Chesapeake Bay's Independent Newspaper ~ Since 1993
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Volume xviii, Issue 6 ~ February 11 - February 17, 2010

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Fish Are Biting

The yellow perch run is poised to start in earnest. Use minnows and grass shrimp on spoons and shad darts, in the shallow headwaters of our tributaries, is the way to catch this first fish of the season. Use good sense and release unspawned females. We are still in the process of rebuilding our yellow perch populations. White perch remain schooled in deep water around the main Bay and are taking small jigs and bloodworms on the bottom.

In Season

The Special Snow Goose Conservation Season is underway and will run to April 17. Small game season for squirrel and rabbit runs to the end of February, quail until February 15.

Poachers’ Licenses Suspended

Two more commercial fisherman have had their oysters licenses suspended for the rest of the season for multiple poaching violations. This is the second time Maryland Department of Natural Resources has used this approach to emphasize the state’s intention to protect the Bay’s dwindling resources. One of the watermen had a record of over 30 commercial fishing, crabbing and oystering violations over the last few years and hadn’t bothered to show up for his most recent court dates.

Natural Resources Police are to be commended for their efforts to protect the Bay’s resources while struggling with budget cuts and manpower shortages. It is good to see our elected officials finally doing something about their pledges to protect the Chesapeake. It would make their position even more credible if the state permanently revokes the licenses of flagrant and repeat offenders.

What to Do While We Wait?

Read that snow pile of books

My first New Year’s Resolution was to get in at least a half-dozen fishing trips within the first six weeks of the new year. On January 1, I purchased my 2010 fishing license, registered for the new saltwater anglers registry with NOAA and began to prep my boat.

Now my boat is buried under our record snowfall, as are my hopes.

This Fisherman’s Library

Reading has always been my best source of entertainment and inspiration at the same time, especially during long periods of forced inactivity. When the snow got deeper than my dog is tall, I started building a pile of books on my worktable. I have started out my reading with what I consider one of the classics of the Tidewater.

Chesapeake Almanac by John Page Williams is essential to any quest for perspective on the unfolding of our springtime. The information contained in this treatise on the rhythms of the Bay is thorough, science-based and written by a man who has dedicated his life to understanding and sharing the complexity and beauty of our home waters, the largest estuary of the North American continent.

Next on a pile that I have built up for inspiration as well as information is Russell Chatham’s Dark Waters, especially the story “Shad: Rats.” It is a great celebration of one of the first fish that returns from the ocean in early spring to spawn in our Chesapeake headwaters. Oddly, Chatham is a Montana landscape painter, so Dark Waters is written from a westerner’s perspective.

If you’re really a shad fanatic, you’ll want to read The Founding Fish by John McPhee. You’ll not regret diving into this thoroughly well-written and exhaustive tome on shad.

Farther down in the pile is The Longest Silence, A Life in Fishing by Tom McGuane. It has no connection whatsoever with our Chesapeake, but McGuane’s literate touch and his fervor for angling always inspire me and remind me what an elegant passion we share.

On the Run, by David DiBenedetto, is a book that I have been reading recently in bits and snatches. I am parceling out the experience to make it last as long as possible. It is a very entertaining chronicle of a man pursuing the fall run of stripers from Maine all the way down to Nags Head, North Carolina. If you wonder about the life of the striped bass after they leave our Chesapeake, this is one perspective you don’t want to miss. The portraits of some of the anglers DiBenedetto encounters along the way will surprise you in more ways than one.

Striper Moon is also there in the stack and near the top. This slim paperback by Kenney Abrames was recently reprinted after prices for the original 1994 edition climbed into the hundreds of dollars. If you’ve ever caught a striper on a fly, or think you may want to try it, read this book. You’ll understand why it is valued so highly.

Rudow’s Guide to Fishing the Chesapeake is also here. Written by Boating Magazine’s Ultimate Angler and senior technical editor Lenny Rudow, this publication is the definitive work on just where and when to find fish anywhere in the Tidewater. It is indispensable to the serious angler. Plus it is prime inspiration for the imagination in planning where to go — if we ever get out of this endless pile of snow.

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