Volume XI, Issue 45 ~ November 6-12, 2003

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Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

A Whirl with Indian Summer

Crazy yellows splashed against the cobalt backdrop and the air lavished generous wisps of warmth across my cheek. Was I dreaming? Did the seasons revolt and change order, giving us yet another reminder that nature indeed ruled supreme? It was, after all, November, yet the climate spoke of May or June, September perhaps, a time when pleasant weather showers Chesapeake Country with affection.

But I have to say that even smack in the middle of a veritable heat wave in November, I didn’t think of the moment as Indian summer. I was too busy asking a rockfish no bigger than a pencil what business it had striking a lure its equal. The interruption of fall’s freefall to winter has made the breaking fish less frenzied, but they’re still hitting. In-shore action still has its moments; in fact, you can still pull a nice rockfish from the shallows. The duck season has been slightly stunted, but we’ve got time for that later.

Once off the water, the Indian summer we’ve been experiencing kept me thinking. A little research on the web revealed that Keith C. Heidorn, Ph.D., author of The Weather Doctor’s Weather Almanac, believes “there are no established criteria for what constitutes an Indian summer situation, and of course, the criteria that are generally accepted will vary from locale to locale.”

For our edification, however, he offers these broad parameters for Indian summer: previous hard frost; mostly clear skies and local fog at night and inland; no precipitation; light winds and generally calm nights; daytime maximum temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees with nighttime minimum temperatures between 35 and 48; these conditions lasting for at least three days.

For many people, this writer among them, Indian summer is as much a state of mind as it is meteorological event. It’s a parting gift from summer, a forget-me-not to tame autumn’s chill. Enjoy the diversion, yet know that our seasons will change.

Fish Are Biting
Boy, are they ever. Many charter boats now trolling to target bigger fish leaving the rivers are deploying springtime trolling patterns to try and catch the ocean-run fish that have arrived in our waters. Fred of the Rod ’n’ Reel in Chesapeake Beach says that most of the fleet either is fishing up the Choptank for 24- to 32-inchers exiting the rivers or is working the channel edges for the behemoths.

Charter captain Mark Galasso has had good success jigging rockfish up to 30 inches along the channel edges north of the bridge. Fly fishermen and other light tackle enthusiasts are still catching scores of breaking fish, but the ratio of keeper fish to undersized rock, at least in the Eastern Bay and Chester River, is not favorable. As of last week, some recreational anglers are still chumming on the lumps near Baltimore Light and Podickory Point. The big question for this angler is where are the weakfish? I’d love to know the answer to that one, since I haven’t caught one or heard about one being caught in nearly a month.

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Last updated November 6, 2003 @ 2:07am.