Volume XI, Issue 26 ~ June 26-July 2, 2003

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Burton on the Bay | Chesapeake Outdoors | Sky Watch | Tidelog
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Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

Bad Water Makes for Tough Fishing

My 15-foot duck boat outran the fast-moving thunder boomer, but even at full throttle I couldn’t escape the sickly red water tinge — what watermen call bad water — that discolored the Chester River. Only when I fished the Honga River the following day did I see some semblance of clear water, and even then it was still turbid, which made for only decent fishing.

We’ve been in the throes of the wettest spring in decades, so it’s understandable that the Chester and other rivers are turbid. While it’s possible that the discoloration in the Chester could have been the result of numerous things, it had all the markings of an alga event. But even if it was mostly sediment run off, it would still be no less disappointing.

Fed by as many as 50 small creeks and streams, the Chester cuts a swath through Maryland’s upper Eastern Shore, carving through 60 miles of forest and farmland.

Like many of the Bay’s rivers, the Chester is a paradox. Scenic vistas line its banks, while huge numbers of waterfowl and numerous water birds flock to its farm fields and marshes. The Chester is also a migratory spawning and nursery water, attracting rockfish in the spring. But during the warm months, its waters are sick from polluted runoff.

Like most of the Bay’s major tributaries, the Chester River has been assigned water quality standards by the Chesapeake Bay Program, which recently drafted new benchmarks for the Bay and its tidal tributaries. The signatories of the Bay’s recovery blueprint, Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, have committed to a “complete public process to develop and begin implementation of revised Tributary Strategies to achieve and maintain the assigned loading goals.”

In short, these local plans detail how a tributary will protect water quality and restore damaged waters. Actions from planting forest buffers to upgrading sewage treatment plants are initiatives to slow the flow of nutrient and sediment loads that impair our waters. Development to the water’s edge also needs to be brought into check.

The big picture of regaining healthy water is both costly and complicated. But if you take a skiff ride or paddle one of the hundreds of the Bay’s waterways, you’ll agree it’s well worth the investment.

Find more information on the Maryland Tributary Strategies Program at the Tributary Strategies website: www.dnr.state.md.us/bay/tribstrat.

Fish Are Biting
What is that odd globe perched high in the sky? Maybe the Druids have it right, because the summer solstice brought out the sun for the first time in 57 years.

Bait fishing appears to be the name of the game, with less than ideal water clarity. White perch and croaker remain the most dependable bets for taking home a meal. Peeler crab, grass shrimp and bloodworms are no-brainers for bait, and nearly any hard-bottom oyster reef, rock or drop off-hold hardheads.

If you’re after rockfish, follow the chumming fleets to Love Point or the Gooses, or even as far south as Buoy 72. Most are not big fish, and there are plenty of undersized fish mixed with the keepers.

On Virginia waters, big cobias are either being landed or released for citation, including a 100-plus pounder that broke the state record last week.



© COPYRIGHT 2003 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last updated June 26, 2003 @ 1:19am