Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 49

December 5-11, 2002

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A Little Prevention Can Make Or Break Your Winter Season

Two friends of mine last week experienced things that have happened to most of us. In fact, not a year goes by that I haven’t been the unlucky recipient of some benign inconvenience when out of doors. Like the bumper sticker says, S - - - Happens. (And we all know that bumper stickers are gospel, right?)

What prevents a good tale told around the camp stove from becoming a tragedy is influenced by luck. But making your own luck by preparing for trouble ahead of time is a much better precaution. Both fellas are experienced outdoorsmen, so they were ready to deal with the situation, and, as a result, the outcomes were predictably positive.

A mechanical breakdown on his boat had my one friend stranded, but a stout anchor held his boat, and help was only a cell phone call away. Picking a calm weather day for a late-season cruise also limited his potential for trouble. He dressed warmly and he carried a full supply of safety equipment: a reliable VHF radio, flares and life jackets were among the gear.

While my other friend was walking his duck boat along the marsh shoreline, a malevolent sink indoctrinated him into the Polar Bear Club. It was a membership he didn’t want. Soaked head to toe, he quickly shed his wet gear and put on spare clothes he stowed in a dry bag. The outdoor community should canonize whoever invented dry bags. Hypothermia is a real threat, so getting warm quickly is paramount. A thermos of hot coffee, tea or soup helps keeps the chill off, and foods rich in fats and carbohydrates help stoke the body’s fire to maintain normal internal temperatures.

Disaster can sometimes be unavoidable, but not carrying properly working safety gear is simply unacceptable.

Fish Are Biting
Only a couple more weeks before another fishing season will be done. Hard to believe, really, especially since it seemed to me we experience a slightly abbreviated fall blitz. But then again, several hard blows courtesy of some bona fide nor’easters will do that to a fishing season. Now frigid Arctic air has forced water temperatures to plummet to the low to mid 40s.

Trollers who bucked the wind and heavy seas had been doing fair, especially farther south. Large fall migratory rockfish were thick off Rappahannock River over Thanksgiving, and Annapolitan Joe Coble and family took several stripers over 20 pounds, including a monster 47 pounder.

Limits were commonly caught last week but scarce so far this week. DNR biologist Angel Bolinger reports that in mid-Bay, it’s the east shore that has been more productive. Double rigged bucktails and #17 to #19 Tonys were productive.

Alan Rogers of the charter boat Plumb Crazy out of Rod ’n’ Reel says that the legal fish abundant last week have been replaced by loads of undersized fish. When I asked him if he thought the cold weather meant the bite was over, he said probably not, but it would be sooner than later when the bigger rockfish head down the Bay. I’ll have to chase them down there, I guess.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly