Big day coming up for anglers
A big day for local anglers is coming up soon. Trophy rockfish season kicks off next month on April 15.
That date usually elicits a collective groan. But this year, we get a little extra time until the following Tuesday to square up with the tax man, so everyone can enjoy the weekend and worry about crunching numbers later.
The only numbers local anglers should be concerned about that weekend is the minimum length for a keeper. The same rules are in effect as last year. To recap: You may only keep one fish per day, and that fish must be 35 inches or larger, measured from the snout to tail.
The season opens at 5 a.m. April 15 and runs until midnight May 15. This is truly the “big fish” month for the Chesapeake Bay. Catch-andrelease is always a good idea, but there’s nothing wrong with eating your catch once in a while or passing on some work to your local taxidermist.
Last week, I had the pleasure of catching up with Capt. “Walleye” Pete Dalhberg and hear his presentation to the Coastal Conservation Association Patuxent River chapter. The upstairs of Stoney’s in Solomons was packed, and I’m sure many of the anglers who were in attendance that night will be out bright and early on April 15.
Dalhberg gave an engaging presentation about the 2016 season and shared his predictions for 2017.
I can’t give away all the secrets he shared with the room, but he’s been out guiding on the Chesapeake Bay for nearly 20 years now and knows where the fish are.
A couple of his favorite fishing spots he mentioned are Barren, Bloodsworth, and South Marsh islands in the bay.
“Barren Island was a smoker last year,” he said, “in April, May, Septemeber, October, and even November.”
Dalhberg covers a lot of water when he’s looking for fish, and told the crowd “I don’t stay in any place long. If they’re not here today, I’m moving on.”
When the water is 55 degrees in the morning, he said, It’ll be 60 by noon or 1 o’clock. That’s the time to start thinking about fishing the shallow water of the islands. He looks for birds along the shoreline because “those birds tell me baitfish are in there.” And that means big fish are lurking, too.
The room was all ears when he went over a wide variety of baits he likes.
Dalhberg recommends wind cheaters, storm shads and walk-the-dog lures. And when it comes to color (which is always a big question when striper season gets underway), he unequivocally proclaimed chartreuse for sunny days and purple glitter for when it’s cloudy and early in the morning.
Judging from the photos of the fish his clients caught last year, and the smiles on everyone’s faces, you’re bound to
enjoy a charter out with Dalhberg. To book a fishing trip for 2017, give him a call at Four Seasons Guide Service and Light Tackle Charter at 703-395-9955.
Remembering old times
It’s too early yet for the annual Oyster Festival or the county fair, but I’ll be heading to the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds for one of my favorite events next weekend.
This event doesn’t have much to do with hunting or fishing, but I guarantee if you go, you’ll spend at least an hour on your feet, getting some exercise walking around and bending over, and you’ll leave with a smile on your face and plenty of books to keep you entertained inside if the cold weather sticks around a little longer.
When I was growing up, I had the distinct advantage (or disadvantage, depending on your point of view) of having two parents who were fifth-grade band teachers.
Yes, they knew exactly what I was doing in school at all times and had a direct line to my teachers that they weren’t afraid to use (that would be the disadvantage), but within the 10 schools between them, they had a lot of good friends in the right places.
If I ever needed a pH meter for a science fair project or a timpani drum to practice on for All-County band tryouts, chances were my parents knew someone who could help. All those years of exposure to burgeoning trumpet and trombone “music” left my parents with some hearing loss also and, as you can imagine, that came in pretty handy for getting back into the house after curfew when I was in high school.
Looking back at my childhood, it’s easy to see which teachers had the most influence on me. But the one person who sticks out in my mind wasn’t my teacher. She didn’t even work at the school I went to. Her name is Becky Benton and she was the librarian at Middleton Elementary School in Waldorf.
I bet some of you are nodding your head right now. I can’t be the only person with whom she shared the power of books. My mom would go into Middleton twice a week (it was one of those open-plan schools, if you recall, and the library was right smack dab in the middle) and Becky would always have something for me.
Those books transformed me into a reader, kept me up late at night reading under my covers long after I should have been asleep, and are the same ones, 30 years later, that I’ve shared with my own daughters, so they could know and love the very characters and stories that molded me when I was their age.
Another advantage of having parents who worked with kids was that they were often asked for advice by their students, so they were adept at giving my sister and me advice, too. My dad was so good at giving advice that, when I was in high school, there was as good a chance that my friends were calling the house to talk to my dad as to me.
As an adult, I still asked him for advice regularly. I’ll never forget the time I called him when my three older kids had friends over, eight girls in all, and the bickering amongst them was making the afternoon unbearable for everyone.
Several of the girls were crying and I was almost in tears myself. When I called my dad to ask what I should do, he quipped, “Why are you calling me? I only had two daughters. You’re the expert.”
We laughed, and then he gave me some sound advice that has gotten me out of a jam with a gaggle of emotional girls a couple of times since, and which I’m happy to pass along — always keep your freezer stocked with popsicles.
When I was growing up, he’d often share little tidbits he’d picked up over the years with me.
“The smartest kids sit in the back of the classroom,” he’d tell me.
Now I’m not sure that fact has scientific basis or is just some personal knowledge he gained from the experience of teaching all those years, but there’s probably some truth to it. I never did like sitting in the back, though, and whenever I’d pick my seat, even in college, I would feel a little like I was letting him down when I’d choose a seat near the front.
Another one he shared with me quite often was that the number of books in a house directly correlates to the academic achievement of the kids who live there. And yes, that one is actual statistical fact. We really are what we read. It’s advice I took to heart when raising my own kids, and it’s paid big dividends. My older two daughters are both readers, and the younger ones are shaping up to follow in their big sisters’ footsteps.
I ran into Becky Benton at my kids’ school last year. As luck would have it, her granddaughter and my daughter are in the same class. She told me about the Friends of the Library book sale, and on a lark, the kids and I stopped by on our way home from school that day. We brought several bags of books home that evening, and then headed back the next day for more because there were just so many books we couldn’t look through them all in one afternoon.
This year, I’m picking my kids up early from school so we can be the first ones in line for the sale. Sometimes there are things in life that are just more important than school, like going fishing the day after the local ponds are stocked with trout or getting the last two original Nancy Drew hardcovers you need to complete your collection.
Thank you, Becky, for sending those books home with my mom. If only every child could have someone like you to open their eyes to the wonder of a good book.
The book sale takes place March 24 to 26. Only members of the Friends of the Library can shop the sale on Friday, and you can purchase a membership for $15 at the door. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. March 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 25 and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
If you live in Charles County, the Spring 2017 Used Book Bazaar starts April 22 at the library in La Plata. For those residing in Calvert County, the Spring Sidewalk Book Sale is May 20th at the Prince Frederick location.