Volume 12, Issue 19 ~ May 6-12, 2004
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Chesapeake Outdoors
by C.D. Dollar

Cure Your Spring Fever at a State Park
I don’t know much, but I know this: It’s time to go camping, no doubt about it. Now the only question remaining is where. Seaside or mountains? Secluded river or open Bay? Natural choices abound in Chesapeake Country, making it vastly appealing to sportsmen and women.

To wit: Last week, we caught rockfish in the morning and shad in the afternoon. I suggested we make the three-hour drive to the ocean to go after tautag, but I couldn’t get the fellas I was fishing with to bite on that one.

If you’re a water dog like me, then you’ll find your rewards in the many state parks. To hear the roar of the Atlantic Ocean, travel outside the Chesapeake watershed to Assateague State Park, Maryland’s only ocean park. Ten years ago, this wondrous barrier island was chosen by National Geographic Travel magazine as one of the 10 best state parks in the United States, and for good reason.

Assateague Island, sandwiched by the Atlantic and Sinepuxent Bay, is well suited for active campers. In season, the two miles of ocean beaches offer swimming, beachcombing, sunbathing, surfing and fishing. Shorebirds, deer and wild horses are a few of the wild residents.

If you want to stay on the Bay, try Janes Island State Park near Crisfield, Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County or Point Lookout State Park at the mouth of the Potomac River. I think the open waters around Janes Island can be more suited to larger skiffs 18- to 22-foot range, but smaller creeks in the park and nearby waters, such as the upper Manokin River, are ideal for kayakers and canoeists.

Point Lookout State Park, in historic St. Mary’s County, offers numerous recreational opportunities on this picturesque peninsula. Boating, swimming, fishing and biking are popular pursuits. The area is steeped in Civil War lore. During the War Between the States, as many as 20,110 Confederate soldiers were once confined within these now peaceful surroundings. Local Amish and Mennonite communities add to the area’s appeal.

Head north up the Bay, and you’ll find Elk Neck State Park on a peninsula of sandy beaches, marshlands and heavily wooded bluffs. Jutting out 300 feet above the Bay, Elk Neck’s topography is markedly different from most of the Delmarva Peninsula. Elk Neck offers several trails that meander through diverse woodlands, revealing plant and animal life. Biking is a definite option, as are fishing and boating. White perch, crappie, catfish and largemouth bass are several of the options for anglers.

So make the hard choice and get camping.

Fish Are Biting
Marty Gary tells me that DNR field biologists believe the rockfish spawn is about 95 percent done. As you’d expect, trophy catches should drop off by week’s end.

May’s first weekend tournaments proved that rock were plentiful at least through the weekend. Heather from Rod ’n’ Reel tells me Capt. Bobby Brown’s Predator took top honors in that marina’s tournament, weighing in a 46.38-pound rockfish. At the Bay Bridge Marina in Stevensville, After School beat a field of 245 boats to win the Boater’s World Marine Centers Third Annual Stars & Stripers Classic with a 41.82-pound rockfish. The captain and crew also take home a $60,000 Fountain boat.

Trolling aboard the Jil Carrie with Capt. Jim Brincefield, Trooper Barbara Shingleton of the Maryland State Police Aviation Division caught a 42-inch, 30-pound monster rockfish on Monday, May 3. Capt. Jim wrote to say the beast struck at David Conley’s custom six-ounce chartreuse Terminator parachute.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last updated May 5, 2004 @ 11:30am.