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maryland dnr - Chesapeake Light Tackle

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Sounds simple, doesn’t it? A right to have fun? That’s something we all take for granted. Well, you shouldn’t according to some lawmakers in Annapolis. This week, a bill was introduced in the House Environmental Matters Committee that seeks to define one simple thing – that the public has a right to use and enjoy the water. Who wouldn’t vote for that? Your delegate probably won’t. In fact, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) testified against it. Seem odd?

Here’s how it breaks out. Some wealthy waterfront property owners got involved in a not-in-my-backyard user conflict over proposed oyster floats in the Chincoteague Bay. The case went to a hearing and the attorney general issued a half-witted ruling that said, “on public waters, the state does not recognize the right to recreate.”  Seeking to appeal, the property owners got a few state delegates to help them out and a bill was introduced to make sure the right for recreation is defined in the law. Read more about it here.  I don’t think the delegates – all from red districts – intended to do anything more than help out a few rich constituants, but they opened an interesting issue and things got dicey. Read More!

By all accounts, 2012 was an unusual year for fishing.  For me, it was absolutely strange at times. I jigged up my biggest striper of the year on the first day of the year, a 49-incher that might have pushed 50-pounds. It was the only fish I caught.  A few days later I got another 47-incher and another one about that size on the next day. Each time it was only one fish per day.  Is one fish worth five hours or more of casting?  When they’re that size, I think so!  Those were some of my biggest fish of 2012, but I’ve been lucky enough to jig up a few more mid-40s class fish since then including this pretty 45-incher I caught in the snow this week.  Warm water discharge (WWD) fishing was good last spring, but we really had to pick our days.  Our most successful times were early-morning windy weekdays when it was raining or snowing.  The WWD big fish bite is always very specific.  I explain how to get the trophies in my book, Chesapeake Light Tackle, An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.  Read More!

Most fishermen do their best to keep up with creel limits, size restrictions, slot ranges, and gear limitations. It’s often very complicated to follow specific regulations, but true sportsmen pride themselves on knowing exactly how they can legally fish and what kinds of fish they are allowed to keep. It’s especially important to know the rules this time of year, since many species are spawning. That’s why it’s so surprising that one of the most prized and delicious fish in the Chesapeake Bay is completely unrestricted – no limits, no size restrictions, and no rules as to how they can be caught.

This past weekend I had the good fortune to fish for crappie with light tackle/fly-fishing guide Kevin Josenhans in the tidal Pocamoke River near Snow Hill, Maryland.  As fishing guides go, Captain Kevin is nothing short of Chesapeake royalty. He’s been fishing the Bay for over 40 years. In addition to guiding for the past 20 years, he’s spent three decades working for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources including time as a ranger at Janes Island State Park.  He knows the lower Maryland Chesapeake region like the back of his hand.  His successful late summer speckled trout trips in the Tangier Sound are legendary.  I’ve wanted to get out with him for one of those Tangier trips for several years, but I was surprised last week when my buddy Mark invited me along on a trip he had planned with Captain Kevin for crappie and chain pickerel. I jumped at the opportunity. Read More!

To fizz or not to fizz, that is the question a lot of yellow perch fishermen have been asking lately. As you can see by this sonar shot, yellow perch can hold in a wide range of depths this time of year in the Chesapeake Bay. At issue is that a few of the fish we catch from the deepest water come up with distended swim bladders. Since we inevitably land a few that are under the legal size limit, they have to be released.  Because of all the air in their bodies, they can’t always swim back down.  This leaves them floating on top of the water where they are vulnerable to birds and other predators. The practice of puncturing a fishes swim bladder with a hypodermic needle or other sharp object to relieve pressure is called fizzing.  It works for some species, but for others it isn’t such a good idea.  What about yellow perch? This week, I put the question to the experts. I spoke with several fisheries biologists I know, including some at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  Here’s what I learned. Read More!

Ring perch, that’s what my fishing buddy Rich calls them, but considering the impact they’re having on the economy of the upper Chesapeake Bay, they might as well be called gold fish. If ever there was a Chesapeake fisheries management success story it’s what we are experiencing right now with yellow perch. As fishermen pour in from all over, posting one successful fishing report after another, it’s obvious that Maryland can proudly boast one of the best perch fisheries in the United States. I don’t know about you, but I consider that one heck of an accomplishment, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should be proud.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t always this way.  For the past couple of decades yellow perch fishing has been a shadow of what it could be.  As of 2005 there were few limits on the commercial harvest of yellow perch.  Netters could set their traps almost wherever and whenever they wanted taking as many fish as they could catch.  Almost all our Maryland fish were sold outside the state.  The only benefit to our economy was in lining the pockets of a few commercial fishermen. In 2008, that all changed. Read More!

If you’re reading this website, chances are you pore over everything you can get your hands on about fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.  If you’re like me, you have favorite authors and preferred books or periodicals, and you can’t wait for the next issue to come along.  The work of one of my favorite Chesapeake writers can’t be found in newspaper columns or outdoor magazines, but I’ve read every fishing report he’s written since 2003.  Keith Lockwood writes for Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fisheries website.  I started reading his reports when I first started fishing the Bay.  After recognizing the historical value of this weekly chronicle, I spent a couple of weeks scouring through all the archived entries.   Through previous year’s dispatches I learned about angling techniques, behavioral patterns, places to fish, and a lot about the science behind our fishing regulations.  I was extremely disappointed when I found out earlier this year that Keith would be cutting back on his weekly articles in favor of reader submitted entries in a section called The Maryland Angler’s Log.  While I still miss Lockwood’s focused reports, I’ve been plesantly surprised by the new addition to the website. The Maryland Angler’s Log is a real winner. Read More!