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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Changing conditions bring new characters to Chesapeake waters

Perhaps it’s global warming. Maybe it was a super-successful spawn. Or it could be another one of those things that can’t be explained. Whatever the cause, young redfish are pushing up the Bay in search of new sources of food.     This high up in the Bay is the northern edge of these fish’s customary salinity range. But anecdotal indications are that a pretty fair number of redfish overwintered here. That means you’re likely to encounter these game fish.

We pay our way; commercial fishermen should, too

Recreational fishing license fees have been increased twice in recent years to meet shortfalls in the Department of Natural Resource’s operating budget for the administration of recreational programs. As a result, DNR brings in enough money to fund its sport-fishing management, including police enforcement.

A few Marylanders still follow the hounds that follow the hares

Danny’s 12-gauge pump boomed out twice off to my left as a streaking gray rabbit cut in and out of a long, narrow copse of briars parallel to us. Raising my 20-gauge and trying to track the tricky rabbit as it neared my position, I fired twice as well, also to no effect.

I wasn’t just fishing last season; I was learning from experience

Cold and rain have had me housebound and dreaming of last fishing season. Along with great memories, I learned a couple of new lessons.     My fishing partners and I experimented with different types of fishing lines during an extended chumming and live-lining rockfish bite in the mid-Bay. We fished often, up to four times per week, trying braid, monofilament and fluorocarbon lines.

But without ready money, plans are just plans

In a bold, all-encompassing and optimistic plan, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally brought together all of the players that enjoy the waters creating our great Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan includes Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, New York and the District of Columbia. No prior federal planning efforts for the Chesapeake have attempted anything of this geographical scope.

Use the off-season to get your gear ready for the fish

If you’re like me, you tried to fish all the way to the end of the season. So your tackle was never put up properly.     Now that there’s little angling left, outside of possibly a little pickerel action, it’s time to care for your tackle. The chore is necessary if you expect to hit the ground running in the spring.

Anne Arundel Recreation and Parks promises new effort

Anne Arundel County has the longest Bay shoreline in Maryland at 534 miles, embracing five major rivers and countless creeks and streams. It is home to 40,000 registered boaters. Yet unless you own waterfront property or live in a water-privileged community, you have virtually no access to the Chesapeake or its tributaries.

And a few tips on tying it

Look up the word ubiquitous in any saltwater fly-fishing dictionary and you’ll see a picture of a Clouser Deep Minnow streamer fly. Look up the word quintessential and pictured will be that fly in a chartreuse-over-white pattern.     The Clouser is the world’s most popular saltwater fly. It has caught every species of saltwater fish that can be caught on a fly and arguably does it better than any streamer ever invented. The chartreuse-over-white pattern is its most deadly variation, especially in the Chesapeake.

You don’t have to wait until summer for the fun to start

The coming year will be filled with many outdoor opportunities on the Tidewater, particularly if you’re an angler. The best part is your adventures could start very soon, mid-January, in fact.     Yellow perch continue their remarkable comeback around the Chesapeake. The bite traditionally begins this month on the Susquehanna Flats at a large staging area near the mouth of the Elk River.

Menhaden gain recognition and protection

Friday, December 14, 2012, is a day that makes a difference. On that day, menhaden — a fish virtually inedible to humans and once numerous but now endangered — gained recognition and protection as a vital component of our complex marine ecosystem.     Meeting in Baltimore, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission declared its intent to protect Atlantic menhaden from continued commercial over-fishing, which has reduced the species to eight percent of its historic population.