It’s Big and Beautiful Out There
Here’s how to avail yourself of it
July has the best weather of the summertime on the Chesapeake Bay. The days are hot, but not too hot. The winds are generally calm, and our waters are comfortable.
The fishing is great, the crabbing better and boating (as long as you don’t need a stiff, reliable breeze) is superb. There is only one fly in the ointment: The crowds are intense around the mid-Bay.
A weekend in the month of July can be an exercise in frustration if you’re looking for some solitary pleasure on the water. But there are ways a sporting person can succeed in the quest for a little seclusion.
The easiest way is to head south. The vast shoreline of the Chesapeake is still uncongested in that direction, particularly on the Eastern Shore side. But both sides of the Bay have their charms.
By traveling in the off hours (very early and late, you will miss the beach traffic that chokes the highways this time of year on the Chesapeake’s East bank. On the Western side, that is not a problem.
And you don’t have to go far to shed your claustrophobia. An hour past the Bay Bridge on either shore will put you in the wide open spaces.
A primary source of inspiration for a specific area, particularly if you have access to a small craft such as a canoe, kayak or other small craft, is the Guide to Maryland Boat Ramps and Piers. It lists well over 200 sites where your skiff may be launched throughout the state.
If you don’t have a boat, or just wish to travel light, keep in mind that public ramps and piers generally have fishing and crabbing access as well.
Another excellent resource for planning a getaway is the Maryland Guide to Freshwater Fishing. There are hundreds of sites identified for the sweet-water angler, most in sparsely occupied areas. But you really don’t have to be an angler to enjoy many of these places. They are also prime areas for observing wildlife.
Water birds, turtles, colorful insects, muskrats and other wildlife abound near freshwater areas, and if you’re quiet and unobtrusive you may enjoy their company.
Both of these publications are available free from the Department of Natural Resources at the Tawes State Office Building on Taylor Avenue, or simply by calling the Fisheries Service at 410-260-8265 or 800-688-3467.
Another superb resource for the sportsperson and the naturalist seeking seclusion is John Page Williams’ book Exploring the Chesapeake in Small Boats. Approaching the Bay as an endless opportunity for discovery, Williams gives a thorough dissertation on what is available in our incredible watershed and just how to go about availing yourself of it, especially in the less crowded areas.
If you’ve got an explorer’s bent, Williams’ just-released publication Chesapeake: Exploring the Water Trail of Captain John Smith retraces a route traveled by John Smith 400 years ago in the first European exploration of the Chesapeake.
Looking at the extensive journey with the eye of a veteran naturalist, Williams suggests that experience is something many may want to emulate. All of his books are available at area bookstores, as well as Amazon.com.
Then for the particularly dedicated angler who has a desire to go adventuring in new and lightly inhabited directions, Rudow’s Guide to Fishing the Chesapeake has a wealth of current data on just where to go to avoid the crowds. Containing more essential information than most could gather in a number of lifetimes, this valuable book can lead you to what you want to catch and the best place to catch it. Published last year, this is a book I highly recommend. It’s one of the best ever published on the Chesapeake from the angler’s perspective and available at most local bookstores or online at www.getgup.com.