Thursday, February 28, 2013

Marty came through when no one else in our frost-bite club could

My good friend Marty Magone, who has a home within a stone’s throw of downstate Virginia’s Lake Gaston, says, “The question is, when is a 3-pound bass newsworthy?” He promptly answers his own query by saying, “It’s newsworthy when you sling every crankbait and jig in your tackle bag all day long with no results, but then put on a small crappie jig to catch supper and I nail this bass . . . the only fish of the day. But what the heck do I know? Water temp was 46 degrees and the water is stained." Marty also added that there was no sign of striper activity – a species he normally does well with. 

Marty Magone found at least one bass. The photo is a self portrait.
My question to Marty goes as follows: "Brother, why do you persist wearing that USMC cap when you said you wouldn’t do it any more? You’re not in the Marine Corps now. In fact, you’re 10 years older than the Marine Corps Commandant. He’d tell you to bury that hat. And one more thing, why did you say that bass weighed 3 pounds? Did you weigh it on the infamous Scuppernong scale that a few years
back weighed a North Carolina bass, claiming it weighed 10 pounds, which of course it didn’t." It’s kind of like the bass a certain Potomac River guide caught some years ago, saying it was a line class world record. The only thing that’s a record with that guy is his mammoth imagination.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A welcome, rare sight at Rehoboth Beach -- canvasback ducks

Canvasback ducks appeared to be everywhere.
Well-known decoy expert and collector, Jim Trimble, snapped these wonderful photos of canvasback ducks, a species that hasn‘t always been in ample supply in the middle Atlantic states. 

The Northern Virginian, Trimble, said, “Canvasback ducks, literally hundreds of them [could be seen along] the shoreline on Rehoboth Beach’s Silver Lake this past week. I have never seen a canvasback duck at the beach before.”

Editor's note: I have a special place in my hunter's heart for canvasbacks. Many years ago, when they were plentiful, we hunted them and other species along the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The canvasback was especially favored because of its wonderful taste. As the species increasingly declined, I marked them off the list of huntable waterfowl. Happily, now they appear to be returning --- G.M.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Of ocean tautogs, rough seas, and anglers willing to go after them

Hunter Southall and a whopping 'tog
The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, yesterday said, “We ran out after tautogs this morning. The ride out [from the Virginia Beach area] was fine but by the time we reached the wreck, it was not pleasant out there. We started out anchoring off the stern, but by the time the second wave broke over the back of the boat, none of us could feel our fingers much less a ‘tog bite. We transferred the anchor to the bow, making it at least fishable. We were no longer over the right spot but there was no way we were going to try and re-anchor.”
                                       
“We had some clams and shrimp for bait,” said Dr. Neill. “The tautogs seemed to like both. We caught 23 ‘togs up to 13 pounds before we ran out of bait. We also caught numerous small sea bass, some cunner, and a number of dogfish."

Wes Blow had one that could have fed an entire family
The Tidewater Virginia dentist added, "Two of the tautogs we caught had tags in them. One was from the same series of tags that I am using now, so that is one we had tagged over the past two weeks. The other fish had an older tag. It started out miserable but it turned out to be a productive trip.” 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mississippian Cliff Pace wins 2013 Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa

Cliff Pace has won the Bassmaster Classic championship held at Grand Lake of the Cherokees, in Tulsa, Okla. It ended Sunday afternoon (Feb. 24). The Mississippian, Pace, won after reeling in 54 pounds and 12 ounces of bass over three days. Pace was a runner-up last year, but he would not be denied this year.

You could actually fish for crappies and bass using only two lures

Do you think it’s possible to fish all day long using only two lures? Throughout February and March, especially if the water stays in the 40-degree range (or a tad higher), it is indeed not only possible, it is practically recommended by expert anglers such as the tidal river bass guide, Andy Andrzejewski.

On left are 2 Sting Ray grubs, on top the
Smelly Jelly. Gulp grubs at bottom right.
During that time of year, many waters have not yet begun to sprout vast fields of hydrilla or milfoil (as happens in the tidal Potomac River below the nation’s capital and other waterways).

Andy – include also long-time pal Dale Knupp and his fishing wife Nancy, as well as yours truly -- wouldn’t leave home without a couple dozen Mann’s Sting Ray grubs in avocado color, a handful of 1/8-oz, ¼-oz., maybe even 3/8-oz. plain, round-headed jig hooks (we’re talking wire hooks, not stainless steel; wire hooks can be pulled free from a snag if your line is strong enough; stainless steel usually can’t).

In addition, there’s always a jar of Crawdaddy or Baitfish flavor Smelly Jelly in the boat or in a shoreliner’s tackle box.

Andy Andrzejewski shows what crappies go for.
Now add 1- and 2-inch Berkley Gulp curly-tailed grubs (usually in chartreuse) that will be pushed onto 1/8-oz. round-headed jig hooks. The Sting Ray and Gulp grubs will be fished with the hooks coming out of the middle (or thereabouts) grub bodies, totally exposed, the baits dabbed with Smelly Jelly.

The Sting Ray, fished on an exposed hook, calls for tough line. Andy might use 14- to 17-pound monofilament on his baitcasting reels; I prefer the grey Berkley FireLine in 20- or 25-pound test (it has a diameter of less than 10-pound mono).

Andy with a bass that took a Sting Ray.
Gulp grubs, often fished on lighter spinning gear, might be okay when fished with 10-pound test. Whatever you choose, cast either lure under docks, alongside fallen trees, sharply breaking shoreline water that might jump from 3 to 9 or 10 feet, old stump fields and the fairly deep sides of rock walls and rip-rap. Crawl the soft baits along, occasionally lifting the rod tip to create a small hop, but don’t overdo it.

Easy does it. Don’t be in a hurry. The bass will do the rest when they see and smell the Sting Ray; ditto for the Gulp grub when a crappie picks up its enticing motion and scent.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fly-fishing fans honor Lefty Kreh, one of the greatest ever

Tiefest, one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most popular fishing shows sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD), has been renamed Lefty Kreh’s Tiefest to honor one of fly fishing’s international legends.

The grand master of fly-fishing, Lefty Kreh
The first Lefty Kreh’s Tiefest will be Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Prospect Bay Country Club, Grasonville, MD. Some of the country’s most respected fly tyers will demonstrate patterns effective in the
mid-Atlantic region and answer questions from the more than 400 expected attendees.

“Lefty is recognized throughout the world as one of the fathers of fly fishing, and since he’s a Maryland native and resident it’s most appropriate to name Maryland’s best fly fishing event after him,” said Tony Friedrich, CCA MD executive director. “Lefty has attended many of the past Tiefests and always is open to helping anglers. This is one time when any angler can come up to Lefty or the other flyfishing experts there and get their individual questions answered.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Support a worthy cause in No. Virginia next Saturday, March 2

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: conesty@aol.com
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.

Getting a fishing "window" is tough in fickle February weather

Our favorite fishing lady, Dr. Julie Ball (www.drjball.com), says as another cold front rolls through the mid-Atlantic region, anglers continue to make the most of scattered weather windows. But with the Bay and coastal water temperatures hovering in the low forties, folks are either heading inland or offshore to get the job done.

I don't believe that's Julie, but who knows?
“Speckled trout are still the main species of interest in local waters,” says Dr. Julie. “The bite continues to alternate from good to fair in the Elizabeth River, with a few nice fish still around. Trollers are faring very well while slow-trolling both soft plastics and lures. Casters continue to find the largest fish, with some specks pushing to well over 25-inches lately. Various swim baits, slow sinking jerk baits, and suspending twitch baits are working best for tempting the bigger fish. The popular MirrOdines are a very good choice for trout, and will also entice strikes from lingering stripers and puppy drum in the same areas.”

Dr. Julie also mentioned that the folks at Atlantic Bait and Tackle report that a decent puppy drum bite is coming from within Rudee Inlet (Virginia Beach) this week. “Recent trips are producing good numbers of fish; with one outing highlighting over 30 fish for a pair of shore anglers,” she says. “The fish are ranging from 16 to 23 inches, especially near the Marine Science Museum. Some sporadic schoolie rockfish action is coming from the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on top water lures recently.”

Tautogs are still an option for those looking for variety and challenge. These hearty wreck dwellers are hitting on several offshore structures, with the vicinity near the Triangle wrecks always a favorite area. Blue crab baits work well, but many are using alternatives such as clams and mussels. “More interest lies with the plentiful seabass, which often coexist on the same structures with tog.” However the sea bass fishing must come to a halt at the end of February.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yellow perch are hooked in Maryland's Patuxent River at Jug Bay

Yellow perch fanatics have been in touch wanting to know if any kind of spawning run has developed. I'm not sure if the spawning is under way, but some of my insider friends have been hooking them in a couple of deep Patuxent River holes up around the Jug Bay area. Minnows, grass shrimp, drop-shot 2-inch Berkley Power Minnows in chartreuse or black back/grey body, avocado Sting Ray grubs, small yellow Gulp grubs -- they all have been working.

A good boat launch ramp is available at Jackson's Landing in Prince George's County, but stop at the park office and check on launch fees and/or availability of boat stickers that let you launch all year.
--- Good luck, Gene Mueller

Blue-nose anglers are out in tough weather and they find fish

The fishing dentist, Dr. Ken Neill, says when the boats get out, some tuna are being caught out of [North Carolina’s] Outer Banks. The bluefin tuna has been the main target out of Oregon Inlet. Hatteras boaters are catching mostly yellowfin and blackfin tuna.

A file photo of Dr. Neill with a chubby tautog
“The best of the bluefin bite has been from the Point north to the 40900, out past the 100 fathom curve,” says Dr. Neill. “This is in range of boats running out of Virginia, but I have not heard of any making the run yet. There have been boats running out to do some bottom fishing around the Norfolk Canyon.

“A mixture of blueline tilefish and sea bass have been the catch around the 50 fathoms. Wreckfish, blackbelly rosefish, and an occasional grouper [find] most common catches out deeper. The offshore wrecks are loaded with jumbo sea bass with many weighing in at over the 5-pound mark. This is the best fishery we have going right now but it ends at the end of February. Wrecks closer to the coast, like those at the Triangle and Tower Reefs, are receiving more attention by anglers targeting tautog. Tautog catches have been good with [a few] keeper-sized sea bass mixed in. Speckled trout, along with some puppy drum and striped bass, are being caught in the Elizabeth River.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Money-hungry Maryland wants to get into sport anglers pockets

To start on the nice side, Maryland is the state where steamed blue crabs and baked rockfish are standard, wonderful table fare. On the critical side, Maryland is known all over the nation as a tax-happy, expensive, over-the-top state government-crazy place where some people half-jokingly claim that the Chesapeake Bay Country north of the Virginia line would place a tax on your breathing – if it could.

The symbolic flag of Maryland quite often can also 
become a message, such as, "Give me your money!"
Not all those charges are misplaced. Welcome to the Socialist Republic of Maryland where the government will reach into your pockets as often as it can.

After recently increasing fees on boat registrations, over-charging everybody on bridge and road tolls, insisting on some of the highest property tax rates in the U.S., now comes news from the Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Service that two bills proposed in the 2013 Legislative Session would, if approved, affect 2014 fishing license fees. Senate Bill 525 affects both commercial and recreational fees and Senate Bill 662 only affects commercial fees, including fishing guides.

The Fisheries Service hastens to add that the legislation was not submitted by the Department of Natural Resources. 
 
SB 525/ HB 1253 - Fishing - Sustainable Fisheries Enforcement Fund -- Senators Colburn and Dyson, Delegate Jacobs
(Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs, 1st Reader: Hearing 2/26/2013, 1pm) Establishing the Sustainable Fisheries Enforcement Fund as a special enforcement fund; applying a $10 surcharge to commercial fishing licenses and recreational fishing licenses (except seniors and complimentary); requiring that the surcharge supplements current revenue and can only be used for enforcement activities of the Natural Resources Police.

SB 662/HB 1241 - Natural Resources - Commercial Fishing - Licensing -- Senators Mathias and Colburn, Delegate Jacobs
(Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs, 1st Reader: Hearing 2/26/2013, 1pm) Raises certain authorized annual fees and surcharges for specified commercial fishing licenses (includes fishing guides), authorizations, and permits; establishes an annual harvester's registration for all commercial fishermen (except charter only captains) for a fee of $215; requiring anyone that purchases Maryland seafood for resale to be licensed as a dealer or to have purchased from a dealer; and repealing provisions of law that authorize the Department to establish and issue a commercial fishing apprenticeship permit.

For more detailed information on  bills that affect fisheries in the 2013 session, go to: http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/regulations/legislativeupdate.asp

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Water temp-activated color-changing baits will make huge splash

“When angler after angler gets excited after seeing the simple demonstration of color-changing lures, you know we have some exciting technology that 
will make a huge impact,” said Sammy Lee, spokesman for something called Smartbaits™.

These lures change color as water temperature changes.
“As Smartbaits owners Leslee and Michael Dingman showed how quickly the soft and hard baits change in warm to cold water and how the baits’ red bellies appeared to be bleeding, I watched the amazed reactions of name pros, all Bass Fishing Hall of Fame members. “They called it industry changing,” said Lee with a smile.

“Fish see color,” said Michael Dingman, “and the unique chemistry in Smartbaits imitate wounded bleeding prey fish changing color at different water temperatures and depths. Predator fish, like large bass, hone in on those colors of vulnerable or injured smaller fish and attack. Smartbaits incite that attack. For example, in cold deepwater or warm shallow water, just one Smartbaits lure will change colors from chartreuse to red or watermelon to junebug to attract more fish to strike. Color changes everything; that’s the Smartbaits’ slogan.”

“They do catch fish and do exactly what they say they do,” added Lee, “and I’m amazed. This will be the biggest thing to hit the fishing world in years.”

(Bass angling enthusiasts get to see Smartbaits first at booth 121 Anglers at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo, in Tulsa, Okla., Feb. 22 – 24. Normally buyers from all of the major fishing tackle and outdoor stores see the newest products the previous summer to begin selling them the following spring. But bass anglers visiting the Smartbaits exhibit at booth 121 in the Tulsa Convention Center will see them first.

Both soft and hard lures have a range of 15 popular color-changing designs and patterns and there also is a glow-in-the-dark bait that lasts for eight hours and is reusable again and again.”

(Editor's note: Just as soon as possible I will provide information about the availability of these new baits. Currently, nothing has been said about national distribution, but you can probably bet the rent that Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops will be ordering these lures  -- Gene Mueller)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Win a Bassmaster Classic tournament boat or cast for $100,000

Take home the Berkley® Super Strong TRILENE® tournament boat

COLUMBIA, SC — Someone will win a new lake-ready bass boat valued at $33,000 and Berkley® Trilene® fishing line is making it easy. At the Bassmaster Classic from Feb 22 through Feb 24 at Grand Lake of the Cherokees, in Tulsa, Okla., anglers across the nation can enter to win the Berkley® Super Strong™ Trilene® Tournament Boat. 

There’s nothing to buy, no hoops to jump through; simply enter. The Trilene Tour Boat will be on display in the Berkley booth at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo February 22 – 24. From there the boat will tour the United States for viewing at the eight B.A.S.S. Elite tournaments.

There are four ways to enter for a chance to win: 1. Event Entry.
Visit one of the eight B.A.S.S Elite tournaments where the Berkley Super Strong Trilene Tournament Boat will be on display. Locate the iPad entry kiosk and complete the Official Entry Form and click Submit to finalize and enter the sweepstakes.
2. Online Entry. Go to http://www.berkley-fishing.com/boatsweeps (the Online Sweepstakes Site), follow all entry instructions to complete the entry form and submit (Online Entry).
3. Facebook Entry. Visit http://www.facebook.com/BerkleyFishing, click "Like" to become a fan of the Berkley page, click the Sweepstakes tab (the Facebook Sweepstakes Site), follow all entry instructions to complete the entry form and submit (Facebook Entry).
4. Berkley Trilene Mobile Club Entry. Opt-in to join the Berkley Trilene Mobile Club, receive text messages from the Berkley Trilene Mobile Club and receive a link to the Sweepstakes Mobile Entry Form:
• Text the Keyword “TRILENE” to short code “55678” from an SMS and web-enabled mobile phone.
• Visit the Mobile Entry Site link and follow all entry instructions to complete the entry form in its entirety and submit (the“Mobile Club Entry”).

There is a limit of one entry per person per day. The sweepstakes ends at midnight November 1, 2013 (Eastern). The random drawing for the grand prize will be held approximately two weeks after the sweepstakes closes.

In addition to the boat prize, 25 randomly drawn entrants will win a 3000yd spool of Berkley Trilene XT monofilament fishing line. Another 25 randomly drawn entrants will also win a 1000-yd. spool of Berkley Trilene XT.

The Trilene Tour Boat is a 2012 Skeeter® ZX190, outfitted with a 150 horsepower Yamaha® VMax HPDI outboard, electronics including a Minn Kota® trolling motor and Lowrance® sonar and Skeeter trailer.

On top of all that you can make a lucky cast and win $100,000!
Trilene® Offers Chance for One Attendee to cast for big bucks

Berkley Trilene, the number one fishing line in America, will give one lucky fan attending the Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa, Okla., the chance to win $100,000 by simply casting into a target. During the final weigh-in on February 24, one individual in the BOK Center arena will be randomly drawn from the crowd and allowed to cast to a target on the arena floor.

The participant will be given his/her choice of an Abu Garcia spincast, spinning or baitcast rod/reel combination spooled with Berkley Trilene line. Renowned angler and television host Hank Parker will provide the individual with a one-on-one practice session to become better acquainted with the tackle for the best chance to win the $100,000 prize. The actual cast will be made prior to announcing the Super Six in front of thousands of angling fans.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Virginia's Rappahannock River may soon see Florida-strain bass

Some days ago, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star ran a story about the possibility of a private group of anglers stocking the tidal Rappahannock River with Florida-strain largemouth bass – a species of bass that under proper conditions grows quickly and attains weights that northern largemouths rarely realize.

The non-profit Concerned Bass Anglers of Virginia (CBAV) has said that it will buy 62,000 2-inch-long F1 Florida bass fingerlings that could be stocked in the Rappahannock between Port Royal and downstream Leedstown sometime in late spring.

According to CBAV co-founder Bruce Lee the fingerling bass would be bought from the  American Sport Fish Hatchery in Montgomery, Ala.

All this bass stocking news isn’t exactly greeted with shouts of joy by the biologists of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. John Odenkirk, a top-ranked fisheries expert for the VDGIF who gained quite a reputation for his work involving the tidal Potomac River’s Chinese snakehead invasion on the Virginia side of the river, isn’t all that excited about private citizens getting into the field of  fish management.

“We’re not crazy about the idea,” said Odenkirk, “and we do not think it is currently wise to stock the river.” 

Odenkirk pointed out that there has been significant improvement in the native bass population from Port Royal on up-river for a lengthy stretch. Last year, the VDGIF biologists saw the highest catch rate of bass ever in that part of the Rappahannock. The reason of course is that the sampling area contained plenty of habitat for the fish – something that is not found below Port Royal, especially not in the Leedstown area.

Although the state will not stand in the way of the CBAV stocking the historic waterway, Odenkirk points out that the VDGIF does not have sufficient personnel to help with the project. The one requirement that was met by the anglers group was that the fingerlings come from a state-approved hatchery. That has been done.

“It’s just that I don’t want the public to stock local waters,” said the biologist, Odenkirk. And who can blame him? He and his fellow scientists are carefully trained experts in the ways of fishery management. The state, after all, doesn’t allow you to stock the woods with mule deer, an animal not found naturally in Virginia, just as the Florida bass is not naturally found in the Old Dominion. The state would rather be the one who calls the shots regarding fisheries management.

(The bass at left and up above on the right is the same 14-pound Florida-strain largemouth bass, caught in Arkansas some time ago.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A fine lobster sampled the bait while the guys fished for tautogs

International Game Fish Association representative, Dr. Ken Neill, went out after tautogs on Thursday. “It was gorgeous out there,” said the famous fishing dentist.

Dr. Ken Neill is all smiles -- and why not -- after landing a lobster.
“We fished four different wrecks and caught some fish on each of them,” he added. “On the first wreck of the morning, I was bringing up what I thought was a piece of the wreck. It turned out to be a lobster hanging onto my hook with its big claw. It had no intention of letting that food get away and held on until I swung it into the boat.”

How about that? Lobster in Virginia waters during February.

Dr. Ken also said that a total of 25 tatutogs up to 10 pounds and lots of small sea bass up to 15 inches were caught – not to mention the lobster.

By the way, the lobster had to be returned to the ocean because even in Virginia there are rules and regulations regarding these tasty crustaceans.

"Hey, Doc. Put that cap back on or you'll catch a cold."
Check out the beautiful tautog Dr. Neill is showing us. It was one of 25.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Smallmouth bass are being hooked in Virgina's Shenandoah River

Our friend Dick Fox, who lives in Front Royal, Va., finally had an open weather window that allowed him to go after the smallmouth bass in his  favorite river, the historic Shenandoah.

Dick Fox had no trouble hooking smallies.
“The river which crested at 9 feet above normal now is down to a foot or so above normal and it shows a slight stain,” said Dick. “The water temperature was 40 degrees, but the fish were very active. I caught about a dozen smallies up to four pounds and they were fat and sassy,” added Dick.

“The better fish were in the deep pools and most of them bit on grubs and Bitsy Tubes in black with red flake,” said Dick, who also wanted Shenandoah fishermen to know that the Riverton boat launch ramp in Front Royal has been completely re-done and it’s in great shape. The state is also planning a new ramp about 5 miles down the river for additional access to the water.

All of us should be thankful that the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries is taking care of such things as boat ramps. 

(Question: What's more important in life, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, or a new boat ramp on a river -- any river.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Good news for seabass fans; bad news for Quail Unlimited

Sea bass like this are hooked
Sea bass fishing is excellent on the offshore wrecks, says saltwater expert Dr. Ken Neill, who adds that this has given boaters something to fish for to make up for the poor ocean rockfish season. The sea bass season ends with the end of the month so if you want to get in on the jumbo sea bass action, get out there soon.

Dr. Neill also says, “Some decent-sized bluefish are being caught over the wrecks by anglers targeting sea bass. Deep-dropping is producing good catches of blueline tilefish, wreckfish, grouper and other deep-water fish. The dogfish population has not been too bad out there so far this winter.

“Tautogs are becoming the main target for Virginia's saltwater anglers. The ‘togs are biting on most of the coastal wrecks, from those close to the beach on out to those 30 miles off of the coast. Speckled trout remain a good bet in the Elizabeth River. Not many boats have been getting out there but the few that are have reported good numbers of bluefin tuna off of Oregon Inlet.”

Quail Unlimited Folds; Mismanagement Blamed

With a message from President Bill E. Bowles on its website, Quail Unlimited, the nation's oldest quail advocacy group, has announced its immediate closure-- ceasing all operations. Bowles encouraged members to move their memberships and allegiances to Quail Forever. The announcement closed the book on an organization that, despite its best efforts, could not overcome mismanagement first uncovered nearly three years ago.

Quail Unlimited has folded its tent
Meanwhile, Quail Forever and sister organization Pheasants Forever, have rolled out the proverbial welcome mat for former Quail Unlimited members and chapter officers.

In a welcome page automatically linking from the former Quail Unlimited website and closure announcement, Quail Forever is quick to point out a critical difference between QF and QU: a 4-star Charity Navigator rating. That rating puts the organization at the top of the nation's various conservation groups with 91.23 cents of every dollar raised going directly back into conservation work.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Maine legislator introduces bill to ban the use of soft plastic baits

The Keep America Fishing organization says on January 17, a bill was introduced in the state of Maine’s legislature that would prohibit the use of all “rubber” lures. The legislation seeks to ban “rubber” baits but does not define the term. Even so, the intent of the legislation is clear – to ban the soft baits that Maine anglers use every day. The bill would even ban biodegradable soft baits currently available.

See the Sting Ray grub in the
bass's mouth? It's soft plastic
and it could be outlawed 
in Maine
KeepAmericaFishing™ is not aware of any study of fish in the wild regarding problems with soft baits. To the contrary industry research involving literally thousands of soft baits to test fish of many species (particularly bass and trout) has indicated minimal problems for the fish involved. The research experience is that the fish either regurgitate or pass the baits without problem.

The legislation does nothing to encourage further understanding of  this potential ban that could seriously impact the future of fishing in Maine and it's economy. Ultimately, it could affect precedent for other similar bans. 

(Editor’s note:  I’m not sure that if soft (i.e. “rubber”) baits were outlawed in Maine that it could seriously affect the state’s economy, but the whole idea is so whacky that the legislator who introduced the bill ought to be taken to the wood shed and have his rear end paddled. This lawmaker is in serious need of a little fishing education. The whole idea of a ban is ludicrous.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Learn how to catch yellow perch at CCA/MD Pax River meeting


Gene Mueller with a fat yellow perch  caught
in late February of last year.
Two veteran yellow perch anglers will discuss their secrets for “Locating and Catching Yellow Perch” at the Monday, Feb. 18, 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, is free and open to the public. Attendees can order from Stoney’s menu at 6 p.m.

Gerald Eldreth and Joe Yack, who have more than 30 years of experience chasing yellow perch, will lead the discussion and demonstrate equipment for yellow perch. Called the “family fish,” yellow perch provide many parents with the chance to teach their youngsters fishing and conservation skills.                 

Pre-season trout stocking continues in Maryland

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began releasing rainbow and brown trout in streams and lakes across the State on February 6. The stocking dates and locations are dependent on stream, ground and weather conditions.  The latest stocked locations are listed in the following table:

 (We do not list sites that are closed at time of stocking.)

County
Location
Date

Prince Georges
Lake Artemesia
February 12

Prince Georges
Greenbelt Lake
February 12

Montgomery
Lake Needwood
February 12

Calvert
Hutchins Pond
February 12

Baltimore
Stansbury Park Pond
February 12


To review trout regluations check out our new digital guidebook at http://www.eregulations.com/maryland/fishing/ 

For a full listing of recently stocked, open to fishing locations, go to http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/stocking/index.asp 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No matter how bad the weather. some people won't stop fishing

The president of the Virginia’s Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman's Association, Dr. Ken Neill, sent the following message from the general Virginia Beach area: “We ran out to the Triangle Wrecks yesterday (Sunday) to try for tautogs.”

Saltwater angler Wes Blow and a fat tautog that had one blind eye.
                                                                                 --- Photo by Dr. Ken Neill
“The bite was pretty good in the morning, when it was rough and cold. It was really slow in the afternoon, when it was calm and the sun was out. We caught 18 tautogs with most being in the 18- to 20-inch range. The largest was a 24-incher caught by Chris Boyce.”

Dr. Neill also mentioned that two 19-inch ‘togs were caught that already had tags in them. The one caught by Wes Blow was blind in its left eye. Other than that, it seemed fat and healthy. Both of the tagged fish appear to have been tagged close together by their tag numbers being close in the same series of tags: 227024 and 227033. Both of those fish were re-released with their tags in place.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A 17-degree fishing day at Lake Anna can be tough on anybody

My friend Dick Fox, who lives in Front Royal, Va., and normally fishes the Shenandoah River or the tidal Potomac, decided to give Lake Anna (west of Fredericksburg, Va.) a try on a cold February day. 

James Lawrence and one of the bass his trio caught
You can tell by the pictures that it was more than just nippy, judging by the clothing the guys are wearing, and the fish weren’t the biggest these men  had ever seen. But what would you rather do? Stay at home and watch 3-year-old re-runs of “Swamp People” or go fishing?

“It was kind of a tough day for us, but with the temperature at 17 degrees and the water temperature at 40, I guess we can't complain,” said Dick who never complains as long as he can sit in a boat and cast his lures.

“We fished all the steep drops from 15 to 50 feet,” he said. 

Is Mike Willet sneering at the crappie he caught?
“We used spoons and Silver Buddy blade baits, and some plastics. We caught a half a dozen bass, some crappies and several catfish.”

Besides Dick, there was Mike Willet and James Lawrence. Let’s agree right off the bat that these three fellows are definitely not wimps.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

They champ at the bit to go fishing -- and some even find bass

The hand belongs to Greg Ravitisky after this bass
popped a crappie jig in the Occoquan River


That’s Northern Virginian Greg Ravitisky (at left)  holding up a juvenile largemouth bass. It was caught along the Interstate 95 bridge pilings in the Occoquan River.

Greg also caught a half dozen crappies. All went after a ¼-oz jig head that was dressed with a small Mr. Twister grub in chartreuse.

Then comes David Redding who caught a bass from the boat ramp at Pohick Bay the other day. He was out practicing his pitching technique when the young bass struck a Strike King RedEye crankbait.

Dave Redding was practice-casting with a new outfit at
the Pohick Bay boat ramp when this bass jumped aboard

Incidentally, Greg and David Redding are members of the New Horizon Bass Anglers, whose members generally are residents of the Virginia side of the tidal Potomac River. 

For forwarding the pictures and information, here’s a thankful tip of my Evinrude hat to New Horizon Bass Anglers member Carl D. Brown.

When waterfowl season is over, it's time for a cottontail hunt

Our friend Dr. Jack Scanlon says, “One fun thing to do after waterfowl season is over is rabbit hunting. Find someone with a pack of good beagles and locate a bunch of bunnies."

You can bet that every one of these rabbits will 
end up on the guys' dinner tables.


"You will have hours of yipping, barking and howling while Brer Rabbit runs around in a big circle chased by the relentless little hounds. We managed to kill 23 (20 of whom are shown in this picture as are four of the huntsmen)," says the doctor.

Dr. Scanlon’s Eastern Shore/Maryland farm most likely was the venue for the cottontail hunt. The gang had a great time and pretty soon will enjoy some great eating.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Portrait of a governor who has no clue about the 2nd Amendment

A few days ago, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced his Department of Natural Resources' "Junior Waterfowl Hunting Day" (which is today) and in doing so said the special junior hunting event would "provide wonderful opportunities for young hunters and their adult mentors to get outside and enjoy the proud tradition of hunting in Maryland."

Clueless Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley
So far, so good. Then the governor said, "Hunting is a part of our history and is woven into the fabric of our State’s culture."

But here's the real reason why O'Malley patted the state's hunters on the back. He actually wanted to tie the  message into his gun control proposal that he believes will reduce gun violence. 

"Our [Maryland's] goal is to enact common sense proposals to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, and to try to reduce the risk of a mass shooting like the one that occurred in Newtown," he said and followed it up with one of the dumbest statements ever uttered by an elected official..

The governor said, "Let me be clear: We are committed to protecting hunters and their traditions. That's why we specifically carved out shotguns and rifles from the licensing requirements of our bill. This bill will NOT impact your ability to introduce a young hunter to the sport and the conservation stewardship ethic borne of that experience."

Mr. O'Malley is in dire need of carefully reading the Second Amendment to our Constitution. It doesn't say "The right of the people to hunt ducks shall not be infringed."  No, it says, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." 

What part of  "shall not be infringed" does the governor not understand? I don't live in Maryland, but if I did, I wouldn't give O'Malley my vote if he were running for dog catcher.

---- Gene Mueller

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ready to brave winter weather? Tidal Potomac fish can be yours

This may sound crazy, what with the current weather situation, but if you can steal yourself away from a warm house, put on your best longjohns and rainsuit, then slip the old john boat into the more protected waters of the Occoquan River (the same goes for the tidal Potomac River’s Blue Plains Waste Treatment Plant in D.C., the Spoils Cove just above Wilson Bridge, as well as the protected coves below Alexandria's Belle Haven Marina), you can score on a few yellow perch, crappies, even largemouth bass.

Andy Andrzejewski is out there every chance he gets
The same goes for the backwaters of Virginia’s Aquia Creek (way back), Maryland’s Mattawoman Creek, Swan Creek, or the downstream Mallows Bay area behind the old ship’s graveyard. In all the backwaters, a bit of ice is possible, but that will disappear quickly with a little sunshine.

Our gang is normally satisfied with using 3-inch Mann’s Sting Ray grubs in avocado color, fished on a plain exposed lead-headed jig hook that ranges anywhere from 1/8-oz. to ¼-oz., 3/8-oz. (depending on the water depth).

Other anglers prefer to dunk a live minnow with or without a bobber around dock pilings, rock walls, sunken brush and sudden dropoffs where the bass and crappies often lurk, waiting for an unsuspecting baitfish to happen by. A nice dropshot rig with Berkley’s 2-inch Power Minnow in Black Shad or even luminescent green color can do great this time of year. Just be sure to smear on a little Smelly Jelly fish attractant. (I like Crawdaddy flavors, or anything that says Baitfish or Garlic.)

The moment some of the crappies and perch begin showing up in shallower water, somewhere from 3 to 5 feet, I enjoy casting a 1/16-oz. or 1/32-oz. shad dart in white/red or white/green held from bottom snags by a bobber that is pinched to no more than 6- or 8-pound monofilament line. However, if you use 12- or 14-pound FireLine in dark grey color (not chartreuse) you can cast your bait or shad dart into sunken brush and when it gets hung up (which it will eventually) you can pull it free without breaking off. This kind of FireLine will have a diameter of less than 6-pound regular mono line.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Virginia's offshore wrecks turn up fish, but what about the weather

If you want the bigger offshore fish right now you need to head into North Carolina waters, says Dr. Ken Neill from his Virginia Beach area haunts. Not only that, truly bad weather is threatening the Northeast and some of the wind and precipitation might reach the mid-Atlantic states, so be on the watch before heading out.

Jody Linthicum is all smiles with a whopper sea bass taken offshore.
Dr. Ken says, “Some tuna of various colors are being caught out of the Outer Banks. The bite has not been hot and heavy but yellowfin, bluefin, and blackfin tuna have hit the docks over the past week.” The bottom fishing has been good in Carolina and it has been fine for boaters coming out of Virginia Beach.

Capt. Rick Wineman says the sea bass fishing is great, but it ends soon.
Dr. Ken says, “The wrecks out past the 20-fathom curve are loaded with jumbo sea bass. This season remains open for the rest of this month so get out there soon if you want to stock your freezer. 
For this time period, the bag limit is 15 fish per angler (as opposed to the 25 fish we are used to). Deep-droppers are catching limits of blueline tilefish along the 50-fathom curve. Anglers exploring deeper waters are catching snowy grouper, wreckfish, blackbelly rosefish, golden tilefish and other tasty creatures from the deep.”

By the way, the boats fishing for tilefish and grouper out of Virginia need a Tilefish/Grouper permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

“Good catches of tautogs are being made from wrecks closer in like those at the Triangle and Tower Reefs,” says the famous fishing dentist. “This is another regulation change [that] anglers need to be aware of,” he says. “You are now allowed just 3 tautogs per person with a minimum length of 16 inches.” Dr. Neill also mentioned that speckled trout action remains good in the Elizabeth River and that a few rockfish were caught at Cape Henry this week, but the fishing has been very slow. “There should be rockfish at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel for catch-and-release action,” he added.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Popular fishing show "Tiefest" renamed in honor of Lefty Kreh

Tiefest, one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most popular fishing shows and sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD), has been renamed "Lefty Kreh’s Tiefest" to honor one of fly fishing’s international legends.

Famed fly angler and author Lefty Kreh
The first Lefty Kreh’s Tiefest will be Saturday, March 9,  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Prospect Bay Country Club, Grasonville, MD. Some of the country’s most respected fly tyers will demonstrate patterns effective in the mid-Atlantic region and answer questions from the more than 400 expected attendees.

“Lefty is recognized throughout the world as one of the fathers of fly fishing, and since he’s a Maryland resident it’s most appropriate to name Maryland’s best fly fishing event after him,” said Tony Friedrich, CCA MD executive director. “Lefty has attended many of the past Tiefests and always is open to helping anglers. This is one time when any angler can come up to Lefty or the other flyfishing experts there and get their individual questions answered.”

Monday, February 4, 2013

Maryland, known for its anti-gun stance, wants yet more control

Governor and Maryland Legislators Seek More Sweeping Gun Control
Let Your Voice Be Heard

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) alerts all Maryland gun owners that Gov. Martin O'Malley and other anti-gun legislators are seeking outright bans and onerous restrictions on your rights through an enormous number of anti-gun bills, most notably SB 281 and HB 294. This Wednesday might be the only chance for your voice to be heard before legislators push legislation that will seriously affect not only your Second Amendment rights, but also the rifles and magazines you currently own. Maryland manufacturers will be directly affected by this legislation, resulting in the loss of good paying jobs and badly needed tax revenue to the state.

Gov. O'Malley's SB 281 has been referred to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and will be heard this Wednesday, Feb. 6. This bill is expected to move very quickly through the legislative process, so it is imperative that you contact committee members and your own state legislators IMMEDIATELY and urge them to oppose this legislation. Additionally, plan to testify on Feb. 6 before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in opposition to SB 281.

NSSF is urging all gun owners, sportsmen and hunters to attend Wednesday's public hearing to be held in 2 East Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Md. at 1 p.m. and to contact their state representative, senator and all members of the Committee immediately, urging them to oppose fast-track legislation.

Here are a just few of the items included in SB 281:
  • An outright ban on ALL modern sporting rifles classifying them as "Assault Weapons."
  • Arbitrarily restricting the magazine size to 10 rounds.
  • Confiscating ALL magazines holding more than 10 rounds, those for pistols included.
  • Statewide gun registration for ALL firearms; knowing full well criminals won't ever register their guns.
NSSF urges you to contact the members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee before their hearing on Feb. 6, and continue to contact your state senator and delegates. If you wish to give testimony during the hearing, information on how to do so can be found here.

Contact information for your state legislators can be found by clicking here.
Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Members:
Senator Brian E. Frosh, Chairman (D-16)
301-858-3124
brian.frosh@senate.state.md.us
Senator Lisa A. Gladden, Vice Chairman (D-41)
410-841-3697
lisa.gladden@senate.state.md.us
Senator James Brochin (D-42)
410-841-3648
jim.brochin@senate.state.md.us
Senator Joseph M. Getty (R-5)
410-841-3683
joseph.getty@senate.state.md.us
Senator Jennie M. Forehand (D-17)
301-858-3134
jennie.forehand@senate.state.md.us
Senator Nancy Jacobs (R-34)
410-841-3158
nancy.jacobs@senate.state.md.us
Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-26)
301-858-3092
anthony.muse@senate.state.md.us
Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20)
301-858-3634
jamie.raskin@senate.state.md.us
Senator Christopher B. Shank (R-2)
301-858-3903
christopher.shank@senate.state.md.us
Senator Norman R. Stone Jr. (D-6)
410-841-3587
norman.stone@senate.state.md.us
Senator Bobby A. Zirkin (D-11)
410-841-3131
bobby.zirkin@senate.state.md.us
---------------------------
Visit NSSF's Government Relations site at nssf.org/GovRel

Sunday, February 3, 2013

If you and your boat can take the chill, fat sea bass can be yours

Keith Blackburn and a 7-lb. sea bass
Give these fellows just one tiny open window for fishing and they’re gone. Of course, I’m talking about the man whose reports and photos you see here frequently, Dr. Ken Neill. The famous saltwater specialist met at his boat in the Virginia Beach area yesterday morning (Saturday, Feb. 2) at 4 a.m. and soon entered a bumpy Atlantic Ocean.

“The spray was freezing on contact and shortly there was a sheet of ice on the front of the boat and the ice covering the windshield greatly reduced visibility,” said Dr. Ken. “When we approached the wreck we intended to fish, RADAR showed there were already a couple of other boats there. We turned the boat so we could see the two headboats that were there, bright and early. We moved onto some other wrecks and found a couple loaded with big sea bass.” To make a short story even shorter, the guys caught a limit of fat sea bass.

Doctor Neill continued, saying, “Back at the dock, we put six fish on the scale. All weighed over 5 pounds. There were probably a handful more that would have reached that mark if we had weighed them. We had a couple of 6-pounders. The largest sea bass weighed a bit over 7 pounds. Keith Blackburn caught that fish. It is his second 7-plus-pound sea bass that he has caught in as many trips this year. We had squid and clam [baits] but most of the sea bass were caught on jigs.”

Stan Simmerman shows off one of many sea bass he and his
fishing pals caught in the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.
---- Photos by Dr. Ken Neill