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Four to improve sporting chances and pleasure

     I’m going to go way out on a limb this year to suggest some specific gifts for the sportsman/woman in your life. I realize it’s a dangerous direction, but this year there seem to be some real winners out there.
Diaper stripers far outnumber keepers
     Casting to breaking rockfish under birds in the main Bay is outstanding right now. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that open water is where you’ll find keepers.

We’ll soon be dividing shares of a diminished striped bass pie

     Once again our rockfish are in trouble. They have been overfished, commercially and recreationally for some time. The overall Atlantic population, including in the Chesapeake, has become depleted and the larger fish of the species seriously so. That is an accepted fact, based on thorough studies by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Hobbes goes to sea

      Taking a dog out onto the Chesapeake does not seem like a complicated task. I didn’t expect many difficulties from my new pup, Hobbes, as Labradors were bred long ago to accompany fishermen on their voyages. We had complications.       As we would eventually be some distance from land, it was not only prudent but essential that the young, inexperienced pup have some extra flotation.

Recreational anglers share the blame

      Now that most federal, state and associated conservation organizations are agreeing that the striped bass population is again in crisis, the finger pointing has started. Some are laying the blame on the recreational fisheries, some on commercial entities and others on over-harvest of the forage species on which rockfish rely. All play a role.       Recreational catch-and-release in particular is getting a new hard look, and deservedly so.

Hobbes is a seven-week-old Lab pup

     When Hobbes arrived at our home Saturday evening, two things became apparent. Neither order nor melancholy can survive around a seven-week-old black Labrador puppy. Chaos and laughter, however, grow exponentially.      It’s been more than three years since our female German shorthair pointer Sophie passed, long enough for the pain and sorrow of her absence to fade.

Make 2019 your year to start a garden

      I recently returned from a vacation to Greece, specifically, the remote island of Ikaria in the northeast Aegean Sea. My ancestral home, it is designated a Blue Zone by National Geographic’s Dan Buettner.       The world’s five Blue Zones have high concentrations of centenarians —without problems like heart disease, dementia, diabetes and cancer. Research has shown that these Blue Zones have certain things in common.

That’s fishing’s Golden Rule

       As soon as I flipped the small Norfolk spot overboard with a thin 6/0 circle hook trailing from just in front of its dorsal fin, the rockfish tidbit twitched its way into the depths. The tidal current was barely starting to move along the bridge support as I fed out line from my baitcaster and tried to estimate how close to the bottom, 30 feet below, the frisky bait was approaching.

City art new and old collected in a book

Ideas, research and preparation

      It’s about that time of year when parents come to me seeking ideas for their child’s science project. Most of the time, they are desperate because their children procrastinated in announcing they had to turn in a project idea yesterday.        Here’s what I tell them: