Maryland’s 46th annual Migratory Game Bird Stamp design contest is underway and this year will feature a “People’s Choice Award” based on votes at the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Nov. 8-10.

Artists have until Nov. 1 to submit their original artwork for a chance to have it portrayed on the state’s 2020-21 waterfowl conservation stamp, also known as the duck stamp.

Festival-goers can cast their vote for their favorite entry. The department will officially judge the entries at noon on Nov. 10 to select the winner.

Each contestant may submit up to three entries for a fee of $15 for one entry, $20 for two entries, and $30 for three entries. Proceeds help fund game bird and waterfowl research and projects.

All entries must be original works, neither copied nor duplicated from any previously published paintings, drawings, prints, or photographs. To enter, contestants must mail their designs with required fees and forms by Nov. 1.

Complete contest rules and entry forms are found on the Department of Natural Resoures website.

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Focus on Veterans

This year’s National Hunting and Fishing Day events will include a day of outdoor activities for veterans and their families at Patriot Point in Dorchester County. Maryland’s DNR is inviting all current and former service members and their families to Patriot Point for the event Sept. 21, which includes fishing, archery, shooting sports, and other activities centered on the outdoors and wildlife. A mentored dove hunt will also be offered for new and apprentice hunters.

The event is free but, because space is limited, advance registration is required. A separate registration is required to participate in the dove hunt, and all hunters must complete the requirements for newly licensed or apprentice hunters in Maryland. More information is available by emailing christopher.markin@maryland.gov

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Fishing report

Striped bass are being found in upper Chesapeake Bay sites that allow the fish to hold in 25 feet of water or less. Sites worth exploring are Swan Point, the Triple Buoys area, the Love Point rocks, Podickory Point, and the east side of the Bay Bridge. Live-lining spot or white perch is a productive way to fish. The best fishing success occurs in the early morning hours and tends to slow or shut down as the day’s temperatures increase.

Light-tackle jigging will also lure fish at the above locations or wherever they can be found suspended near channel edges or shoal areas. Skirted jigs in the ½-ounce to ¾-ounce range, or jig heads with soft plastic bodies in pearl/ chartreuse combinations or white are often effective. In early morning hours, anglers are have success casting swimshads, jigs, and crankbaits at shallow structure such as the Love Point, Thomas Point, or Bay Bridge rock piles. Trolling along channel edges has been tough due to stained water conditions.

Spot are being found in the shallow areas on the western side of the Bay Bridge, off Sandy Point, and the mouth of the Magothy River. They are also readily available at shallower hard bottom areas at the mouth of the Choptank River, behind Hacketts Bar, or in front of Chesapeake Beach. White perch can also be found in the same areas and shoals. Pieces of bloodworm on a bottom rig is the best way to catch them in deeper waters. Casting beetle spins in the tidal rivers and creeks near shoreline structure is a fun way to catch them in the mornings and evenings.

Rockfish are also biting at Hacketts, Thomas, and Bloody points, and areas near the Hill at the mouth of Eastern Bay where anglers are live-lining spot. The fish are suspended along channel edges in 25 feet of water or less, so a good depth finder is a valuable tool to locate them.

The tidal creeks and rivers are offering good fishing for white perch and catfish for those fishing from small boats or from shore. Casting bottom rigs from docks and piers is also a great way to catch white perch, catfish, or possibly a striped bass. Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park on the Choptank River has been one of the better places to fish lately for a mix of white perch and catfish.

Farther south in the Chesapeake, Spanish mackerel are readily available in many areas of the lower bay. Trolling small gold or silver spoons behind planers has been one of the more popular ways to catch them. Most of those trolling for a mix of bluefish and striped bass have been pulling bucktails, spoons, and red or green hoses. The main shipping channel edges are a good place to explore.

Mixed schools of mackerel and bluefish often chase schools of bay anchovies near the surface and can be marked by diving sea gulls. Casting small jigs or metal lures into this fracas is a fun way to get into the action. Much of this activity is taking place on the eastern side of the bay from the Middle Grounds to the Target Ship, as well as Pocomoke Sound and the Point Lookout area.

A few large red drum are being caught and released in the general area from the Middle Grounds to the Target Ship. They are being caught by trolling large silver spoons or by jigging when schools can be located.

On the freshwater scene, largemouth bass are feeding on each side of darkness and seeking cool shade during the day. Buzzbaits, chatterbaits, and frogs are great lures to use in the early morning or late evening hours. Northern snakeheads often will be part of the mix when fishing grass. Other freshwater species that can offer fun summertime fishing include bluegills, catfish, and crappie.

On the Atlantic Coast, surf anglers are catching kingfish on pieces of bloodworm on a simple bottom rig. Spot and croaker are also being caught. Bluefish are being enticed by finger mullet or cut bait.

Anglers fishing for cobia on some of the inshore shoals are catching large cobia by casting live eels. Trollers are reeling in a mix of Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, and bluefish.

Offshore anglers participating in the White Marlin recently caught and released hundreds of white marlin. Their catches also included blue marlin, dolphin, wahoo, and mixed species of tuna.

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Duck blind know-it-all

When a female wasp dies inside an edible fig, an enzyme in the fig called ficin breaks down her carcass into protein.

Follow me on Twitter @csknauss / email me at cknauss@stardem.com

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