I learned two things this week: Parsimonious is the polite way to call someone stingy or cheap, and sand does indeed freeze. The details on this first point are irrelevant; as to the second, I discovered sand can take on properties of cement, after almost busting a silhouetted Canada decoy trying to set it into what is typically soft shoreline.
Unless you’ve just returned to Maryland after spending the holidays in the Bahamas then you’re keenly aware of the nose-numbing fact that we, along with the eastern third of the country, are in the grips of a crippling Arctic blast. At least we don’t live in Erie, Pennsylvania. Nearly seven feet of snow in less than a week or so? That’s just plain cruel.
And it is this blast of frigid air — forecast to only get colder in the days ahead — that had waterfowlers jacked up this weekend. Gunners of every stripe, from small-boat marsh maniacs and big-rig diver hunters to monster goose spreaders, were out and about.
I joined them, though my window was a narrow one. I settled on targeting geese over water. A clipper that moved across the state early Saturday morning dusted the grain fields with a crisp whiteness like confectioner’s sugar. Temperatures in the high teens let this gunner take a more leisurely approach to the day’s outing. A ripping ebb tide kept the creek open, though ice encroached along the shoreline. A family of Canadas floated on the current like tall ships, flat and two-dimensional.
Everyone has their own theory as to how large or small a feint to set out. On this day I went micro: A handful of full-bodied floaters, six silos stuck, kinda, into the sand, and two full-bodied field feeders that I rested on the ice. A pair of swans completed the fake scene, my thought being perhaps the presence of two white birds might fool a goose into a false sense of security.
Once done, an exercise that took all of 15 minutes, my four-legged companion and I retreated to the blind, and settled in to watch ice form. The sun hid behind gray clouds as a small group of geese circled the cordgrass and landed down creek. Softly honking, I could barely make out their shapes through the stand of oaks and maples that lined the creek bend. As they swam within 75 yards of us, I assume they saw their counterfeit relatives, since the first few very quickly became chest proud, and in one fluid motion the entire party elevated onto their downy rumps and went airborne.
I then noticed a Cooper’s hawk on patrol, flying low and stealthily from its woodland hide. Perhaps that was the reason for the harried exodus? The raptor accelerated with a burst of speed to overtake what it wrongly surmised was prey. It came so close to the blind I could’ve counted its flight feathers. The dog shot me a look, as if to ask why the gun didn’t go bang.
Hunting in these frigid conditions requires periodic walkabouts to get the blood flowing lest your appendages lockup. That is, of course, unless you’re gunning from the relative luxury of one of those monster pit blinds, resplendent with amenities such as propane heaters and cooktops. I bet some even have a hi-def TV.
If nothing else, a quick jaunt has on occasion changed my luck. Numerous have been the times I’ve been caught out of the hide only to look up and see birds fly away. This time I heard the geese before I saw them. We double timed it back inside, and three circle aloft. Three or four single notes on the call hooked the trailing goose. It swung hard and bee lined for our spread. I haven’t a clue what direction the others took, but it wasn’t toward us.
As if serendipity had finally smiled upon us, the single goose skidded across the water from right to left for several yards, black feet stretched fully, mere inches from the icy surface, neck elongated, wings prostrated to the unforgiving sky. Its commitment was as impressive as it was final.
Jan. 3: Free State Fly Fishers meeting. 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m., Davidsonville Family Rec. Center, 3727 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville.
Jan. 8: Pasadena Sportfishing Group. Tim Campbell will discuss “Fishing Techniques for Yellow Perch.” Doors open at 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.
Jan. 13: 9th annual MSSA Frederick Chapter “Fishing Expo.” Expert speakers and fishing vendors. Frederick Fairgrounds Building 9, Frederick.
Jan. 25-28: Baltimore Boat Show by Progressive. Free daily seminars to increase your knowledge and confidence. Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets and details at baltimoreboatshow.com.Jan. 30: Angler’s Night Out. Film “Buccaneers & Bones with Lefty, Season 2.” Hosted by CCA-MD, Boatyard Bar & Grill, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Happy Hour & food specials 5-7 p.m., film begins at 7 p.m. Fourth & Severn, Eastport. Details at boatyardbarandgrill.com.
Jan. 27-28: Kent Island Fishermen’s (MSSA Chapter 7) 8th annual Fishing Flea Market. Kent Island American Legion Post #278, 800 Romancoke Road, Stevensville. Admission $3 (16 years and under free).
Feb. 7: Free State Fly Fishers meeting. John Mullican of the Maryland DNR will present "DNR Warm Water Species Management.” 7:30-9 p.m., Davidsonville Family Rec. Center, 3727 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville.
Feb. 10: Tri-State Marine Fisherman’s Flea Market, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free admission, $50 per table rental. Call Dawn Yoder to reserve table, (410) 867-2398.
Feb. 17-18: Pasadena Sportfishing Group's 26th annual Fishing Expo. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. both days. $5 each day, 12 & under free. Earleigh Heights Fire Hall, 161 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.
Feb. 24: MSSA Annapolis Chapter’s annual Saltwater Fishing Expo. Held at Annapolis Elks Club, doors open at 8 a.m.
Feb. 24-25: Lefty Kreh’s Tie Fest. Admission $10 per day, $15 for both days. Anglers 16 and under and active military personnel admitted free. Lowes Annapolis Hotel, 126 West Street, Annapolis. Contact Tony Friedrich, (202) 744-5013.
Feb. 27: Angler’s Night Out. Film “Best of Catch Magazine, Season 3.” Hosted by CCA-MD, Boatyard Bar & Grill, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Happy Hour & food specials 5-7 p.m., film begins at 7 p.m. Fourth & Severn Avenue, Eastport. Details at boatyardbarandgrill.com.
March 10: The “Mid-Shore Fishing Seminar,” American Legion Post #18, 2619 Centreville Road. (Rt. 213) Centreville 21617. Featured speakers include Capt. Mark Galasso, Capt. Jeff Lewatowski and Joe Bruce. Hosted by CD Outdoors and Tacklecove.com. More details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 27: Angler’s Night Out. Film “Fly Fishing for Permit.” Hosted by CCA-MD, Boatyard Bar & Grill, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Happy Hour & food specials 5-7 p.m., film begins at 7 p.m. Fourth & Severn Ave., Eastport. Details at boatyardbarandgrill.com.
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