Winter pickerel fishing is in full swing
There’s nothing quite like a Canada goose landing on water. The transition from floating in the air to floating on a Chesapeake river is a touch down that’s at once both graceful and mesmerizing. Since there are literally hundreds of thousands of these Canadian visitors on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay, you don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy and appreciate this scene. But there’s no doubt bird hunters are taking advantage of it, with many regularly scoring limits both afield and water blinds.
The caveat to that consistency is, at least from my observations in the past two weeks, that the geese are definitely showing some signs of the pressure. And while they’re not quite in full-blown paranoia mode, they are definitely getting smarter. All the more reason to not sky-bust. In my last three outings I went two-for-three on ducks and geese. True, I’ve seen more puddle ducks around, as well as divers and sea ducks, but like the geese, migrant ducks are getting a little tougher to decoy. So I’ve countered that with calling less, and calling at the right time, as well as remaining stock still and well-hidden.
Edgewater residents Max Rudow and his dad Lenny, along with Mike Davidson and Greg Short, limited out on goose the day before Christmas, hunting a farm in Carroll County. One of the honkers had a band that Lenny says proves it was a resident — banded in Carroll County in 2015.
Fishing-wise, it’s been quiet, though the mild weather has encouraged some anglers to fish the local creeks and ponds for pickerel and panfish. I haven’t heard too much about catch-and-release rockfishing, just a random report here and there. Over on the coast, friendly seas welcomed in the 2017 tautog season. Capt. Monty Hawkins, who runs the O.C.-based party boat Morning Star, checked in to let us know that Pasadena resident Ralph Driscoll decked not one but two tog better than 10 pounds. That’s a real good day. Ralph’s companions, Pat Scida of Annapolis and Mike Maney of Lewes, Delaware, also fared well, each landing quality blackfish.
I caught up with Joe Bruce recently and he says pickerel fishing is in full swing and will be all winter as long as the “water stays soft. Flukes and flies work well. Using a “two prong” attack is very successful. If the pike misses the fluke, come back with the fly rod streamer; it is almost a 100 percent hook up rate.” Truth be told, I’m conflicted by his soft water comment since that means while it’d good for fishing, not so much for gunning birds.
Capt. Kevin Josenhans of Josenhans Fly Fishing tells me very soon he plans to fish the Pocomoke River for white and yellow perch. He’s also thinking about possibly heading north to the Susquehanna for a couple days for a fun yellow perch trip. Capt. Kevin is scheduled to give a talk at the MSSA Dorchester chapter meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18, hosted at the Elks Lodge in Cambridge. He’ll also have table at TieFest, slated for Saturday, March 18, at the Kent Narrows Yacht Club.
WEIGHING THEIR OPTIONS: Prior to its February meeting in North Carolina, the Atlantic States Marine Fishing Commission has or will hold public meetings to consider what it calls “alternative management approaches for summer flounder to achieve needed harvest reductions due to a decrease in the coast wide recreational harvest limit.” The Commission’s action comes in response to the 2016 Stock Assessment Update that found fishing mortality was higher and population estimates lower in recent years than previously estimated.
For some states that most likely means severe cuts, as much as 40 percent from last year. Larger minimum sizes, smaller creel and shorter seasons are main tools managers use to achieve reductions. New York and New Jersey are expected to be hit the hardest, while Maryland, Delaware and Virginia could potentially could see no changes from its current creel of four flounder per day at 16 inches. Or the regs perhaps could go to 17 inches and three fish per day if the three states decide they want to offer their northern neighbors a little relief. Since 2014, summer flounder regulations have been set by region, meaning that in the past few years, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia flounder rules have been identical.
On Tuesday evening the ASMFC held a public meeting at the Ocean Pines Library in Berlin. Maryland biologist Steve Doctor told me the meeting was well attended and that local charter and party captains as well as sport fishermen shared their perspectives with ASMFC staff in a constructive manner. In a statement released this week, the Recreational Fishing Alliance claims “fishermen and scientists alike have little confidence in the assessment and landings data driving this latest quote reduction.” RFA executive director Jim Donofrio said he has contacted incoming U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to discuss how coastal fishing communities from Massachusetts to North Carolina will be affected by the cuts.
At a press conference with other fishing leaders, Donofrio said, “Sen. Schumer recognized the gravity of the problem and requested a meeting the next day to discuss leading an effort to avert what will be a death blow to an industry already struggling under the burden of over-regulation. Schumer was quoted as saying, “I will reach out to President-elect Donald Trump, Ross (recently nominated Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross) and whoever I have to to get this changed.”
Email outdoors news, photos and calendar listings Captain Chris Dollar at [email protected].
Thru Jan. 28: Final Split of Duck Season.
Thru Feb. 4: Final Split of Canada Goose Season. Daily bag limit is two (2) geese and the possession limit six (6).
Jan. 14: MSSA Frederick Chapter’s “Saltwater Fishing Expo,” 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Frederick County Fairgrounds, 797 E. Patrick St., Building #9, Frederick. Regional experts as well as Ed “The Beard” from NatGeo’s “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks.” Inshore/offshore tackle vendors, charter captains, custom rod builders, and crabbing supplies.
Jan. 16: MSSA Broadneck/Magothy #10 Chapter Meeting at 7:30p.m, American Legion Post #175, 832 Manhattan Beach Road, Severna Park.
Jan 18: MSSA Annapolis Chapter Meeting. John Murch from Garmin Electronics will discuss the latest Garmin sonar technology. American Legion Post #7, 1905 Crownsville Road, Annapolis. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Jan. 21: Maryland Chapter of Heroes on the Water’s “Tackle Show.” 8 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Co., 4498 Mountain Rd., Pasadena.
Jan. 26-29: Progressive® Insurance “Baltimore Boat Show,” Baltimore Convention Center. Details at BaltimoreBoatShow.com.
Jan. 28-29: MSSA’s Kent Island Fishermen 7th annual Fishing Flea Market, Kent Island American Legion Post # 278, 800 Romancoke Road, Stevensville. Show runs from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. Contact Dave Stith (410) 643-3970 or [email protected].
Jan. 31: Angler’s Night Out, hosted by Boatyard Bar & Grill, CCA MD & Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Feature film is “Running the Coast.” Happy hour from 5-7 p.m., film starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar & Grill, 4th Street & Severn Ave., Eastport.
Feb. 1: Free State Fly Fishers’ meeting. Capt. Chris Dollar talks fly fishing and light tackle from SUPS and kayaks. 7:30 p.m. at Davidsonville Family Recreation Center, 3789 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville. Details at facebook.com/FSFFMD.
Feb. 4: Salt Water Sportsman’s Seminar Series. Old Mill High School Auditorium, 600 Patriot Lane, Millersville. Regional and national fishing experts, including local captains Lonnie Johnson of G-EYE Jigs and Pete Dalhberg. Details and registration at nationalseminarseries.com.
Feb. 25: MSSA Annapolis Chapter “Saltwater Fishing Expo” 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Annapolis Elks Club, Solomons Island Road, Annapolis. Seminars from area experts as well as tackle vendors, charter captains, and crabbing supplies. Details at mssaannapolis.com.
Feb. 28: Angler’s Night Out, hosted by Boatyard Bar & Grill, CCA MD & Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Feature film is “Best of the 2016 Drake Video Awards.” Happy hour & appetizer specials from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., film starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar & Grill, 4th Street & Severn Ave., Eastport.
March 28: Angler’s Night Out, hosted by Boatyard Bar & Grill, in cooperation with CCA MD & Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Feature film is “Providence.” Happy hour & appetizer specials from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., film starts at 7 p.m. Boatyard Bar & Grill, 4th Street & Severn Ave., Eastport.