view counter

Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

The season ended December 15. No more keepers until April.

Tic, tic, tic: I could feel my two-ounce bucktail jig bouncing lightly across the remnants of the centuries-old oyster bed some 70 feet below. On this windy, mid-December day, even with gloves my hands were aching cold and my fingers growing numb. Then, finally, something below felt different, and I slammed my rod back hard. The tip arced over, hesitated, and my whole rod was pulled down, almost to the gunnel. The drag started to hiss. Fish on!

Bringing home the fish on a captain’s holiday

With winter approaching and their businesses winding down, Chesapeake fishing guides Frank Tuma and Tom Hughes finally had a few days off. Of course they decided to go fishing, and they invited me and my friend Maurice Klein to join them.     Cruising down from the Magothy in Frank’s 29-foot C Hawk Downtime, we reached the Bay Bridge at 11am. It was fantastic weather for early December, light winds, 60 degrees, bright and sunny with a nice running, outgoing tide.

It’s time for the big guys

They started to arrive late last week. First you saw a few 38- and 40-inch rockfish in angler’s boat boxes. Then the really big guys appeared, up to 47 inches so far. The ocean-run migratory fish have reached the mid-Bay, and they are awesome.     Falling mainly to anglers trolling big lures deep, at 40 to 60 feet, the monsters are providing lots of thrills after we’ve been struggling the last several weeks to get fish over 18 inches. It’s a welcome change.

Even this time of year, you might find a rockfish. Or two.

The temperatures were actually mild the other day. Rain and wind were forecast as an all-day certainty, but I kept a close eye on the weather. Late that afternoon, sure enough, the stiff breeze lay down. With no looming sign of rain from the heavy cloud cover, I hooked up my trailered skiff and headed for the Bay. My heart was set on a fresh rockfish dinner.

Joseph Capozzolli is one of a new species of Chesapeake waterman

A few hardy souls on the Chesapeake still fish to live.    

I can’t resist South Dakota’s 7 million pheasants

We hadn’t gotten a dozen yards into the thick growth bordering the harvested cornfield when the first rooster burst out — behind me. I whirled, shouldering my model 12 Winchester (circa 1929), swung through the bird and fired. The ringneck dropped like a stone.

Spotted sea trout don’t frequent our neck of the Bay, so you want to get out there when they do

I was wade-fishing off Thomas Point Park when the fish hit my Clouser fly. Casting the weighted streamer around a boulder-strewn area in about four feet of water, I felt the take, and right away I knew it was not a rockfish.

Was this year’s good news because of — or in spite of — our fishery practices?

The Young of Year Survey for striped bass spawning success in the Chesapeake Bay for 2011 is a whopping 34.6, the fourth highest on record since the Department of Natural Resources began this statistical measurement 58 years ago. Since our resident rockfish population has declined by approximately 30 percent over the last decade, this is great news indeed.

How to get your fair share when fish and birds are feeding

It had started as a brisk, calm morning, but the fish weren’t in the shallows where I had hoped to find them. After a futile hour, I followed Plan B to the Bay Bridge to find only little guys there. I was calling it a day and heading in when I saw a wisp of smoke to the north.

When conditions are rough, the catch is all the sweeter

The 20-knot northerly wind was supposed to have laid down by dawn. Of course it didn’t. Mike and I nonetheless launched at first light and, despite the snotty weather, were soon anchored off one of the western-side Bay Bridge supports and tossing chunks of weighted soft crab back into the structure.     My skiff was rocking and rolling, but we were determined. Our battle plan had morphed into simply getting four legal stripers as quickly as possible, then heading home.