Open­ing week­end har­vest up 24 per­cent over last year

Record Observer - - Sports -

Hunters re­ported har­vest­ing 13,488 deer on the open­ing week­end of the 2016 Maryland firearm sea­son, our state’s most pop­u­lar hunt­ing sea­son. The har­vest rep­re­sents a 24 per­cent in­crease over last year’s es­ti­mate of 10,859 for the same pe­riod.

The to­tal in­cludes 6,159 antlered and 7,329 antler­less deer with sika deer com­pris­ing 224 of the antlered and 232 of the antler­less to­tals. The two-week deer firearm sea­son runs through Dec. 10.

“Windy con­di­tions Satur­day may have slowed the har­vest slightly, but hunters took ad­van­tage of bet­ter weather con­di­tions Sun­day to post a strong over­all har­vest for the open­ing week­end,” said Wildlife and Her­itage Ser­vice Di­rec­tor Paul Peditto.

Hunters in Re­gion A — mainly western Maryland — re­ported har­vest­ing 1,110 deer for the week­end, nearly iden­ti­cal to the 1,147 re­ported last year. In Re­gion B, the antlered deer har­vest in­creased from 3,878 last year to 5,049 this year and the antler­less har­vest in­creased from 5,834 to 7,329.

Hunters har­vested 3,560 deer (1,455 antlered, 2,105 antler­less) Sun­day, an in­crease of 1,146 from last year. Hunt­ing is per­mit­ted on se­lect Sun­days in 20 coun­ties and has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with hunters across the state. Fred­er­ick County led the Sun­day har­vest with 390 deer taken.

Mid-Shore to­tals for open­ing week­end are as fol­lows:

Caro­line, 581: Satur­day, 396 white­tail (169 antlered, 227 antler­less); Sun­day, 184 white­tail (58 antlered, 126 antler­less), 1 sika (antler­less).

Dorch­ester, 1,011: Satur­day, 407 white­tail (172 antlered, 235 antler­less), 271 sika (136 antlered, 135 antler­less); Sun­day, 182 white­tail (61 antlered, 121 antler­less), 151 sika (73 antlered, 78 antler­less).

Kent, 687: Satur­day, 468 white­tail (194 antlered, 274 antler­less); Sun­day, 219 white­tail (86 antlered, 133 antler­less).

Queen Anne’s, 661: Satur­day, 453 white­tail (174 antlered, 279 antler­less); Sun­day, 208 white­tail (52 antlered, 156 antler­less).

Tal­bot, 530: Satur­day, 345 white­tail (130 antlered, 215 antler­less); Sun­day, 175 white­tail (46 antlered, 129 antler­less).

*** Fish­ing Re­port On mild days it’s still a won­der­ful time to do some fish­ing whether on the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, a fa­vorite pond, or tidal river.Cold wa­ter tem­per­a­tures are send­ing striped bass into the deeper parts of Ch­e­sa­peake chan­nels. Some are still feed­ing, but it takes pa­tience and a lot of lead in the form of in­line weights to get buck­tails down to where the fish are sus­pended if you are trolling. Jig­ging can still be pro­duc­tive and soft plas­tics or metal jigs will get the job done if you can find some co­op­er­a­tive fish. There con­tin­ues to be a lot of small fish around but some whop­pers are be­ing caught also.

Wa­ter tem­per­a­tures are hov­er­ing around the 50-de­gree mark and once they fall into the low 40’s most striped bass will hun­ker down to sit out the winter in the deep­est parts of the chan­nels that have suf­fi­cient oxy­gen lev­els and slightly warmer wa­ter tem­per­a­tures.

The Bay Bridge is al­ways a late sea­son draw and fish will be found sus­pended at the rock piles and bridge abut­ments hold­ing close to the bot­tom. Jig­ging is the best way to get to them and soft plas­tics of­ten out­per­form metal in this sit­u­a­tion. Small heavy metal jigs are a good bet when fish­ing at the rock piles for white perch.

The mouth of the Chop­tank and Lit­tle Chop­tank have been pro­vid­ing good re­ports for those jig­ging deep in about 50 feet of wa­ter. White perch are also hold­ing in the deep wa­ters of the ma­jor chan­nels in the re­gion. Hard bot­tom is a key. A jig with a drop­per fly is a good way to get down to them. If the drift is too fast or cur­rents too strong a medium-sized sinker with two drop­per flies is a good bet. Tip­ping those drop­per flies with a small piece of blood­worm will in­crease the odds of suc­cess.

Far­ther south, chan­nel edges at Buoy 76, the HS Buoy, Buoy 70, 72A, Cove Point, and the Tar­gets have been some of the bet­ter places to find ac­tion.

White perch can be found in the Nan­ti­coke River in about 50 feet of wa­ter over good oys­ter bot­tom. Jig­ging and fish­ing with bot­tom rigs baited with pieces of blood­worm have been the best ways to fish for them.

On the fresh­wa­ter scene, large­mouth bass are mov­ing into deeper wa­ters due to colder wa­ter tem­per­a­tures, which gen­er­ally means “deep, slow, and small” is a good ap­proach. Fish­ing small lures like sil­ver bud­dies, crankbaits, grubs, and jigs close to the bot­tom and let­ting them al­most sit on the bot­tom and twitch and re­trieve slowly of­ten works well. Tar­get­ing deep struc­ture such as sunken wood, rocks, bridge piers, and deep grass is al­ways a good tac­tic this time of the year.

Off the At­lantic Coast, limit catches of tau­tog and sea bass are fairly com­mon at the wreck and reef sites. A few medi­um­sized blue­fish and floun­der are still be­ing caught and spiny dog­fish are be­gin­ning to show up at the sites.

*** Duck blind know-it-all Honey bees are not na­tive to the Amer­i­cas. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss. email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com

CHRIS KNAUSS

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