Small game season underway as squirrels look for nuts
In case you didn’t know, squirrel season opened on Sept. 3 and runs through Feb. 28 in all counties, with a bag limit of six per day.
Squirrels are managed by the DNR as small game, which includes crows, pheasant, quail, rabbits and ruffed grouse.
You’ll find squirrels very active this time of the year, looking for and stashing nuts to try to relocate during the winter. Squirrels end up inadvertently planting thousands of trees each year by simply forgetting where they put their acorns.
Of course, squirrel season on the shore does not include the unique Delmarva fox squirrel, which appears to be rebounding from habitat destruction.
Crow season started Aug. 15 and runs through March 15. Hunting for ruffed grouse, which can be found in western Maryland, opens Oct. 1. Eastern cottontail rabbit season starts on Nov. 5.
Some general rule reminders (there are others) for small game:
• Daily small game shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.
• A hunter must carry personal photo identification (such as a driver’s license) or a secondary form of positive identification while hunting.
• Written permission is required to hunt on private land. • A hunting license is required to hunt small game in Maryland, with some exceptions.
• Fluorescent orange clothing is required to hunt small game in Maryland except crows. The use of decoys, calls, and/or recordings may be used for crow hunting.
• The head, plumage, and feet shall remain attached to all pheasants to permit identification of species and sex while being transported from the place where killed to the place of final disposition. This does not pertain to captive-reared pheasants taken on Regulated Shooting Areas.
• It is against the law to hunt any animal other than deer on the first day of Deer Firearms Season, except sea ducks in the Sea Duck Zone.
• Firearms, air rifles, and archery equipment may be used to hunt small game.
• A shotgun may not hold more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined.
• Telescopic and laser sights may be used on all devices legal for hunting small game.
• It is illegal to have a loaded firearm in, on, or leaning against any vehicle. This includes ammunition in the magazine or a muzzleloader ready to fire.
• All crossbows should have a working safety.
• It is unlawful to have a loaded crossbow in, on or leaning against any vehicle. A cocked crossbow without a bolt or arrow in the firing position is considered to be unloaded.
• It is unlawful to cast the rays of an artificial light from a vehicle on woods, fields, orchards, livestock, wild mammals or birds, dwellings or buildings.
The middle Chesapeake Bay region has plenty of action lately as a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel actively chase schools of bait. Most of the striped bass are from 12 to 16 inches in length and tend to be the ones seen on the surface chasing schools of bay anchovies. Larger striped bass can sometimes be found underneath the surface action by jigging or by live-lining spot or trolling along channel edges. The 30-foot channel edge from Dolly’s Lump south to Thomas Point has been a popular place to live-line as well as off Poplar Island and the False Channel.
Trolling a mix of small Drone spoons, bucktails, and surgical tube lures behind planers and inline weights has been a good way to catch fish along channel edges and near breaking fish.
Cooler water temperatures in the tidal rivers will help revive the shallowwater fisher y for striped bass in the next week or so. Topwater lures are the favorite for this type of fishing along likely looking shoreline on a high falling tide in the mornings and evenings. White perch can also be found in these same areas and can be targeted with lighter tackle, spinners and small jigs.
Bottom fishing for white perch has also been very good in the deeper waters of the lower tidal rivers over good oyster bottom. A mix of spot, croaker, northern puffers and the occasional small red drum or sea trout may also round out the mix.
Farther south, large red drum continue to provide exciting catch-and-release action in the vicinity of Buoy 72, the Target Ship, and the HS Buoy. Most are being caught by trolling large spoons but jigging when schools can be located is also effective. There are still some cobia in the region and they are being caught by chumming near the Target Ship or farther south below Smith Point.
Recreational crabbing has been good to excellent in most regions of the bay. The upper bay tidal rivers are providing the best crabbing of the season and the middle and lower bay regions have been excellent.
On the freshwater scene, small ponds are providing plenty of good largemouth bass fishing. Targeting shallow grass and structure with frogs and poppers provides exploding surface strikes that help define what largemouth bass fishing is all about.
On the Atlantic Coast, a mix of kingfish, blowfish, croaker, small bluefish, and flounder are still being caught in the surf. Some nice flounder are being caught on the nearshore shoal areas and the wreck and reef sites. Offshore at the canyons, white marlin catches have been very good with multiple releases being common. A mix of medium-sized yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, and blue marlin round things out.
Duck blind know-it-all
Flamingos can only eat when their head is upside down.