Catchphrases hook interest

The Baltimore Sun

You know you're an outdoors writer when an e-mail arrives with the subject line "Have a crappie day!"

And you don't take offense.

That's because the e-mail is from a lure company representative promoting a new bait for crappie (not to be confused with crappie bait).

Now real crappie anglers - that is, those who like to catch crappie - pronounce it "croppie." The rest of us don't.

Even the dictionary folks can't agree. Merriam-Webster's goes with "croppie." Webster's New World, which bills itself as "the premier dictionary of American English" and "the name you trust," has it rhyming with "happy."

As for the e-mail inviting me to have a crappie day?

I didn't bite.

But wait, there's more. Try out this promotional line from the jacket of a new book that recently landed here at The Sun: "The definitive book on layout and construction of decorative butt wraps."

Butt wraps? The mind races (A Speedo? A sarong? A big, old beach towel?) then stops dead in its tracks as fingers turn the book over to the cover. The book is Custom Rod Thread Art, and it explains the fancy wrapping and weaving done by rod builders on high-end fishing rods.

Reader alert: In case you haven't guessed, it's too hot out there to be out there right now. Just plain lousy (you might say crappie). And don't get me started on gas prices.

On the other hand, as a reader pointed out, if your boat ran on Vicks Nyquil - 6 ounces for $8.35 - a gallon would run you nearly $180. But at least you wouldn't have to worry about a clogged fuel line.

Feel better? Didn't think so.

Baring the elements

Here's some startling hiking news ripped from the pages of the Maryland Natural Resources Police blotter.

It seems a group of hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Gathland State Park encountered another group celebrating the summer solstice in a time-honored tradition known as "Hike Naked Day."

NRP reported that clothed hikers saw a group of men between the ages of 40 and 60 remove their clothes - but not their shoes - and step out. No mention in the police report of fanny packs.

Sightings and calls to police multiplied.

An NRP officer rounded up a group of 10 clothed men on the trail and decided he had his "perps." He learned that two clothed men acted as an early warning system, alerting oncoming hikers to the presence of bares.

Since the officer had not seen the cheeky behavior, he could only issue warnings for disorderly conduct instead of slapping them with $500 tickets for indecent exposure.

Me? I'd be worried about ticks.

No less an authority than Backpacker magazine has noted that Appalachian Trail thru-hikers - especially on the 540-mile Virginia section - do the solstice shuck as a way to get some color in their cheeks. carries T-shirts for about $25 that urge hikers to do just that. All in good fun, of course.

"We do not find any humor in this," an NRP spokesman told the Frederick News-Post. "It is a family atmosphere."

Here's hoping NRP officers can put the incident behind them.

Swimming with opportunity

Speaking of behind, it's nice to know the governor is letting bygones be bygones by agreeing to attend the finale of the state's fishing tournament Sept. 13.

Last year's tournament ended at Sandy Point State Park with Martin "Sportsmen's Best Friend" O'Malley surrounded by a rather large group of incensed anglers who understood the contest better than the Department of Natural Resources folks running it.

A Sandy Point massacre was avoided when the nimble O'Malley made up new rules on the spot to select prize winners that didn't involve pingpong balls, smoke signals or hanging chads.

When the dust settled, lots of great stuff, including a Toyota pickup truck and boat and trailer, was handed out.

More than 1,000 people have qualified for this year's prizefest, forcing the DNR contest gurus to look for a site bigger than Sandy Point.

The purpose of the Maryland Fishing Challenge, in its fourth season, is to drum up interest in fishing by showing off the diversity of the state's fishing opportunities.

A glance at the list of qualified anglers proves that.

Fish have been pulled from Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland to the Atlantic Ocean. One angler - the first entrant of the season - caught a 21-inch largemouth bass March 28 at Deer Run Golf Course in Berlin.

As part of the Challenge on Thursday night, 51 youngsters took part in the Baltimore Recreation and Parks department's fishing rodeo at Patterson Park. Twelve kids received T-shirts and medals for catching tagged sunfish and bluegills. Four - all city residents - have been entered to win fishing trips with their parents or mentors: Leo Doering, Lacie Thomas, Julian Horney and Ashley Clarke.

While most Challenge anglers call the Mid-Atlantic states home, qualifiers have come from Texas, Vermont and Oklahoma.

As expected, the No. 1 species is the striped bass. But some nice rainbow trout, portly croakers and a 48-inch tiger shark from the surf at Assateague Island have been entered.

Oh yes, and 16 crappies.

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