|Renewed Hope on the Marshyhope
The upper reaches of the Marshyhope Creek, past Federalsburg in the southeast corner of Caroline County, follows the western boundary of Idylwild Wildlife Management Area, a 3,000-acre mix of marshes, forested wetlands and hardwood forests. As the ebb tide pulled hard downstream, we navigated over and around downed pin oaks, which were becoming more obvious as the water fell. My girlfriend Mimsy and I paddled as deep into Idylwild as we could before the fallen timber and falling tide forced us to retreat, following the creek as it narrowed and twisted, jumping green herons and painted turtles along the way. Larger ponds teem with pickerel and largemouth bass and local mallard. Families of resident geese dominate the edges, while spatterdock, blue flag, and rushes offer natural color.
This stretch of the Marshyhope is a pretty part of the Nanticoke watershed that can keep even the most occasional naturalist entertained. On land at Idylwild, white-tailed deer, woodcock and turkey roam the grounds, and when autumn rolls around, waterfowlers flock to the region to hunt for wood duck and the mallards.
A little downstream from the public boat ramp at Federalsburg is a "Bay Grasses in Classes" project created jointly by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and area students. Before the holiday, I helped Foundation educators Molly Brumfield and Louisa Jonas as they led a group of elementary students from Wicomico and Kent counties in planting the wild celery they had grown in their classrooms. The kids were among the thousands of students and adult volunteers taking part in dozens of plantings all over the Bay and its tributaries to restore underwater grasses.
The Marshyhope is a beautiful place with incredible natural resources. Increasing natural buffers and habitats will help it stay that way.
Fish Are Biting
Despite the monsoons, fishing in both fresh and saltwater is reportedly very good. The drumbeat has started around James Island and Stone Rock for behemoth black drum, which, according to Fred Donovan from Rod 'n' Reel (800/233-2080) in Chesapeake Beach, average between 40 and 60 pounds. On Memorial Day, Donovan said he checked in a massive 90 pounder taken on soft crab by Lee Miller of Waldorf. Miller's fish was 53-inches long and had a girth of 37 inches.
Department of Natural Resources' Angie Bolinger says that night fishing for croaker is hot from the Gooses south. Rob from Angler's in Annapolis (410/974-4013) says that white perch are at the Bay Bridges, where some chummers have done well, which bodes well now that the rockfish size limit has changed to two fish at 18 to 28 inches or one at 18 to 28 inches and one larger than 28 inches per person per day.
Fair numbers of flounder and croaker are biting in the Patuxent triangle area and the Honga River. Chumming for stripers off Point Lookout has been very good, but most are in the 20- to 22-inch range with an occasional keeper. Plenty of two- to three-pound bluefish cruise the chum slicks.
Offshore, the first yellowfin tuna were caught on Sunday at the Washington Canyon, according to DNR reports. Also, a longfin tuna in the 50-pound class was caught in the area. Apparently, professional charter captains and scientists can't remember hearing of tuna catches off Ocean City this early. At the Fingers and along the 20-fathom line behind the Jackspot, the shark bite is fantastic with several mako sharks being caught this past weekend. Inshore, DNR reports that the flounder action has moved down to the South Bay, but the Route 90 Bridge and the Thorofare are also good on squid, minnows or a combination of both.