Volume XVII, Issue 28 # July 9 - July 15, 2009

Fish Are Biting

Fish Are Biting

The summer bite is in full swing and red hot. The mouth of the Chester burst back into flame last week with consistent limits of great rockfish and continues to do so. Gum Thickets and Podickery are also producing nice fish, as is Hackett’s. Stripers are finally holding around the Bay Bridge pilings, and there are also fish at Thomas Point and areas farther to the south. Breezy Point has had big schools of breaking rockfish to 28 inches.

Croaker are showing steadily from just north of the Bridge all the way south to Crisfield and Point Lookout. Bluefish to 20 inches have been smashing baits in the Eastern Bay and around the Thomas Point Light, plus showing up sporadically at Hackett’s. White perch are good at Podickery and the Belvedere Shoals. Charter boat skippers are beginning to call this summer the best in 20 years.

Bill Burton Celebrated

Our Chesapeake’s hero of the year

It was the best of times. The grizzled old-timer — wearing a navy-blue Seabees cap and a shy grin — was amazed. But his awe didn’t come from the many accolades lavished by the numerous speakers upon his long and illustrious career in journalism. Bill Burton was awed at all the people who had come to honor him.

Tuesday, June 30, Dick Franyo of Boatyard Bar and Grill and Joe Evans, editor of Proptalk magazine, held an Annapolis tribute to Burton as the Chesapeake’s hero of the year. It was a sellout crowd.

Recently inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association, Burton has had a rich and varied life. When asked that night in Annapolis how many friends he had made over the years in his career as a journalist and an outdoor sports writer, he said he would have guessed a lot.

But, he added, he had no idea so many as have come forward in recent weeks to celebrate his long writing career and his love for Maryland’s outdoors and Chesapeake Bay.

Officials from Maryland Department of Natural Resources were in attendance, as were outdoor journalists from The Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and Bay Weekly. Also prominent were some of the more famous of Chesapeake Bay’s charter boat skippers and fishing guides.

Senior officials of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, dedicated anglers and hunters, the owners of all the area’s outdoor sports stores and many other admirers crowded the Boatyard to overflowing to celebrate the night with Burton.

At the tribute, DNR officials thanked Burton for his unceasing efforts in conserving and promoting Maryland outdoors and Chesapeake Bay. In recognition and appreciation, the department recommended giving his name to the Choptank River Bridge fishing pier, a pier he had lobbied to create.

Stories were told throughout the evening of Burton’s exploits, of Burton guiding President George H.W. Bush on a fishing trip, of Burton’s affection for arcane tackle and custom fishing lures, of his beloved tobacco pipe (and its smell) and of his long and productive life.

For 37 years, Burton was the outdoor editor for The Baltimore Evening Sun, a career that earned him many awards and two Pulitzer Prize nominations. After retiring at 66, in the first wave of Sun buyouts, he began a second writing career, first as a columnist for Bay Weekly, which he joined in its early weeks 16 years ago. He later added duties as sports columnist for The Capital and Gazette newspapers while continuing to publish a number of outdoor annuals.

Between the crab cakes, chilled oysters, smoked bluefish and other delicious foods and beverages, Burton announced the sad news that at the age of 82 and after 61 years at a profession that was always a joy, it was time to slow down. He would no longer be writing his columns. Bill Burton was retiring from professional life

As the celebration wound down and the many tired revelers began taking their leave, I spoke with Burton about his plans for the future. “I’m not sure,” he replied. “But tomorrow morning I’m going fishing. DNR is holding another Diamond Jim release, you know.”

© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.