Volume XI, Issue 8 ~ February 20-26, 2003

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Chesapeake Outdoors by C.D. Dollar

Beating Back the Winter Blues

Somewhere, someone is fighting a fish at the end of his or her fishing rod, but it sure isn’t around here. I walk outside and look up at the snow resting on the needles of the white pines and the unrelenting deluge of snow piling up at my doorstep. I don’t have to listen to the weather experts to know a huge snowstorm — perhaps one of the worst, or best, in state history — is socking it to us.

By Presidents’ Day it’s confirmed: Chesapeake Country has experienced one of the strongest snowstorms ever to hit around here. If one more New England or Midwestern transplant says, ‘You call that snow?’ I’ll scream.

The Presidents’ Day weekend storm pounded the region, closing airports and shutting down cities. Gov. Robert Ehrlich forbade vehicular traffic except for essential vehicles. But apparently snow revelers didn’t get the word. Or folks had their own definition of “essential,” considering the various vehicles racing around in the snow.

In recent winters, it has been mild enough to fish area rivers for pickerel. This year, several bone-numbing cold snaps locked up the creeks, rivers and even the main stem of the Bay, keeping it tight for days, sometimes weeks, on end. So what’s an angler who isn’t an ice fisherman to do? Head south to the Gulf states or Bahamas or Florida, of course. But even the Sunshine State has had more than its share of wintry mix.

Boat and tackle shows to check out new gear help pass the time, and regular equipment maintenance is a key chore that also whiles away time. Tying plenty of standard flies as well as creating your own variations is an excellent antidote for the winter blahs — as is the occasional foray to the local tavern.

Another winter blues-beater is to ask friends and acquaintances the proverbial fishing question, what’s your favorite lure? I follow that question up with five tools essential to fishing success. My survey is about as non-scientific as you can get, evidenced by the fact that, according to my respondents, one of the most essential tools is beer. I might want to try another set of participants.

Other key pieces of equipment were landing net, cooler with ice and Leatherman-type multi-tool. Binoculars and cast net also earned a mention.

The most popular lures, not surprisingly, were bucktails and such soft plastics as Fin-S and Bass Assassin in variations of chartreuse and white.

Depending on the health of my wallet at the time, my choice for minimalist Bay fishing would be a St. Croix Ultra Legend 8-weight fly rod with Scientific Angler Systems 2 8/9 reel. If I were flush with cash, top choice would be a Sage RPLX-i 8-weight (or G-Loomis equivalent) with a Tibor reel. My line choice is an intermediate line, Monoclear, by Wulff. The fly choice is a white-and-olive or -chartreuse Half-n-Half or one of Joe Bruce’s Clouser concoctions.

For spin gear, it has to be a PENN Spinfisher 4500SS reel on a Tidemaster St. Croix rod. Using a 24-inch section of fluorocarbon leader, I’d tie on a ChugBug rattling plug and chuck it along shoreline or in grassbeds until my arm fell off. My essential tools would include a Leatherman, polarized sunglasses (by Kaenon or Costa Del Mar), handkerchief, cooler and a hat.

When does the airport reopen and that last flight to the Bahamas take off?



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Last updated February 20, 2003 @ 2:13am