Chris Dollar on the outdoors

Chris Dollar writes a weekly outdoors column for The Capital. To send him items for the events calendar or a picture of a big fish, contact him at

Chris Dollar: Yellow perch being targeted earlier and earlier

These days more anglers are targeting neds (also called ring perch) earlier and earlier. I’ve definitely heard of an uptick in catches in places that in years’ past had little hope of producing.

Chris Dollar: Know your limits when facing the elements

Since none of us are immune to the risks involved in pursuing our winter-time sports, preparation and planning are tantamount to an enjoyable experience.

Chris Dollar: Setting outdoors goals for the new year

I’ve completed my ninth year as the outdoors columnist for The Capital-Gazette. My words and images focus on fish, birds and other wild things, and the people and dogs that chase after them. At times I weigh in on conservation issues, some of them controversial.

Chris Dollar: More discerning shot selection is a choice

I also cannot pinpoint the moment that led me to be more discerning in my shot selection; it’s been a quiet evolution in my perspective that there’s more to wingshooting than stacking dead birds like cordwood.

Chris Dollar: Resurgence of brookies an encouraging sign 

Even if you live much closer to the Atlantic than the mountains, you can still be in Western Maryland within hours, where several state parks offer great mountain vistas and good trout fishing

Chris Dollar: South County hosts Hunt for Veterans

Around Thanksgiving, local hunters and farmers teamed up with No Person Left Behind/Operation Outdoors to hold the annual “Marvin Dorsey SoCo Deer Hunt for Veterans.”

Chris Dollar: Pickerel fight hard, don't give an inch

I’ve cackled aloud after watching what I thought was a fickle pike, following my lure only to snub it at the last minute, suddenly decide it’d seen enough and launch its elongated body into a ferocious strike.

Chris Dollar: Fall run of sea trout just a memory

There was a time when I’d look forward to the cold days of November, primetime sea trout fishing on the Chesapeake.

Chris Dollar: Feeling thankful for wild fish, birds

It’s easy to fall victim to negativity in these trying times, but even if I come home empty handed there’s still much I’m grateful for — wild fish, wild birds and in some places a still wild Chesapeake.

Chris Dollar: Try adding a skirt to your lure

I tend to shy away from absolutist proclamations, and cast a skeptical eye to “isms” of most strains, but I do agree with the axiom “bigger baits catch bigger fish.”

Chris Dollar: No changes for current goose season

I challenge anyone to say we haven’t enjoyed a good run of Canada goose hunting for the better part of past decade or longer, and for many of us in the Old Line State several winter shoots have been absolutely spectacular.

Chris Dollar: Catfish 'invasion' welcomed by anglers 

Reliable catches extend not only from predicable habitats like the upper Bay lumps but also around the Bay Bridge pilings (both Stone Piles), Tolley’s bar and inside rivers such as the Severn, South and Magothy.

Chris Dollar: Good news from striped bass survey

Sport anglers should feel pretty good about the state of our state fish after learning this week the annual young-of-the-year striped bass survey produced an encouraging index of 14.8.

Chris Dollar: Exercising part of preparation for time afield

Paddling long distances, slogging through the marsh to set out decoys, setting deer stands, or even exposure to the elements for hours on end can be taxing physically.

Chris Dollar: Proud father recounts son’s first sika stag 

Members of the elk family, sikas were introduced into Maryland in the early 1900s by Clement Henry, who released a half-dozen or so on James Island.

Chris Dollar: Enjoying the outdoors well worth the cost

The hundreds of dollars each fall I plunk down for a hunting license, goose calls, shells, waders et al. never crosses my mind when crouched low in the marsh, hunkered down in a goose blind or huddled among the sunflowers.

Chris Dollar: Local marshes seeing less teal

It’s a bit of a head scratcher as to why we don’t see as many teal in our local marshes as we did say 10 to 15 years ago.

Volunteers lend hand to 'Rock on Warriors'

Then, just when it seemed the bite was about the turn on, the skies opened, rain poured down and wind kicked up something fierce, chasing us into the South River, where we found spot and white perch in more sheltered waters.

Chris Dollar: Try to cash in on fishing fun

The Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, a coalition of 40 or so Bay conservation groups, has set a goal to plant 10 billion new oysters in Virginia and Maryland waters by 2025.

Chris Dollar: Where smaller fishes congregate, predators loom

Props to the great blue heron, regal in its posture and plumage, yet deadly in its hunting efficiency, for knowing exactly where to lay in wait.

Chris Dollar: Crab population tends to fluctuate

It’s been a slow summer for the sport crabbers I’ve talked with, but I’ll wager the next six weeks will be good for recreational snap potters and trot liners as well as watermen.

Chris Dollar: Annapolis angler lands tarpon on a fly

Annapolis resident John Loe became only the third angler ever to officially land a tarpon on a fly in Virginia’s salt water.

Chris Dollar: Learn to fish a handful of lures

Fish don’t text or do social media updates every five minutes, so the action can be slow at times, even in this age of instant communications.

Chris Dollar: Weather volatility is part of the game

Sometimes weather and wind predictions you view on the computer or smart phone app are nothing like what you experience once on the water, making you wonder if the forecast you pulled up was for an entirely different part of the country. 

Chris Dollar: Eastern Neck Island shoreline a Chesapeake treasure

All I know is that the Eastern Neck Island shoreline has been very good to me, not just as a good place to throw topwater lures but as a front row seat to witness the Chesapeake’s seasonal changes unfold.

Chris Dollar: Rockfish benefit from live bottom habitat

Man O War Shoals is just east of the Patapsco River, and several miles west of where arguably the summer’s best rockfishing has been going off — Hodges bar to Tolchester.

Chris Dollar: It's important to know what knot to use

Few things in fishing are as frustrating and confusing as deciding what knot to use in what situation.

Chris Dollar: Bluefish plan could trigger undue hardship

Like some, I usually don’t have a problem with transferring quotas among different commercial gear types, the caveat being as long as conservation goals aren’t skirted or undermined.

Chris Dollar: No way to make sense of it all

I wish for a straightforward fix for whatever sickness created such vicious hatred to steal the lives of five innocent people who were simply doing jobs they loved, all the while knowing there isn’t one.

Chris Dollar: Mixed opinions on upcoming fisheries legislation

By some standards my fishing trip the other day could be considered a bust, since no keeper rockfish ended up on ice.

Going around and around on circle hooks

We’re about a month into the first season in which circle hooks are required when chumming or live-lining in Maryland’s part of the Chesapeake. That’s as good a time as any to take at glance at the new rule’s impact.

Chris Dollar: Even the best anglers come up empty sometimes

Some fishermen simply go out and leave everything to fate. That’s cool, maybe they simply enjoy turning off their analytic side for a spell, or maybe they’re a diehard believer in the karmic power of the universe.

Chris Dollar: Fishing requires certain level of optimism

Whether they own it or not, any one who fishes is an optimist. Same goes for crabbers and hunters. No doubt each of us possess varying degrees of this trait, but you must be somewhere on that spectrum that fuses hope with confidence in pursuit of what ultimately is a wild thing.

Chris Dollar: First rockfish gives reason to celebrate

In some respects, it was a week of firsts along the fishing front, as the season’s first black drum, that I’ve heard about north of Poplar Island anyway, was caught on a soft plastic by a client of Capt. Jeff Lewatowski.

What specific lure brings the strikes?

So what specific lure brings the strikes? You can’t go wrong with a parachute or a bucktail; about 2 to 4 ounces seems right.

A fish tale with a plot twist

You’ve obviously heard of a fish tale, and a fish with a tail, of course. How about a fish whose tail tells the tale?

New circle hook rules take effect May 16

After a series of fits and starts the state legislative committee responsible for authorizing regulations under exigent circumstances has approved the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s plan to require sport anglers to use circle hooks when live-lining or chumming for rockfish.

Upper Chesapeake Bay enjoys a turnaround

Frowns turned upside down as the rockfish cooperated for anglers chasing after them during the first full week of Maryland’s trophy rockfish season.

  • Sports
Vets enjoy annual deer hunt

Each fall for the past 11 years, Joel Greenwell, Billy Ford and their family and friends have hosted the South County/LT. M. Dorsey annual “Veterans Deer Hunt” for wounded military veterans.