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Plea by son to 'go fishing' causes that sinking feeling Options are hiring pro or a do-it-yourself job


"Hi, dad, lets go fishing."

"We'll see."

"I'm serious, dad. Let's go fishing next weekend."

"You haven't gone fishing in years, hon," the wife says. "It would be good for you."

You are now outnumbered, and unless you can cause amnesia with a $100 visit to Camden Yards, you will either be branded an ogre if you dismiss the request, or a hero if you take up the challenge.

Of course, you do have some fishing stuff in the attic, but that's exactly what it is -- stuff. A little of this and a little of that gathered over 30 years.

"Let's see," he thinks, "the boy will need a rod, reel, line, tackle box and some fishing stuff. We will have to do something about licenses. I know you need a freshwater license, and I heard something about a saltwater license. And where could we go? This is almost too hard."

As with many of life's projects, there is an easy way -- hiring a professional -- or a do-it-yourself way that may cost more in the long run, but can give greater satisfaction. Much depends upon your own fishing knowledge.

If you can satisfy the request by catching a bunch of small bluegills, the solution is not that difficult. If your boy or girl has never fished, I would suggest an inexpensive closed-face spinning outfit, some small hooks, split-shot weights, a few small bobbers and some night crawlers.

If your child is under 16, he or she does not need a fishing license. If you are going to fish, the license costs $8; a Chesapeake Bay stamp, which permits fishing in the bay and its tributaries, is $2.50. A Chesapeake Bay fishing license by itself is $5.

When you purchase a freshwater license, you receive a copy of the "Guide to Maryland Fresh Water Fishing," which includes fishing regulations, the location of public fishing areas and ponds, and much more.

I would recommend an Eastern Shore pond such as Wye Mills Pond, the pond at Tuckahoe State Park or Johnson's Pond in Salisbury. The bait and tackle shop where you purchase your bait may recommend other sites.

A piece of night crawler under a small bobber is a tempting treat for a bluegill; it might also lure a largemouth bass or two. Check the regulations closely on largemouth bass, since it makes a difference if you're fishing fresh or tidal waters. For example, the season is closed in fresh water until June 15th.

Pond fishing during the next few weeks should be good. But as the water warms in June, algae covers much of the ponds with a green slime. The fish are still there, but it is difficult to get bait to them.

The easy way is to hire a professional. Talk to your friends and get the names of some good charter boat captains in your area. Call, explain what you are looking for, and get prices. Some captains offer half-day, some only full-day charters.

The cost will probably run from $200 to $350 for a party of six (or less), and the charter furnishes everything but what you eat and drink. Most captains do not make up parties, so whoever books the trip is responsible for putting the party together.

In the upper middle bay area, I would suggest a June or July white perch bottom-fishing charter. The tackle is easily operated by small hands, there is usually plenty of action, and you take home some good eating.

In the Deale/Chesapeake Beach/Tilghman Island area, July bottom fishing in the Choptank River can be very good. And the July Norfolk spot run at Solomons also provides very good action.

Most charters are going for trophy rockfish right now, which may be a tad too big for young children -- although recently I had an 11-year-old girl bring in a 41-incher with just a bit of help from her dad. She had just released a 24-inch rockfish, so she understood she needed a 36-inch fish for a keeper. When her big rockfish came over the side, she had a smile from ear to ear. It was one of those scenes that makes a fellow glad he's a charter captain.

Take a kid fishing. It's fun, and you're liable to get hooked yourself.


The warm weather this week has finally gotten the fishing scene moving again. After a relatively active opening weekend, last week's cold weather brought the rockfish catches to almost nil.

As of Saturday, the surface weather was still under 55 degrees. I'm afraid the cold weather did little to improve the survivability of recently hatched (within two or three days) rockfish larvae. Thermal shock is deadly to the baby rockfish.

Bluefish are coming to Maryland in better numbers. It is still too early to tell whether we can expect a banner year, but catches in the lower bay are improving. Bob Spore is a charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column runs every Friday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.

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