“Carpe Diem does not mean fish of the day.” –anon.
We are currently living in trying times. Viral pandemics are like that. But if ever there was a solution, it is fishing. If six feet is the minimum prescribed distance to isolate ourselves from potential infection, an angler would argue that ten times that separation is generally preferable—having to do not with contagion, but with common courtesy.
If the brutal truth be known, anyone within sight of us while fishing does not bring the slightest twinge of happiness nor sense of comfort. Solitude is one of the essences of the angling experience and though we do value the companionship of our fellow man, anything that disturbs our absolute focus tends to be at least a mild irritant.
When we arrive at our location the very first thing we evaluate is whether we have the place to ourselves. If we don’t, we generally move on, sometimes a bit, sometimes much more. It’s often been said, and quite accurately, that the secret to a good fishing spot is directly proportional to its distance from a parking lot (and definitely any crowds). Loneliness rarely detracts from the angling experience.
Another potent issue currently troubling many people in the current crisis is anxiety. While certainly justified, it is hardly pleasant. I can assure anyone contemplating hitting the water with a rod in hand, anxiety rarely survives any determined encounter with nature.
One of the great advantages to living on Chesapeake Bay is that we have the biggest backyard in the nation. The Bay and its tributaries are not only vast and virtually uninhabited by man, it is also public property. If our feet are in the water past the ankles or we’re floating in a boat we have the privilege of unrestricted legal passage.
Another angler benefit is our communications network. Most fisher-people have a list of names and numbers of those who share their passion for similar species and prime locations.
Though the currently dire medical situation will pass, occasions to while away hours on the water are an angler’s delight.
Keep the suggested distance from others, mind the current behavioral rules and when presented with an appropriately safe opportunity, embrace the chance for some blissful solitude on your favorite waters.
The white perch run is definitely on and the fish are numerous, fat and healthy. Of course, the small males arrive first so initially there may be a lot of throwbacks. When that happens be sure to squash down your hook barbs, it won’t result in as many fish lost as you may think and it will protect the little guys’ mouths. The bump on the hook shank from the deflected barb is more than enough to keep the hook in place. Fresh grass shrimp, small minnows, and just about any kind of worm on a shad dart under a casting bobber will get their attention but not all at the same time. They can be maddeningly selective so be prepared. And the color of the dart matters. Last year it was bright orange with black accents and an orange or white tail. Often it is chartreuse and black, sometimes all white or yellow or often a red head with a yellow tail. For some other reason a double dart setup works much better than a single. Cast it out and twitch it back and watch for the slightest indication of a bite, these fish are practiced bait thieves and the bigger they are, the stealthier. There are still yellow perch in the mix as well as pickerel and some crappie as well. Down Blackwater River way there are lots of snakeheads, many of them enormous. They love big minnows. Catch and release of migratory striped bass is open this month on the mainstem Bay, heaven only knows why. Live bait requires circle hooks and release the fish caught without removing them from the water. Enjoy the springtime, remember to keep at least six feet from fellow anglers and wash your hands when you get home.