view counter

Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Freak warm days may be too good to be true

      From the front window, I saw the trees about my house were finally still. The sun was shining at last, the forecast was for 60 degrees and one more day on the water suddenly looked possible. After all, rockfish season was still open.

Isn’t it time for a strategy change?

      It was with grim amusement that I read the recent headline, “Bay oyster population cut in half from 1999.” A keystone natural resource crustacean that was once both numerous and largely responsible for a Bay water clarity approaching 30 feet is continuing its torturous decline. Could it finally be time for a radical shift in our resource management policy?

Rockfish and crab can do wonders 

      Once traditional Thanksgiving Dinner is over, there are leftovers to consider. Of course turkey sandwiches with or without stuffing are part of the post-holiday tradition. But have you thought of these other worthy alternatives?   Rockfish Cakes

Clean up, clear out, stock up

     Yes, there’s fatality in the air. We all know the season is winding down. The bite is hot right now, and there will still be a few good days. But the traditional weather this time of year is increasingly cold with wind and rain followed by more rain, then more wind. Then the holidays will be on us, so it’s not too early to begin tidying up.

My gradual approach keeps the door open for late excursions

      Preparing your boat for winter should be the last item on this year’s to-do list. The many mistakes I’ve made over my 65 years should qualify me as experienced if not expert. One of my frequent mistakes is to refuse to admit the season is over.       Because of this, I’ve adopted a gradual wintering schedule over the course of a month or more, prioritizing chores in such a way that any sudden boating re-activation will not set the schedule back to zero.

Even when the fish don’t bite, energy runs thru it

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing." –Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It           I eased off of the deserted beach at early morn and made my way carefully toward deeper water. There were sunken tree limbs, water-logged and partially buried, scattered across the bottom, and I had to be careful not to stumble on them.

Feeder fish are faring well, not so much for baitfish

      This year’s Juvenile Striped Bass Survey (Young-of-Year) looks good. Overall, 33,000 fish of 12 species were netted in the extensive survey. The 1,741 stripers among them were a welcome relief, as six of the last 10 spawns have been below average for our favorite sport and eating fish.

Angling early and late takes quiet self-control

      Darkness was closing in, and I had almost exhausted my repertoire of lures and presentations. Surface lures and swimmers had drawn no attention. My last resort for this location was a fresh-water bass rig, a dark-hued but sparkly anise-scented Bass Assassin, rigged snag-less with a lightly weighted (1⁄8-ounce) hook and its point buried just under the surface of the soft plastic body.

Time to fill your freezer

      Long before the Colorado Rockies baseball team trademarked the term Rocktober, Chesapeake anglers used the clever moniker to describe the fall rockfish feeding frenzy on the Bay. Rocktober is prime time to put some fish in the freezer for the long winter ahead.

Try tricks for lure handling

       My memory of that event is as painful as an abscessed tooth. Just this time of year, a bit later in the morning than is best for top-water, my last stop was unusual. It offered no real underwater structure other than a nearby inlet to a tidal pond. But I knew from experience that rockfish would sometimes cruise the length of the shoreline looking for shrimp and minnows pulled out of the pond by the falling tide.