Chesapeake Outdoors By C.D. Dollar
Vol. 9, No. 34
August 23-29, 2001
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More Than a Game for Kids to Play

Though I am sure that it’s known by other names and has its roots in versions created decades ago, there is a game outdoor educators play with students to simulate the delicate balance that exists in the natural world. It is called “predator-prey,” and basically each kid either picks an animal or is assigned one, ranging from osprey to fiddler crab to comb jelly. A single “top” predator takes up position in the middle of an open field and the rest of the “animals” try to avoid capture.

Usually pandemonium erupts even before “go” is announced, and shrieks of laughter echo off the water or trees. It is hilarious watching kids pulsating like a jellyfish or squawking like a heron, bent on avoiding capture. But when the clamor subsides, the students for the most part come away from the game with a basic understanding of the meaning of the food web and biodiversity, which are important first steps in comprehending the Bay ecosystem and our place in it.

On the all-too-infrequent occasions when I fish offshore, I wonder in quiet amazement about the habits of such voracious predatory of the deep as tunas, marlins and sharks. In the Bay, swarms of bluefish, ravenous in their pursuit of frantic schools of silversides, know their role in the system. Even the modest spot, an abundant summer visitor from the ocean, isn’t shy when it comes to feeding at the trough.

Juvenile spot crowd together among the sea grasses, particularly in the eelgrass beds found in the lower Bay, where they forage on aquatic insects and seek refuge from the predacious rockfish and bluefish. Even the spot’s own kin, weakfish and speckled seatrout, ignore familial ties and devour these tasty morsels.

I’m pretty sure it’s nothing personal (except maybe on the part of bluefish), but rather simply business as usual in the world of predator-prey.

Fish Are Biting
Marauding schools of snapper bluefish, legal rockfish and leaping Spanish mackerel have been reported between Point Lookout and Point No Point and from Holland Point to the Gooses. Also, scattered schools of fish are breaking from the Honga River past Love Point, though they don’t stay in one place too long. Metal spoons, Sting silvers, and bucktails all are good choices.

If you can stand the crowds, fishermen slinging chum at rockfish near buoy 72A and at buoy 72 along the edge have taken limits. DNR reports that trolled Clark spoons catch Spanish mackerel at the Hooper’s Island Light.

Tossing Clousers to shoreline around Cedar Island might produce a speckled seatrout but chances are a rockfish will take it. Not a whole lot of specs around, apparently, but hopefully they’ll become more available in September. Good bottom fishing off Cooks Point in the Choptank River for croaker and spot.

Bay Bridges offer some fun light tackle and fly fishing for barely legal and sub-legal rockfish. Some keeper flounder along the drop-offs and edges in Eastern Bay off Claiborne and in the Poplar Island flats.

Offshore, the yellowfin bite is still on at the Hot Dog, and marlin at the canyons. Longfin albacore are beginning to post at the Hambone.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly