Chesapeake Outdoors
Oysters As of Old
by C.D. Dollar

When the natural forces stopped the water flow out of the Lynnhaven River, there was a tranquillity to the place that was quite pleasing. The full ebb tide had gone slack, allowing me to stand on a huge mound of oyster shell. Small, coin-sized oysters had fused themselves to the larger, adult oyster shell. I held one coffee-cup size shell in my hand and counted five spat, or juvenile oysters, attached to the shell substrate. Nearly every shell I sampled had a spat set.

Around me on other oyster knolls, school kids released single baby oysters they had grown in floats in nearby creeks. As I gingerly stepped around the reef I thought, 'so this is kind of what it was like back in the day when oysters broke the surface.' Only infinitely more impressive.

The reef where I was standing was built by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the Commonwealth's natural resources arm. Planted in about five feet of water, the sanctuary reef measures about 350 yards long by 150 yards wide. It is one of several oyster restoration projects the agency is involved with, as is Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. State agencies and private groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Oyster Recovery Project in Maryland and scores of civic and community groups and families in both states help grow, transplant and maintain oysters and oyster reefs.

A ticker tape of thoughts raced through my head. How many groups are there around the Bay watershed dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring the Chesapeake Bay? What motivates these people? Can we really restore oysters, underwater grasses, wetlands, and forests? My vague answers: There are a lot of people who get involved for many different reasons, and, yes we can make a difference, because really, what other choice do we have?

Whether big or small, national or local, each has specific reasons to help. Yet all have a common goal: to protect and improve our natural world. Be you a boater, birder, hiker, hunter, fisherman, waterman, kayaker or canoer, if you spend any time outdoors absorbing the uniqueness that is Chesapeake living, think of a way to pitch in.

It has been proven here on the Lynnhaven and other restoration sites throughout the Bay that, as simplistic as it sounds, all Mother Nature needs from us is a chance to recover. She will take care of the rest.


Fish Are Biting

As I call the usual suspects from around the Bay to compile this report, the repeated word I hear is that the variety of species available is increasing daily, particularly the farther south you go. From what my man Marty from Rick's Marine (301/872-4355) at Point Lookout says, if you are looking for big sea trout that consistently check in at more than 20 inches, then the Potomac area is your best bet, at least on this side of the Bay. He said this early run of weakies includes some "tiderunners," fish measuring 30 inches or better. Squid, peeler or soft crab (if available) and bloodworms all work on a moving tide at low light. In Cornfield Harbor, one angler landed a 25-incher on an earthworm.

Croaker action is doing well, though flounder is a little slow as of yet.

As expected, many of the bruiser rockfish have finished spawning and are moving out of the Bay, though some have been taken chumming and trolling near the Triangle and Mud Leads. In the Patuxent River region, Kathy Conner from Bunky's Charters (410/326-3241) says that she has issued several state fishing citations for sea trout, including a couple that measured over 25 inches. Rockfish are still being taken trolling Hi Buoy and Buoy 72, and chummers are doing okay on smaller fish at Cove and Cedar Points as well as the Gas Docks. Croaker can be taken on shrimp and bloodworms on the St. Mary's side of the Patuxent River and the lumps near shore out in the Bay.

In the upper Bay, most anglers targeting rockfish have switched to chumming. Love Point and the mouths of the Patapsco, Chester, Magothy and West rivers are decent choices. Fred from Rod 'n' Reel at Chesapeake Beach (800/233-2080) says the fleet is still catching rockfish and that croaker and sea trout are starting to crank up.



June 5-The Chesapeake Chapter of Quail Unlimited holds its Third Annual Sporting Clays Tournament at Pintail Point near Easton. Rob Jepson: 410/757-0887.

| Issue 21 |

Volume VII Number 21
May 27 - June 2, 1999
New Bay Times

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