Long time no blog! Most of my recent Internet activity has been via social networks, especially Facebook (@Shawn.Kimbro), Twitter (@ShawnKimbro) and Instagram (@Shawn_Kimbro). It’s very easy to get a message out via these outlets and I can very quickly post fishing pictures and short reports. If you haven’t already, please look me up. I also have some new Chesapeake Bay How-To fishing videos coming out soon on YouTube, so be sure and follow me there as well. This weekend marks the opening of the striped bass kill season in Maryland. On April 18th it becomes legal to catch and keep a striped bass. So far in 2015, we’ve been releasing all the fish we catch. The regulations are different this year than they’ve been in years past. Between April 18 and May 15, anglers can keep one rockfish per day if it measures (a) between 28 and 36 inches in length or (b) over 40 inches. After May 15, you can keep two fish, but there is a minimum size of 20 inches and only one of those fish can be over 28 inches. Hopefully, Maryland anglers have heard of these new regulations by now, but it never hurts to spread the word! Let’s also spread the word that it’s a good idea to release those 40-inch-plus fish too, even though it’s legal to keep them. Almost all the fish caught in the next couple of weeks will be pre-spawn. If we want strong rockfish populations in the future, we have to let the big spawners go.
Most of the light-tackle fishermen I know don’t pay much attention to the opening of kill season. We’ve already had some of the most exciting fishing of the year. Kill season just means more boats on the water and more big fish taken before they have a chance to spawn.
The spring rockfish migration is well underway now and fish are moving up the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay in waves. So far fishing has been pretty good. My assessment of the 2015 warm-water-discharge season up to now is good but not great. Oh, we’ve released plenty of big fish – some well over fifty pounds – but I’ve seen a lot better cold-weather fishing.
Some of the most exciting fishing in April and May takes place right along the bank. Lately, shore fishing is so good that some of my fishing buddies are leaving their boats at home and hiking down to the piers and points to cast. They’re catching trophies too. My friend Andrew Burton of Annapolis is catching and releasing big fish on quick outings before and after school. He’s had a few evenings when he’s landed three or more stripers that were over forty-inches long! Andrew isn’t alone. I’m hearing about big fish caught all along the western shore from Sandy Point State Park clear down to Point Lookout. On the opposite side of the Bay, my neighbor Dan Hughes has been wearing them out from the shorelines on Kent Island. The picture on the right is of a beautiful fish he released last week. There is also some nice fish being caught at the Matapeake Pier. Unfortunately, there’s also been some poaching at Matapeake. Maryland Natural Resource Police busted three fishermen earlier this week for keeping big rockfish they caught from the pier. Let’s hope these bad guys get the maximum sentence possible.
In my younger days, almost all my striper fishing was from shore. The first rockfish I ever caught was with a topwater plug casting from the bank. Here are some things I’ve learned along with a few tips from Andrew, Dan, and other anglers who are successfully catching big stripers from shore. Read More!
I’ve had a great time kicking off my new book, The Right Stuff – Gear & Attitudes for Trophy Light Tackle Fishing. Over eighty anglers came to the release party on Kent Island last month. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did! The book is now officially released to regional retail outlets and tackle shops. Most regional bait shops have it and some have already reordered. If you’re a fishing tackle or book retailer in the Mid-Atlantic region and want books, contact me. It is also available in both paperback and digital formats on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Better yet, you can get a signed copy directly from me via this website. I still have a few special CCA Maryland hardcover editions available. After these are sold, there will be a half-dozen or so auctioned at CCA fundraisers, but otherwise, the hardcovers will be gone. I have scheduled several seminars and talks and I’ll have a signing table at some of the upcoming fishing/outdoors shows in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. region. Here’s my schedule as it stands now. I’m especially excited about speaking for the Chesapeake Bay Magazine Seminar Series at this year’s Baltimore Boat Show at the Convention Center. I have room to work in a few more talks, so fishing clubs and other organizations are welcome to contact me about speaking opportunities. I’ll try to keep my schedule updated here, and on my Amazon.com Author Page. I’ll also make announcements on Facebook when something is coming up. I hope to see you soon!
In January’s past, I’ve suggested a few New Year’s resolutions to my fishing buddies. I stand by the resolution I recommended in 2013 that we fishermen should include at least one picture of our wife and kids on our cell phones to balance out the one hundred thirty two other shots of our boat, truck, and every fish we’ve caught in the past three years. I also still recommend that we teach our kids how to tie their shoes before we show them how to make a Palomar knot. I thought of some good ones this year too. I mean, shouldn’t we all resolve to spend less time at the gym and more time watching fishing videos on YouTube? And, couldn’t most of us change our internet passwords since “rockfish” is getting a little over used? Nevertheless, this January I decided to worry less about the resolutions of others and focus more on my own self-improvement goals. Here are my fifteen personal resolutions for 2015:
1. I resolve to stop showing my fishing partners Victoria’s Secret videos on my cell phone while they’re driving the truck and pulling the boat. Oops, never mind. Already broke that one.
2. I resolve never to regret a tattoo, not even one on my lower back from 1982 of Aunt Bee holding a bent Ugly Stick while reeling up a Jack Daniels bottle. Read More!
My year in review video:
Most of the anglers I know caught rockfish last year. Some of us here in Maryland had a pretty good year. One of the reasons we caught well in 2014 is because we had a lot of fish very close to home. I don’t like to kick off a new year on a down note, but I’m not too excited about our catching last year. Our area is one of the few places in the country where striped bass fishing was decent in 2014. Did we have a good year, or have we lowered our expectations? Read More!
Next Monday, December 8th, the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) meets in Baltimore to discuss an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. This meeting will include a session to consider potential action to protect unmanaged forage fish in areas outside the territorial three-mile line. This is the area where they are most likely to be harvested. When we think of forage fish, we usually think of menhaden. That’s because most fishermen are aware of steep declines in their numbers, but forage fish also includes other bait species like glass minnows, bay anchovies, silversides, grass shrimp, river herring, white shad, hickory shad, sand eels, and hundreds of others. While a few of these species are managed, albeit poorly, the overwhelming majority are not managed at all. As a result, they are being decimated by commercial fishing fleets.
Every good fisherman I know is a conservationist at heart. About a year ago, my friend Trent Zivkovich gave me a copy of A Sand County Almanac by the father of wildlife ecology, Aldo Leopold. This book is considered by many to be the 20th century’s literary landmark for conservation writing. In it, Leopold proposed the “love of sport” as a primary motivation for environmental stewardship. I know from experience that he’s right. It is experience on the water that drives anglers with the right stuff to protect the waters we love and the fish and other animals that live in and around them. Read More!
“Anyone can get lucky and catch a winning or trophy fish. What separates the men from the boys is consistency.” - Bill Burton
The best anglers I know have a solid grasp of three basic elements. The first is a willingness to learn and change behaviors or techniques when necessary. That means incorporating the latest technologies and staying on top of the best research. It also includes sorting through the folklore to pick out the very best practices and discarding the nonproductive tactics that bog us down. Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you’re not happy with the results you’re getting, it’s time to change. There are not many fishermen who have perfected their skills to the point where they are successful every time. The handful who have could teach us all something. These are the guys who need to write a book. I know I’d buy it. Fishermen with the right stuff are continually seeking opportunities to learn – to step outside of tried-and-proven comfort zones to find what works.
The second element is enthusiasm. Good fishermen eat, drink, smoke, and chew fishing. When they aren’t fishing, they’re thinking about fishing, and they’re probably planning their next fishing trip (or two). They seek out new information and pour over every tidbit of data they can find that might improve their skills. They surround themselves with like-minded people who share their passion for the sport. They also work to conserve the species they enthusiastically pursue. Read More!