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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

    Not long ago and, of course, in the dead of winter, a good friend of my wife’s had returned to Annapolis from Paris with her new husband, Jean Francois. My lovely spouse informed me that JF had heard about the great fishing around the Chesapeake and she had volunteered me to take him out on an impromptu expedition. It was barely above freezing. What the devil was I to do?

As long as you wear the right clothes and enjoy the right sports

     Winter weather can be hard on anglers. It’s discouraging to think of fishing when the early morning light is reflecting off of your iced-up car in the drive.      For many other sportspeople, winter is opportunity knocking. A duck hunter can become elated over an incoming cold front accompanied by some occasional sleet, snow and stiff winds. That’s what brings the birds down from up north to fill our skies and careen among our decoys.

And thinking ahead 

     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.

If you’re willing to brave the weather, there are fish waiting for you

     Chesapeake rockfish season has closed, but other species can continue to keep your angling interest as well as grace your table — if you don’t mind the winter chill.      Catfish are active, and they fry up awfully well, particularly the blues, though the channel cats run a close second. No minimum size and no possession limit for these interlopers. 

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.

When the fish aren’t biting, raptors may be soaring

     The eagle appeared as if from nowhere. I had been casting lures fruitlessly for white perch, but it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was just the slightest of breezes and the temperatures were nicely bearable. Though there were no fish in my bucket, I grudgingly persevered.       Then for no reason, I looked up. Overhead soared a giant bird, its white head and tail contrasting with the dark feathers of its powerful body. A perch, roughly 14 inches, was clutched in its talons.
I used some shore time to find out
     Brisk winds had kept me ashore, so the fallback was our community clubhouse field with my trusty seven-foot medium-action rod and a hookless three-quarter-ounce surface plug. My purpose was to see what all the hoopla was with the new digitally controlled Shimano casting reel, the SLX DC 150 XG.       The letters DC refer to digital control. A tiny computer mechanism in its spool controls spin.

Enrich your Thanksgiving menu with fish, fowl and venison

     The tradition of Thanksgiving dinner was first attributed to the Plymouth Bay Colony in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. But the practice of a harvest or a thanksgiving dinner was widespread throughout the early colonies and especially around the Chesapeake.

A sad but necessary chore 

     Getting the boat ready for winter causes me emotional upheaval. It is not only a burden of hours but also an unwelcome recognition that one of my great avenues to peace and contentment will soon be closed off.       I’ve made my checklist, only to avoid it for weeks. Each item is a step closer to a kind of prison, so I’m not fond of any of the unavoidable tasks facing me.

This time of year, the biggest fish are usually the deepest fish

     It was near sunset by my watch, though that glowing orb appeared still a good distance above the skyline. The temperature, however, was plunging faster than my optimism. Hoping for an afternoon bite, I had been cruising my favorite spots at a river’s mouth, throwing first a surface plug then a soft jig. With no success at finding keepers, I was now chasing days-old rumors.