Friday, March 29, 2013

No one helped more with this web site than these valued friends

Gene says it's almost time to say farewell to the web site
As March 31 approaches when I say farewell to all our many web site visitors, something needs to be said as concerns the production of a web page. You simply can't do it alone and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. First on the list is Ceilon Aspensen, whose Code Rustlers, Inc., web design talents and the many times she helped when I was totally lost will never be forgotten. Thank you, Ceilon, from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you, Andy Andrzejewski
Then come all the men and women anglers who've supplied me with information and photos over time. Without them, I would have needed to rely on my personal exploits alone, which would never have filled the pages day in and day out. (If you've noticed, I tried to publish something new and fresh every day of the week. Other web sites often leave their content up for a week or more before publishing new material.)

Many of the following are dear friends. On top of the list is Andy Andrzejewski, a professional fishing guide who lives in La Plata, Md. Andy plies the waters of the tidal Potomac River where I spent more time fishing with him than anyone else. Andy's skill in finding bass, crappies, Chinese snakeheads, sunfish, perch and catfish for me and my cameras is hard to describe. The man who supplied me with material for countless columns in The Washington Times and my web site is phenomenally talented. Thank you, Andy!

Thank you, Dale Knupp
Let's not forget Dale and Nancy Knupp, also of La Plata, Md. This husband-and-wife fishing couple are not only good friends, they also are super anglers who on many occasions in the past delivered the goods when I needed to hook a bass, fat perch, crappie or other species. I remember the time when Dale marked rather large fish under the boat in Nanjemoy Creek and figured they might be carp. “Let's see if we can't get one on a Sting Ray grub.” The lure would normally be thought to be too large for carp, but Dale did it several times. I wrote an article about such unusual carp catches and sold it to a magazine.

Thank you, Nancy Knupp
There also is our good friend Marty Magone, who lives on the shores of Lake Gaston, Va., but who also fishes the tidal Potomac River whenever possible. There have been times when this fine angler and all-around cut-up went out in the worst weather possible to catch bass and stripers --- and he delivered the goods. If you ever meet him, ask him to tell you about his rain room, or the Scuppernong River incident.

Another good friend and happy fisherman is Bob Lunsford, the now retired former director of Maryland's Freshwater Fisheries and tidal water bass for the state's DNR. 

Thank you, Bob Lunsford
Many of us have always thought that Bob would have made a fine Secretary of Natural Resources, but I guess he was more fond of sport anglers than commercial netters. It might have presented problems had he become the boss. Bob fishes for walleyes in the upper Potomac, bass in the tidal rivers, redfish in the Southeastern U.S., and anything else that beckons for his visits.

Thank you, Marty Magone
In matters of coastal and lower Chesapeake Bay saltwater fishing, no one supplied better information than two Virginia Beach area dentists – Drs. Julie Ball and Ken Neill. Between these two well-known fishing dentists, who also are sportfishing activists often seen at outdoors shows, TV clips and in magazines, I was never short of material when I needed news from the Bay and ocean. Also, a special thanks to Dr. Neill who supplied me frequently with high-quality fishing photos.

Speaking of the Chesapeake Bay, in Maryland no one was more helpful than Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, as well as Michael and Christy Henderson of Buzz's Marina (both businesses are located in St. Mary's County). Those three supplied our web site with hundreds of photos and useful fishing news. Thank you Christy, Michael and Ken!

Thank you, Dick Fox
Before I forget, I must also tip the old fishing hat to Front Royal's Dick Fox and Virginia fisheries biologist John Odenkirk. Dick Fox and I have spent some happy hours fishing on the Shenandoah and Rappahannock rivers and when I wasn't with him he would send photos and information on places where he caught bass, ranging from the historic Shenandoah to Florida's Lake Okeechobee. He has been a good friend for many years and we will stay in touch. The same goes for John Odenkirk who perhaps is the most knowledgeable man in the country as concerns the unwanted presence of the Potomac River's snakehead population. John is an expert on Chinese snakeheads as well as all local fish species. His counsel and information was much appreciated.

Thank you, Dr. Ken Neill
In matters of my hunting, there are only two persons that I must always be thankful for: Dr. Peter Malnati and his wife, Gail. "Doc" Malnati and Gail allowed me free run of their sizable property. Over the years Doc and I, along with good friends Bob Rice, Dean Lee and Dr. Howard Haft, hunted and shot many deer and squirrels -- although the wild turkeys usually made a fool of me.  Thank you, Doc, for the wonderful times and the freedom you allowed me to have on your property.

Thank you, Dr. Julie Ball
I will always be thankful for friends like Al, Francis and Mike Guy who made sure my boat ran smoothly and if anything wasn't right, they knew how to quickly take care of it. Thank you, Guy family.

Other people too numerous to mention also deserve my gratitude. They've supported my efforts to bring anglers and hunters a fairly informative and entertaining view of our outdoors endeavors. 

I hope I succeeded.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

News you can use if you're a Maryland Chesapeake Bay angler

From the Maryland Department of Natural Resources comes word through Keith Lockwood that the Chesapeake Bay's water temperatures currently run around 42-degrees, which isn't warm, but already the striped bass (a.k.a. rockfish) are moving up the Bay and into the tidal spawning rivers. 

Catch-and-release striper fishing is okay in Maryland parts of the Chesapeake Bay
The Bay is open to catch-and-release fishing and anglers have been jigging up a few rockfish at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (Calvert County) warm water discharge recently. Catches are not guaranteed, but they do occur now and then. Keith Lockwood says, “Large soft plastic jigs and butterfly jigs are two of the most common jigs used, as fishermen drift in the current. Heavy tackle and quick releases at the boat are the drill for fishermen who care for these large pre-spawn striped bass.”

Keith also reminds striper fans who want to head to the upper Bay that catch-and-release season is now open at the Susquehanna Flats area. “But with water temperatures hovering around 41-degrees there has not been much action reported,” he says. “A few smaller male striped bass have been caught by fishermen working Rat-L-Traps and jigs along channel edges and channel catfish have even been chasing down lures close to the bottom, but so far this fishery will need warmer water temperatures to develop.”

Lockwood also reminds us that shoreline fishermen are not to be left out of the opportunity to catch and release striped bass as they move up the Bay this week. Sandy Point State Park (off Route 50 near Annapolis) is one of the most accessible and productive places to fish. Fishermen there can use heavy surf fishing tackle and bottom rigs with circle hooks and bait such as bloodworms or fresh cut bait. But anyone lucky enough to hook a big striper must be prepared with stout tackle and rubber boots to meet the fish in the water to avoid dragging them up on the sand and causing injury, says Lockwood. 

Fishermen who enjoy fishing from the shorelines of the Potomac River in St. Mary's County will find three popular fishing piers has been recently renovated to provide easier access for those with disabilities at Fox Harbor Landing in Ridge, River Springs Landing in Avenue and St. George's Island. Follow this link to find directions and locations of boat ramps and fishing piers. For the above fishing piers just click on St. Mary's County and then on each labeled fishing pier icon for directions and descriptions. 

Ocean City fishermen have been venturing out to the wreck sites when the weather permits to fish for tautog. The catches have been good and some impressive sized tautog are being caught. Water temperatures in and around the inlet are barely 40-degrees so the tautog fishery has yet to develop there. A few more weeks of warmer weather will do much to improve the chances of catching tautog at the inlet this spring.

The Maryland DNR announces that the recreational summer flounder fishery reopened at 12:01 a.m. this morning (March 28). The season will remain open through 11:59 p.m. December 31, 2013. Recreational anglers may keep up to 4 summer flounder per person per day. The minimum size for summer flounder is 16 inches in all Maryland state waters. The commercial hook and line minimum size is also 16 inches in all Maryland state waters. The Department may close the recreational season early if projections indicate the recreational harvest target will be caught before December 31, 2013.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Is it really spring? There are signs of it, judging current hookups

Dr. Ken Neill reports, “Snow at the end of March, winter just does not want to quit. Spring is proceeding anyway. The first flounder were caught this past week. David Freeman caught a 16.5 inch flatfish in the York River. Catches were made out of Wachapreague this week. The first citation flounder was weighed in at 7.5 pounds but that doormat was caught while deep-dropping for blueline tilefish."

Hunter Southall with a fat tautog caught east of Virginia Beach
"Another sign that spring is proceeding are the first catches of big red drum on the beaches of Ocracoke and Hatteras. Typically, that means we can expect the first big red drum in the Eastern Shore in a couple of weeks. Puppy drum are already making a showing inside the inlets and in the shallows on the western side of the bay. Some calm weather allowed boats to get out this past week which resulted in some very impressive catches.”

The fishing dentist continues with, “Tautog fishing on the coastal wrecks has been nothing short of excellent. Boats are catching as many as fifteen citation-sized tog in a trip and multiple double-digit fish were weighed in this week. The largest weighed 18-pounds 7-ounces and that same boat weighed in another fish at 17-pounds, 11-ounces! Tautog fishing has been slow inside the bay. That should pick up over the next week as winter finally is out of here and warmer temperatures are forecast.”

“Boats running out of Oregon Inlet (Outer Banks, N.C.) continue to experience impressive bluefin tuna action. Some Virginia boats have made the run south to get in on the action. There is a wide range of bluefin being caught from around 100 pounds on up to over 600 pounds. In addition to the bluefin tuna, there are some bigeye, yellowfin, wahoo, and even a few blue marlin being encountered.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

While the weather is atrocious let's have fun with wacky friends

Who among us doesn't have a fishing or hunting pal that acts a little wacky now and then? Heck, I've been accused of it while deer hunting, sitting in a huge pitch-roofed tree house 14 feet up in a powerful oak. It happened while I was sitting on one of the bench seats when a friend I was with said he believed in American Indian prayers, promptly mumbling, "Oh, great Manitou, send me a buck." I handed him two quarters and asked, "Will half a buck do?"

He sat on the bench seat pouting for quite a while.

Marty is practicing the ancient art of fish stalking
I've also known fishing captains who swore that they could smell fish. Not only that, they could smell the species they were after. I've been with
charter fishing captain Eddie Davis down in St. Mary's County, Md., looking for sea trout when Capt. Eddie suddenly said, "They're here. Right here. I can smell 'em." Sure enough, we'd start jigging bucktails in 20 feet of water and 'bang!' a grey trout would hammer the lure. What we forgot was Eddie's great skill in reading a depth sounder and seeing tell-tale splotches of a fish school under us.

Did the ancient art of fish stalking result in this bass?
Now enter my pal Marty Magone (you saw his pictures on yesterday's blog). Marty again went out on Virginia's Lake Gaston the very day he graced our web page. He said, "Today was all about patience. The main lake water temperatures dropped five degrees. I found nothing on the rocky points, then went into Great Creek and tried some wind-blown points, using a Rapala crankbait. Eventually, a 5-lb., 8-oz. beauty nailed it. The water temperature in the creek was 47."

What Marty forgot to mention was the ancient art of stalking bass and his new-found ability to do it properly. The big fellow has said, "I know where they hang out, so I begin to stalk them until the moment is right for me to execute a perfect cast and --- well you know the rest." The rest is him holding up a bass in a photo that he shoots of himself.
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

The trials and tribulations of a tough fellow fishing in bad weather

Self portrait of Marty with a bass  caught in the sleet
Anyone who has ever visited this web site will be familiar with my friend, Marty Magone, and his exploits fishing with our mutual pal Andy Andrzejewski in the Potomac River (with me occasionally joining them), or by himself in Lake Gaston, Va.

However, not all fishermen are fanatic enough to go out onto a big lake in wind, rain and sleet --- but Marty doesn't care. He's a former Marine and he also believes that in a past life he might have been a Teutonic warrior wearing a winged helmet, bear fur leggings and all, or he was Curly, one of the Three Stooges. We're still trying to figure out which of the two he might have been.

See the sleet on the boat seat and the carpeting?
Anyway, Marty went out yesterday when every weatherman in the middle Atlantic states asked folks to stay indoors. But Marty sent the following message: “Sleet, rain, wind --- what the heck. Sorry about the photos. The weather went south fast. I caught a few bass in Great Creek on Rapala SR7 crank baits." 

Marty also asked me if I had ever gone out in my boat with a thermos bottle of coffee that didn't have the stopper screwed in place. In fact, there was no stopper. All he had was the screw-on cup. "What a *******  mess," he said. The word he used wouldn't be proper to repeat on a family web site. In fact, I'm still embarrassed because there's a photo of my mother in my wallet.

Another bass was caught and an unsmiling Marty hoists it



A note about feeling bad because the photos weren't the clearest and best. Marty, brother, by now everybody knows that you shoot pictures of yourself because no one is brave enough to go out with you down in southern Virginia. (Andy and I would, but we weren't available.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What? A perch run? And what's happening at St. Mary's Lake?

-- Keith Lockwood photo/MD DNR
Apparently not all the yellow perch news in the tidal creeks of Maryland is bad. The Department of Natural Resources' Keith Lockwood has a picture on the state fishing report and with it, Keith says that anglers along the upper Tuckahoe River on the Eastern Shore are hooking fat white perch and yellow perch.

While Southern Marylanders correctly complain that the yellow perch are almost non-existant, Keith says there are mixed bags of both species caught in Caroline County's upper Tuckahoe and Choptank rivers. Occasionally, some fishermen bring in two at a time with one hook holding a yellow perch, the other a fat white perch as you can see in the photo,

On the bad side, the once top-ranked Wicomico River at Allen's Fresh and Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County have been very poor as concerns yellow perch spawning runs this year.

Not so good news comes from St. Mary's Lake

Keith Lockwood also passes along not-so-good news from St. Mary's Lake, south on Rte. 5 (turn left on Camp Cosoma Rd. when you see the brown St. Mary's River Park sign). Our long-time friend Mary Groves, the regional biologist for the DNR's Southern Region, reports that this popular fishing destination for anglers looking to catch largemouth bass, sunfish, crappies and chain pickerel has problems.

Kevin Wagner from the Southern Maryland
Bass Club helps deploy one of the structures
The lake is fed by streams naturally low in alkalinity and hardness providing little to buffer acidity that enters the system. This situation causes low productivity meaning that typical food webs struggle to maintain balance. 

Good habitat (partially submerged wood/trees, cobble or stones, rocks and deep pools) is even more important when water chemistry is less than desirable. St. Mary's Lake lacks enough permanent habitat to provide adequate shelter for various stages of fish growth or basic cover that many fish require. Inland Fisheries has tried to improve habitat in St. Mary's Lake for more than two decades. Some of the projects included hand-planting of aquatic vegetation and fencing off the area to discourage foraging animals, seeding exposed shoreline when the lake was drawn down for repairs, and installing artificial submerged bushes made of rot-resistant wood. 

The most recent addition to St. Mary's Lake are submerged tunnel-like structures (approx. 2 ft. X 8 ft.) that are anchored just off the bottom of the lake. They have artificial "grass," made of frayed polypropylene rope. 

Inland Fisheries will monitor the success of these structures periodically to assess fish use and durability. Anglers are asked to not float directly over the structures and to avoid casting near the floats in order to keep from snagging the ropes used to mark the tunnel structures. Any questions can be directed to the Southern Region Inland Fisheries Manager at 301-888-2423 or email at mgroves@dnr.state.md.us.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"At 26 degrees, it was freakin' cold," said Bob, "but we caught fish"

Andy shows off one of the crappies
Bob Lunsford said, "On a frigid (and I mean freakin' cold) 26-degree morning we launched at Smallwood State Park and proceeded up the Mattawoman Creek, seeking shelter from the wind. My Ranger boat carried us to the farthest reaches of the creek, but is wasn't until we found an area where the water was a couple of degrees warmer than the rest of the creek that the fish turned on for us."

"The water temperature had dropped 9 degrees since Wednesday, and most of the fish had disappeared."

Then Bob waxed poetic and began to sing the praises of
Bob Lunsford (low-tide banks behind him) and a bass
his partner, the professional bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski. He said, “With great skill, my friend, the guide, managed to get us on some fish. Bluegills, crappies, yellow perch and largemouth bass – all visited our deck.”

Meanwhile, Andy's boat is in the shop and since I know him pretty well, I'll wager that he's getting grumpier by the day until his Triton is returned to him.

One of Andy's largemouths
Bob didn't mention what types of lures they used, but as far as Andy is concerned, there'll be a couple of rods outfitted with Mann's Sting Ray grubs in avocado color on the line. Depending on the water depth, the jig hooks can range from as little as 1/8 and 1/4 ounce to 3/8 ounce, even more in very deep water. And don't forget the Smelly Jelly. Andy and Bob wouldn't leave home without a couple of jars.

My personal favorite Smelly Jelly flavor is the Pro Guide Formula Elite 3 XXX Strength  in crawfish  flavor.

It works well and so does the Baitfish and regular Crawdaddy scents. But one final bit of advise: Please, don't put any of it on crackers. It's not intended for human consumption.

For newcomers who don't know, the Mattawoman Creek is a tributary to the tidal Potomac River in Charles County, Md., and the launch ramps in Smallwood State Park are among the most popular launch sites on the entire river.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Amazing economic statistics about hunting & fishing in America

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of hunters in the United States grew by nine percent, while their spending on hunting-related products and services grew by more than 30 percent, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). However, the total economic impact of the activity may go much further. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), in conjunction with the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), recently released the report, “Hunting In America: An Economic Force for Conservation,” which offers a unique glimpse into the real economic impact that hunting has on states and communities across the country.

Citing data compiled and analyzed by Southwick Associates, the report details not only the overall economic reach of hunters, but breaks numbers down by types of expenditures, and types of hunting including hunting for deer, migratory birds or upland birds. The report also examines hunter numbers by state, as well as participants' unwavering support for conservation.

Quick Hunting Facts:

·         13.7 million hunters
·         $38.3 billion in total expenditures
·         $86.9 billion in overall economic output
·         $26.4 billion in salaries and wages generated
·         680,937 jobs supported
·         $5.4 billion in state and local taxes generated
·         $6.4 billion in federal taxes
·         Over $1.6 billion annually in dedicated wildlife conservation funding

The NSSF’s report provides part of the foundation for a similar report, America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy,” released by the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation (CSF). The CSF reports provide compelling data on both hunting and fishing and provides abundant facts and figures that every American can appreciate.

Quick Fishing Facts:

Southwick Associates was also recently busy working with the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) to highlight another financial pillar of conservation, fishing, as described in the report, "Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation." With the USFWS reporting that 33 million Americans age 16 or older went fishing in 2011, and ASA estimating there are potentially as many as 60 million Americans of all ages who consider themselves anglers in the country, fishing at least once every five years, the sportfishing community is undoubtedly vital to the economy and conservation. 
 
It is estimated that anglers spend approximately $48 billion annually on equipment, licenses, trips, and other fishing-related items or events with an economic multiplier effect of $115 billion impacting our nation's economy. Each angler spends roughly $1,441 per year supporting 828,000 jobs that account for as much as $35 billion in salaries and wages. Plus, through excise taxes on fishing tackle, fishing licenses and personal donations, anglers contributed nearly $1.5 billion in dedicated funding to fisheries conservation in 2011. And these numbers promise to grow with the population of anglers growing 11 percent between 2006 and 2011. 
 
More Fishing Facts
· More Americans fish than play golf  and tennis combined.
· If fishing were a company, the amount spent by anglers to support fishing-related retail sales would rank number 51 on the Fortune 500 list.
· Fishing generated more revenue  ($48 billion) than Lockheed Martin  ($47 billion), Intel ($44 billion), Chrysler ($42 billion) or Google ($38 billion).
· The economic activity generated by sportfishing is greater than the economies, measured in Gross State Product, of 17 states.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

For some of our fishermen, spring apparently has sprung

Dale Knupp with a tidal water bass


Judging by the clothing, La Plata's Dale Knupp can't be cold. It is spring, after all -- isn't it? Dale sent me this photo without any identifying background information, plus he didn't answer when I sent him questions about the catch location. I'm sure it was the Mattawoman Creek, one of the top tributaries to the tidal Potomac River, south of Washington, D.C., where the bass came from and here's why:

Andy Andrzejewski with a Mattawoman bass











Bass fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski  shows off a 4.5-pound largemouth caught in the Mattawoman Creek. Andy used a Mann's Sting Ray grub and since Andy's big 22-foot Triton is currently in the shop, our bet is that he fished with his long-time friend, Dale.

Mystery solved.




Tim Lowe hoists a huge 18.6-pound rainbow trout for the camera






Talk about a mystery, long-time reader Tim Lowe, who lives in Hagerstown, Md., caught this monster rainbow trout and when he was asked where and how, all he'd say was, "In a friend's pond in West Virginia." Tim had been sworn to secrecy about providing additional details. He did say the 18.6-pound  trout hit a spinnerbait, normally more associated with largemouth bass.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It sometimes hurts to say goodbye, but I feel it must be done

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After experiencing a number of perplexing days in which the paid-for advertisements on my web page suddenly disappeared, then reappeared later in the day, only to disappear again, then show up again, I have decided that by the end of March there'll be no more www.genemuellerfishing.com.

Gene Mueller says goodbye to the web site on March 31
My decision is final. I can’t continue to worry about what might happen next to the web site. I’ve been told that nowadays such things are part of our cyber world, which may be true. However, they will not be part of my real world. The page will say goodbye for good on March 31. It is the only fair thing to do for the people who paid to have their advertisements prominently displayed.

Just last month 11,447 visits were made to the site. That's not bad, according to others who run web pages. In fact, one fishing web site owner says he’s happy if he gets 1,000 hits per month.

So, farewell as far as this site is concerned, but many of you have my e-mail address. Let’s always stay in touch. If I don't answer right away, it could be that I'm fishing in my new home waters, Lake Hartwell or Lake Keowee, in South Carolina.
                         Gene Mueller

P.S.: I want to send a special "Thank You" out to all the people who've called, sent e-mails, and wrote comments on the web site after seeing the announcement of my decision to cancel my web page by the end of March. I'm overwhelmed with the amount of support received from current web visitors and readers of various newspapers I wrote for over the past 45 years.
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Carolina bluefin tunas are biting, but it's tough sledding elsewhere

Although today is the first day of spring, for many Americans it continues to feel like winter. However, down from the south-eastern parts of the country, mainly the Outer Banks of North Carolina, comes good news. The president of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman's Association, Dr. Ken Neill, reports, “Anglers took advantage of some fishable weather this past weekend. Boats sailing out of the Outer Banks experienced some terrific bluefin tuna action with most boats releasing multiple fish while managing to catch their one daily [keeper] under 73”.

“These kept fish are in the 200-pound class. Currently, recreational vessels are allowed to keep one giant bluefin tuna for the year. This has resulted in some impressive tunas to over 600 pounds being brought in. If you want to do battle with some giant fish, get out there soon as they will not hang around for too long and regulations could change at any time,” says the fishing phenom, Dr. Neill.

He continues with providing fishing chances in the Virginia Beach and lower Chesapeake Bay portions. “Out of Virginia, tautogs are the main target,” he says. “Boats fishing ocean structures had good catches while those trying inside the Bay did not. The Bay waters need to warm up a bit before that bite takes off. It should be in full swing by April. Flounder are another fish on anglers' radar. Flatfish enthusiasts will start giving them a try soon but it will probably be a couple more weeks before any have much success. Speckled trout and some puppy drum continue to provide action in the Elizabeth River. Offshore bottom fishing will become a better prospect as the spiny dogfish begin to thin out over the next few weeks.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

East Coast Decoy Collectors to invade St. Michaels, Maryland!

Decoy Collector’s Club announces 16th annual buy-sell-swap to be held 
April 12th & 13th at the Best Western in St. Michaels

Decoy collectors from up and down the eastern seaboard will meet in St. Michaels, Maryland, when the East Coast Decoy Collectors (ECDC) gather to hold their annual buy-sell-swap meet on Friday and Saturday, April 12th and 13th at the St. Michaels Motor Inn (Best Western). Most out-of-town collectors with carloads of duck and goose decoys as well as waterfowling artifacts will arrive Thursday April 11th for set-up. This is an open door; room-to-room event held rain or shine where collectors exchange a variety of regional decoys, either with cash or barter. Besides sell/swap decoys, membership is encouraged to bring a few “favorite decoys” for display. Four national auction houses take this opportunity to show preview decoys in their rooms for upcoming auctions. Decoy Magazine and H&F Collectibles, the two periodicals that service the decoy collecting community, also have representatives on premise. The public is welcome – free decoy identification and appraisals are provided. Tailgaters who are ECDC members will also be on premise.

In conjunction with this event, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum will host a Friday evening reception (5:30-8:00 PM) to celebrate the opening of a display featuring Crisfield Maryland decoys entitled “CRISFIELD CARVINGS – Bird Hunting on Broad Waters.” This display, as displays in year’s past, feature some of the finest waterfowling decoys made.....and are from the private collections of ECDC membership.

ECDC is an organization that promotes decoy collecting. They explore the history of duck, goose and shorebird decoys, the identification and background of their makers, plus collect and discuss related waterfowling items of interest. The ECDC board is comprised of representatives from the Potomac, New Jersey, Long Island, Delaware Valley, Upstate New York and Carolina Decoy Collector associations.

For more information, call Jim Trimble (703) 768-7264 or (302) 539-4606 or John Clayton 410-745-2955. Email: potomacduck@cox.net

Also mark your calendar for the J. Evans McKinney Old Decoy Contest
The 11th annual J. Evans McKinney Old Decoy Contest to be held in conjunction with the 2013 Havre de Grace Decoy & Wildlife Art Festival will be held Saturday, May 4th at the Middle School Gym. Entries will be accepted at the stage area from 10:00 a.m. until judging at noon. Joe Engers, Editor & Publisher of Decoy Magazine will head up a three-member judge’s panel. Participants must make a best faith effort to assure that all decoy entries were made prior to 1950. 

Each decoy will be limited to one category competition only. Matched pairs entered in other than a Matched Pair category will be considered as one entry. There is a competition ban, regardless of category, on last year’s winning birds. Competition decoys will be kept in a highly visible roped-off secure area and will not be handled by the public. At approximately 1:00p.m., the public will be invited to review the roped off and secured tables once the judges have made their selections. A blue ribbon will be awarded for each of the following ten category winners. The three-judge panel will also select a best in show winner. Winners will be requested to display their decoys and ribbons at the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum for a three month period.

1. Best Upper Bay Goose
2. Best Ben or Joe Dye Decoy
3. Best Jim Currier Canvasback
4. Best John Graham/Family Decoy
5. Best Holly Family Decoy
6. Best Hoopers Island Merganser
7. Best “Oldest” Wooden Decoy from the Mid-Atlantic Region
8. Best Virginia Bluebill
9. Delaware River Black Duck
10. Best Unknown
There will be no restrictions as to those who can participate or number of categories entered; however participants are restricted to no more than three birds per category. Competition issues will be resolved at the sole discretion of the competition chairman and/or competition chief judge. Any questions, please contact contest chairman Jim Trimble at 703-768-7264 or potomacduck@cox.net

Decoys are considered America's finest folk art form!

Monday, March 18, 2013

So you go crappie fishing, but later on Murphy's Law takes over

Fred and one of his crappies
Fred Fox, who lives in Charles County, Md., likes to go fishing in the Mallows Bay area of the tidal Potomac River. With a tiny red-and-white grub, a bobber snapped to the line a few feet up to keep the lure from from snagging the bottom, Fred manages just fine.

However, on the way back to his house one of Fred's johnboat trailer wheels acted up and sidelined our friend. This is not one of those mishaps that can be changed in a couple of minutes. But Fred is one of those tough fellows who'll face fate whenever nasty stuff comes at him. In other words, when the chips are down, he's a good guy to have on your side.

A big SNAFU happened and Fred was in trouble
My worst boat trailer incident happened some years ago when I launched my 18-foot broad aluminum bass boat during an ebb tide and I had to back down the ramp into the water to a point where the trailer wheels slipped off the edge of the paved ramp. I couldn't pull the trailer back up without help. I was hung up. Assistance finally arrived in the form of two good friends who came down to the river to go fishing. They waded into the muck and lifted the trailer with strong arms while I drove until I had firm concrete back under the trailer wheels. I parked my vehicle  and went fishing. Upon my return the tide had begun to rise again and then it was a cinch to load the boat.

The life of a fisherman isn't always a lot of fun. Remember, if something can go wrong -- it will. That's Murphy's Law.

Dr. Julie says fishing can be pretty good considering the weather

Dr. Julie Ball reports that flounder hunters are watching closely as the first wave of spring flounder often debuts in mid-March. The regulations this year support no closed season, and allows a bag limit of four fish per person, at a length of 16-inches.

"Schools of big striped bass are heading to the rivers up the Chesapeake Bay to complete their spawning cycles," she said. "Intercepting these fish on the move can make for some good catch and release action in the Bay, but the frequent rough conditions will likely thwart most efforts. A few anglers are also finding some good schoolie action along the James River Bridge. One angler reports that he is having very good luck with light-colored, deep-diving lures fished near the pilings on a moving tide."

Dr. Julie also said that crabs should be easier to find starting now, so once boats can get out, tautogs will be on the list. Don’t forget that the present regulations allow you to keep only three fish per person at 16-inches or longer. "These tight rules are encouraging many folks to wait out the kick-off of the Bay season, which should be soon. Offshore and near-shore reports are not encouraging lately, with few fish to show mostly due to less than optimal fishing conditions. This should improve as the weather allows more access," she said.

"Puppy drum are still providing some decent action in the Elizabeth River and Rudee Inlet, but the speckled trout continue to pose a challenge. In the Elizabeth River, anglers continue to work hard for their bounties, with most fish ranging up to around 21-inches." For more information, go to www.drjball.com.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just what does a pro fishing guide do when he wants to relax?

What happens when one of the best fishing guides on the upper tidal Potomac River decides to take a couple of days off? He goes fishing somewhere else, hoping he doesn't have to run the boat and decide just where to cast his lures. Go figure.

The river guide Andy Andrzejewski with a Gaston bass
In the case of Andy Andrzejewski (his ad is on the left side of this page), the "Fishing Pole" headed south to Virginia’s beautiful Lake Gaston that straddles a portion of North Carolina. There he met his long-time fishing pal, Marty Magone. You’ve seen Marty’s picture on this web site many times, as has Andy’s.

The two climbed into Marty’s bass boat, which is kept at Andy’s and Marty’s good friend Dez Rubesch’s boat house at the lake. Now let’s see what Marty had to report.

Marty Magone shows off one of his Lake Gaston bass
"It was a strange, yet typical, day on Lake Gaston for Andy
and myself," he began. "We started out strong, with the Rapala SR 7 ShadRap in the shad color being the hot lure. The water temperature was 48 degrees, yet we had to hang on to salvage the day, fishing main lake points above Great Creek. Right off the bat we had a solid 4-pound bass, followed by Andy losing the biggest fish of the day on a jerkbait. It took off and could not be turned. From then on we had to scratch for three bass and a pickerel."

Andy also latched onto a chain pickerel
The duo went back onto the water a day later, but the fishing didn't exactly explode, if you know what I mean. "We did manage five bass and a large shad on ShadRap crankbaits and jerkbaits this morning but the true highlight had nothing to do with largemouths," reported Marty. "After hearing the weather report that rain would not be arriving until late in the afternoon, we convinced ourselves that rain gear wasn't needed. Enter the clouds and showers at 9 a.m. Then a 'general alarm' sounded when nature called and we had to make an emergency toilet run. Fishing finally resumed at 10:15. The trip didn't produce a citation bass, but all the same we had a great time yakking and casting. The bass were a bonus."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What’s with these tasty crustaceans east of Virginia Beach?

From the Virginia Beach area, our friend Dr. Ken Neill writes, “We ran out and fished several wrecks for tautogs today (Friday). The bite was a lot better than last week, but still not as good as in the weeks prior.”

Dr. Ken Neill with yet another lobster in Virginia waters
“We caught 23 tautogs and I caught my second lobster of the year. Never caught one in all the years of ‘tog fishing, but now I've caught two. It was pretty out there in the morning, a bit breezy in the afternoon.“

By the way, the lobster that most of us associate New England with was released alive and in excellent shape.

Friday, March 15, 2013

For the gun lover who has everything: A double-barrel handgun

According to firearms company, Arsenal, the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has officially granted import permission and sale in the United States of the AF2011-A1 Second Century double-barrel pistol. 
 
Two AF2011-A1 double-barreled handguns
Okay, since I have no idea if this  is an elaborate joke, and this not being April Fools Day, I have no reason to discount the news release. 
 
Arsenal, it is said, turned a lot of heads a few months back when they announced their unique handgun, the AF2011-A1, but insiders to the firearms industry never imagined that the gun would ever wind up for sale in the U.S., because it fires two cartridges with one pull of the trigger, making it a machine gun according to federal law. However, I can fire two shots from one of my double-barreled shotguns with the pull of both triggers at the same time. Does that make my Bioto Miura 12-gauge a machine gun? I think not.
 
Arsenal says their double-trigger design, and matching pair of sears and hammers, would not "raise the hackles of the gatekeepers of the guns." Apparently, they were correct.

13th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival promises fun for all ages

One of the nation’s top fly fishing events features family fun, live demonstrations, wine sampling, on-stream casting classes and fly tying seminars 

Join fly fishing and outdoor enthusiasts in Waynesboro, Virginia and celebrate the 13th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, April 20-21, 2013 from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm each day, rain or shine.

Whether a seasoned fly fisher or simply looking for a day of fun, the banks of the South River in Waynesboro will be filled with activities and aficionados. The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the country that offers on-stream instruction. Daily admission tickets are $20 for adults, kids 16 and under are free. Weekend passes are available for $35. 

Friday, April 19 at 7:00 pm, the film, Where the Yellowstone River Goes, will be featured at Court Square Theatre in Harrisonburg, sponsored by Trout Headwaters, Inc.  Saturday and Sunday (April 20-21, 2013) in Waynesboro, highlights include:
  • Over 40 exhibitors including Orvis and Temple Fork Outfitters will have the latest in fly fishing equipment, merchandise, guide services, and destinations.
  • Casting and fly tying classes with Ed Jawarowski and Bob Clouser
  • Casting demonstrations throughout the day with the famous Lefty Kreh
  • Children’s Catch and Release Trout Pool with native brook trout 
For a complete list of activities, please visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org. Another highlight of the weekend is the presentation of the 2013 Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award at the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation Dinner. Tickets for the prime rib buffet are $50 apiece and sell out well in advance. 

Between lectures, classes, and lunch, noted Virginia wineries will pour samples of popular vintages.  Wine tastings are included with festival admission. Attendees can sip wine while listening to live riverside music. 

Over $5,000 worth of raffle prizes will be featured. Conservation-minded Subaru will showcase their newest models and give away custom-made popping bugs tied in Subaru colors by Walt Cary, the best known popping bug maker in the Mid-Atlantic. 

For more information about the festival, including a complete schedule, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The fishing has its ups and downs from the ocean to the rivers

The word from my Southern Maryland colleague Jim Kundreskas is that the word “dismal” best describes this year's yellow perch spawning run for the entire Potomac River watershed. White perch are just beginning to show up at Allen's Fresh on Route 234, in Charles County, Md., as well as the upper tidal Patuxent River above Hills Bridge.

Mike and Noah Tomsaic of California, Md., with catfish
However, the catfish catches in the upper tidal Potomac aren't dismal. Have a look at the blue catfish caught by Mike and Noah Tomsaic in the Potomac River. By the way those dark and shiny holes in the middle of their heads are sunglasses, which do not make for great pictures, but the fish look very good, indeed.

Down in south-central Virginia, Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir)  has delivered crappies on live minnows and bass on various lures, ranging from jig'n'pigs and curly-tailed Gulp grubs to deep-running crankbaits and slow-rolled spinnerbaits at the points of creek entrances and around waterlogged brush. Its neighbor, Lake Gaston, is also delivering bass bites on virtually the same lures.

In saltwater, Dr. Ken Neill delivers the latest Virginia Beach area  fishing report. “Another week and yet again, the weather is the main fish story. The latest blow even managed to put a pause in what has been a very good tautog bite on the coastal wrecks. That bite should pick right back up once the water clears a bit,” he says. “The Tower Reef and Triangle Wrecks have been producing quality tautogs. Anglers are ready to fish structures inside the bay. Expect the bay tautog bite to be slow until water temperatures rise a few more degrees. By the end of this month, it should be going strong.”

Dr. Ken also mentions that flounder are another springtime favorite that anglers are anxious to fish for. “A couple of our retired club members work part-time at one of the fish houses,” he says. “They are seeing some impressive flounder brought in by the dragging fleet. One fish was 38 inches long and weighed 25 pounds. It will still be a few weeks before we will start to pick up some flounder in the seaside inlets of the Eastern Shore.”

Speckled trout, by the way, continue to provide good action in the Elizabeth River this week and anyone who wants to fish somewhere besides the heavy saltwater could go up into the James River and hook blue catfish.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rain? What rain? Marty Magone goes fishing no matter what

Marty with a 5-lb., 2-oz. largemouth from Lake Gaston.
From the shores of Virginia's Lake Gaston comes word that my friend Marty Magone decided to go bass fishing in the middle of a monsoon-like rain Tuesday morning. The man doesn't know when to say "I quit" no matter what the weather is like.

"I had a decent day, considering the skies dumped more than a few inches of water on me.," he said. "The pattern seems to be crankbaits in the Baby Bass color, worked in and around small coves in Great Creek. This 5-pound, 2-ounce Gaston bass made my morning. The water temperature was 50 degrees." One thing is for sure, we could use a prolonged warm spell that would bust open the bass fishing for everybody.

Fishing in the rain. Marty doesn't mind it one bit.





That's what is so good about Marty.  When I said, "Brother, I need a bass picture for the web site," he went to work and delivered the goods.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You can own the famous tangle-free WaveSpin reel for $29.95

Two light tackle reels with smooth, gutsy drags specially priced at $29.95 each. Why do I recommend them? I bought the reels for far more when they were first introduced and found them to perform flawlessly. I continue to use them to this day..

Two of the fishing reels that helped launch the popularity and success of WaveSpin tangle-free spinning reels are being offered as a “tax time” closeout special.

“We are making way for new models to include higher end metal bodied reels,” said WaveSpin’s Russ Riley. “We also wanted to give anglers a break around tax season.” The special for the DH 4000 and DH 5000, each priced at $29.95, is available only online at WaveSpinReel.com and is not available at Bass Pro, Cabela’s or other retail outlets.

Both reels have 8+1 stainless steel ball bearings, come with a two year warranty and are great for fish in the 10 - 50 lb range such as musky, pike, salmon and catfish. The DH 4000 was previously priced at $83.26; the DH 5000 was $91.75. The DH 4000 uses space age technology to produce 45 lbs. of smooth multi-disc drag (typically 15 – 20 lbs on other reels this size). This long casting reel uses 8–12 lb mono or 30–50 lb.  braid from 170–290 yds., and weighs 12 ozs. The DH5000 weighs 12.5 ozs. It uses 10–14 lb. mono or 40–60 lb braid from 160-240 yds.

All WaveSpins have patented American design, dead stop infinite anti-reverse, llght-weight graphite body and rotor, a giant multi disc front drag system, oversized line roller, convertible right or left hand retrieve, and have guaranteed exclusive no tangle technology. Quantities are limited on both models.

These distinctive reels with “wave” designed spool, drag, were engineered by “The Bass Professor,” Doug Hannon. In 2008, the reels received Field & Stream Magazine’s prestigious “BEST of the BEST” Award.

Editor's note and warning:  One of my friends ordered the reel after reading this blog and he sent the following message: "The reel was $29.95 (plus $9.95 shipping) the spare spool was $31.95. I guess if I wanted a spare spool I could have ordered a second reel!" Let this be a warning. You do  NOT need a spare spool. The reel cost plus the $9.95 S&H is enough.