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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Start now, or regret it later

     I was again planning for a great day. Winds were forecast out of the west at five mph, and temperatures were to be in the mid 60s. Couldn’t ask for a better picture.      By 10am it was still blowing 20 out of the north. The mercury hadn’t yet climbed out of the 50s. Another fishing fantasy started by a forecaster was ruined by the actual weather.

Always be prepared for cold ­weather on the Bay 

     For the unprepared, cold weather on the Bay can be dangerous, especially when temps begin dipping below the 50s. On the water, a chill is more unpleasant than almost anywhere else.
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.
Spanish mackerel mix with blues and rock
      Ed Robinson had cranked his three-quarter-ounce gold Kastmaster metal spoon to about 10 feet from our boat when the water exploded in spray and foam. His drag started screaming, and he could barely hold his rod above the horizontal. When he managed to lift the tip to leverage some line back, it was again jerked down, and the howl emanating from his reel resumed.

There’s no better time to experience this graceful sport

     It was a still morning, and the early chill of fall was in the air. Stripping about 50 feet of line from my fly reel and allowing it to pile on the deck at my feet, I stretched successive sections of the thick strand between my hands to lessen its coil memory while reversing the pile of line to my right side. It was an old habit, and I didn’t have to think much doing it.

Top-water fishing is invigorating

     Top-water fishing for rockfish is one of the few things that can get me up well before dawn. To have the quiet of an early Chesapeake morning broken by the explosion of an attacking striper will undo your nerves.

They’re big, fat and catchable

The four of us were remarkably restrained as the first bunch of steaming, fiery-red crustaceans was deposited in the middle of the well-protected tabletop that evening. There were several monsters in the pile, and pains were taken to ensure everyone got two or three to start.

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.

There is no single solution for everything

     A rockfish had just consumed my live spot. As it swam off with its prize, I knew that it was a good-sized fish from its forceful and deliberate pace.      Having hooked it at the base of a bridge support, I was also prepared for the fish’s next move. As it bored away and cornered on the first nearby concrete support, it was right where I wanted it.

A boy is not likely to forget his first Chesapeake Bay rockfish

     Six-year-old Logan Doyle grimaced in concentration as he gripped his slender rod. Arranging his hold on the cork grip was a bit of a challenge for his small hands. As he pulled back against the fish he had just hooked, his eyes grew large. The fish was pulling way harder than he was.