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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.