Chris Dollar: An experience just short of amazing

Chris Dollar: An experience just short of amazing
Chesapeake Bay retriever Ty Colbeck of Eastport brings back a late-season goose, capping off his stellar first waterfowl season. (Kevin Colbeck / HANDOUT)

Whoever said youth is wasted on the young must have been old, or cranky. They most certainly never hunted late-season Canadas with a yearling retriever whose pure joy was on full display, as was his youthful athleticism. And we had yet to even shoot a bird, much less finished setting out the five dozen or so full-bodied goose decoys.

The bitter Arctic cold had zero effect on the young pup’s unbridled enthusiasm for the unknown prospects that lay ahead in the new day. The pup was just glad to be a part of it, whatever “it’ was that might happen to unfold. My bones creaked like a decades old deadrise, its wooden planks pushed too hard in rough seas.


If you’re not a full-throated dog person, I get it. Sort of. If you have no affection at all for canines, especially young ones playing, I don’t know what to do with you. I used to work with a guy who was an unabashed hater of dogs — well, his deserved fate is a tale (or is it tail) for another time.

My waterfowl season did not go as planned for several reasons. I won’t burden you with sharing, so you’re welcome. The deadline for this year’s Canada goose season was just a few days away when my friend Kevin Colbeck called with the invite to hunt a farm he has had permission to gun for many years. Over those years I’ve had many immensely satisfying experiences there. Declining, even politely, wasn’t an option.

Now we can all agree the word “amazing” is one of the most overused terms in our vernacular today. It’s worn out it’s welcome with me, though sadly through no fault of its own. That great descriptor is now used to chronicle common day occurrences — “That egg sandwich was amazing!” “Johnny did an amazing job tying his shoe!” [Emphasis mine.] Seriously, enough already. Jeff Buckley’s take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is pretty amazing. Trekking across Antarctica solo is amazing. Sending a landing probe to Mars is seriously amazing.

The first toll — in which Colbeck dropped two birds on two shots, me downing a bird on my first (let’s put aside my whiff on the second goose, if you don’t mind) and Ty dashed out to fetch ’em all up — was thrilling but not amazing. A toll that followed might qualify, and we never fired a shot. Many dozens were unable to resist the siren of Colbeck’s calling. The birds’ choreographed landing was a classic, like Maria Callas singing Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

While a spectacular aerial show shared with a good friend and the unbridled passion of his smart, young dog figuring out the wild bird game didn’t quite reach the amazing threshold, it was pretty damn close.

EASTERN SHORE ANGLER SETS STATE RECORD: My favorite part of David Confair’s story about landing a 17.90-pound longnose gar a couple weeks ago in Marshyhope Creek is this: “It deserves to live. I’m hoping to set a bigger record. I know there are bigger ones; I’ve seen them.”

That’s what he told Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources after setting the new state record for the species on Jan. 23 while fishing for catfish a few miles above the Brookview Bridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Confair kept the gar alive for more than two days, giving state biologists time to certify the prehistoric looking fish as the new state record. It beats out the 17-pounder Justin Kelly decked in the Potomac in 2011. Congrats to Confair, especially for releasing that great awesome fish back into the wild.

NO MD. WINTER SEA BASS SEASON: Maryland anglers wanting to fish for black sea bass in Maryland waters this month are out of luck. Unlike our Virginia neighbors, Maryland opted not to hold a recreational season. You’d have to ask them why, specifically. The skipper of a sporting vessel needs a permit to fish the month long season.


Feb. 5-7: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Winter Meeting, Westin Hotel, Arlington, Va.

Feb. 9: Tri-State Marine Fishing Show, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Free Admission! Table space is $60. Call Dawn Yoder, Tri-State’s Tackle Shop manager at (410) 867-2398.

Feb. 11: Pasadena Sportfishing Group meeting. Doors open at 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Hwy (Route 2), Severna Park.

Feb. 14: Fly Anglers Fishing Club’s “Brew & Tie.” of 2019. Kislings Tavern at 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 16-17: Pasadena Sportfishing Group’s 27th annual Fishing Expo 8 a.m to 2 p.m. Admission is $5, 12 & under are free. Earleigh Heights Vol. Fire Company, 161 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.


Feb. 20: Annapolis Anglers’ Club meeting. Starts at 7 p.m., American Legion Post #7, 1905 Crownsville Road, Crownsville. Visit for more details.

Feb. 23: Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Performing Arts Theater, Old Mill High School, 600 Patriot Lane, Millersville. Tickets are $55 to hear national and local experts, including Captains Robin Payne (Rock-N-Robin Fishing Charters) and Randy Dean (Bay Hunter Charter Fishing, and Annapolis Angling Club’s Dale Dirks.

Feb. 23: Annapolis Anglers Club’s Saltwater Fishing Expo. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Annapolis Elks Lodge #622, Route 2, Annapolis. Full slate of seminars and dozens of fishing vendors will be on hand to offer tackle innovations at show prices. Admission is $5 at the door. Details at

Feb. 23: Mid-Shore Fishing Club’s annual Fishing Flea Market. 8 a.m.-noon, Elks Club #1272 south of Cambridge off Route 50. Entrance fee of $2 (free under 12 years old). To reserve a table, call Harry Miller at (301) 807-4247.

Feb. 23: MSSA Annapolis chapter’s Saltwater Fishing Expo. Elks Club, Annapolis.

Feb. 23-24: Lefty Kreh’s Tiefest. BWI Marriott Hotel. Times to be announced on LKTF Facebook page.

Feb. 26: Anglers Night Out. Boatyard Bar & Grill. Feature film is “Finding Joe Brooks: Maryland’s Fly Fishing Pioneer.” Happy hour 5-7 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar & Grill, 400 4th Street, Annapolis.

March 2: Tri-State Marine’s Fishing Seminar, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Captains Richie Gaines and Captain Charlie Sisson present techniques on Light Tackle and Trolling and live lining, respectively Cost $30 is per person and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Call Dawn Yoder (410) 867-2398 to register.

March 9: Kayak Fishing course offered by Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold campus. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Cost is $59. Mark Bange and John Veil, instructors. Registration at or (410) 777-2345.

March 11: Pasadena Sportfishing Group meeting. Doors open at 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Highway (Route 2), Severna Park.


March 14: Fly Anglers Fishing Club’s “Brew & Tie.” Kislings Tavern at 6:30 p.m.

March 16: Upper Eastern Shore Anglers & host Saltwater Expo. Expert speakers and tackle for sale. 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at American Legion 2619 Centreville Road, Centreville 21617.

March 20: Annapolis Anglers’ Club meeting. Speaker Erik Zlokovitz of MD DNR presents Chesapeake Bay fisheries status and rockfish regulations. Vendor, Jeremy Dempsey of Old 87 Custom Rods.

March 26: Anglers Night Out. Boatyard Bar & Grill. Feature film is “Tribute to Tuna.” Happy hour 5-7 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar & Grill, 400 4th Street, Annapolis.