On the fishing front, the dog days of summer came early this year, but sweat them out -- and turn them into bass days. That's what I did the other day as the mercury climbed above 100 in Southern Maryland.
If you've got to endure the heat, you might as well do it whil fishing. And, hot weather or cold weather, fish have to eat sometime. The trick is to be there when they do.
It was a day of extreme contrasts. The first farm pond -- dee and of 40 acres -- didn't turn up a strike for Ebbie Smith and I. Our companion Francis Connor got one 2-pound bass.
After four hours of thrashing waters with lures that worked fro top to bottom, we switched to a 10-acre pond where fish were much more cooperative. Or perhaps, by dumb luck, we arrived when they decided to eat. In four hours, I caught and released more than 20 bass of up to 2 pounds. My companions took more than 20 each, mostly large bluegills, with some nice crappies and small bass mixed in -- and Smith had a pickerel of about 20 inches.
They scored on tiny (1 1/2 -inch) jig and blue twister tai combinations; I got mine on Super Frogs -- and might add I had at least 30 other strikes.The pattern was to cast within inches of the shoreline,especially around lily pods,weeds,or any other structure.
They got their fish several feet from shore to the boat,especially on drop-offs.So don't let the hot weather get you down.Be at the right place at the right time,and you will score.
Calendar ...* Saturday: Free training clinic and field trials of Maryland Retriever Club, 9 a.m., at intersection of Walnut and Park Heights avenues five miles from the Beltway. Call 242-8513.
* Saturday: Annual Ocean City Small Boat Tournament. Cal 1-301-289-6363.
* Monday: Striped Bass Advisory Board begins deliberations o next spring's rockfish regulations,6 to 9 pm,Department of agriculture Building,Harry Truman Parkway,Annapolis.Call Frances McFadden,974-3365.
* Monday: Loch Raven bass guide John Hauserman will start week-long fishing course on that reservoir for young and beginning anglers. Call 882-2307.
* July 11-14: Fourth annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament. Cal1-301-289-8121.
* July 26-28: Maryland Trophy Deer Contest at Howard CountFairgrounds. All bucks must be scored by an official scorer of Maryland Taxidermist's Association or Boone & Crocket scorer before the contest.Sorry no antlerless deer regardless of size.
Sponsors are the department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Bowhunters Society.Call cochairmen Tinker Johnson at 1-301-349-2413, or Don Travis at 1-301-778-4107.
Names and places ...
* Jim Donahue and Ray Nichols, who took over the Chesapeake Bay Boat Show in the 1970s, have sold it to New York City-based National Marine Manufacturers Association, which will promote the 38th annual edition next winter. The sale was not associated with the lull in boat business, much of which is blamed on the new 10 percent luxury tax -- the show was sold out, said Nichols.
NNMA has been purchasing major boat shows across th country to make them trade shows. Donahue and Nichols will continue to operate the Richmond Boat Show, also the International Auto Show at the Convention Center.
* A 395-pound mako shark won first place in both the Mako an Big Fish divisions of the annual Ocean City Sharkers Tournament for Brian A. Tarr of Harwood aboard the Yankee Babe. Hadie Bazar took second-place mako honors with a 195-pounder aboard the Its A Wrap. In the Open Division, Ed Kareskie got a 114-pound black tip aboard It's A Wrap, and Chet Madigan's 110-pound hammerhead came aboard the Fin Addict.
Ninety-four anglers on 20 craft boated seven sharks an released45, as emphasis grows on releases. The Sea Witch released two makos, five sandbars and one hammerhead. Also, on the release front, Murray Adams of Ellicott City caught Ocean City's best mako of the year -- estimated at 500 pounds -- and released it just before the tournament. And on another release front, Tom Harkins fishing the Charisma out of Ocean City Fishing Center took OC's first big blue marlin -- estimated at 400 pounds -- and promptly released it. Not long ago, the big blue billfish were brought back to the docks -- especially the first of the season. Much of the credit goes to 18-year-old Michelle Nichols who wrote a paper on fish releases at Key School Annapolis, and while doing so badgered skippers about releasing fish. She expects to continue her crusade from Washington College in Chestertown.
* Matthew Bregel, 6, was reeling in a bluegill at a Boring far pond the other day when a 5-pound bass grabbed it only to throw the hook as it was landed. The fish was kicked ashore, and shown to the pond owner, who said it was considered the pond's "pet" -- so back it went. Many years ago, Matthew's grandfather Calvert Bregel was reeling in a white perch in Dorchester County when a huge bass swirled at it. He dropped the perch back, the bass took it, he landed it and stuffed it in a boot with water and ice cubes and drove it to his home and stocked it.
* If your fishing takes you south of the Virginia boundary wher BTC Spanish mackerel are in good numbers, be reminded that that state now has a daily creel limit of five Spanish and five king mackerel a day, and the minimum size for both is 14 inches. Maryland has no size or creel limits yet for these fish that have appeared in increasing numbers in recent years.
Lewis S. Gillingham of Virginia Marine Resources Commission said Spanish mackeral have black coloration in the front portion of the dorsal fin,and the lateral line gradually slopes downward toward the tail.It's just the opposite with kings,which have six to 10 gill rakers as compared with the Spanish variety,which was 11 to 16.
Question box ...
* Baltimorean Walter Baumgard asks what kind of bass bug he should use for Potomac smallmouths.
Our answer: We turned to Jim Gilford of Frederick for this one Gilford, who conducts Fenwick Fly Fishing Schools, said bugs of about 1 inch on No. 6 or No. 8 hooks are preferred; yellow, red or black, with white undersides. You want high floaters, he said, with no hair under the hook. Gaines makes the best available commercially, or you can tie your own.
Incidentally, Gilford has two more two-day courses for beginner this summer -- July 20-21 and Aug. 10-11 at Frederick, also an advanced course July 13-14 at Spruce Creek in Pennsylvania. All classes are on-the-water, hands-on affairs designed, Gilford said, send the "students on their way so they don't need us anymore." Call 1-301-663-3966.
* NOTE: To have an item or question included in the Outdoor Journal, write Bill Burton, The Evening Sun Sports Dept., 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001.
Burton's best bets
* LOWER BAY: Many cobia at the Bay Bridge-Tunnel complex all the way up to the mouth of the Potomac.
* PODICKORY POINT: Some white perch, nice spot and too many small rock.
* CHINCOTEAGUE: Still the best flounder bet, also some sea trout.
* POINT LOOKOUT: Blues still holding.
* UPPER POTOMAC: Great for small smallmouths.