Some 14 years ago, I began to write the Sporting Life column for Bay Weekly newspaper. While I had published a few freelance magazine articles as I neared retirement in my then-current career, a regular writing gig was a new endeavor. Both I and my editor in chief at Bay Weekly, Sandra Martin, wondered how it would evolve.
Well, these many years later, I have to say, it has gone quite well — and in some ways that, for me, were completely unexpected. Not only was my skilled editor satisfied with my earliest efforts, I soon managed to win a couple of statewide writing awards for the column.
That those awards were due in great part to the guidance and efforts of Sandra to keep my prose and focus from going off the rails is definitely a major part of the story. But just as important was how my new relationship with Bay Weekly would affect my own outdoor sporting life.
One of my first promises in one of my initial columns for the paper was that I intended to convey the natural glories of the Chesapeake to our readers through my personal adventures on the Bay. I intended to do so through an essay on each of my more notable experiences. I would soon find that I would never run out of material.
Though I’d been an outdoor addict virtually since birth and had fished, explored, hunted, paddled, cruised, crept, trudged and crawled through many areas of Maryland’s beautiful Tidewater, in hindsight I really had no idea at that time of just how bountiful, vast and varied our wonderful state really is.
I also soon recognized that my personal sporting repertoire — because of the various time constraints of a full-time job and child rearing — had narrowed. Suddenly, with the kids on their own, retired from my first career and with a wife, a sculptor who had her own horizons to pursue, I had an enormous opportunity to explore and learn.
With a new professional obligation to fully experience Maryland’s natural wonderland, I embraced and related an ever-wider range of angling techniques for the rockfish and white perch that teemed our shores. I covered the blue crabs that were just as prevalent and even more delicious and explored the wide varieties of other wildlife that I had never had enough time to get to really know.
As I was a neophyte at many of the activities I would undertake, I did my best to share the learning experience with our many readers and help them avoid the catastrophes, false starts, embarrassing and sometimes amusing situations that I often encountered.
Yellow perch, hickory shad, pickerel, croaker, spot, bluefish, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, canvasback ducks, blackheads, mallards, buffleheads, teal, Canada geese, snow geese: The list of wildlife unrolled endlessly.
It is truly fortunate that Bay Weekly will go on under the new auspices of Chesapeake Bay Media. This new partnership may in the near future include covering Maryland’s role in the rebuilding of the striped bass population and hopefully stand witness to a newer and wiser approach to restoring our woefully depleted oyster stocks.
Eventually it may also include observing the evolution of a blue crab-management strategy that can end the constant boom and bust practices of our past.
Only time will tell, but we’ll all be in this wonderful natural world together as we find out.