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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Learn to tie flies or fly-cast with this open-to-all club

The morning temperature was well below freezing on my home’s weather gauge as I grabbed my coat and fly boxes. It was way too cold and windy to be on the water, so we were headed for the next best thing: tying some flies and talking about fishing.     I was meeting a friend, Joe Demeo, at the Free State Fly Fishers Club, a winter haven for local fly-fishers. Anglers join the fly-tying sessions at the Davidsonville clubhouse to replenish their supply of fish-foolers while catching up and comparing notes.

Stuff their stocking with a good book or video

The dedicated outdoorsman or woman is, by definition, equipped. The few things such a person might lack are likely so specialized as to be a mystery to outdoors outsiders.     Books and movies, however, fall into a safe-gift zone. If you’re intent on pleasantly surprising an outdoors lover with your gift, the following suggestions might help.     Kayak Fishing (Sportsman’s Best www.Florida

Some days, everything’s wrong but the fish

It was cold on the Bay, colder than we wanted to endure. But it had been a long time since either of us had caught a rockfish. So there we were in mid-morning in my 17-foot skiff off the mouth of the Severn in about 35 feet of water with temperatures barely above freezing.     At least the winds were mild, as were the seas. But the skies were stalled in a dark overcast. I could feel the fingers of cold, damp air trying to creep under my expedition-weight fleece unders. Shivering, I tightened my foul-weather coat.

From perch to rock to sea trout — this lure will get them when others won’t

Temperatures were in the mid-50s, the tide was close to slack and a light wind was out of the southwest at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Hoping for a good score on the white perch that had been gathering there the last two weeks, we were armed with medium-weight jigging rods and two-ounce Bernie’s Bomber Rigs.     Marking a nice school, we dropped our lures down to the bottom some 45 feet below and started the yo-yo action that we hoped would draw some strikes from our favorite frying fish, wintertime white perch. We didn’t have long to wait.

Trap is a great diversion when it’s too cold to fish

Rising early, I looked out the window to check the tree line. Stiff winds had kept us in for days, and I was eager to get back on the water and after the big ocean-run stripers arriving of late. I lit up as I saw that the skyline was not just still but dead-still.     We even had an overcast. What could be more perfect? Then I glanced at the outside temperature. Thirty-eight degrees was a showstopper. There are places to visit in near-freezing weather, but the Chesapeake in a small open boat is not one of them.

November’s fish have fattened in the ocean

I cast the wriggling spot close to the bridge piling, leaving the reel out of gear with my thumb lightly pressing on the spool. As the spot swam toward the bottom I could feel it taking line. It paused and meandered, unafraid, following the tidal current away from the concrete structure.

Every rockfish is good; now and again, one is extraordinary

When I planted the skiff’s Power Pole anchor on the remains of an old submerged jetty wall that snaked well over a hundred yards out from the shoreline, my face was numb from the chilled air and the fast run. My electronic finder said the water was four feet deep under the keel. But just off the rocks, it would read closer to seven. Not too much farther away, the bottom fell to 20 feet.

Sweet success takes tuning

Easing my skiff up near a Bay Bridge support, I launched the lively Norfolk spot toward the sweet spot where the water eddied behind the down-current side of the concrete pier. I thumbed the spool, directing the baitfish to just the right place, inches from the support.     Stopping the spool just as the bait touched down, I released tension as the spot righted itself and jetted toward the bottom. My light thumb contact with the turning spool monitored the baitfish’s progress.

If a rock won’t bite, maybe a bluefish will

Moe and I imagined a fantastic day for rockfish. We had done well the previous afternoon with limits of bright, healthy stripers 26 to 28 inches. Hoping the pods would remain close to those same Bay Bridge structures overnight, we were back on the water early the next morning.

Almost 100 years ago, peolpe were astounded to find such large fish

When Lester Trott, 95 years old this year, was born in Annapolis, the capital city had scarcely 9,000 residents.     Les and his family, which included two older brothers, lived for a time in Eastport on Duvall’s Cove (or Well’s Cove), swimming in the clear waters of Spa Creek and trapping muskrats to sell their hides for pocket money. They netted big eight-inch-plus blue crabs — called channel crabs because of their size — that had molted and were hiding in the thick grass growing in the shallows in front of their house.