Fall is coming
By this time in August, the grass in my front yard is usually brown and scorched dry from the heat and sun. This summer’s frequent rainstorms, however, have been a welcome treat.
While I’ve got a rain barrel on either side of the house, rarely have I needed use any of the water they collect. It’s been a relatively easy gardening summer.
Just lately, though, it’s started to feel a little fall-ish. The sun’s rays aren’t as potent as they were a month ago. And you may have noticed, the sun itself is rising later each day.
Back in June, the early morning sunshine streaming through the windows would cut short any weekend sleep-ins I was hoping to enjoy. By the end of August, sunrise will be almost a half-hour later than it was in the beginning of the month. And by the end of September, sunrise will take place after 7 in the morning.
Back to school is on everyone’s minds these days, and if you went into any stores last week, you probably saw that most summer items are on clearance now. They’ve got to make room on the shelves for fall and Halloween decorations.
A few stores have jumped the gun and put out the Christmas stuff already. No one can honestly be ready for that. It hasn’t even been Labor Day yet.
There is a lot to look forward to in Southern Maryland in late summer and fall. Crabs are at their peak now: big, heavy and tasty. You can even catch your own without any license, a maximum of two dozen crabs from shore or boat. The minimum size (measured from tip to tip of the spikes) is 5 1/4 inches minimum. All females are throwbacks for recreational crabbers.
Fall usually offers up some of the very best fishing in our region, too. As August progresses in Southern Maryland, the transition to fall fishing gets underway. By the end of this month, general angling action out of the Chesapeake Bay will be dazzling, with speckled trout rounding out the mix of blues, mackerel and rockfish.
It’s hard to predict whether this October will be a banner month for those monster rockfish migrating to their winter grounds. If you’re an optimist, perhaps the cooler temperatures this summer will translate into excellent rockfish opportunities soon.
Hunters have a lot to look forward to next month. The statewide dove season starts on Sept. 1. If you weren’t aware, Charles County has three areas open to the public for dove hunting: Myrtle Grove, Cedar Point and Chicamuxen. The daily bag limit for doves is 15 and the possession limit is 45.
The first split lasts until Oct. 14. During this first split only, the official shooting hours will be from noon until sunset. The second and third splits of the season will be Oct. 26 to Nov. 18 and Dec. 16 to Jan. 6. Shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Canada goose early resident
season will also open in September. In Calvert and St. Mary’s counties and the eastern part of Charles County, the season runs Sept. 1 to 15. The portion of Charles County west of U.S. Route 301 stays open until Sept. 25. In both zones, the daily bag limit is eight and possession limit is 24. Shooting hours are the same for both zones, one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Shotguns capable of holding more than three shells may be used during the September season only.
Hunters are required to have a valid hunting license and to carry personal photo identification
such as a driver’s license while in the field. To hunt for migratory birds, you must purchase a Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp through the Compass Portal, a Department of Natural Resources Service Center or a hunting and fishing license agent. Hunters don’t have to possess or sign the actual stamp, but must have the receipt showing proof of purchase and HIP certification in their possession while hunting.
Hunters 16 and older are also required to purchase a Federal Migrator y Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp to hunt brant, coots, ducks and geese. In addition to the usual places you can purchase licenses, this stamp is also available at the post office. If you’re a conservation-minded
citizen, pick one up next time you stop by the post office, even if you have no plans to ever go hunting. The proceeds from the stamp are used to buy and protect land for bird habitat.
The rules require that the federal stamp must be in the hunter’s possession and signed in ink when hunting waterfowl. The purchase code and receipt will be accepted as proof of purchase for 45 days, but after that period expires, the hunter must carry the actual signed stamp in the field.
The guides at Life Outdoors Unlimited (240-447-2206) cater to people who enjoy both fishing and hunting with their “Cast & Blast” trips on the upper Potomac River during September.
They launch a jet boat — while all dressed up in camouflage — before dawn. The boat has fishing rods, decoys, shotguns and lunch/drinks ready to go. They set up for first flight, then fish in the open while monitoring the skyline. These trips give sportsmen the unique opportunity to bag a Canada goose and catch a quality smallmouth bass in the same day.
And if you’re thinking you might like to try your luck for one of the permits for the black bear hunt, that takes place in the western part of the state in October, you have until 11:59 p.m. Aug. 31 to put your name in the hat along with about 5,000 other hopeful hunters vying for one of the 750 permits. Hunters can apply for
the lotter y online, by phone, at a DNR service center or at a hunting and fishing license agent. There’s a $15 lotter y application fee.
Yes, fall is around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll be doing in September and October. But while August is still here, let’s enjoy the sun on our faces, fresh vegetables straight from the garden, grilling on the deck, picnics outside, splashing in the pool, lazy afternoons in the hammock, warm nights on the front porch watching the fireflies, bonfires at the beach and all the summertime pastimes we can cram into the next couple weeks.
It’ll be jacket weather before you know it.