Volume XI, Issue 49 ~ December 4-10, 2003

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Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

No Black Friday in My Neck of the Woods

Over the holiday week, I must have logged hundreds of miles driving and boating to wild spots in Chesapeake Country chasing geese, ducks, and rockfish — with varying degrees of success.

One day I was with friends on the Choptank hunting ducks, another fishing around Hoopers Island. The wild marshes near Fishing Bay were fun. This veritable cornucopia of outdoor pursuits was capped, although not chronologically, with a pre-Thanksgiving Day tradition, as the brothers Colbeck used their considerable skills to lure several flocks of geese to a Southern Anne Arundel County farm so several of us could take a holiday bird.

One place I made sure I wasn’t anywhere close to the day after Thanksgiving was the mall. I don’t care if the goods were marked down 90 percent; you’d never find me standing in some line just to get jostled (or trampled like that poor woman in Florida!) by the hordes of shoppers looking to fill their voracious consumptive appetites.

Apparently, mobs of folks much prefer these glass-and-concrete jungles with their fake air and flora to a walk on a beach, a long hike or taking to the woods to bag a deer. The new breed of holiday hunter scours the landscape for bargains at outlet malls and shops. I just don’t get it.

I’m trying to figure out where I was when they anointed the day after Turkey Day Black Friday. My history lessons recall Black Tuesday, which fell on October 29, 1929, the watermark of the country’s lowest economic turmoil when the rich became poor and the country plunged into the Great Depression. Nearly six decades later Black Monday struck, but I missed that, too, just trying to get through college.

They say you can’t stop progress, and gate-receipts from holiday shoppers are, according to some, a good indicator of the health of a society. Well, maybe that’s right and maybe it’s not, but I can sure refuse to get in line and speed it along.

Fish Aren’t Biting
What a difference a week makes. As if some ill-tempered magician has waved a wand over our section of the Bay and Poof! the rockfish seem to have vanished. Gale-like winds that kept many boats at the dock, colder temperatures and exodus of bait likely contributed to rockfish’s departure.

The bite in the Upper Bay has diminished overall, and those boats still fishing are trolling or jigging the Stone Pile for the occasional keeper. Rob from Anglers says he’s heard little of his customers scoring on rockfish, but he says deer hunters are doing well.

The same pattern of diminished rockfish catches holds true in slightly more southern waters. As Fred from Rod ’n’ Reel says, it’s tough in recent days.

Still, the hardiest of anglers may get into some fish if they put in their time. DNR’s Keith Lockwood reports William M. Boone of Baltimore went trolling with Capt. Jim Brincefield at Buoy 72 the day after Thanksgiving and caught a whopper rockfish. The beast measured 42 inches long with a 24-inch girth and took a custom chartreuse Sparkle Marvel parachute made by JJ’s Tackle. Boone’s catch earned him a DNR Citation.

Across the line into the Commonwealth, I heard a different tune. Capt. Bill Mershon, who fishes out of the York River, said it was gangbusters for big rockfish (average 36 inches) taken on big trolling lures. He told me his son’s charter had a total of 88 fish, including several quintuple hook-ups! I know where I’m heading in coming weekends.

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Last updated December 4, 2003 @ 1:35am.