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Antidotes for the Anglers’ Blues

Eat, drink, see movies and strengthen your skills

Ye gads it’s been a difficult winter!    
    Today it’s bitter cold and windy, and the long-range forecast looks like a lot more of the same, except for the charming likelihood of a few days of freezing rain. With two of my offspring still in college, there is no fiscal possibility of escaping to the tropics.
    I’ve got to face up to the inevitable, the imminent approach of the most agonizing month of the year, February.


    Pickerel remain the hottest item on the wintertime menu. The upper areas of most of our Bay tributaries hold good numbers of the toothy, hard-fighting game fish. The colder it is, the better they like it. Slow trolling a lip-hooked minnow on a shad dart suspended under a small bobber is a good way to coax these ambush predators out from their lairs, usually around piers, docks, laydowns and similar structures.
    White perch can be found in the deeper holes of the Bay and its larger tributaries. They are slow to bite this time of year, but minnows and bloodworms will tempt them. There is no finer meal than a winter perch fry.

   In Season         

Canada goose, migratory: thru Jan. 28
Common snipe: thru Jan. 28
Light (snow) goose: thru Jan. 28
Ducks: thru Jan. 28
Sea ducks: thru Jan. 28
Woodcock: thru Jan. 28
Whitetail and sika deer, bow: thru Jan. 31
Ruffed grouse: thru Jan. 31
Bobwhite quail: thru Feb. 15
Cottontail rabbit: thru Feb. 29
Canada goose, resident; late season: thru March 3.

    The only hope is with several angling-associated activities scheduled in coming weeks. These events are just what the doctor ordered, keeping in mind that the doctor was a dedicated angler.
The Boatyard Bar and Grill in Eastport is once again holding Angler’s Night every other Tuesday. January 24 features a film on fishing Kamchatka, Russia. February 7 will include a film on catching tarpon from a float tube. Movies start at 7pm: 410-216-6206;

Saturday, February 4, Saltwater Sportsman Magazine holds its National Seminar Series at the University of Maryland, College Park, with six hours of courses on saltwater fishing including the Chesapeake. Entry fee includes a subscription to the magazine plus a bag of boating goodies and a fishing forecast: 800-448-7360;

Saturday, February 11, the Upper Bay Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association holds its Winter Barbecue and Auction at the VFW Club, 815 Turkey Point Road in North East from 6 to 10pm. There will be live and silent auctions for outdoor and marine artwork, Yeti Coolers, fishing tackle and guided trips on the Susquehanna Flats, the Chesapeake and tributaries: 410-280-8770;

The Kent Narrows Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association holds its Tenth Annual Tie Fest on February 25. As always, the tie fest is free. An event that draws all types of anglers from Maryland and surrounding states, it is a do-not-miss affair. Held at the Kent Narrows Yacht Club in Chester, it is largely informal. Expect to mingle and converse with world-class fly-tiers, guides and outfitters as well as writers, photographers and light-tackle cognoscenti who are more than willing to share their experience and expertise. Free fly casting, fly-tying lessons and name-brand fly rods and equipment tryouts offered. Good food and a wide selection of adult beverages sold. 10am to 4pm at Kent Narrows Yacht Club, Chester. free: Tony Friedrich at 202-744-5013 or [email protected].

Last comes an ideal opportunity for mid-Bay conservationists to take a more active role in protecting our natural resources. An Annapolis Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association is starting up with its first banquet Wednesday, March 7, at the Elks Lodge on Solomons Island Road in Edgewater. There will be bargains at the auction block for guided fishing trips, kayak expeditions, tackle and boating accessories. The CCA is an organization of like-minded conservationists dedicated to protecting our fish and marine life from over-exploitation. Lend your voice to the effort. Tickets include a year’s membership and a year’s subscription: 410-280-8770;

Oysters Down to One Percent

    A University of Maryland study that recommended commercial oyster harvesting be closed while the species recovers was opposed by both watermen and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. However, a key point made by the study went quietly unchallenged. DNR scientists had previously estimated that five percent of the historical population of this keystone bivalve remains. The University study places that figure at well under one percent.
    DNR has since found that the fall storms that dumped record amounts of freshwater into the Bay killed more than 70 percent of the oysters remaining in the waters above the Bay Bridge.
    My take: State officials are in denial of an ongoing ecological disaster.

Oyster Poaching Continues

    On January 10, determined Natural Resources Police officers braving heavy fog in their 18-foot Whaler came upon five commercial fishing boats illegally harvesting oysters within the Tangier Sound Oyster Sanctuary. Apprehending two of the vessels, the officers charged three watermen with various counts and the possible suspension of their commercial licenses. The other three boats of poachers escaped.