Chesapeake Outdoors

Missed It by That Much
by C.D. Dollar

My efforts afield this week can be summed up by the axiom used by the venerable secret agent, Maxwell Smart: "Missed it by that much." (You remember Agent 86 of Control and his girlfriend 99, don't you?)

In some of my outdoor experiences, I've discovered that the window of opportunity can be small and that the margin for error can be smaller. Accepting that there may be people who have never experienced these situations of which I speak, I still maintain that there are times when even the best prepared fisherman or hunter (and for that matter, any outdoors person) can be snake bitten, feeling deserted by good mojo.

I offer as evidence two events of the last week.

Rewind to one of the first days of the early split of duck season, when my partner Kevin and I were knee deep in a beaver pond on the Eastern Shore, lying in wait for wood ducks. Our timing and set-up was like clockwork. Our concealment, nearly flawless, behind a pair of trees that erupted out of the moss-covered pond water, which, once revealed, was as black as two-day-old New York coffee. When the moment of truth arrived, a brief lapse in concentration caused me to shoot behind the bird that ran our gauntlet successfully. We didn't see another bird all morning.

Please examine exhibit B, again a hunt, this time in a field of cut corn on opening day of the snow goose season where I played Doctor Watson to (who else) Kevin's Sherlock Holmes as he explained his strategy that would surely entice the geese to our rig. As expected, he did a masterful job of setting us up. Scores of full-bodied snow geese decoys and nearly as many Canada geese silhouettes lay out in near perfect formation before us. The only variable not accounted for was out of his control. Mother nature threw a curve ball at us: no wind.

Maybe a minute before legal shooting time, as Kevin was putting the finishing touches to our spread, a group of 100-plus white flyers lit straight for their fake kin. So as not to flare the birds (I was more than capable of that on my own), Kevin ducked down at the edge of the field. The mass of birds hovered over us for several minutes, pitching and circling. Then, as if they were convinced, in came a set of four, eager to join what they thought was a party. Above them, about twice as many older birds (their colors more distinct), waiting to see if indeed this was the right place, began a slow descent. I called furiously and had fooled the younger generation a bit and had them within range. I hesitated, thinking 'be patient, the bigger group is sure to follow,' and in so doing lost both opportunities. The young fluttered out of range, and the mature group bugged out at the rookies' indecision, sensing something wasn't right.

In minutes, the window had slammed shut. We got a few more looks that morning, but nothing like that opening sortie. I guess if you spend enough days in the field, there are bound to be a few like these. But nothing says you have to like them.


Fish are Biting

In the upper Bay, good white perch and sea trout in the rivers, such as the Chester, Severn and South. Rockfish can be chummed at Sandy, Hacketts and Thomas points and at buoy Number 1 off the West River. Chumming at the Hill and drifting live bait at Kent Narrows earn a shot as well. Feather jigs are taking sea trout in dozens of spots where there is hard or shell bottom or good drop-off.

In the middle Bay, my father Jim, Bill Burton, Mike Chase and I fished the Diamonds this past weekend, and despite the intense pressure, caught a few good rockfish. Burton and Chase took two excellent gray trout on soft plastic lures fished in the chum slick. Other boats around us did well once the tide and wind agreed on a common direction.

Lots of boats fishing on Stone Rock as well: Silver Ball and the regular spots for chummers and trollers using bucktails and shad plastics. Hoses take rock and blues on the channel edges from Breezy Point to Parkers Creek.

In the lower Bay, lots of sea trout around Corn Harbor, Mud Leads and Point Lookout. From most reports, this is probably the best area for rockfishing. Look for the speckled trout run to continue around Bloodsworth, Smith and Fox islands.

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Volume VI Number 42
October 22-28, 1998
New Bay Times

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