April showers bring cherry blossoms and tourists to the Mid-Atlantic. Since cherry trees were first planted around the Tidal Basin in 1912, people from all over the world travel to Washington D.C. to welcome the arrival of spring. This is also the time when fishermen look forward to other visitors making their way up the Potomac. In late March, the hickory shad run begins bringing some of the most exciting fishing of the year.
Hickory and white shad are anadromous species that spend the vast majority of their lives at sea, but enter the Chesapeake region in the spring. They swim through the Bay and up the rivers looking for the fast water they need in order to spawn. Shad hold an important place in American history. The Native Americans fished for them extensively and used them to fertilize their crops. George Washington was known as a prolific shad angler and caught thousands near his home on at Mount Vernon. It was the spring shad run in Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River that saved Washington’s army from starvation at Valley Forge. You can read about it in the Shad Foundation’s Shad Journal. Read More!
If you’ve ever traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, chances are good that you visited the Peabody Hotel lobby to see the world-famous mallards march down the red carpet. It’s a time-honored tradition that dates back to the 1930s when a couple of hunters from Arkansas decided it would be funny to put some live ducks in the hotel’s indoor fountain. The famous Peabody Marching Mallards have appeared on The Tonight Show, Sesame Street, The Oprah Winfrey Show, in People magazine and even graced the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. If you read the Peabody’s website, you’ll find that those lucky ducks are raised by a local farmer who loans them to the hotel. What you won’t read is that the farmer who provides the Peabody ducks is also an excellent fisherman. I know that for a fact because I fished with him all week. Read More!
I had to pull a night shift at work this week, so I decided to reset my circadian clock with an early morning of smallmouth fishing on the Susquehanna river. Last July, I invited Bill Montgomery to join me for a Chesapeake Bay top-water striper trip near Poplar Island. Bill and I hit it off after finding we shared interests in both fishing and acoustic music. Bill returned my fishing favor by inviting me up to Pennsylvania to see one of his favorite bass spots. He fishes occasionally with his friend Dennis Mongold who is a smallmouth bass guide specializing in this section of the Susquehanna. I met them near Harrisburg where we loaded up in Dennis’s custom made aluminum jon-boat. The boat is specially outfitted for fishing this section of the rocky river. Dennis has his jet-drive outboard mounted on a hydraulic lift so he can adjust the draft for very shallow water. The bottom of the boat is coated with hard plastic so it can easily skim over the rocks. I’ve done a lot of river fishing, but this is the first time I’ve been on a boat running thirty miles per hour in four inches of water. I admit I was a little unnerved! Read More!
Top-water fishing in the mid-Bay shallows has been nothing short of amazing lately, but I’ve had other pursuits in mind. This past weekend was not a good time to fish the Chesapeake Bay. Sailors, cruisers, tourists, kayakers, fishermen and excursionists of all kinds flock to the Bay by the thousands for Labor Day’s last long taste of sweet sweet summer. This week, there’s a hint of fall in the air. Local marinas are running winterization specials as many boaters put their rides away until next spring. Early flocks of migratory waterfowl are taking flight toward the south. The Spanish mackerel are high-tailing it toward the capes. The female ospreys are almost gone while the smaller males make a few final dives before starting their trans-continental journey toward the Amazon. For many, this is a depressing time of year, but for the light tackle angler it’s the start of the most productive season of all. To celebrate the impending fall and avoid the holiday crowds, I like to head north toward the mountains. The green flash of a smallmouth bass leaping into the blue sky out of a sparkling stream is more spectacular than any Labor Day fireworks. Read More!