view counter

Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Some days it takes perseverance to fill your cooler

It was nearly noon. My skiff was getting low on gas, a chop was building and my cooler was still empty. Having started in the early hours, searching and fishing from Sandy Point to Hackett’s and Tolley’s then up to Podickery and over to Love Point, I was now on my way back to the ramp without a single rockfish.

Could a new lure out­perform a tried-and-true white perch favorite?

The Super Rooster Tail in the Clown Coach Dog pattern has been the king of white perch shallow-water spinner baits for Bay anglers for the last decade.     Why that is, no one can explain. The bait looks like nothing in nature. It is a safety-pin-type spinner bait with a cylindrical bright-yellow lead body marked with irregular red-orange fluorescent spots, dressed with dark spun hackle and finished with a double hook. It swings on its wire frame under a single silver willow-leaf blade.

Only a very good friend shares a perch honey hole

My small spin rod was bent down deeply, and the delicate six-pound mono sizzled through the water as a small but mighty fish cut hard away, my spinner bait sparkling at the corner of its mouth.     The sound of the lightly set drag feeding line was a sweet melody to my ears, reassuring me that its measured resistance would be unlikely to tear the hook from the perch’s delicate mouth. I intended to let that rascal run until it tired; then I would invite it to dinner, that very evening if things worked out.

Hot weather is hard on anglers and hard on the fish, too

The first big fish came rather promptly, though in the end it proved a questionable blessing. I had flipped the half soft crab out to one of the bridge pilings and fed line under my thumb. The tide was crawling along, just slow enough to allow my quarter-ounce lead to sink the bait into the sweet zone.     The sweet zone that day was at about 15 feet, halfway to the bottom. That’s where the fish arcs had shown on the sonar with our first exploratory drift past the bridge support. On our next pass we had dropped the baits.

Finding feeding seabirds will save you time and speed up your catch

The seabirds, scores of them about 100 yards away, were wheeling, screaming and diving. We could see the splashes of fish wildly feeding just under the surface. They were not the explosive strikes of the big stripers we had hoped for, but it was impossible to ignore them.     Running ahead but well outside of the feeding school, I chopped the skiff’s throttle, turned and eased within casting range. My partner and I flung our lures just to the edge of the action. I was fishing a half-ounce Bass Assassin, and Moe, a half-ounce gold Red Eye Shad.

Effort and thoroughness catch fish

The northwest wind pushed up some unpleasant seas, forcing us to shift our efforts from the Eastern Shore to the calmer waters on the leeward, western side of the Bay Bridge. That turned out to be good fortune.     That side of the structure abuts Sandy Point State Park and gets a tremendous amount of fishing pressure.

Gone all too soon

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. –Agnes Turnbull As I watched her clumsy frolic across the yard, attempting to catch the stuffed bear she had just tossed into the air, it was hard to believe that we had met almost 14 years ago. My dog, Sophie, a particularly comely German shorthair pointer, was just seven weeks old then.

How else to explain such a catch?

Pulling on the trotline one final time to straighten it and ensure proper tension, we dropped the red trailing float and released its anchor into the water, completing the setup. It was just after sunrise, an early start being a necessity when hoping for a good catch of blue crabs. Still, we also knew our job was not going to be easy.

Recreational anglers deserve their fair share of the catch

Our white perch have long waited for Maryland Department of Natural Resources to give them a formal management program. A plan proposed in 1990 stalled over opposition from commercial fishermen. A 2005 effort failed again.     Finally, an updated management program is under way and a draft released for comment. In reading the 2015 Review of the Maryland White Perch Fishery Management Plan, I was pleased and only a little disappointed.

A waterspout may get you if you don’t watch out

I focused on drifting the edges of a Bay Bridge pier, where I was hoping a big rockfish would inhale the chunk of soft crab I was presenting below. Conditions ­couldn’t have been much better, with overcast skies and a slack tide. Then my cell phone buzzed.     I cleared my line and fumbled with my shirt pocket. Finally, freeing the phone, I heard a familiar voice, my neighbor Capt. Frank Tuma, who was fishing a party just to the north of me.