Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Come June, we’ll be in fishing heaven

The rockfish spawn is just about finished. The big migratory female rockfish have already vacated our waters to return to their wanderings along the Atlantic Coast. Migratory males (usually smaller than the females), remained in the spawning headwaters for the duration and are now forming up and leaving.

Fishing dates are balanced to save spawning fish

The trophy rockfish season — which ran April 21 to May 15 — was a good one. The first two weeks saw many big fish taken, lots of them measuring over 40 inches. The last week or so, however, proved a disappointment. Most of the really big fish had by then left our area of the Bay to return to the ocean.

Victory loves preparation

We had been set up for less than 20 minutes when I had the first run. The clicker on my Ambassadeur bait caster began to chatter, slowly at first, then rapidly. I picked up the rig and switched off the mechanical alarm to eliminate its resistance. Thumbing the now-whirling spool, I steeled myself as a powerful fish continued off with my chunk of menhaden.

Against a trophy rock, just a taste of success will set you ablaze

We hadn’t had a single bait touched for hours when we finally decided we’d had enough. I cranked in my lines for the trip home, as did my friend in the bow, Maurice. As I turned back to complain to him once again about our wretched luck, Mo’s rod was bent hard over and he struggled merely to hold on to it.

You won’t have to battle crowds to hook the toothy pickerel

My small Tony spoon with a lip-hooked bull minnow sailed out and landed alongside one of the many fallen trees angling out from the impoundment’s shoreline. I let my lure sink next to the tangle of branches for a moment, then lifted the rod tip of my small spin rod and began teasing the bait back.

You don’t need to keep the fish for the fishing to be fine

The sound of the rushing water was tranquilizing as my cast quartered downstream and settled softly. The small fly touched and disappeared underwater just above the churning white cauldron where I hoped some shad might be frisking. My line immediately snapped tight, and my energy flowed back.

With the fun of fishing comes responsibility

Since we spend so much time on the Chesapeake, boating anglers have a particularly important responsibility in maintaining habits that promote a cleaner, healthier Bay. The foremost of those is avoiding polluting behavior in the first place. The single most effective action any angler can take is avoiding and discouraging the use of older, two-cycle outboard motors.

When trophy season for giant rockfish opens, it’s catch and keep them if you can

April 21 is the date some 300,000 anglers have been waiting for since the season closed more than four long months ago. That’s opening day of rockfish trophy season, when giant striped bass — ocean-running beasts some of which were born decades ago in the Chesapeake — return to their natal waters to spawn.

Hunters pay no new fees, but wildlife gets no new funding

Increased fees for hunting licenses and stamps died with the House Republican Caucus leading the fight to kill HP 1419 on March 26. The death was unexpected.     The first fee increases for hunting licenses and stamps in more than 20 years had been proposed by the Maryland Depart­ment of Natural Re­sources to counteract three forces: the long downward trend in hunting license revenues; a projected decline in federal matching monies; and the continued impact of a declining economy.

The Ides of March brings the year’s best fishing

It was just the slightest bit of resistance.     I was working my minnow-tipped Tony spoon deep across a wide section of the Upper Choptank when that hint of hesitation made me lift my rod tip. With the feeling of yet more resistance, I set the hook and was rewarded by a heavy surge at the end of the line on my ultra-light spinning rod.