibitors who have backed out of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show:

Appalachian Big Game TV -- Arrowhead Outdoors -- Athens Archery -- Atlantic Tactical Blitz TV -- The Bear Whisperer -- Boondock Outdoors -- BowHunter Planet -- – CanCooker -- Cabela’s -- Cross Canyon Arms -- Cutting Edge Bullets  Dead Ringer -- Direct Action Tactical Firearms --Domari Nolo Defense Consulting -- Dominator 365 -- DuckWater Boats -- Farmland Trophies Outfitting -- Firearms Industry Consulting Group -- FoxPro Game Calls -- Full Circle Outdoors -- Gut-N-Tag -- Heartland Whitetails – HookHunt -- Hunters and Guides Connection -- Hunter Safety Systems -- Keystone Country Store -- King of the Mountain Inc. -- Kinsey’s Outdoors – KodaBow -- Lancaster Archery Supply -- Midwest Whitetail Adventures -- Dominance is Everything Hunting System -- Mountain Dog Chews -- Nature Blinds -- Northern Hideaway Outfitters -- Open Season TV -- Outdoor Edge Knives -- Pipeline Ridge Hunting Preserve -- Primal Urge Outdoors -- Spook Spann -- Sportsmen of North America TV -- Stay Ready Inc. -- Stokerized Stabilizers -- TNT Archery -- Trijicon Inc. -Trop Gun Shop -- The Warmbag -- Whitetail Bosses -- Whitetail Heaven Outdoors -- Wired Outdoors -- Woodcock Limited of PA -- Wyvern Creations -- X-Stand Treestands  Zook Cabins -- 2 Million Bullets – National Wild Turkey Federation.

What is a particular shame is that not all the exhibitors banded together and forced a cancellation of the entire show. These anti-gun do-gooders need to be taught a lesson. Also notable is the only large, national merchandiser that pulled out is Cabela’s. Good for Cabela’s. I will do my shopping with them from now on.

National Wild Turkey Federation says goodbye to Harrisburg show
The Edgefield, S.C.-based National Wild Turkey Federation has withdrawn from the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., due to the decision to ban the display of modern sporting rifles. As a leading advocate for the preservation of our hunting heritage, the NWTF believes it is an important time to take a clear stance on its support of sportsmen and the Second Amendment and the clear link between the two.

The turkey federation canceled its booth space and will be rescheduling the NWTF-sanctioned calling contest that was slated to take place at the show once a suitable venue is determined.

“We feel strongly about the importance of the Second Amendment in pursuit of our mission of preserving our hunting heritage,” said Skip Motts, President of the NWTF Pennsylvania State Chapter. “We reached out to our chapters from across the state and received overwhelming support for taking this stand.”

The NWTF will host its National Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn., from Feb. 15 to 17.  The NWTF welcomes any attendees or exhibitors to consider coming to the NWTF Convention and Sport Show. The NWTF is working to add booths to the already sold out show in an attempt to accommodate companies that have decided to change plans about exhibiting at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.  Contact April Flowers at for information on reserving a booth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Here's a chance to share fishing or hunting experiences with us

After receiving a number of queries concerning our web site content and how to get one's picture and a short 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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Instead of bluefin tunas, big beautiful stripers sampled the lures

Wes Blow hoists one of his fine rockfish --- Photos by Ken Neill
Hunter Southall with a good striper
The president of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association, Dr. Ken Neill, sent word that he was out yesterday, trying for bluefin tunas. “We started around the dump site buoy and worked towards Sandbridge,”
he said. “Hearing of a couple tuna encounters near the Chesapeake Light Tower, we headed that way. Out there, we caught and released a handful of rockfish but we did not get a big bite. [There’s] plenty of life out near the Light Tower and at least a few tuna are still around."

By the way, Dr. Neill is not only the president of one of the most active saltwater fishing clubs in Virginia’s Tidewater region, he also is an official representative of the International Game Fish Association or check him out at

If you live anywhere near Baltimore, this is one fine boat show

The Baltimore Boat Show cruises into the Baltimore Convention Center, February 28 – March 3, making a splash with sales on the newest boats and accessories, plus new fun and educational activities for boaters of all ages and experience levels. Boaters, sailors, fisherman and families can climb aboard and compare hundreds of boats for all budgets and lifestyles, from luxury cruisers and fishing boats to family runabouts and pontoons, plus shop deals on the latest marine gadgets and gear.

Boat browsing and buying is just the beginning of the fun at the show, with a variety of attractions, including the new Swampmaster Gator Showvisitors looking to get wild can take a photo holding a baby gator and watch as expert alligator handler Jeff Quattrocchi catches an 8 ft., 200 lb. alligator. Captain Dave Marciano from National Geographic Channel's Wicked Tuna will also be on hand March 1-3 to meet visitors and share his stories on the open seas. And, experienced and beginner boaters can put their boating skills to the test with the Power Boat Docking Challenge.

Boaters and fishermen hoping to add new tricks to their trade can head to the hands-on clinics, see demonstrations and get one-on-one advice at Fred’s Shed DIY Interactive Learning Center and Fishing the Chesapeake seminar series

When:                 Thursday, February 28 through Sunday, March 3, 2013
Where:                Baltimore Convention Center
                            One West Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Hours:                 Thursday, February 28        11:00 am–9:00 pm
                            Friday, March 1                  11:00 am–9:00 pm
                            Saturday, March 2              10:00 am–9:00 pm
                            Sunday, March 3                10:00 am–5:00 pm
Tickets:                $12 for adults; FREE for children 15 and under (accompanied by an adult)
                             Advance tickets can be purchased at
Phone:                 410-224-7633

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bass virus shows again in Virginia; now also found in Maryland

Recent fish kills at Kerr Reservoir and Briery Lake in Virginia have been linked to the largemouth bass virus (LMBV) by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists. LMBV has not been implicated in fish kills nationally for nearly a decade. However, the Virginia incidents are a reminder that the organism may still pose some risk to largemouth bass populations. LMBV poses no risk to humans.

Gene Mueller caught this bass in wintry tidal Potomac
River water. It was released and appeared perfectly fine,
but how could he know if the largemouth was healthy?
"The health of Maryland’s largemouth bass populations continues to be excellent," said Don Cosden, DNR’s Inland Fisheries Director. "We have blue ribbon fishing opportunities in the Potomac River, Nanticoke River System, and the Upper Bay tributaries including the Susquehanna Flats. We encourage everyone to enjoy the fishing while being vigilant in avoiding transporting fish, debris, bait, and potential problems from one place to another."

LMBV has not been linked to fish kills in Maryland. However, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service biologists have discovered the virus in routine testing of bass populations over the last ten years. In the Potomac River, three of fourteen samples tested positive for the virus including largemouth bass from two sites on the tidal river and in one smallmouth bass from a site near Sheperdstown, W.Va.

Researchers from Virginia and West Virginia have identified the virus in their waters as well. In Maryland, largemouth bass have tested positive in the Nanticoke, Choptank and Patuxent Rivers, and Triadelphia Reservoir. The virus has not been identified in Upper Chesapeake Bay largemouth bass. However Pennsylvania fisheries biologists have found infected young of year smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River.

LMBV spreads by fish to fish contact, through the water or by fish eating infected prey. Fish biologists believe that LMBV was responsible for largemouth bass losses in the late 1990s in a number of southern and mid-western states. Impacted bass populations typically take three to four years to recover from a major LMBV event.

Never transfer live fish from one body of water to another. Never discard fish parts or unused bait in any body of water. Drain water from live wells, bilges, engines, bait buckets, and hoses and pumps before leaving the launch area and clear mud, vegetation and debris from trailers.

Disinfect live wells daily and particularly when moving between bodies of water. Spray or wipe all surfaces with a chlorine solution, let sit for 5 minutes, then rinse with clean water and flush through lines and pumps. Bleach is very toxic to aquatic organisms. Discharge the solution in a grassy area where it will not immediately drain into streams or ponds. An effective chlorine solution can be prepared by placing three tablespoons of household bleach in one gallon of water. Use the chlorine solution to clean trailers and other parts of the boat – just be sure to rinse well with clean water.

Report dying or dead bass, or bass that are swimming poorly in circles near the surface of the water by calling the Maryland Department of the Environment at 800-285-8195 M-F from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 877-224-7229 after hours.

Report a largemouth bass kill with DNR Tidal Bass Manager Dr. Joe Love at 410-260-8257.  More information about LMBV in Virginia is available online at

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lower Bay and Atlantic info, and Dr. Julie's calendar is available

Here’s an update on the latest happenings down in the lower Chesapeake Bay and adjacent Atlantic from the best lady angler ever, Dr. Julie Ball:

Ocean rockfish graced us with their presence this past weekend as they crossed into legal Territory [inside the EEZ Zone], making a strong showing inshore. Big fish filled coolers for grateful anglers, with many stripers weighing well over 40 pounds. The best action was found off Cape Henry, where hundreds of boats trolled blindly in thick fog. The most effective
presentation for enticing strikes is occurring on traditional rockfish spreads, made up of chartreuse Stretch 30’s, white or chartreuse parachute rigs, and the popular Mojo-style rigs. But this week, the rockfish action has backed off once again, leaving boats with very little activity to report along the oceanfront.

This is what Dr. Julie hopes for -- many tunas in inshore waters
In Bay waters, boats working live eels along the shoals off of Smith Island are still finding a few striped bass for catch-and-release, with most fish ranging from 30 to 42inches. The night time eel scene at the High Rise section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel also still good for some decent sized fish.

Although the ocean striped bass action faded, the good news is that the tuna reemerged. We have not experienced anything similar to the unbelievable striper-tuna phenomenon of 2012, but anglers are excited about the recent flurry of inshore bluefin tuna action, with a handful of giants hitting the scales this week at close to 300-pounds. Schools of tuna are moving around, but solid bites, along with spooled reels, are happening anywhere from just off Rudee Inlet on out to the Chesapeake Light Tower in no particular pattern. With the recent cold weather sweep, anglers are hoping that the water temperatures don’t drop enough to push the fish back to deeper water.

A word about Julie Ball's 2013 calendar that is available to anglers everywhere. The full-color large calendar is loaded with photos of the fishing dentist as she shows off all the various fish species she's hooked in Virginia’s salty waters. My only complaint is that I wished she didn't wear sunglasses in almost every month's illustration. Sunglasses make one look as if there are two large black holes in the head. Either way, for more information on the calendar as well as the fishing, go to

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tired of fishing in home waters? Try some other promising states

If nothing much is happening around the old hometown's waters and woods, maybe a fishing trip to never-before-seen lakes, rivers and bays can cure what ails you and it doesn't always have to be a Florida outing. Don’t let winter weather come between you and the fish. Several states have open tailwaters and open rivers where you can pursue trout or steelhead.

In Oregon, for example, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife provides river condition updates and other useful information on a daily basis to help anglers prepare for fishing trips. The site also has license information and details on regulations. This site also lists river destinations and recipes should you find success.Visit

Check out above the dam at Table Rock Lake, Mo.
If you live in other areas where warm weather abounds, there are also plenty of reasons—and places—to go fishing. In Georgia, for example, the state’s Department of Natural Resources lists Public Fishing Areas (PFAs), hot tips to help you catch fish, and maps of nearly a dozen PFA’s around the state that range from ponds to piers. Additional
details are at:

In Missouri, the huge Lake Taneycomo is open to trout fishing. This popular tailwater near Branson holds huge trout. Local fly shops or fishing outfitters can help you find fish if you are new to these opportunities. If you are more interested in bass, look above the dam in Table Rock Lake. Numerous piers can help you safely launch you boat or find a place to cast a lure.

These fishing sites and details could be the reasons for you to try out a new rod or to get outdoors and fight cabin fever. Fish on.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Striper and tuna action picks up steam along with the tilefish

From the Tidewater region of Virginia, Dr. Ken Neill reports that rockfish action has gained momentum with a number of whoppers being caught in the Cape Henry area. Stripers up to 55 pounds were weighed, with many fish tipping the scale at over 40 pounds. "Each day has been different with quick limits happening one day, followed by a slow bite the next, but it is a lot better than it was the previous week," says Dr. Neill. 

Danny Forehand caught this 13.5-lb. tilefish
The famous fishing dentist also said that rockfish remain available inside the Chesapeake Bay for catch-and-release action. Large specimens continue to be found by the few anglers fishing with eels in the Kiptopeke to Plantation area. 

At times, the big rockfish have been pests for anglers trolling for bluefin tuna in the Chesapeake Light Tower area. The bluefin tuna action picked up this past week and most of the fishing moved inshore, 2 to 6 miles off the beach, from Sandbridge to Cape Henry. On average, the bluefins were larger than they have been the previous couple of weeks. A number of these powerful battlers weighed in the 300- to 350-pound range. 

"Anglers running offshore are finding excellent sea bass fishing on the deep-water wrecks and also good blueline tilefish action along the 50-fathom curve. Tautog are available on the inshore wrecks in the ocean and there are still some active togs at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and on other structures at the mouth of the Bay. Speckled trout fishing remains very good in the Elizabeth River.

By the way, George Poveromo’s National Seminar Series that is tailored to serious saltwater fishermen will be in Virginia Beach on Jan. 19. For details about this entertaining and educational event, visit: .

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Although it's legal, hunting isn't always about shooting wild game

Hunting is more than just shooting a gun.
My friend, Dr. Jack Scanlon, who lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore --- justly famed for its waterfowl hunting --- sent this photo and a comment that is so true. "Sometimes hunting is more than about killing birds," he began and then mentioned a hunting pal. "Butch Chambers took this neat photo this morning while we waited for the geese to show up. They did and we were successful. But the best of this morning was the wonderful double rainbow at sunrise."

Most hunters have had similar experiences over the years. Unless you've crouched down in a goose pit, hunkered in a shoreline blind waiting for cold-weather bluebills to show up, or sat up in a tree hoping for a whitetailed deer to make an appearance, non-hunters might never fully appreciate how much we enjoy being OUT THERE, observing things not many others will ever see. In fact, because of nature's awesome moments, the shooting part of a hunting day can become less important. Anti-hunters will never understand that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rockfish can give you headaches and where are all the tunas?

The ocean rockfish are frustrating anglers, says super lady angler, Dr. Julie Ball “Plenty of big stripers are available off the coast, but they seem content to hang out beyond the reach of anglers over the 3-mile line. It’s not uncommon to hear reports of huge schools of rockfish busting bait anywhere from 5 to 15 miles off the beach lately. And although some are targeting the schools in these areas, it is illegal to fish for them and anglers are unable to earn release citations in the EEZ [protective closed zone],” she adds. 

Dr. Julie Ball and a tuna caught in better times -- not now.
Dr. Julie also mentions that the catch and release striper scene in the Bay is still a good option lately. “Anglers are still finding some good action at the High Rise section of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at night, while those working the channel edges and shoals along the Eastern Shore with live eels on bobbers are also faring well with some decent fish for release.”

On the subject of bluefin tuna fishing in ocean waters, Dr. Julie says, “Although the big bluefin tuna fishery started off with a bang just off the beach last week, anglers’ dreams were quickly dashed as the schools of tuna meandered to deeper water, making them more difficult to locate and harder to boat. Although a few hook-ups are occurring each day, only a smattering of tuna is making it back to the docks right now. Anglers hope that the warmer weather coming up will boost water temperatures enough to entice the elusive bluefin into shallower and more accessible water off our coastline,” she says.
Meanwhile, inshore fishing continues to point to speckled trout and puppy drum activity within the Elizabeth River. Both live baiters and those casting lures within the river are finding steady action, with many of the specks ranging in 3- to 8-pound range. The lady dentist also says that the bite within Rudee, Lynnhaven, and Little Creek inlets is showing enough promise to keep kayakers and backwater anglers interested for now.

Tautog action within the Bay took off this week since boats are now able to access them. Most are returning home with limits of respectable fish, with some pushing to around 10-pounds this week caught on clams, blue crabs, frozen green crabs, and hermit crabs. Tog activity on wrecks and hangs beyond the Light Tower is beginning to draw some interest, but most wreck hoppers are more focused on the abundant sea bass hitting in the same locations while they are in season. Anglers are finding responsive fish, with some seabass pushing to over 4- and 5-pounds lately.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A question from a web visitor who wants to know about coyotes

In answer to my recent web log entitled "Virginia hunters/anglers manage to bag cold season memories," a web visitor who signed on as Wile E wrote: "So does one eat a coyote? I don't understand the point of shooting them. Last time I checked, deer were overpopulated . . . yet we shoot potential predators?? If you don't eat a coyote, why not just shoot feral cats and dogs? Essentially the same thing, right?"

Well, dear Wile E., it isn't all as simple as that. You're right, people don't eat coyotes (perhaps in the past, some native Americans did), but they're still high on the list of undesirable predators which eastern states want to eliminate. They actually account for very little deer predation, thus aren't considered effective in that respect --- yet. However, they are exceptionally skilled killers of smaller game such as wild turkey pults, young Canada geese, rabbits, squirrels, quail and grouse (some of which are not in great supply). But worst of all, they are deadly effective predators of suburban pet populations, especially small dogs and house cats that are allowed outside.

Finally, coyotes are an undesirable alien invader from western U.S. areas, not native to our eastern states, thus they're not wanted by local game officials. The word is out to try and eradicate them. That, however, is not likely to happen because coyotes are near the top rung of the survival ladder in the animal world. 

If you are a legitimate gun owner, always bear this in mind . . .

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. So says the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Second Amendment wasn't written to protect only
American deer hunters and target shooters.

As a legal, law-abiding gun owner, the question begs, "What part of SHALL NOT don't the anti-gunners, do-gooders, limp-wristed media and assorted milquetoasts understand?"

One more thing. The Second Amendment does NOT say, "The right of duck and deer hunters to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." No. It means all law-abiding Americans, not just hunters and target plinkers.

Sadly, we have people in this country who would lay down and die to protect the First Amendment to the Constitution, the right to free speech, etc. But at the same time a fair number of them is willing to trample all over the Second Amendment, even remove it. Imagine, the governor of New York has suggested that gun confiscation should not be off the table. Think about that.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lesions found among many Susquehanna River smallmouth bass

The Associated Press reports that, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, a  serious problem exists in the Susquehanna River. Disease has been found among one of the Susky's most popular gamefish species, the smallmouth bass.

The York Daily Record stated that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection has no idea what is causing the disease and that hatchlings are dying off in significant numbers.

John Arway, the director of the Fish and Boat Commission, wants the Susquehanna listed as impaired. He told the newspaper that it might take several years to remedy the problem and allow fishing.

But the state Enviromental Protection spokesman, Kevin Sunday, says the department needs to gather more data to figure out what’s causing the disease that’s killing the fish. He says people are finding sick fish that have lesions on their bodies.

So you're out in the Atlantic hoping for tunas when rockfish attack

Hunter Southall with a heavy-duty ocean rockfish
The young man holding that magnificent striper is Tidewater Virginia fisherman Hunter Southall. He caught the rockfish while fishing from Virginian Greg Scott’s boat. 

One of the anglers aboard was well-known saltwater expert Dr. Ken Neill (who shot this photo).  Dr. Ken said, "We were in Greg's 28-foot Carolina Classic, trolling for bluefin tuna. We were mostly pulling horse ballyhoo/Ilander combinations [but also] had two parachute jig [rigs] out and that is what most of the rockfish hit. All of the rockfish were released."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Virginia hunters/anglers manage to bag cold-season memories

Justin Wimmer, 17, and his coyote
Justin Wimmer, 17, of Stafford, Va., was hunting deer not long ago when a nice-size coyote happened along. Justin told the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Outdoor Report, “I was hunting alone in a 'hang-on' deer stand for an hour, overlooking a marshy area with an old pond, when I looked to my right and saw the coyote walking the edge of the tree line,” said Justin. “I brought up my .308 and waited for a clear shot on him when he stopped behind a pine branch. He stepped out and I pulled the trigger stopping him in his tracks. This was my first coyote.”

Incidentally, did you know that coyotes now are found in every East Coast and mid-West state? It’s no longer just a critter of cowboy films and songs of the far West. --- Picture from Virginia’s Outdoor Report.

Lee Rothgeb and a 60.5-pound blue catfish
How about this monster catfish? Lee Rothgeb dropped a chunk of gizzard shad bait to the bottom of the James River in the Jordan Point Marina area of Hopewell, Va., when this 60.5-pound blue catfish inhaled the bait and Rothgeb quickly had a fight on his hands. It was a battle that he obviously won. Good show, Lee.
--- Picture from Virginia’s Outdoor Report.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Keep a close eye on legislators and see how they vote on guns

Gun Owners of America group says gun grabbers made their objectives clear.

Illegal orders and confiscation

* “The president is going to act.  There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken [and] we’re compiling it all with the help [of] the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action we believe is required.” -- Vice President Joe Biden, January 9, 2013

* “Confiscation could be an option.” -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview (December 27, 2012)

* “We cannot have big guns out here ... semi-automatics and all of them,” said Iowa Rep. Dan Muhlbauer. “Even if you have them, I think we need to start taking them.” -- interview with the Iowa Daily Times Herald (December 19, 2012)

Sweeping new guns & ammo bans

* The proposed Illinois semi-auto ban would “ban more than 50% of the rifles and more than 80% of handguns” currently owned by Illinoisans. -- Study by Illinois State Rifle Association

* “Ammunition is now the black hole in gun violence prevention.” -- Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D), January 8, 2013

Registering gun owners

* Biden is being pushed to accept “universal background checks [and laws to] track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database.” -- The Washington Post, January 6, 2013

* The goal is to “break the back” of the gun lobby. -- Democratic operative Julian Epstein (MSNBC)

This is the goal of the so-called “reasonable, common sense” crowd in Congress. Consider what they want to accomplish:
(1) Immediate bans on most guns currently in circulation.
(2) Accompanied by national registration of guns and ammunition.
(3) Followed by confiscation.
And, under rules changes being pushed by certain U.S. Senators, once you allow the least bit of gun control to go forward, the process will be beyond anyone’s ability to stop once it turns really nasty and extreme. 

These Maryland goose hunters enjoy great late season shooting

Dr. Jack Scanlon (left), Sugar, Paul Bergere and
the DNR's Larry Hindman (in back)
Dr. Jack Scanlon sent along this photo after a successful goose hunt on his Eastern Shore, Md., farm. “We have a huge number of migratory Canada geese in our area right now,” said Dr. Scanlon. “A whole bunch
have decided our farm is a  neat place to hang out. We appreciate their visits and greeted them at dawn. Butch Chambers took the photo. We got our limit by 0800." (The seventh and eighth goose was shot by Butch and one of those was in the farm wagon).

Larry Hindman, Maryland’s DNR goose project manager and Paul Bergere are shown on the right. Dr. Scanlon is on the left and the beautiful chocolate Lab is Sugar. She is easily the best looking one in the group, don’t you agree?

By the way, the season for Canada geese ends Jan. 28. There’s a limit of two birds per day, per hunter.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fishing dentist wins a striper tournament and other saltwater news

Belated congratulations to Dr. Ken Neill, our constant supplier of fishing information from the lowest portions of the Chesapeake Bay and the adjacent Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Neill won the recent Irv Fenton Rockfish Tournament that concluded on December 31, 2012. The event was sponsored by Wilcox Bait and Tackle and the winners were determined by weight of the single heaviest fish.

Dr. Ken Neill with a 55-pound contest-winning striped bass
Impressive stripers were weighed in, many of the anglers having fished with live eels at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and along the Eastern Shore side of the Chesapeake.
First place was won by Ken Neill with a 55-pounder and his frequent fishing partner, Wes Blow, boated one that tipped the scales at 52 pounds, 5 ounces to take second place.

Meanwhile, Dr. Neill reports that currently the rockfish have been playing hard to get. “There is hope that the ‘hits’ will become more frequent with this warmer weather that we are having,” says Dr. Neill, who added that many stripers are remaining inside of the Bay for catch-and-release action. Large fish are still being caught and released in the Kiptopeke area.

Boaters who have been fishing for bluefin tuna have been catching a lot of big rockfish around the Chesapeake Light Tower, says the fishing dentist. “Over the past few days, this mass of rockfish, bait, whales, and bluefin tuna have been moving in closer to the beach,” he says, adding that most recent bluefin tuna catches have happened about 5 miles off of Virginia Beach. Dr. Neill also wants us to know that while bluefin tuna are producing most of the excitement, some of the best fishing can be found on the offshore wrecks where big sea bass are stacked up. The Triangle Reef structures are holding plenty of keeper sea bass, but for the real jumbos, head to wrecks farther out.

Through February, anglers are allowed to keep 15 sea bass, of at least 12.5 inches long, per day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to make a small fish look big and other tidal river happenings

Photographing it this way certainly makes a fish look a lot bigger.
Here's Marty "Scuppy" Magone ever willing to have some fun.
What do you do when the upper tidal Potomac River’s bass have lockjaw and apparently are in a lousy mood as concerns looking at an artificial lure?

In the case of two of the Three Musketeers, Andy Andrzejewski and Marty Magone, you simply make the best of a bad situation. It beats sitting indoors and watching the boob tube.

“After a rough morning ride in bone-chilling temperatures we tried a number of locations near Marshall Hall -- with zero results,” said Marty. “Andy decided we should down-size to small grubs and lighter line while searching for some crappies or anything else that might be available.”

Andy and a small bass. The others weren't interested.
“The only bass of the morning nailed one of Andy's grubs,” said Marty. “But as the morning chill warmed a bit we found some willing neds (yellow perch) and a few crappies not far from Belle Haven Marina. That was netter than nothing.” (Belle Haven is on the Virginia side of the river, not far from the Wilson Bridge.)

Andy doesn’t know the word quit. He found the perch and a few crappies schooled tightly in about 13 feet of 
Andy in his cold-weather "boat running" gear.
The jacket he's wearing is a super-warm flotation coat.
water. “Slowly dragging the tiny [plastic] grubs along the rocky bottom produced the best results,” recalled Marty. “One final note. With optical sleight of hand, Andy managed to transform my small perch into a Scuppernong-size beauty.”

(The Scuppernong remark concerns the weighing of a 5-pound Scuppernong River bass not long ago that magically transformed into a 10-pounder when any of the boat occupants were asked about it.) 

Traveling in style certainly helps when fishing in the cold season.

The yellow perch being shown by the bass guide Andy Andrzejewski (his ad is on the left side of this page) thankfully belongs to a cold-water species that often saves the day for winter anglers. In fact, were it not for yellow and white perch, as well as crappies, many a cold-weather outing in tidal river country would be wiped out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sea bass fishing is going bonkers in middle Atlantic Ocean waters

Charles Southall and a whopping sea bass
                                                                         -- Photo by Dr. Ken Neill
Fishermen along the coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean -- especially the fishing grounds found east of Virginia Beach -- are finding exceptional numbers of large sea bass.

At the head of the throng of
regulars you'll usually find the president of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman Association, Dr. Ken Neill, and his frequent fishing partner, Charles Southall.

Just a few days ago those two went out in typically cold weather and whacked the "black willies," as some Virginia seaside residents call this delectable fish that is carefully managed through open and closed seasons. Some of the fellows' sea bass tipped the scale at 6 pounds.

Ask a Chinese chef which fish he would prefer to put on a plate and chances are the sea bass will be among his top choices.

Monday, January 7, 2013

About bass with black spots and learning about pickerel fishing

Lans Griffith and a bass with dark spots
Lans Griffith, of Woodbridge, Va., fished with the bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski, of La Plata, Md., somewhere in Gunston Cove on the Virginia side of the tidal Potomac River recently when Lans caught a bass that was covered with dark spots. It's nothing to worry about, say fisheries biologists. Tidal water largemouths frequently display such skin colorations and they do not affect the health of the fish.

The Subject is chain pickerel and how to catch 'em in local waters

John Veil, a veteran Chesapeake Bay angler who targets pickerel during the winter months, will be the speaker at the Monday, Jan. 28, meeting of the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland’s (CCA MD) Patuxent River Chapter. The meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at Stoney’s Kingfisher in Solomons (Calvert County), is free and open to the public. Attendees can order from Stoney’s menu at 6 p.m.

Pickerel frequent many of the Chesapeake’s feeder streams, including Allen’s Fresh, during the winter months and provide exciting light tackle and fly fishing for recreational
anglers. Veil will demonstrate equipment for pickerel and discuss strategies and locations for catching them. CCA MD is also running a catch and release Pickerel Challenge, and more information can be found on that at

Then along comes my good friend, Marty Magone (sometimes known as Scuppy) with a January 2013 bass that he caught in the mouth of Great Creek in Lake Gaston, Va.

"It was a slow day," said Marty, "but I did eventually hook a few bass and a ned." (A ned, among certain mid-Atlantic anglers, is a yellow perch.)

Marty Magone

 Yesterday, Marty went out again and used a Baby Bass color ShadRap crankbait to catch 11 bass up to four pounds. Half of them were caught up-lake above Flat Creek and the rest came from Great Creek. The bass were
chasing baitfish onto the creek bank, he said and added that the water temperature stood at 45 degrees.I hope Marty has bought his new 2013 fishing license.
Have you?