Opening weekend harvest up 24 percent over last year
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 email@example.com