by C.D. Dollar
On the Wing: Fall Shooting Begins
The smell of diesel fumes wafted from the exhaust pipe, its pungent molecules hanging in the heavy, humid air so strong they seemed visible. As the tractor pulled the long heavy trailer over the rutted terrain like a powerful ox - slow and methodical - we passed rows of scorched sunflowers, the stalks and heads blackened as if charred by fire, standing in stark contrast to their colorful June glory. Drought will have that effect.
Another opening day for dove hunting has come and gone, a reminder that summer's sultry days are on the wane.
Bouncing along in the back of the trailer, Chris and I were heading back to meet up with the rest of the hunters, and after a long day in the field, the call of cold drinks beckoned like a silent siren. Chris' brother Kevin, a hunting outfitter who organized the shoot, kept a watchful eye to the field and he led us away so new birds could feed unmolested.
Industrious and smart, Kevin worked from mid-spring through the morning of the first dove shoot to get his fields ready for his clients. The long hours and arduous work paid off. Every one of the eight gunners - most well-heeled insurance executives from a couple high-profile firms - did well and were grateful for the day away from pagers, e-mail and voice-mail. With a generous bag limit and leisurely shooting hours, dove hunting is like a setting off fireworks from your front porch used to be: the epitome of relaxed excitement.
Our hunt was all that and more. Birds flew to the enticing sunflower seeds like moths to the flame, aware of the danger yet unable to keep away. Swift and graceful and deceptively quick, doves can make a good shot look average, sometimes even poor. Other times, it's almost like the birds have on Kevlar vests protecting them from the buckshot, as they pass through a barrage of gunfire unscathed. Certainly I fell victim to the doves' feigns and dips more than once. But for the chance to get experience a top notch dove shoot, I'll gladly subject myself to future ridicule.
Fish Are Biting
Capt. Joe Evans reports finding consistent stripers for his flyfishing clients in the shallows around Poplar Island and Eastern Bay. DNR reports bluefish up to three pounds widely scattered now well far north of the Bay Bridges. White perch, catfish and a few spot have been turning up for fishermen working virtually any hard bottom above the bridges. This is the best bottom fishing this year from above the bridges, according to Marty Gary.
Keeper rock can be taken at the mouth of the South, Severn and West rivers, Marv from Anglers reports. Middle Bay fishing is a virtual smorgasbord, according to Fred Donovan of Rod 'n' Reel, who reports lots of variety from spot to rockfish to white perch. Limits of stripers are not uncommon, but flounder and weakfish are in good number in many areas. Fred also says that trollers are catching Spanish mackerel from Breezey Point to the Gas Docks.
Chumming appears effective only in a couple of locations, such as the LNG Gas Docks and the Summer Gooses, according to DNR reports. Trolling seems to be the most effective strategy in this region for rockfish. The Western Shore from Holland Point south along the 34 foot contour has been very productive.
In Tangier Sound, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and decent numbers of spotted sea trout are available to anglers. Trollers take the blues and macks, while the specks have been turning up in the shallows of Fox, Smith and Bloodsworth Islands after dusk. Bottom fishing for spot in the region is tailing off.
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VolumeVI Number 35
September 3-6, 1998
New Bay Times
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