Chesapeake Outdoors By C.D. Dollar

 Vol. 9, No. 47
November 22-28, 2001 
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Time to Give Thanks

To my mind, Thanksgiving is the most wonderful of all the invented holidays, one that resists — as much as possible given the persistence of our nation’s marketing gurus — the infectious commercialization that has overwhelmed Christmas. On second thought, perhaps Thanksgiving has succumbed to this treatment; after all, the day after is touted as the most important shopping day of the year, and the participation of consumers in this second holiday is a barometer by which many economists gauge the success of the shopping season.

Perhaps I am a budding contrarian, but I try to define my holiday-season success by the number of times I see my family and friends as well as days I spend afield. I look upon Thanksgiving as a time when generations of traditions are renewed and new ones invented. On this day, we have the opportunity to give thanks to our family and our friends for their love and kindness while celebrating the bounty of our land and Bay.

Oysters on the half shell, rockfish stuffed with crabmeat and smoked waterfowl are just a few of the more traditional Chesapeake fare that may adorn the dining tables of Bay residents. You can make book that these staples in some variety will be on my family’s menu in quantities that would do Diamond Jim Brady proud come Turkey Day.

And for the first time since 1995, Maryland waterfowl hunters will be afforded the chance to bag a Canada goose for the holidays. After studies revealed that the breeding population in upper Quebec was at record numbers, Maryland Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists, calling the geese’s resurgence “classic conservation success story,” gained federal permission to open a 30-day season with a one-bird per-day limit. The first split runs from November 19 to 23, and the final, larger season starts December 22 and goes out January 19.

At the time our esteemed editor needed this column, I was headed out the door to see if I could do my part to put a goose, mallard or black duck (or better all three) on the table. To many of us, these delicacies are one of the real charms of Thanksgiving in Chesapeake Country.

Fish Are Biting
If you are looking for bruiser, ocean-run rockfish, try trolling large white bucktails along the channel edges from Bloody Point to Point Lookout. Chummers working the lower Bay, such spots as at Gas Docks, Buoy 72 and the Middle Grounds are catching legal rockfish in the 18- to 25-inch range.

We got into a mess of fat white perch at a 55-foot edge at the mouth of Eastern Bay, where they hit 1&Mac218;8-ounce white feather jigs. Most of the weakfish seemed to have moved well below the Bay Bridges, but some can be found in deep water (60 to 100 feet) when the wind is calm off Taylors Island, Hoopers Island and Cornfield Harbor, among other honey holes. Bernie’s Bombers, Sting Silvers, Diamond Jigs or homemade jigs all work well.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly