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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

It’s open water vs. sweetwater

This time of year brings conflict for me. The Trophy Rockfish Season beckons with the promise of big fish on big water, a temptation that is almost impossible to resist. Yet there is another of nature’s sirens murmuring in my ear. This one promises even more luscious treats to be had as the sweetwater bite blossoms.

April 16 is the big day

Anglers have been waiting for this event for more than 120 miserable days, ever since the season closed last December 16. These have been cold, snowy, rainy, windy days, days without hope of even a glimpse of Mr. Pajama-sides. But all of that is over on April 16, when Trophy Rockfish Season begins at last.1

Chesapeake Bay’s most common and perhaps least common catches

Sending out a chartreuse shad dart tipped with a grass shrimp toward the dark water of the far bank, I let it sink for a brief three-count before tightening up my line. Almost immediately there came a sharp tap, and I set the hook. My rod bowed as I leaned into yet another lively white perch.

To catch them, fish fresh shallows of tribs

The spring equinox has kicked this year’s white perch run into overdrive. An increasing amount of daylight in early spring is one of the prime stimulants to the white perch spawn. The equinox, coupled with our recent record rainfalls, has gotten this best loved denizen of the Tidewater moving early.

Day by day, new fish come our way

Our new angling year on the Tidewater is rich with possibilities. But if you don’t plan to take advantage of what’s happening now, some good times may slip past. A number of particularly great fisheries have already started.

If you want to catch fish, you’d better know how to tie a fisherman’s knot

One simple thing an angler can do to help catch more big fish is learn to tie the right knot correctly. In a life of fishing and after working in a sports store for a good number of years and listening to countless tales of big fish broken off, I’ve learned many anglers aren’t sure which knot to tie or how to tie it.

Finally, out of the cabin and onto the water

We had been fishing about two hours for yellow perch without a bite. Still, we were happy as clams. Mike E., poised in the front of my skiff, was not even upset the third time he fouled his spoon-rigged minnow in a tree over the opposite bank. I stowed my rod and moved our skiff toward his problem.

Outlaws are marauding on the Chesapeake

The term waterman, unique to Chesapeake Bay, refers to a commercial fisherman harvesting oysters, blue crabs and finfish or otherwise making a living from Bay waters. Maryland has a 300-year tradition of this noble endeavor.

Link up with the chain pickerel

Fishing the Tidewater this early is an exercise in hope, humility and discomfort. These are times of unpleasant wind and bone-chilling temperatures. But for the determined angler, there can also be moments of heady triumph and the first real excitement of the season — not to mention a tasty fish dinner.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources deserves to add Protection to its name

The relentless headlines the past week have told the first part of the story. Ten tons of rockfish, most of them 27 to 28 inches, were discovered in just three illegal gill nets set in waters south of Tilghman Island. That’s two thousand or more fish. Braving frigid weather and using simple grappling hooks dragged on long lines in the depths of the Chesapeake, Natural Resources Police finally gave credence to persistent rumors of significant commercial gill net poaching.