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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Sometimes it’s catching

It was a few minutes past sundown, but the failing light still burnished the water’s surface, making it glow like molten metal. What little wind there had been had died, leaving the water flat. Conditions were perfect for top-water fishing. But it was late. If the fish were going to show, they had better come soon.

A lot can happen in a short time, but you may have to be patient

Our day had started out with high expectations. The plan was to get on the water by 7am, catch a supply of spot for live-lining, cruise a couple of places that had been producing in the recent past, mark some good rockfish, get a quick limit and be home by noon. Conditions were right: little wind, mostly overcast with mild, short-sleeve temperatures.

Sometimes, the fish cooperate

Light was failing fast, and so was I. My umpteenth cast of the evening landed just short of a ragged shoreline edged with marsh grass. The instant my four-inch top-water plug touched the water, I locked the spool down with my thumb and gave the lure a short twitch, creating a seductive gurgle to add to the splash landing. If a big rockfish had been nearby, I was certain it would have attacked the lure. It remained untouched.

Maryland commercial fishermen owe DNR $3 million

When the watermen’s associations concurred with the legislation passed last May in House Bill 1372, they might not have realized the eventual financial impact it would have on their members. It has proven to be a $3 million whopper.     Under that bill, Department of Natural Resources’ costs for administration and enforcement would be paid for by the recreational and commercial fishing sectors, each covering its own area.

Saltwater visitors add to the fun

The autumnal equinox is not yet upon us, but fishing patterns are already changing. September 22 marks the date when the length of day and night are briefly equal, 12 hours each of sunlight and dark.     Because the earth’s axis is tilted in relation to the sun, the big bright orb will soon be transiting ever lower on the horizon and our days will be getting shorter, the nights longer. This will bring less of the sun’s energy to the northern hemi­sphere. Thus the chill of fall begins.

Casting into the shallows is my fishing favorite

The conditions were finally right. I was fishing along a tree-lined, rip-rapped shoreline that ran for hundreds of yards just outside the mouth of the Severn. Interrupted only by the occasional stone erosion jetty that eased out underwater every hundred yards or so, this area had proven a hot shallow-water rockfish hunting ground this time of year in the past, especially at first light.

A big, powerful surprise

The rod tip dipped, then dipped again. Reaching out, my longtime friend Sandy Sempliner eased the rod from its holder. His reel spool then began to turn slowly. Thumbing it lightly, he tried to determine if extra tidal current was providing the force or if a crafty fish down below was making off with his bait.

$2.9 million needed for commercial fishing checks and balances

Where’s the money going to come from?     Legislation passed this year (House Bill 1372) mandates that Department of Natural Resources’ program management costs for commercial fishing operations be covered by funds generated in that sector.

How to lead dogs to water and make them swim

The Dog Days make August a difficult month for canines, especially the sporting variety. Hunting season is just around the corner, but it’s been many weeks since the weather has been cool enough for serious field exercise. Inactivity takes a toll on human-dog cooperation and communication, not to mention their mutual physical conditioning.     Water play beats the heat and does the job.

You can’t tell a fish not to bite

We had arrived on station at eight that morning with 10 live-lining-size Norfolk spot frisking about in our aerated bait tank. My longtime friend Mike Kelly was in the bow with a short light-casting rod, intent on getting a 5/0 hook just in front of his baitfish’s dorsal.