Chesapeake Bay's Independent Newspaper ~ Since 1993
1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis, MD 21403 ~ 410-626-9888

Volume XVII, Issue 50 ~ December 10 - December 16, 2009

Home \\ Correspondence \\ from the Editor \\ Submit a Letter \\ Classifieds \\ Contact Us
Dining Guide \\ Home & Garden Guide \\ Archives \\ Distribution Locations \\ Advertising


Fish are Biting

Wintertime giants are finally being taken all around the mid-Bay. A 53-inch, 50-pound rockfish was boated by trollers working Love Point a few days ago, and anglers drifting eels have been taking some impressive fish both north and south of the Bridge as well as around the pilings. The bite isn’t continuous and patience is necessary, but the fish are enormous. Nice white perch can be found holding deep in big schools just off the mouths of the major tributaries and around the Bridge. Breezy Point to the south also continues to produce big winter fish for trollers working all the way down to the Gas Docks.

In Season

The area whitetail deer firearms season is drawing to a close on December 12, and all reports indicate that it has been an excellent hunt. The deer bow season will open December 14 and run through December 18. Muzzleloader season opens on December 19 and will run through January 2.

Duck season reopens December 15, and Canada goose on December 17, with the recent spell of cold weather boding well for area waterfowlers.

The Bay’s Next Act

The rockfish season is closing, but the doors are opening on another

I was in a blue funk as I looked at the sleet building up on the planks of our front porch. Just beyond, my skiff was looking ever more desolate in the driveway. Mounting another rockfishing trip was out of the question, at least for the time being, and the season’s clock was winding down fast. December 15 is the end of it.

Winter had emphasized its presence with a vengeance, and I was feeling the melancholy that comes with the end of a good thing. It has been a fantastic year on the Chesapeake.

Virgil Poe is one of the more accomplished anglers to frequent the Magothy. Like one of his favorite fish, the pickerel, he seems to increase in energy and enthusiasm as temperatures plunge.

As I looked around at the mounds of fishing gear that I keep ready in the quasi-mud room just inside our front door, I briefly considered laying it up for the winter. There were lures to rinse, there were reels to clean and lubricate, there were rods to scrub and put away.

I checked out the forecast one more time and found cold and bad weather for days. I turned to angling web sites for respite. It was then that I came across a recent post on Tidalfish from Virgil Poe about fishing the Magothy.

Virgil is one of the more accomplished and gracious anglers to frequent that body of water. Like one of his favorite fish, the pickerel, he seems to increase in energy and enthusiasm as temperatures plunge.

He wrote of the cold weather, diligent searching, then the mother lode: good-sized, fighting pickerel on every cast. Altogether he’d had a superb day on the water. Here I was bemoaning the end of one season, when Virgil was already celebrating the start of another. My mood instantly reversed.

Welcome Pickerel

The Bay does not close down for the wintertime; it just shifts gears and changes players. The season may be over for stripers as they school and move to their deep wintering waters, but colder weather is the prime time for chain pickerel to emerge the dominant game fish in the headwaters of Chesapeake tributaries.

An ambush predator, the long, lean fish has a dark olive back and neon-green, chain-like patterns running along its lighter flanks (hence the name chain pickerel). A mouth full of needle-sharp teeth and a lightning-fast strike finish this portrait of a first-class game fish that becomes more animated and active the colder it gets.

Looking about my tackle room, I located some smaller-sized, shallow-running plugs, perfect for cruising grass pike. I found a box of Mepps spinners, some serious pickerel medicine, that I had put away last summer. Then I searched out the components of Virgil’s prescription for certain success: shad darts and small bobbers for slow trolling and casting a lip-hooked minnow through likely waters.

Outside the sleet had turned into snow and a fresh wind was worrying the bushes, but my head was already into the new paradigm. I was picturing myself in the next few weeks out on the small, nearby waters, quietly working the piers and downed trees, the rafts of floating leaves and debris, all places likely to hold lurking pickerel. I am looking forward to tangling with these new guys.

© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.