Volume XI, Issue 31 ~ July 31 - August 6, 2003

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

Leaping Amphibians!

Sweet corn is way late, I can’t get anyone to fix my septic system until the end of September, and the Bay’s water quality is so poor from lack of oxygen — a result of algae blooms caused by nitrogen pollution — that fish kills occur almost weekly with crabbers reporting dead crabs in pots. These are just a few of the results stemming from the wettest spring in memory.

Yet among the benefits from this infusion of rain is the population explosion of frogs in my yard. I can’t walk 10 feet without sending scurrying one of these amphibians, which range from as small as a dime to as large as a sweet onion.

I know I’m taking a risk making such an insightful deduction, but clearly the frogs have responded to the environmental conditions on the property, namely the small lakes that formed when the soil became saturated. For several months I needed shrimp boots just to make it to the shed.

Frogs — along with toads, salamanders and newts — are the most abundant amphibians in the Bay region. Worldwide, scientists have identified more than 4,000 species of frogs, and more are discovered each year, mostly in tropical zones. One of the more common frogs along Chesapeake Bay is the green frog. I’m pretty sure no unique species inhabit my yard.

Dating back to perhaps the Jurassic Period (about 206 million to 144 million years ago), frogs are what scientists call key bio-indicators, a fancy way of saying they indicate or predict the status of its ecosystem. So I guess I have a pretty healthy, or at least wet, yard.

Near as I can tell, I have two types of frogs taking up residence at my place: wood frogs and green frogs. The green frog is a medium-sized frog, measuring on average about three inches. The wood frog is, well, brownish, like wood, if you can imagine that.

Apparently, neither would be a match for the West African Goliath frog, which weighs in at more than seven pounds and can reach a length of 12 inches. The smallest frog known to date weighs barely one ounce and hails from Brazil.

So on those hateful days when I’m condemned to a weekend of long-neglected yard work, I’ll take those quick glimpses of amphibian chaos for diversion. It ain’t fishing, but for sure it beats yard work.

Fish Are Biting
Chummers have been doing fair to good, but consistency is another matter. According to DNR’s fishing report and local charter captains, north of Love Point, The Hill and The Gooses held keeper rockfish, although sub-legal fish also hold in the chum slicks.

Incidentally, several web chat rooms have been humming this summer with oftentimes heated discussions about the effects of nutrient-rich bunker oil on an already eutrophic Bay.

You can’t lose bottom fishing with grass shrimp and bloodworms for spot and white perch. Any of the region’s bars — Tolleys, Hacketts, Holland Point and Choptank Buoy #10 — hold fat fish.

Offshore the question remains: Where are the yellowfin tuna? A smattering of tuna and some wahoo have been taken in the canyons, but this does little good for us small boaters restricted to near-shore grounds.



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Last updated July 31, 2003 @ 2:45am