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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

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As soon as I purchased my new skiff some three years ago, I had to have the latest and greatest fish-finder/GPS machine. I got it installed, but once I turned it on, problems followed. The software on my machine had some initial problems that were later corrected. Still, I needed to load a new version of the operating software.

When you can’t fish, shop

Winter will probably continue to sweep its foulness down on us, at least for the next two months. That means we probably won’t be getting out for much leg stretching. One good thing about this time of year is that there are fishing tackle bargains, and many of them are on the Internet.     I’ve found a number of sites with good deals on quality tackle. But be warned: Shopping on a foul-weather day can become addictive.

That’s the closest you can get to fishing when winter howls

The 10-day weather forecast calls for wind and consistently low temperatures, occasionally a bit of rain and clouds. Not the kind of outlook that lifts your spirits, unless you’re a waterfowler. I hadn’t joined a hunt club this season, so that didn’t include me.

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.

Trap is a great diversion when it’s too cold to fish

Rising early, I looked out the window to check the tree line. Stiff winds had kept us in for days, and I was eager to get back on the water and after the big ocean-run stripers arriving of late. I lit up as I saw that the skyline was not just still but dead-still.     We even had an overcast. What could be more perfect? Then I glanced at the outside temperature. Thirty-eight degrees was a showstopper. There are places to visit in near-freezing weather, but the Chesapeake in a small open boat is not one of them.

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.