Chesapeake Outdoors

by C.D. Dollar

Capt. Dollar Rides a Different Horse

If I wasn't entirely a fish out of water, I was certainly in an ebb tide on a full moon. When my friend Jenny asked me to ride horses with her, I accepted -- despite not having been in a saddle in over 20 years. I am most comfortable with horsepower in outboard engines, not the living, breathing version. But I was psyched.

Jenny is a barrel racer, and in barrel racing quarter horses are the breed of choice because of their great bursts of speed over short distances as well as their strength and endurance.

Until recently, the only barrel racing I'd ever heard about was piped in through a satellite dish to a bar in the wee hours of a lazy night. Apparently there is big money in competitive barrel racing, especially in the western states. But riders can make good side money on the mid-Atlantic circuit, in competitions in Upper Marlboro, Richmond, a couple spots in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. On the day we went riding, there wasn't the slightest possibility I could make a run for the money. I was concentrating on staying on.

We were at B & R Farms in Upper Marlboro, an expanse of pastures, horse barns and training rings where Jenny keeps her horse, Jedi. I rode--- probably more appropriately, I stayed in the saddle harnessed to -- Jedi, a beautiful dark chestnut horse of about six years. I coaxed him with friendly strokes and quiet words.

Sitting atop a 1,200-pound mass of sinewy muscle and explosive energy is an amazing feeling. It could've been worse if I'd been paired up with Elvis, a five-year-old with the spirit and volatility of a volcano, which I gather are admirable traits in a barrel horse. Even Jenny, an experienced rider, had her hands full on the trails.

As I got a little bold, I wanted to experience the speed that gave the quarter horse its reputation. A click of the heels and a guttural 'heeya' was all Jedi needed to bolt up the hill, exuberant as he unleashed, if only briefly, his raw energy. It was like riding a wave of power and fury, and it was all I could do to stay on.

Leaving the field, we wound our way through the narrow, wooded trails that empty into paddocks one after the other, and I thought of the farm that once existed on Annapolis Neck peninsula, Bowie Farm, sandwiched by Lake Ogleton to the north and Black Walnut Creek to the south. Here my father and sister, as teenagers in different eras, rode quarter horses. The farm has long been divided into a housing development.

Many decades ago, open spaces, farms, wild marshes and untamed wildness were commonplace in Chesapeake Country. But in recent decades, development has been rapid and more times than not haphazard. Sprawl continues to erode our environmental health and our quality of life. I can see why people want to relocate in the Bay region, but we must grow smart to preserve the magnetic beauty that draws so many people from other places and holds a spell over those of us who have our roots firmly planted here.


Fish Are Biting

Aug. 15 the 1998 rockfish season resumes. With water temperatures high, catch carefully to save the fish.

By all accounts, this year has been the best in 20 years all around. Croaker are still redhot, with the catches pretty much limited to evenings and the best locations the Goose's bell buoy and the James Island stone piles. In the next couple of weeks as we lose daylight, these fish will begin to move.

White perch, spot and catfish catches have been steady on the oyster lumps off Gibson Island, Chester River and off the Kent shoreline as well as the Severn River Bridge fishing pier. Some bluefish have filtered above the Bay bridges, but most are very small snapper blues. White perch have been abundant on a number of the Bay bridge pilings and hard bottoms near Tolley Point, biting on grass shrimp or bloodworms.

Holland Point Bar continues to see decent catches of white perch, medium to large spot and a few weakfish. The mouth of the Choptank has had good catches of spot, spike weakfish and a few croaker. There has been good action for croaker, spot, flounder and weakfish in the Poplar Island Narrows. Most of the channel edges in eastern Bay -- including Wades Point, Tilghman Point and the southwestern end of Parson's Island ---have been producing medium croaker, white perch and medium spot. The mouth of the Patuxent has been producing good catches of medium to large spot and some croaker.


Fishermen Take Note

The minimum size for summer flounder is due to be increased to 15 inches statewide upon approval from the Maryland General Assembly. It could happen any day. Learn more from DNR @ 800/688-FINS or

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VolumeVI Number 32
August 13-19, 1998
New Bay Times

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