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Winter’s Coming Attractions

Plenty to do until you can get back on the water

     As our new year begins, opening day of trophy rockfish season, April 21, 2018, is a little over 100 days away. That opener is almost a week later this year than last (by regulation the third Saturday in April), meaning a bit of extra protection for the big spawners, which is a good thing. Last season’s Young of Year rockfish count was above average for the second year in a row, a great harbinger for better fishing throughout the Chesapeake.
     More good news: with the winter solstice behind us, the subsequent passage of each new day brings additional sunshine. Even so, recent sub-freezing temperatures will do nothing to speed up the spring yellow perch run, which usually begins this month. But it’s coming. 
     In the meantime, the Department of Natural Resources’ January Outdoor Activities Calendar exhausted me with all its events.
     The first week alone includes well over a dozen walks, hikes, birding events, yoga and stretching activities, plus Earth talks, art projects and even dancing (tap and clogging). At http://dnr.maryland.gov, click on Calendar.
     If you’re a sweet-water trout angler, you’ll find on the fisheries website the stocking schedules for 2018. Or dial 800-688-3467 (select Option 1) for the weekly update. 
     There are always some fishing shows this time of year. The Seventh Annual MSSA Fishing Expo January 13 at the Frederick County Fairgrounds is a great venue for catching up on the latest tackle and schmoozing with fishing guides. (Contact Rob: 301-606-0392.)
     January 20 the Maryland Chapter of Heroes on the Water, a kayaking group that provides angling experiences for veterans and first responders, takes its annual Benefit Tackle Show to Odenton. Look for good deals on equipment for a great cause. Donations of tackle and gear for heroes are welcome. (Contact Tom: 443-306-7306).
    January 25 to 28 brings the annual Baltimore Boat Show at Baltimore Convention Center (https://baltimoreboatshow.com). 
    January 27 and 28 is the Kent Island Fishermen’s 7th Annual Fishing Flea Market and Tackle Show in Stevensville: www.reeldraggintackle.com.
     All month long, you can find sales at most sporting good stores and virtually all boat and tackle websites.
    Start getting ready now. It’ll be warm again sooner than you think.
 
Fish Finder
      Especially low temperatures have curtailed wintertime fishing. When more comfortable temps resume, so will angling for early yellow perch, mid-winter crappie and the ever-reliable cold-weather pickerel.
 
Hunting Seasons
Whitetail and Sika deer:
firearms: Jan. 5-7; bow Jan. 8-31
Sea duck: thru Jan. 12
Duck: thru Jan. 27
Ruffed grouse: thru Jan. 31
Canada goose: thru Feb. 3
Snow goose: thru Feb. 3
Rabbit: thru Feb. 28
Squirrel: thru Feb. 28
http://dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide/Documents/Hunting_Seasons_Calendar.pdf