Chesapeake Outdoors By C.D. Dollar

 Vol. 9, No. 45
November 8-14, 2001 
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She’s a Bay Champion

Anyone even remotely connected to the effort to protect the Patuxent River knows Mary Kilbourne, one of that river’s — the entire Bay, for that matter — true environmental champions. For more than 30 years, her volunteer spirit has infused such organizations as the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club. In fact, her devotion to conservation won her the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Conservationist of the Year award in 1999.

Recently, a group of us from Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s public affairs department benefited from Mary’s passion and wisdom as she helped lead an afternoon paddle up Mattaponi Creek, perhaps Patuxent River Parks’ ecological crown jewel. Add the presence of John Page Williams and his vast experience on the creek, and we had all of our queries answered about the comings and goings of the park’s flora and fauna.

The park is made up of more than 6,000 acres of marshes, swamp and woodlands. Along the footpaths, massive maples and beeches arch heavenward, holding soil and absorbing pollution. Amid the cordgrass and towering shoots of wild rice, some of which stand eight feet high, hundreds of waterfowl — black ducks, mallards, and green-and blue-wing teal — roost and feed. In spite of our best efforts to conceal our presence, our approach sent scores of ducks skyward in an impressive display of raw power and beauty.

As the largest river system completely in Maryland, the Patuxent River watershed drains about 900 miles of land in portions of seven counties: St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, Howard and Montgomery. Upstream from Jug Bay, the river feeds two large reservoirs that supply water for the Washington metro area.

Over past three decades, Mary has seen the impact of rapid development on places such as the Mattaponi, so her role in helping Prince George’s County develop a plan for growth and development for the next 20 years is both needed and timely.

Whether it’s helping grow oysters or speaking at a public hearing to fight unfettered growth, the more folks cut from the same cloth — working for the Bay — as Mary, the better our chances are to turn this struggle around.

Fish Are Biting
The strong winds moderated, allowing fishermen to take advantage of the good rockfish bite all over the Bay. Trolling big bucktails or chumming or jigging is producing reports of nice rockfish from Kathy at Bunky’s Charters in Solomons. Best bets are Cove Point, Point Patience and the Gas Plant. She also said that there are big stripers in the Patuxent River, a report echoed by several others in different rivers. Farther south, Rick Truett took some nice sea trout in Tangier Sound jigging Sting Silvers and feather jigs.

Fly- and light-tackle guide Richie Gaines reports that after the winds subsided, the fishing in Eastern Bay picked back up. Good numbers of rockfish are in both shallow and deep water. Richie recommends five-inch Bass Assassins rigged on one-ounce lead heads in colors of albino and chartreuse/silver glitter.

The Bay Bridges have several pods of breaking fish with weakfish on the fringes taking Bernie’s Bombers and feather jigs. The fish are mostly small, but occasional keepers are caught. Expect a crowd.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly