The buzzards have returned to Hinkley, Ohio. The swallows have returned to Capistrano. And the ospreys have returned to the Magothy River.

Spring has sprung.

Each St. Patrick's Day the osprey comes home. I don't believe theosprey's following is in the same league as the buzzards and swallows, but for at least the last few years we have gone out of our way tolook for ospreys while drinking our green beer. And they have not disappointed.

Now that spring has sprung, "Fishing Charlie" Ebersberger at Angler's Sport Center says it is time to go fishing, and I'll agree to that -- if you can get a nice day.

The mackerel have started their run off Ocean City and the boats will be out daily. The only problem has been the wind. It's right nasty fishing when the wind'sblowing about 30. Don't worry, if it's too rough the captains won't go.

I've heard from several of you this week who have had questions on the techniques for catching mackerel on Ocean City head boats. Here you go . . .

You can stop by Angler's and pick up mackerel rigs or you can purchase the rigs on most head boats. The rig consists of three or four short plastic tube worms. You snap on a heavy diamondjig or weight on the bottom of the rig to get the it down to the fish.

Lower the rig until you get a hit, bounce the jig a time or twoto get a fish on the rig, bounce the riganother time or two to fill the other hooks and then reel in the fish.

Mackerel are a very oily fish that make excellent bluefish and shark bait. Some people enjoythem.

If you are not certain whether you like them or not, take afew to test and release the others. Mackerel fishing becomes work inabout 15 minutes when you are over a large school. Each time you drop the rig, it gets two or three fish on it no matter how poor an angler you are.

If I were a stream fisherman, I'd check out Red Bridges this weekend for the beginning of the white perch spawning run. I know it is a little early, but it has also been a very warm winter. This place becomes a zoo once the run has begun. Early birds may get the worm, or the white perch, this weekend.

A few large largemouth bass have been caught recently as the ponds begin to warm up. A fish is a cold-blooded critter, its metabolism is dependent upon the water temperature. The warmer the water -- up to a point -- the more often the fish must feed. Shallow ponds warm up much, much quicker than reservoirs. A few lively shiner minnows might find you a big old "bucketmouth," if you're lucky this week.

Fishing seminars are where youstart paying your dues to become part of the 10 percent of the fishermen who catch 90 percent of the fish. The recent national-level seminar in Annapolis was well attended. I sat through several hours of instruction that I found very informative. The novice or medium-level fisherman should have gained a great deal from this investment of timeand money.

Next weekend, Buddy Harrison is sponsoring a father and son (or daughter) fishing seminar, starting Friday evening and running through Saturday, March 30th. Some of the topics to be covered are: how to properly fill reels; how to use wire line without backlashing; where to find fish and in what season; how to troll; how to chum;trout-fishing techniques; rockfishing; bottom fishing; and proper bait cutting and knot tying.

Each of the sessions will be supported by video and/or slide presentations; a picture is often worth the thousand words.

The presenters will be some of the best charter boat captains on the Chesapeake Bay including Buddy Harrison, Bud Jr., Johnny Motovidlak (who gets my vote for one of the top captains on the Bay), Bill Bradshaw, Glen Foster, Ed Motovidlak (John's father) and JoeLowery.

Included in the $150 price is dinner, lodging, and lectures. Each child (18 or younger) participating will receive a certificate for a free fishing trip during the summer when accompanied by a paying adult.

The seminar is also open to individuals at a cost of $100 without lodging. For more information, call (301) 886-2121.


As predicted, House Bill 1189, the bill backed by the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association to outlaw gill nets, died in the House Environmental Matters Committee.

Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.

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