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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

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.

From the Bay, you can enjoy a little more

After yet another great rockfish dinner, I decided to do a little research on past warnings about contaminants in our Bay waters, hence in our striped bass.     Checking out the latest Maryland Department of the Environment Updated Fish Consumption Advisory for Maryland, I found great news and a little bad news.

This old dog learned a new trick

I have dedicated a great deal of effort and financial investment in my quest for big perch on artificial lures. Last week I discovered I had been on the wrong track.     I experimented with the Super Rooster Tail, Beetle Spins, the Tony Accetta Pet Spoon, small Rat-L-Traps, the Little Cleo spoon, Acme Kastmasters and small Bass Assassins and Finesse minnows in various colors.

Algae blooms mean red tides and stressed fish

We were already launched speeding toward our rendezvous as dawn broke on the Chesapeake.     Then the radio crackled with bad news.     “Don’t bother,” said a friend who had arrived on station first. “There’s a red tide pouring out of the river and the fish have left.”

Read on to find out 

The rod tip twitched, just a little and just once, but I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye.     “Hey Mo, you’ve got a bite,” I hissed, needlessly.     My friend’s hand had already moved to his reel and slipped off the clicker to reduce its resistance on the line. His thumb was on the spool, but he left the rod in its holder.

Get up early to find the fish and beat the heat

We were drifting quietly well off the mouth of the Severn in 30 feet of water. It was not yet sunrise but the first blush of daylight lit the water’s surface well enough to show some very nervous schools of baitfish swimming around us.     Here and there small menhaden — peanut bunker — would shower into the air, fleeing something sinister below. There must have been a heck of a spawn this spring because I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many menhaden schools this early in the year.

And what to do if perch is your only bait

I could feel the five-inch white perch on my line swimming toward the bottom 30 feet down. The pulses of its efforts transmitted plainly up the line on my bait-casting rod. As the baitfish reached its goal and settled down, I lightly thumbed the narrow spool of my casting reel and lifted my rod tip just enough to make the fish’s movements a bit more frantic.     I was drifting over some nice marks on my depth sounder off the mouth of the Severn, and I suspected the arches represented sizeable rockfish.

Good fishing, good eating and good news

Casting up tight to the riprapped shoreline, I flipped the bail closed on the small spin reel and started my retrieve. I wanted to keep the Rooster Tail lure up and off the submerged rock below. My retrieve slowed as the lure came away from the stony structure and I let it settle, slow rolling it down, close to the bottom where I hoped some big blackbacks were holding.

New regional recommendations help ensure legal harvests

It’s good news for the Chesapeake Bay, which provides 75 percent of striped bass stocks that reside in the Atlantic. New recommendations by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission tackle the very real threat that commercial poaching poses to the fish’s sustainability.