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Fishing

Crappie are at the head of the class, followed by yellow perch

The winter solstice, officially the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year, is already two weeks behind us. This annual planetary event is in another way the beginning of the end of winter. From here on out, daylight hours are growing longer and springtime ever closer.     That also means the blooming of the new fishing season since the fish, their instincts triggered by this change in the amount of sunlight, begin moving out of their deep water holes to migrate toward shallow water to spawn.

Learn to tie flies or fly-cast with this open-to-all club

The morning temperature was well below freezing on my home’s weather gauge as I grabbed my coat and fly boxes. It was way too cold and windy to be on the water, so we were headed for the next best thing: tying some flies and talking about fishing.     I was meeting a friend, Joe Demeo, at the Free State Fly Fishers Club, a winter haven for local fly-fishers. Anglers join the fly-tying sessions at the Davidsonville clubhouse to replenish their supply of fish-foolers while catching up and comparing notes.

Stuff their stocking with a good book or video

The dedicated outdoorsman or woman is, by definition, equipped. The few things such a person might lack are likely so specialized as to be a mystery to outdoors outsiders.     Books and movies, however, fall into a safe-gift zone. If you’re intent on pleasantly surprising an outdoors lover with your gift, the following suggestions might help.     Kayak Fishing (Sportsman’s Best www.Florida

Some days, everything’s wrong but the fish

It was cold on the Bay, colder than we wanted to endure. But it had been a long time since either of us had caught a rockfish. So there we were in mid-morning in my 17-foot skiff off the mouth of the Severn in about 35 feet of water with temperatures barely above freezing.     At least the winds were mild, as were the seas. But the skies were stalled in a dark overcast. I could feel the fingers of cold, damp air trying to creep under my expedition-weight fleece unders. Shivering, I tightened my foul-weather coat.

From perch to rock to sea trout — this lure will get them when others won’t

Temperatures were in the mid-50s, the tide was close to slack and a light wind was out of the southwest at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Hoping for a good score on the white perch that had been gathering there the last two weeks, we were armed with medium-weight jigging rods and two-ounce Bernie’s Bomber Rigs.     Marking a nice school, we dropped our lures down to the bottom some 45 feet below and started the yo-yo action that we hoped would draw some strikes from our favorite frying fish, wintertime white perch. We didn’t have long to wait.

Anglers from the boat Bluejay show off the 13.8-pound rockfish that earned them third place in this year’s Fish for a Cure tournament. From left: Brian Wood, Capt. Tilghman, Capt. Mike Cassidy, Greg Lilly, Brendan Kelly, Greg Gunning and Marty Cassidy.     Some 200 anglers aboard 52 boats raised $215,000 for the Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Since 2007, Fish for a Cure has donated $600,000 — more than half of its $1 million fundraising pledge.

November’s fish have fattened in the ocean

I cast the wriggling spot close to the bridge piling, leaving the reel out of gear with my thumb lightly pressing on the spool. As the spot swam toward the bottom I could feel it taking line. It paused and meandered, unafraid, following the tidal current away from the concrete structure.

Despite excellent conditions, the Young of Year Survey is disappointing

Despite excellent conditions this past spring with plenty of rain and cool temperatures, the Young of Year Survey of rockfish reproduction success for 2013 is a very disappointing 5.6, well below the 60-year average of 11.7.     Over the past seven or eight years, Young of Year spawning numbers have come to look more and more like the profiles that precipitated the rockfish moratorium of the 1980s. The only recent high count came in 2011, when our spring weather was so violent that virtually nobody fished until late May.

Every rockfish is good; now and again, one is extraordinary

When I planted the skiff’s Power Pole anchor on the remains of an old submerged jetty wall that snaked well over a hundred yards out from the shoreline, my face was numb from the chilled air and the fast run. My electronic finder said the water was four feet deep under the keel. But just off the rocks, it would read closer to seven. Not too much farther away, the bottom fell to 20 feet.

Sweet success takes tuning

Easing my skiff up near a Bay Bridge support, I launched the lively Norfolk spot toward the sweet spot where the water eddied behind the down-current side of the concrete pier. I thumbed the spool, directing the baitfish to just the right place, inches from the support.     Stopping the spool just as the bait touched down, I released tension as the spot righted itself and jetted toward the bottom. My light thumb contact with the turning spool monitored the baitfish’s progress.