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Regulars (Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle)

Head to a new place, and the fishing gets better

It was in the middle of the week and we had our Norfolk spot for live lining caught by 7am. Jumping up on plane, we headed toward the Bay Bridge. It was already too late. The concrete supports where we had had such great luck a day earlier had two skiffs anchored at each, and our third and fourth choices were being eyeballed by a couple of approaching charter boats.
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Perhaps the most exciting and demanding of the angler’s art

It was minutes short of sundown. The shadows were getting long, blending into a solid blackness along the nearby shoreline that hinted of the night about to fall. My casts were tempting the fates as they landed just off the edge of the riprap where I hoped a striper was lurking. Another foot or so and I would foul the top-water plug among the rocks. In water this skinny, I would have to break it off.

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Cracking crabs speaks volumes

The water was 90 degrees, murky with algae and the skies overcast. We all peered intently at the barely visible trotline gliding through the water next to our skiff. One chicken neck bait after another appeared, slid over the roller and went back down. But there was no mistaking the first blue crab to appear. That jimmie was seven inches across.
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To catch in this heat, you’ve got to fish early or fish lucky

My alarm clock sounded at 4:30am. Shutting it off, I took a deep breath and laid my head back for just a second to collect my thoughts. If the cat hadn’t knocked its dish off the table downstairs two hours later, I probably would have slept on until noon.
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… A white perch will do. If you can’t catch either, God bless you.

Setting up just north of the Sandy Point Light in 40 feet of water, our chum bag was soaking deep on its weighted line, and we were waiting for the rockfish to start to eat.
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Biltong is a South African ­alternative to freezing

Over the last few years, I have generally kept only those rockfish that my family and I could immediately eat, either giving away or releasing any extras landed. This season, however, the bite has been so good for so long and the fish so delicious that my policy has changed.
    By trial and error, I’ve developed two favorite ways to preserve this great fish.
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It’s the dawn bite that pays off this time of year

July is here, and with it the heat waves that inevitably mark summer on the Chesapeake. Ninety-plus degrees with a blazing-hot sun will slow the fish. Even if it ­doesn’t, that sun can make being on the water after high noon uncomfortable if not unhealthy.
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Extremely powerful for short distances, rockfish run out fast

We waited patiently for the tide to turn. It took longer than the current charts predicted, but our wait was worthwhile. The boat swung a bit more earnestly at anchor. Then a rod tip began to dance.
    The first slight tickle turned into more pronounced tugs as something below mouthed the chunk of menhaden. I gently retrieved my rod from its holder, slipped off the clicker to reduce line resistance and lightly thumbed the spool.

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I hunted 14 species of game birds; a lion hunted me

When a herd of zebras loomed up in the sweep of our headlights, I began to believe I was in Africa.
    As we’d landed at Johannesburg Airport after dark and loaded up for the two-hour drive to our lodge at Kroonstad, those zebra were my first sight of the wild Africa I’d come for.
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Croaker in the cooler makes for good eating at the table

My young sons were doing their best to emulate my actions as we drifted bloodworms over a hard shell bottom in a gently moving tide that June evening. My one-ounce sinker sent a tic-tic-tic flicking up the line on my light casting outfit. The rod tip was twitching right in rhythm.
    Harrison’s rod suddenly arched. He struggled to keep the rod from being pulled over the side while avoiding the hard gunnel.

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