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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Link up with the chain pickerel

Fishing the Tidewater this early is an exercise in hope, humility and discomfort. These are times of unpleasant wind and bone-chilling temperatures. But for the determined angler, there can also be moments of heady triumph and the first real excitement of the season — not to mention a tasty fish dinner.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources deserves to add Protection to its name

The relentless headlines the past week have told the first part of the story. Ten tons of rockfish, most of them 27 to 28 inches, were discovered in just three illegal gill nets set in waters south of Tilghman Island. That’s two thousand or more fish. Braving frigid weather and using simple grappling hooks dragged on long lines in the depths of the Chesapeake, Natural Resources Police finally gave credence to persistent rumors of significant commercial gill net poaching.

Hunting with beagles on the Eastern Shore

Tense silence had settled over the tangled, wooded, bottomland. Then in the distance, Copper’s deep-throated bawl once again rolled across the frozen terrain as he re-located the rabbit’s trail.  A second later, he bayed again. Then Slim’s throaty cry affirmed the scent strike, and with that Jack, Lou and Rocky joined up and threw their rich voices into the effort. Our gang of beagles was in full cry. The chase was on again.

My mouth is watering as I plan for an early spring run1

This part of the year, trapped indoors by bad weather, always gets me to musing on better times — like last spring, when there was no better time in memory for getting the blues. I’m talking about Chesapeake Bay blue crabs of course, not the mournful variety.  I had steeled myself in 2010 not to expect anything happening crabwise until maybe mid-June, and perhaps not much even then. So I was astounded when a friend keyed me in to a red-hot run starting in mid-May. 

Stay warm with fishing shows and movie nights

This winter has been especially difficult, with record low temperatures in Maryland for the last several weeks. The long-range forecast into late January says we can expect that trend to continue. Past seasons, I have usually been able to get in a couple of days on nearby tributaries for pickerel and maybe a day or two out on the Bay for deep water white perch.

Good — and sometimes great — fishing in a cleaner Bay

One of America’s wryest philosophers, Yogi Berra, once noted that predictions were difficult to make, especially about the future. Despite his sage warning, I feel compelled to make some Tidewater prophecies for the New Year. 

Over winter, the most innocuous fouling turns into hardened deposits

This year Old Man Winter arrived with an especially frigid blast. Closing the rockfish season almost two weeks early for most of us, the 20-degree nighttime temperatures have since turned our tributaries to ice, denying even pickerel anglers their bitter weather pleasures.  

A few ideas sure to please

Buying a special holiday present for an avid angler, hunter, canoeist or kayaker is fraught with difficulty. Most dedicated sportsmen and women already have the gear they need. Those who don’t have definite ideas of what they want — but it is almost impossible to divine just what. However, there are a few things this holiday season that can be counted on to give special joy to just about anyone who’s outdoor obsessed.  

And spring 2011 is just around the corner

Sub-freezing temperatures and lots of winter wind guarantee that you won’t find me fishing Bay waters the rest of this month, at least not in my meager skiff. The dismal weather appears to have sealed my angling fate for the remainder of the season, but I have memories to keep me warm over the winter.  

Adrenaline warms up the last days of rockfishing

  The chill was familiar for this time of year, damp and penetrating. A soft gloom had settled over the water with the arrival of some heavy cloud cover, and I noticed that the tidal current running against a fresh wind had just added an eager chop to the mix.