Deer, pickerel and many more reasons to get outside
No reports so far, as I write this, of any hunter fatalities, and we’re now headed for the final stretch of Maryland’s two-week firearms season for deer hunting. That’s great news. I’ve heard and seen many reports of successful hunts with plenty of venison collected for feasts and a few very large bucks. Those hunts will serve as sustenance, great memories, and story material for many years to come.
It’s great getting outside and seeing the deer move about let alone having one to your liking move within range. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and everyone stays safe for the rest of the season.
During my internet travels, I came across the Maryland Hunting Coalition and thought I’d steer you to some of the important work the group is doing to keep hunting a legal recreational option in this state. Please take a look at their website when you can to get a look at some of the issues that need our attention. The Shore is well represented by coalition directors and advisers including Sean Mann, Larry Albright, Donald Travis, and Jason Willey. You can join the coalition for free and they will keep you posted on legislation that may negatively impact wildlife and our hunting traditions.
*** Pickerel time Cold weather doesn’t keep pickerel from biting. You can test your skills at catching them and see how your efforts compare to others by participating in this year’s CCA Maryland Pickerel Championship. The three-month tournament started Dec. 1 and runs through Feb. 28. Tournament divisions are open, kayak, fly, and youth. New this year, yellow and white perch and black crappie divisions have been added. Mini tournaments will be held on Dec. 16, Jan. 13, and Feb. 24.
The winners will be decided by the longest 3-fish stringer recorded over the three months with prizes for largest pickerel caught by fly, kayak, youth, and overall and largest perch and crappie. This is a photo catchand-release tournament hosted through ianglertournament.com.
The entry fee is $50 for CCA members and $75 for new members. Complete rules and more information is available on the CCA Maryland website.
*** Fishing report
With Chesapeake Bay water temperatures around 48 degrees and dropping, fish are moving towards winter holding areas or migrating out of the bay. With plenty of cool water and oxygen from surface to bottom, you can find fish and avoid areas with poor water clarity from recent heavy rains.
Anglers can find concentrations of fish in some of the slightly warmer bottom waters located from the Bay Bridge south to near the Maryland state line. Areas with good structure such as underwater points, oyster bottom, reefs, and channel edges are good places to target along with large schools of baitfish.
Trolling with umbrella rigs in chartreuse with heavy inline weights to get them down to depths of 25 feet to 40 feet is catching keepers. Popular locations include the mouth of the Patapsco River, Swan, Love and Podickory points.
The striped bass are beginning to stack up and can show up quite well on a good depth finder. Getting them to bite might take some effort, but soft plastic jigs in pearl or chartreuse have been working.
White perch have moved out into the deeper channel areas in the bay and are hunkered down over hard bottom areas. The larger ones can still be found at the rock piles at the Bay Bridge. Bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworms or dropper fly rigs baited with the same will catch them.
Yellow perch are moving into the tidal rivers and are providing some fun fishing opportunities. Small minnows on a bottom rig or tiny jigs are a great way to catch them. Channel catfish are holding in every upper bay tidal river and part of the bay itself, and they are eager to sample any cut bait you might offer.
On the Atlantic Coast, surf casters continue to catch small bluefish on finger mullet rigs or small cut baits. Anglers soaking large baits are hoping that a few southbound stripers will move along Maryland’s shores soon. A few large rockfish have been caught at the mouth of Delaware Bay, so the vanguard should arrive soon.
The boats headed out to offshore wreck and reef sites are finding limits of sea bass with a mix of bluefish, large flounder, and a few triggerfish. Offshore, large yellowfin tuna were still being caught at the canyons where warmer water was found. There has also been some exciting catches of swordfish and bigeye tuna at the Baltimore Canyon.
Duck blind know-it-all The average life span for wild white-tailed deer is 4.5 years.