Chesapeake Outdoors

by C.D. Dollar

Never Too Old to Go Crabbing

Lenny Moss came all the way from Lincoln, Massachusetts, to go crabbing, on his birthday no less. The last time he celebrated another year on the planet was when he turned 80, many years ago. You would have never guessed that he had lived through two world wars and a depression the way he bounded effortlessly aboard the Lady D.

Lenny and about a dozen others joined me for a day of crabbing, a "thank you" of sorts from the Bay Foundation to its members. None of them had ever trotlined for crabs before and when I explained that success in this method usually depends upon a 5am start, none were eager to try it under ideal conditions. Except Lenny.

He recounted his summer visits to Baltimore during his teenage years to see relatives and the lazy days crabbing with handlines on Back River. He remembered the fat jimmies, how they always threw the sooks back, the high bay grasses where soft shells hid and the oppressive heat.

As an adult, he spent nearly four decades with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, which took him to 37 countries, where he met amazing people and saw incredible places. Yet he continues to hold a special place for the Chesapeake Bay and its magic, and he was glad once again to be crabbing.

Our trotline was set inside Whitehall Bay, just off an edge where widgeon grass grows. The fact that we were crabbing in the high sun bothered no one but me, and me only slightly. The spotters and dippers learned their roles until the all too infrequent crab emerged clinging to the eel bait, when they forgot them immediately. Lenny took first crack at dipnetting and did an admirable job.

A couple hours yielded little for our effort; it was kind of tough convincing them that trot lining could be an effective method to take crabs. We headed back to Meredith Creek, steamed up what few crabs we caught (supplemented heavily from a local supplier), grilled some sweet corn and soaked in the warm contentment of the land of pleasant living.


Fish Are Biting

As of June 1, all geographical restrictions are lifted for striped bass on Chesapeake Bay. The 28-inch minimum size and creel limit of one fish/person/day remains in effect through midnight, June 14.

Earlier this week, DNR and charter operators reported little action for stripers in the upper Bay. Fish are reported every day from the Swan Point area and around Baltimore Light, but no great numbers. There is reason for optimism, however. According to DNR, large numbers of rock in the 26- to 34-inch class have shown up off Swan and Love Points beginning around the end of the second week of June in each of the last three years, and some of the hottest fishing can be found at the mouth of the Chester River from mid-June through the July 4 weekend.

In the middle Bay, Fred Donovan from the Rod 'n' Reel in Chesapeake Beach says the headboat Bounty Hunter is running Wednesday to Sunday from 6pm to midnight and having great success on hardheads near the False Channel. Most anglers after rockfish have opted for chumming, with The Hill and Summer Gooses providing the best opportunity for larger fish. Trollers too are reporting the occasional legal fish, but most are putting in a few hours before switching to bottom fishing.

Croaker are scattered, with excellent catches reported from the points upriver in the Choptank and in Eastern Bay over hard bottoms in 18- to 32-foot depths. Mike Strandquist from Breezy Point Marina told me anglers have been burning up croakers. White perch are turning on in the Choptank, Eastern Bay and on the hard bottom above Thomas Point light. Right now, bloodworms seem to work best.

Flounder fishing remains good in Eastern Bay and along the edges inside of buoys #84 & #82 along the crab pot line. The first of the season's black drum have arrived on the James Island Flats and inside the Choptank River.

In the lower Bay, croaker fishing is excellent in Tangier Sound, Deal Island, the mouth of the Potomac and the Middle Grounds. Small bluefish are also abundant on the Middle Grounds. Striper fishing resembles that of the mid-Bay, with most anglers chumming up lots of 1993-class fish in the 20- to 24-inch range along with a few legal stripers.

Fisheries Service Biologists spent a week off the Hooper Islands, feverishly tagging black drum in an intensive mark-and-recapture study to learn more about their movements. The secretive fish show up each May and June in Maryland's mid-Bay then quickly disappear around July 4.

A white anchor tag is clearly visible on the left side of the fish, and anglers capturing a tagged fish will receive a reward for information on the tag return. Over 16,000 pounds of drum have been tagged and released from commercial pound nets since last week. A new regulation in 1998 forbids the sale of commercially caught black drum. The drum have been concentrated off the eastern channel edge all along the Hooper Island complex. These fish should be moving north any day now toward the Stone Rock area, the principal recreational/charter fishery area, where this writer will be looking for some drum action next week.

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VolumeVI Number 22
June 4-10, 1998
New Bay Times

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