view counter

All (All)

Autumn’s feeding frenzy will fatten your chances

      I finally got my second keeper rockfish at about 11am, but only after releasing some dozen undersized schoolies and more than two dozen burly and uncooperative channel cats. The sun had already been blazing hot for some time. I was scorched and pooped as I headed back in for a shower, a sandwich and a nap.
      I do love Chesapeake summertime, but I’ve now had enough summer, really. These endless 90-degree-plus days have left me limp and senseless. With surface water temperatures that soar into the 80s with the rising sun, finding rockfish early and fast has become a necessity. There’s not a lot of time to search before the bigger fish have fled down deep to cooler water and unknown locations. But that should change soon.
     Late August gave us a few nights in the 60s, and a lot more are to come now that September is here.
       One of my more reliable piscatorial analysts, waterman and soothsayer Leo James, tells me that he suspects that when the dolphin invaded the Chesapeake this summer and effectively pushed most of the mid-Bay rockfish up past Rock Hall, a lot of the larger fish went up the rivers to escape — and stayed there.
      As fall temperatures arrive, the baitfish in those tributaries will descend toward the mainstem. The big fish that have been feeding on them will follow them down. As the menhaden, silverside minnows and Bay anchovies form their wintering schools and stage for migration, all of our gamefish will start the fall feed-up in preparation for wintertime.
      The shortening daylight and temperature drops trigger all sorts of instinctive behavior in the many species of the Chesapeake. Just about all of it is good news for anglers. 
      To put on fat, our gamefish —rockfish, bluefish, croaker, spot and perch — will start chasing bait actively in the shallows, particularly early and late in the day. We’ll also spot them under birds, working the gathering baitfish schools in both deep and shallow water. The gamefish will stay on station longer, especially when there are overcasts and showers. Bluefish, particularly, will also become more active, especially in the evenings.
      Stock up on your favorite surface plugs, such as MirrOlure Poppa Dogs, Heddon Spooks, Storm Chug Bugs, Offshore Angler Lazer Eyes and, when you can find them, Stillwater Smack Its.
      Swim plugs and jerk baits such as the Rapala X Rap and Yozuri Crystal Minnow will become particularly effective, as will the Bill Lewis classic Rat-L-Trap series.
       Metal jigs like the Lil Bunker, Crippled Herring and the P-Line Laser Minnows will be great for targeting or getting under breaking schoolies for the larger rockfish below.
      Continuing effective are jigs including bucktails and the Bass Assassin; Sassy Shads; soft plastic types, especially the newer paddle-tail varieties; and the BKDs all in lengths to match the baitfish present. To avoid hanging up when targeting the shallows, use lighter jig heads and try fishing them slow and weightless, especially after dark.
      Lure color has always been a contentious issue with just about every angler I’ve ever met. The general rule has always been dark colors under low light conditions; lighter and brighter colors in higher light situations and illuminated areas. Of course the color the fish really want is always the one that you don’t have, so prepare accordingly. 
      Stay flexible in your approaches. Chumming and live lining will continue to produce limits up to wintertime, but light-tackle lure fishing can be far more exciting. If you haven’t tried it, now is the best time to begin.
      To reduce gamefish mortality and mouth-structure damage, consider replacing the treble hooks on your lures with single hooks — or at least flattening the barbs once you’ve got your limit. It may surprise you, but it doesn’t make much difference in the fish you eventually bring to hand.
 
Fish Finder
      As the temperatures drop, the bite heats up. Driven by their fall instinct to feed for the coming winter, rockfish are getting more aggressive, especially in low light. Trollers using small bucktails and soft plastic jigs are finding bigger gatherings of rockfish on the hunt. Light-tackle sports are also increasing, throwing plugs and jigs along anywhere there is current and structure. Bait fishers are getting their rockfish on soft crab, fresh menhaden and big bloodworms.
       Spanish mackerel are showing up in breaking schools all the way up to the Bay Bridge, hitting swiftly moving lures such as Clark’s Spoons, Kastmasters and Hopkin’s Jigs. White perch, spot and croaker are in mixed schools just about anywhere there is a shell bottom at 15 to 30 feet. Crabbers should anticipate a surge when the waters cool a bit.
      You can read American history in the work we do. 
      Farmers, builders, craftspeople and cooks came first, some free and some enslaved, with the free men among them doubling as citizen soldiers. The communities they built depended on merchant — and fighting — mariners to stock them with supplies and sell their tobacco. Lawmakers and law-enforcers helped keep the peace among all the strivers making their separate ways.
      After them came explorers, paddling rivers and hacking through wilderness to open more land for more immigrant settlers.
      Next came inventors, to make the work easier and to get places faster. Steam engines powered boats and locomotives; crews cut down forests to fuel those engines and laid track across the growing nation. 
     Then with the industrial age, men, women and children devoted their labor to making America the world’s greatest producer. Industrialists grew rich as kings, and labor unions — that began the celebration of Labor Day — fought to make work support life rather than the other way around. 
    Now? Read on for a glimpse of who we working people of Chesapeake Country are today.
     As always, our Labor Day profiles are semi-random samples, people who, at this moment in time, captured our writers’ interest by the work they do. We’ve asked each to tell us about the skills they need to do their job. Included this year are Bay Weekly’s three now-back-at-school summer interns.
     To these short focused stories, this year we add two longer stories, each representing age-old occupations. Calvert Marine Museum muralist Tim Scheirer, profiled by Bill Sells, paints stories in pictures. Stephen Hayden, profiled by Allen Delaney, helps us deal with our waste. 
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
 

 
 
Reza Akbari, 52, Dunkirk
Retired Air Force Master Sargent … Patient Safety/Risk Manager at Patuxent River Naval Air Station … owner Silk Road Antiques
       For me, one career has led to another. The military was always my first love. Less than one percent of the population serves in the United State’s Armed Forces, and I am privileged to be one of those few. I went into the Air Force in 1987 and served as a medic in Turkey, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. before retiring in 2011.
      My Middle Eastern background and my ability to speak Farsi/Dari landed me a job as an interpreter in Afghanistan following my military retirement. Due to my military experience, I was chosen as the lead interpreter supervising 50 other interpreters enforcing strict counter-intelligence protocols. This was a dangerous occupation under austere conditions with daily missile attacks.
      My time in the military not only enabled me to travel, but also to earn a degree in health care administration. When I left Afghanistan, I found a job as a Patient Safety/Risk Manager at Patuxent River Naval Health Clinic.
      I began collecting and learning about handmade rugs and other exotic objects when I was first stationed in Turkey. It soon became my passion. I would visit antique shops around the world and think about what my own store would be like. I envisioned distinctive antiques, furniture, fine arts … with no dust, no clutter, calming accent lighting, good music and a nice smell for an unparalleled pleasant shopping experience. I opened Silk Road Antiques in Edgewater in April, and my shop meets all those expectations.
       I work at Pax River Monday through Friday — my aunt Marci and wife Shahrzad are at the shop on weekdays — but Silk Road is my passion and future. I do all the buying, cleaning and merchandising, and on the weekends, I am here helping my customers find beautiful objects. 
–Susan Nolan

Chuck Adams, 62, Annapolis
Administrator: Annapolis Moose Lodge
       I started working at 12 as a bagger in Jerman’s IGA grocery in Gambrills. I was an Anne Arundel County police officer from 1975 to 1984 when I was shot in the line of duty. Back in 1977, I also started CCA Tile Company, which grew after I left the police force.
      I’ve been with the Moose Lodge for 12 years. My job as an administrator is to oversee day-to-day activities and to promote the mission of the Moose fraternity. That mission is to support our child city, Mooseheart, our seniors at Moosehaven, and our local communities. I’m proud to be the chairman of our Valor Program, which honors our community’s first responders. As a retired police officer this program holds special meaning for me. When the horrible tragedy happened at the Capital-Gazette building on June 28, our lodge members and I reached out to the departments that responded. We’re honoring them for their service with a dinner and awards ceremony on Sept. 6.
        In all my jobs, the No. 1 skill was the same: Respect is earned. Treat people with respect.
–Audrey Broomfield

Midh Ahm, Holland Point
Art teacher through the non-profit Bay Arts ­Center in the studio area of Chesapeake’s ­Bounty market in North Beach
     I graduated in the spring of 2017 from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a degree in illustration. I teach art as meditation plus anatomy and portraiture, with the goal of helping students of all ages to believe in themselves and empower their creativity. I am very excited to share what I’ve learned and to bring out the artist in everyone who attends, no matter what training they have had or what has transpired in their lives to stifle their artistic endeavors. 
–Bill Sells

Aly Wirth Cross, 43, Deale
Children’s acting teacher, The Polymath Place
       I want people to think of Polymath as the place where kids ages four through 18 come for acting lessons.
       I started teaching here in January 2018 after 10 years teaching at Stageworkz in Millersville. Before that, I was pounding the pavement and waiting tables in New York City, working in fringe theater.
       An essential skill in my job is being able to command attention and keep it. In a room full of busy, distractible kids, I have to be able to use my voice and figure out how to communicate on a child’s level. I have to know how each kid ticks. Sometimes I have to mirror actions back to them for them to understand what I am saying.
      Overall, I want children to feel this is a safe space where you can be anything you want to be. Nobody will judge you in this space. I hope they realize that I can look stupid or feel weird but it’s okay because I can be myself or I can act like a tiger and roar if I want to. It’s okay.
–Kathy Knotts

Ryan Johnson, 33, Pasadena
Head bartender
       I came to Paladar in May of last year. I started serving, but really, I wanted to be behind the bar.
      On a daily basis I make hundreds of mojitos and margaritas. We prep three different purees and mixers from scratch. I really enjoy putting together cocktails, but I’m a people person. Customer service is always my priority, and I meet some incredible people every day.
      I love the people I work with. I think that’s key to a positive work environment. We have a great crew at Paladar. We all love to make money, meet new people and have fun along the way.
       I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to learning about the hundreds of rums we have in our bar. I take pride in my knowledge of rum and of our Latin cuisine. I think what really sets me apart, though, is that I’m usually the tallest, most noticeable guy in the room.
       My growth really comes from my own curiosities; I’m not afraid to try new things. My manager, Danielle Stevens, has helped me find my way as a bartender at Paladar. I would say she’s the reason I’m there today and enjoying what I do.
–Shelby Conrad

Sam Hopkins, 28, ­Germantown
Wildlife response technician, Maryland ­Department of Natural Resources 
      Any time an animal is reported as acting funny or injured or trapped, we step in. I show up and assess the situation. My priority is to figure out if I can make life better for this animal. First I have to figure out, depending on the severity of its injuries, if the animal can be saved and transported to a wildlife rehabilitator. 
       A skill that has served me well in this job is creativity. Animal rescue shows on TV have all this specialized gear and equipment. But when you are out in the field — often by yourself — you have to be able to figure out a clever way to work with what’s on hand. These are things that weren’t taught in college.
       Sometimes I do have to put an animal down. Then I have to figure out how to move, say, a 130-pound adult deer into my truck, maybe a long distance, over fences or obstacles. So I developed my own tarp technique, and I rigged up a pulley system in my truck that I can work by myself. It’s one of my cooler inventions.
       I always have a blanket or sheet. I get a lot of calls about birds of prey that have fallen out of the nest. With a towel or a sheet handy, you can just bundle them up.
      Every day is different. Some days it’s deer all day long; some days it’s getting a groundhog unstuck from a fence or saving a raccoon trapped on a porch. Variety makes it fun and entertaining for me.
–Kathy Knotts

Bruno Favre, 64, Harwood
Equine dentist
        I fell in love with horses growing up in Lyons, France. I was four years old when my grandfather first took me to the races. After that, I was hooked. I wanted to be a jockey, and for a while I trained to be one. I also used to train racehorses.
       I’ve worked so long with horses; I could never give it up. Becoming an equine dentist was the best way for me to make sure I stayed around horses for life. I sure got lucky with this job. 
       I’ve helped mini horses and I’ve helped Clydesdales — the size of the animal doesn’t matter. Usually I’m pulling teeth. I help young horses get rid of baby teeth, and I pull teeth that hinder bits. I work on my own and make house calls to farms and racetracks in the area. Probably 40 percent of the horses I work on are show horses; the rest are racehorses. 
        I’m pleased I found a way to stay around horses for life. I even wrote a book about my journey as a horse addict: Little Bruno and the Horse Virus
–Shelby Conrad

Candace Gunn, “50 and fabulous,” Owings 
Certified fitness professional and well-being coach; Calvert Parks and Recreation Aquatics coordinator
      I want to give people a good workout that focuses on their total well-being, not just the physical. Most times, the hardest part is getting out of the door. I want to show them the ability to change begins way before the music starts to play. I want to give them a good time in the process of reaching and exceeding their fitness goals.
      My students range in age from preschoolers to well into their seasoned years. Keeping in mind that no two people are alike, I strive to work to each person’s ability and tailor programs around their specific needs. Sometimes getting them all the way into it takes the energy of a drill sergeant, the enthusiasm of a 10-year-old, the dynamism of a rock musician, the moves of Mick Jagger. But most of all, it takes a heart to want to reach people of all abilities and diverse backgrounds and journey alongside of them to help navigate through the obstacles they face in being the best versions of themselves. My goal is to encourage them to reach deep inside and get them to smile from the inside out. Once that is accomplished, working out and changing their lifestyle choices is no longer a drudging task but becomes a way of life that can be shared and enjoyed.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin

Pearl Tyler King, Owings
Owner, Tyler’s Tackle Shop and Crab House: Chesapeake Beach
        I grew up in St. Mary’s County and moved to Owings when I married my husband, Calvin Tyler Jr., in 1980. That’s when I started working at Tyler’s Tackle Shop. My husband died in 1990, and I’ve been here now 38 years. What I really love the most is meeting people and helping them to get the fishing equipment they need. I make about 10 different types of lures from flounder to rock, and sometimes I get to teach the visitors that come down here how to fish — surf, bottom, trolling, you name it, I know it. I love this place and wouldn’t trade being here for nothing.
–Bill Sells

Barbara Lorton, 73, Solomons
Cellist, pianist, teacher, writer 
       My cello and upright piano are in the living room. The Patuxent Baroque, Calvert Chamber Players, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Dowell and Appeal schools and fellow musicians for quartets are up the road or across the Patuxent. Music is my full-time life.
        I’ve also taught fourth and fifth grades, written a play and published Sydney Seagull Marks Lighthouses and Buoys of the Chesapeake. My mission in this part of my life has been to help today’s children to understand what musicians, composers, writers and environmentalists have been and still are creating.
Daniel Hinz, my husband, plays the piano and accordion and shares my life of music.
–Elisavietta Ritchie
 

Del. Joseph E. Valerio Jr., 81, Upper Marlboro
44-year delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and, as chair of the Judiciary ­Committee, the House of Delegates’ longest serving chairman; lawyer 
         Over the years, I represented as a way to return to the community. Whether it was the roads, support of local schools or construction for the betterment of the people, I did my best to serve for others. I stayed committed to do my part.
       I was able to see so many great people in office and follow them. 
Serving in the House of Delegates for so many years, I was able to keep up on all of the new laws. As I was responsible for making changes to them, I remained at the forefront of all new issues. This is very helpful for my law practice as well as serving to the best of my ability in the General Assembly. 
       I am so thankful to have been chosen to represent the people and have the opportunity to serve my districts. It was a true honor. 
–Ellie Pesetsky
 

Josh Newhard, 34, Annapolis
Fisheries Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Maryland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
       I grew up in Delaware fishing in the ocean, ponds and creeks. Between my love for fishing and interest in marine life — especially sharks — I pursued a career in marine biology. In college I learned I could focus on fish. I was sold, though I never imagined what I’d end up doing.
     The variety of work can be a challenge but rewarding and fun. From being on the lookout for invasive northern snakeheads to helping restore American eel and American shad and talking with people reporting striped bass/horseshoe crab tags up and down the East Coast, I stay quick on my feet!
–Margaret Barker-Frankel
 
Autumn Phillips-Lewis, Lusby
Land manager, American Chestnut Land Trust
        One thing that’s essential to my job is adapting to very different tasks with different groups of volunteers every day. Nature is unpredictable, and the projects we work on really vary. One day we’re trying to maintain trails hit hard by the weather. The next, we’re fighting back invasive plants that threaten the ecosystem. Plus we’re constantly monitoring the changing health of our forests, streams and meadows. A lot of this is really physically demanding work, and it couldn’t get done without the help of volunteers. So keeping them passionate about the difference they’re making, helping them see it and be proud of it, is also essential to our success.
–Pam Shilling

 

 


Sandy Hunting, ­Chesapeake Beach
Children’s librarian, Calvert Library Twin Beaches
        Children’s brains develop at an astonishing rate in the first several years of their lives. That is why it is such a joy and an honor to help the youngest members of our community to learn and to grow. I still remember my 16-year-old son’s first story-time librarian, and I’d like to think that one day there will be kids who can say the same of me. After nine years and hundreds of kids, I hope that I have played a small part in molding the next generation.
–Bill Sells

Cassi Whitehead, 21, Davidsonville
Student at University of Pittsburgh, Bay Weekly summer intern
       As a Bay Weekly intern, I wrote articles, updated the website and edited and proofread pages. 
       One skill that came in handy is fixing sentences that don’t make sense. When I read a sentence and I can’t figure out what it’s trying to say, I look at the rest of the story for context clues to try to figure out what the author meant to say. From there, I decide if the sentence can be fixed by changing some words, or if it needs its structure changed. The final sentence is always easier to understand.
 

Ellie Pesetsky, 20, ­Huntingtown
Student at University of Pittsburgh, Bay Weekly summer intern
       In high school, I began writing in my free time as a creative outlet. At the time, I did not imagine it would turn into my career. 
      Interning at Bay Weekly, I worked in writing and publishing, learning key skills that I will take with me into my junior year at the University of Pittsburgh and my future. 
       I knew that communication skills are essential to working in this field. At Bay Weekly, I learned that meant introducing myself, thinking up and asking questions, listening, recording what I learned and putting it into stories.
In my time at the newspaper, I had to interview people by phone and in person. Reaching out to strangers has been hard for me, but the more I practiced the better I got. Not only did I gain confidence, I also met some new and interesting people and used their words and the information they gave me to write stories under my own byline, Ellie Pesetsky.

Keri Luise, 20, Towson 
Student at Towson University, Bay Weekly ­summer intern
       This summer, I expanded on my experiences and learned new skills in my dream career of journalism.
       I learned a lot about journalism and the inner workings of a weekly newspaper as a Bay Weekly intern. One essential part of the job that I learned is the importance of crowdsourcing. As a reporter, you need to be able to know who it is you need to talk to and not be afraid to ask your questions. I worked hard to make sure I talked to the right people for a story and asked the questions Bay Weekly readers would want to hear answers to. I understood who my audience was and made sure to present information that they would want to hear. 
        My internship at Bay Weekly was one of the best experiences I have had. Now I am a third-year student at Towson University, writing for the campus paper The Towerlight and learning as much as I can.

Stephen Hayden, 37, Huntingtown
Honeysucker
       What makes a person enter the field of septic tank draining? Would it be the glamour, the fame or the excitement?
        For Stephen Hayden, it was a natural extension of the family business. On jobs with his dad Paul, the master plumber of Paul Hayden Jr. and Sons Plumbing, the young Hayden would often find that drains weren’t clogged; the septic tank was full. To fix the problem, they would have to call another company. Stephen suggested starting a septic business so they could offer full service to their customers. He is now in his 20th year working the septic side of the company, performing perc tests, installing drain fields and, of course, draining tanks.
      The upsides of the job, Hayden says, is that he is his own boss and there is plenty of work. The down side is working in all types of weather. I joined him and son Stephen Jr., in pouring rain, as they searched for a homeowner’s tank with a five-foot metal probe. 
      Hayden repeatedly jammed the probe in the ground. When it hit a hard surface, he then worked his way along searching for the end of the tank. Then he and his son began digging, looking for the tank’s hatch. Hayden scooped out dirt with his shovel, feeling for the hatch’s edge. Then he cleared away the remaining dirt and slipped a rope through the eyebolts attached to the hatch. Using the rope, he lifted the cover revealing a two-foot-by-two-foot opening in which he lowered the suction hose.
      When the tank was drained and hosed down with fresh water, Hayden replaced the hatch. He rinsed the outside and inside of the suction hose, disconnected the hose sections and carefully placed them on the back of his $250,000 truck. He and his son then shoveled dirt back into the three-foot hole they had dug. The entire process took about an hour.
       Bidding farewell, they headed off to the Appeal landfill in Lusby, where the 4,700-gallon-capacity truck would be drained at the sewage processing plant behind the landfill. 
        As long as there are septic tanks, Hayden’s job will always be needed. So he’s training the next generation, bringing his son to work during the summer months. 
–Allen Delaney
 
The Anne Arundel Food Bank’s new face looks to get the ­non-profit new space
      No one has ever become poor by giving.
–Anne Frank
 
        Susan Thomas is breaking in some new shoes, walking a path blazed by Food Bank founder Bruce Michalec. 
       Thirteen years ago, Thomas volunteered at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. Two months into her new position, Michalec ran into health problems. He needed help.
      Eager to give back to the community, Thomas stepped up to learn the ropes from the creator himself. 
      Thomas, though, is no stranger to charitable work.
      She started as a teenager, volunteering as a candy striper at North Arundel Hospital. She also volunteered with Happy Helpers for the Homeless around the holidays. 
      She took notice of the Food Bank and volunteered to answer the phones. One month later, she was offered a job.
       “At the time, the staff consisted of four employees: a driver, bookkeeper, administrative assistant and executive director,” Thomas reminisces. “It was a very close group, and I really liked being part of a team that made a difference in someone’s life.”
       Thomas’s involvement steadily grew, as she added grant writing and bookkeeping to her responsibilities.
      “This is a unique job,” Thomas says. “I knew the harder I worked, the more people we would be able to assist and the more services we would be able to offer.”
       When Michalec retired in January after 30 years of service, he passed the baton to Thomas.
       Her first few months were fraught with troubles. For 14 years, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank worked out of the old Crownsville Hospital kitchen. The sprawling building had plenty of storage and massive freezers to keep perishable food — perfect for a growing pantry. However, their tenancy was uncertain. Then, the roof caved in.
      “We’ve had volunteers come out to patch the roof from time to time,” Thomas says. “But these buildings are very old. We don’t want to spend $100,000 for a new roof.”
       Thomas now has another reason to hold off on the roof repairs: The hospital grounds are for sale. 
      The Chesapeake Bayhawks have their sights set on that property. The Annapolis-based, semi-professional men’s lacrosse team is making moves to turn the grounds into a new stadium with parking and practice fields. Thomas says the Bayhawks are still willing to grandfather the Food Bank into its design plans. But that will take too long.
      “There’s no reason to wait,” Thomas says. “Our goal is to remain on the hospital grounds — but build a whole new space.” 
      They’ll need the room. Last year, the Food Bank handed out more than 260,000 pounds of food. 
      To get the building they need, Thomas is working with the state for a mix of grants and capital bonds. In combination with fundraising, they’ll need government help.
      Thomas hopes that the state will give a 100-year lease on the Crownsville hospital property. She’ll need a senator and delegate to back the plan; who depends on the November elections. Once she’s got backing, she’ll need to meet with Gov. Larry Hogan.
       Of the old building, Stuart Cohen, three-year volunteer truck driver for the Food Bank, says, “we are definitely lucky to have it. But it’s a huge undertaking to maintain. It’s not built for constant truck traffic, either.” 
      Christine Pokorny, a long-time volunteer at the Food Bank, looks forward to keeping up with “growing need in Anne Arundel County. A new space will make us much more effective,” she says.
       Part of growing with the times, Pokorny says, is Thomas herself. “I was really happy when Susan took over,” the volunteer says. “She has a terrific vision for the future, and she wants to try to reach new people in new ways.”
       With a brand new building, Thomas and her team would finally be able to focus on their programs and community — rather than struggling to keep a roof over their heads. 
 
A Remarkable Time
      “This is a really remarkable time,” says Anne Arundel Food Bank Chairman J.J. Fegan. 
       In the nine years Fegan, a local realtor, has led the board, he’s seen demand surge through the Food Bank’s sliding doors.
       “We live in one of the richest counties in one of the wealthiest states in America,” Fegan says. “Too many kids are going to school hungry, and I want to help give back.”
      Michalec felt the same. 
      A champion of charity, Michalec spent more than 30 years building what is now the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and a community around it. 
       The operation began inside a church with Michalec distributing a small federal surplus of food to families in need. Over time, he expanded the Food Bank into a countywide program that gives away more than $1.25 million in food annually. 
       As well as food, people needed resources. Ever responsive, Michalec rose to the need. 
      “Every time I gave away a bed or a wheelchair,” Michalec told Bay Weekly in 2014, “it was like giving people food because they would have been using food money to buy it otherwise.”
      The expanded Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank remains the only free place to go for food and other resources like appliances, furniture, medical equipment, nutritional supplements, personal hygiene products and even vehicles.
        Expansion has meant more programs. So far this year, Thomas has given out 150 bicycles to underprivileged kids. 
       Thomas’ team has broadened its Backpack Buddies program. They used to help almost 1,500 students by sending home backpacks full of food for the weekend. Now they assist more than 5,000 kids. 
       Individual donations, mostly through food drives, account for about 20 percent of the quarter-million pounds of food distributed by the bank to individuals, families and food pantries throughout the county. “The remainder,” Thomas says, “we receive through partnerships with local stores and Feeding America vendors.”
       With greater need and the prospect for a new space, more volunteers will be needed. The Food Bank already gets some help from correctional center work programs. Thomas has three to five inmates who help with daily packing and moving. She gets helpers from the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Center and United Way of Central Maryland. But with growing need comes greater responsibility. 
      More volunteers are needed right now, Thomas says, because the Food Bank is “headed into our busy season.” The back-to-school rush begins this hectic period, which grows into Thanksgiving food drives, then holiday gift donations.
      “We’re growing and we’re adapting. We’ve got this new power at our disposal, and we can use it to give more to our community than ever before,” Thomas says of the future.
      Drop off donations Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm at the Food Bank. For large donations or to become a volunteer, call the office: 410-923-4255, 120 Marbury Dr., Crownsville, www.aafoodbank.org.

Nationally certified red-carded firefighters go wherever it burns hottest

       Montana. Colorado. Texas. California. In all those hotbox states and more, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Services are sweating to control fires that have already burned more than five million acres of land and wrecked thousands of homes and businesses.
        Nationwide, says Monte Mitchell, Forest Service state fire supervisor, we’re part of a “dynamic system where when one geographic area has shortages, other states and federal units can provide those resources to fill in the gaps.”
       One hundred and twenty Maryland Forest Service firefighters and other volunteers train to fight those ferocious opponents. These “red-carded personnel are nationally certified to perform on an incident,” Mitchell says. “Forty-hour courses give them their basic firefighter and basic wildland and fire weather training and tactics.” 
      Topping that is an eight-hour physical field day.
      “They go out and construct fire lines with hand tools, they’ll use pumps, they’ll set up hose lays, they’ll be introduced to all the different tools that you use in wildland firefighting,” Mitchell says. 
     Through all this, their most important tools are their bodies.
     “There is a physical assessment that you have to meet, and that’s more of an exam,” says Justin Arseneault, project forester with the forest service. “Every year before firefighters get sent out, we take a work capacity test to make sure that our physical fitness is sufficient to handle the types of duties that we might be called to do.”
      Part of the test is walking three miles within 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.
      In Maryland, each crew of 20 people is divided into three squads under a crew boss. Each squad has its boss, three fellers who operate chainsaws and the rest firefighters, Mitchell explains. 
      Once in action, volunteers must be ready for whatever is to come in the 14 to 16 days of assignment.
     “Initial attack is responding to new wildfires as they occur and for the first 24-hour operational period taking the necessary actions to contain and suppress the wildfire,” Mitchell says. “All of the engine and dozer crews Maryland has mobilized are experienced firefighters. But newly trained firefighters can assist with initial attack operations under the supervision of experienced firefighters.”
      Once a fire is fought down, “we’ll make sure that portions controlled but still smoldering are fully extinguished so that they don’t accidentally escape containment,” Arseneault says.
      Maryland volunteers also might work on smaller active fires, “to cut fire lines, brushing out a path where there’s no fuel for the fire to run into so it will extinguish itself.”
     In July Arseneault was sent to Montana, California and Colorado. This month he heads to Texas to help with more fires.
      “It’s a dangerous environment, and we take every precaution that we can to mitigate the hazards that are there,” Arseneault says.
      “There are a lot of fires, like the fires in California, where homes are being threatened, and it can be very humbling to help. Being exposed to those people that are just so grateful that you’re there really makes you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile.”

But where have the bigger fish gone?

Cutting the engine a good distance from the shoreline, we drifted quietly toward a projecting erosion jetty. It was the one that reached farthest from shore, creating a sort of false point along an edge full of shoreline protections. 

Nearing casting distance, I lowered my anchor, and we skidded to a stop. When our minor disturbance subsided, we prepped light spin rods.  

They were five- to six-footers with small 1,000 series reels spooled with ultra-thin, misty copolymer monofilament, ideal for the pursuit of white perch. All the better, they were tipped with gaudy spinner baits irresistible to the species.  

These long, narrow rock piles are common structures along the Bay. Perch gather there for relief from tidal currents and use the nooks and crannies for hiding from the many predator species in the Bay. Various critters such as minnows and grass shrimp that the whities feed upon also visit these jetties. 

My cast was met with an instant attack, a hook-up, then the buzz of my drag. It was a long, intense struggle to keep connected to the obviously large perch. A lot can go wrong during a perch battle, from a hook tearing away from too much rod pressure to a dislodged hook from too little. 

My buddy’s cast was firmly intercepted as well. Those first two fish measured 10 and 11 inches. They were also the biggest we would land, though we would eventually catch and release more than 75 fish. 

Perch aficionados repeat what I fear: The number of perch 10 inches and over has decreased to a distressing degree. 

White perch can reach 18 to 19 inches. But few encountered these days in the middle Chesapeake exceed nine inches; most are much smaller. That’s not a great recreational fishery.  

Informal (and off-the-record) conversations with Bay fisheries biologists suggest that diminishment is an unintended consequence of our commercial fisheries policy. Netters have few constraints beyond an eight-inch minimum size. Reporting is voluntary. Thus we have no solid basis for species management.  

Male perch begin spawning by two years old and females at three, when they are four to five inches long. The fish that grow slowest will spawn the most until they reach legal commercial target size of eight inches. Thereafter they are fair game. As the market for the fish has become ever more lucrative, I suspect harvests have grown — though nobody knows given the current voluntary reporting. 

Is that why we’re seeing and catching so many small white perch, at least in the middle Bay? 

Department of Natural Resources budgets and salaries are supported by the license fees from about 300,000 Maryland anglers, who rate the white perch as their most frequent catch. Seems to me that managing the species to create a quality recreational fishery is an appropriate objective. What do you think?  

 


Fish Finder 

Middle Bay fishing has been ever more miserable, with rockfish scarce and of barely legal size. A large school of quality stripers north of Swan Point (Hodge’s Bar) was quite hot and productive last month. But it was the only bite, and their numbers have been worn thin. Most areas from the Bay Bridge south on both shores remain barren. The fault has been laid in many directions, from an unusually cold spring, to dolphin pods chasing the rockfish north, to dead zones, to excess netting over winter, to a rumored increase in recreational poaching. 

Crabbing is another disappointment. Recreational harvests have become consistently miserable, and now commercial crabbers are reporting that they’re barely breaking even. The cold spring was blamed for the poor numbers. But now it appears that the scarcity could be the result of the high winter mortality, perhaps higher than even the winter dredge numbers indicate. Nobody really knows, though the big rains certainly didn’t help. Nor the resultant vast releases from the Conowingo Dam. 

Way Downstream …

Way Downstream comes from Ocean City, where the federal court case over the right of women to go topless may be bare-ly beginning. 

Let us first unveil some facts: Last summer, Ocean City approved an ordinance forbidding women to cast aside their swimsuit tops. 

In January, five women — among them Megan Bryant, of Lothian —- filed lawsuit in a Maryland U.S. District Court challenging the ordinance as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

“This lawsuit is about confirming the legal right of women to be bare-chested in public in the same places men are permitted to be bare-chested in public for purposes other than breast-feeding,” the complaint reads. 

The suit observes that it’s normal for men to go shirtless, an “act associated with power, strength and freedom.” 

In the pokey ways of federal civil suits, it was Ocean City’s duty to respond six months later. 

On July 27, the town filed a defense asserting that the women’s Equal Protection Clause argument is faulty because that provision doesn’t say that things that are different should be treated the same. 

The filing refers to the “indisputable difference between the sexes” and the town’s interest to protect public sensibilities, asserting that bare breasts in public “may not be offensive to everyone” but remain “unpalatable” to society. 

The naked truth is that no decision is expected for some time, perhaps not until chill winds have people so bundled up that there’s no way to discern the difference between women and men. 

Sandy Marron of Heritage Harbour collects books for soldiers.  

Operation Paperback, a non-profit founded in 1999, sends shipments of books to military bases all over the world. Marron is one of 19,000 volunteers under the Operation Paperback umbrella.  

The books go to military families, veterans, hospitals and bases overseas. The books help soldiers learn, pass the time or, on deployment, read to their children via webcam. Romance and religious books aren’t accepted.  

Everyone involved with this program is a volunteer, so Operation Paperback is a true non-profit. Each volunteer must find the books, boxes and the money needed to mail the books out. 

“I have worked with this great organization since 2011 and sent out over 16,000 books, puzzle books, men’s magazines and others,” Marron said. 

The Heritage Harbour Woman’s Club, John Taylor Funeral Home, Heritage Harbour Beer Wine and Spirits and Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits help support Operation Paperback. 

To donate, email: [email protected], subject books. 

         On July 26, the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River opened its gates due to flooding and high river flows. By July 29-30, tree limbs, sea grass and trash had reached Spa Creek by way of the Severn River and piled up on the waters of Annapolis Harbor. 

The City of Annapolis’s harbormasters worked hour after hour to clean up the disaster. Now the city is asking volunteers to help haul the mess out.  

“The debris took up almost the whole harbor this morning,” Annapolitan Joe LaScola told Bay Weekly. “But these guys are getting it done. 

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this in 40 years,” said LaScola, a daily visitor to City Dock. 

So, you’re ready to venture into downtown Annapolis. Maybe you’re out for a sunny stroll down Main Street. Maybe you and your friends fancy a night out on the town. Whatever your reason, there’s one thing weighing on your mind: parking.  

Many city-goers avoid parking garages in search of cheaper street parking. Starting this month, the city of Annapolis intends to make garages a sweeter option. 

Heading into town on a Sunday? The Whitmore Parking Garage, on the corner of Calvert and Clay streets, now has free parking every Sunday until 4pm. Later in the afternoon, you can park at Whitmore for just $2. Parking is free all weekend at the Calvert Street Garage, across from St. John’s College. If you’re driving into Annapolis after work during the week, you’ll find free parking after 6pm at the Calvert Street Garage.  

If you’re an Annapolis resident, you can now park for free for two hours at any city-owned parking garage. Pick up your parking pass at 60 West Street for the KnightonGotts and Hillman parking garages.

Way Downstream …

Folks in a fishing village on the Arabian Peninsula definitely had more reason than we did to complain about last week’s heat.

In the town of Quriyat in Oman, the mercury set a record, plunging to 108.7 degrees on the night of June 26, marking the hottest low temperature in recorded history. During the day, it was 121.6 degrees. Those recordings combined to give the town of 50,000 another record, the hottest 24-hour period ever.

The United States still holds the record for the highest temperature on record: 134.1 degrees, recorded on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, Calif., according to the World Meteorological Association.