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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

With the fun of fishing comes responsibility

Since we spend so much time on the Chesapeake, boating anglers have a particularly important responsibility in maintaining habits that promote a cleaner, healthier Bay. The foremost of those is avoiding polluting behavior in the first place. The single most effective action any angler can take is avoiding and discouraging the use of older, two-cycle outboard motors.

When trophy season for giant rockfish opens, it’s catch and keep them if you can

April 21 is the date some 300,000 anglers have been waiting for since the season closed more than four long months ago. That’s opening day of rockfish trophy season, when giant striped bass — ocean-running beasts some of which were born decades ago in the Chesapeake — return to their natal waters to spawn.

Hunters pay no new fees, but wildlife gets no new funding

Increased fees for hunting licenses and stamps died with the House Republican Caucus leading the fight to kill HP 1419 on March 26. The death was unexpected.     The first fee increases for hunting licenses and stamps in more than 20 years had been proposed by the Maryland Depart­ment of Natural Re­sources to counteract three forces: the long downward trend in hunting license revenues; a projected decline in federal matching monies; and the continued impact of a declining economy.

The Ides of March brings the year’s best fishing

It was just the slightest bit of resistance.     I was working my minnow-tipped Tony spoon deep across a wide section of the Upper Choptank when that hint of hesitation made me lift my rod tip. With the feeling of yet more resistance, I set the hook and was rewarded by a heavy surge at the end of the line on my ultra-light spinning rod.

If you love Maryland wildlife, thank a hunter

I expected rancor, high emotion and fireworks. Who wouldn’t complain, years into a recession, at being targeted for a substantial hike in fees?     What happened at last Saturday’s hunters’ roundtable was nothing of the kind.

Fortune favors the relentless

The fish were big and fat: two limits of golden-yellow perch that barely fit into a large bucket. What a haul! Beautiful, healthy fish, most over 12 inches and a few that exceeded 14. Unfortunately they weren’t ours.     Angling friend Ed Robinson and I spent the day chasing that gold and just missing it. Starting out fishing from the Millington shoreline on the perfect cusp of a flood tide beginning to fall, we were told we should have been there yesterday.

But proposed registration increases need tweaking

Fishing and boating on Chesapeake Bay are among Maryland’s great attractions. But you’ve got to pay to play.     The list of what needs doing is long and constant:

February is the grand finale of the rabbit hunter’s year

Charles Rodney was poised precariously atop a low pile of downed tree toppings, matted with honeysuckle and woven through by sharp briars. The bright orange of his hunting shirt and hat made him visible through the thick undergrowth. He held his shotgun safely off to the side, and stomped the brush pile, first with one foot, then the other.     “Come on Slim, find ’em. Copper! Here Copper, get over here. Jack, get back in here. Come on Lou, hunt ’em up. Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya!”

After 143 years, it’s time to win this battle

At long last, Maryland’s commercial oyster industry is about to come under control of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Comprehensive recommendations like these are the only way to save that great public natural resource.

Yellow perch are here

Daylight hours have been getting longer, yet most days, temperatures keep us in winter. But the yellow perch know that their springtime is here.     Moving now into the deeper water of the tributaries, they are forming large schools and staging. Yellow perch are the earliest fish to spawn in the Tidewater, and their run is the first trumpet sounding the Bay’s piscatorial spring.