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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Four to improve sporting chances and pleasure

     I’m going to go way out on a limb this year to suggest some specific gifts for the sportsman/woman in your life. I realize it’s a dangerous direction, but this year there seem to be some real winners out there.

When the fish aren’t biting, raptors may be soaring

     The eagle appeared as if from nowhere. I had been casting lures fruitlessly for white perch, but it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was just the slightest of breezes and the temperatures were nicely bearable. Though there were no fish in my bucket, I grudgingly persevered.       Then for no reason, I looked up. Overhead soared a giant bird, its white head and tail contrasting with the dark feathers of its powerful body. A perch, roughly 14 inches, was clutched in its talons.
I used some shore time to find out
     Brisk winds had kept me ashore, so the fallback was our community clubhouse field with my trusty seven-foot medium-action rod and a hookless three-quarter-ounce surface plug. My purpose was to see what all the hoopla was with the new digitally controlled Shimano casting reel, the SLX DC 150 XG.       The letters DC refer to digital control. A tiny computer mechanism in its spool controls spin.

Enrich your Thanksgiving menu with fish, fowl and venison

     The tradition of Thanksgiving dinner was first attributed to the Plymouth Bay Colony in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. But the practice of a harvest or a thanksgiving dinner was widespread throughout the early colonies and especially around the Chesapeake.

A sad but necessary chore 

     Getting the boat ready for winter causes me emotional upheaval. It is not only a burden of hours but also an unwelcome recognition that one of my great avenues to peace and contentment will soon be closed off.       I’ve made my checklist, only to avoid it for weeks. Each item is a step closer to a kind of prison, so I’m not fond of any of the unavoidable tasks facing me.

This time of year, the biggest fish are usually the deepest fish

     It was near sunset by my watch, though that glowing orb appeared still a good distance above the skyline. The temperature, however, was plunging faster than my optimism. Hoping for an afternoon bite, I had been cruising my favorite spots at a river’s mouth, throwing first a surface plug then a soft jig. With no success at finding keepers, I was now chasing days-old rumors.

You’ve got to be on the water to get a bite

      We were running out of time. The sky was growing dim. Our baits and lures had long gone untouched. A few other boats floated listlessly, scattered widely, doing nothing, and our sonar screen had remained consistently empty of any promising marks below. Then Frank said the magic word: “Birds!”

Start now, or regret it later

     I was again planning for a great day. Winds were forecast out of the west at five mph, and temperatures were to be in the mid 60s. Couldn’t ask for a better picture.      By 10am it was still blowing 20 out of the north. The mercury hadn’t yet climbed out of the 50s. Another fishing fantasy started by a forecaster was ruined by the actual weather.

Always be prepared for cold ­weather on the Bay 

     For the unprepared, cold weather on the Bay can be dangerous, especially when temps begin dipping below the 50s. On the water, a chill is more unpleasant than almost anywhere else.
Diaper stripers far outnumber keepers
     Casting to breaking rockfish under birds in the main Bay is outstanding right now. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that open water is where you’ll find keepers.