Sadly, duck and goose season is over, but no, that’s not quite right.

There’s a Youth Waterfowl Hunt Day on Saturday, Feb. 8. It’s a great chance for mentors to take a young or aspiring hunter into the field or on the marsh to teach hunting skills and create some new memories.

Anyone 16 years of age or younger may hunt ducks, geese, mergansers, and coots on both public and private land when aided by an unarmed adult at least 21 years old.

Junior hunters and their adult mentors must possess Maryland hunting licenses or be license-exempt. Youth hunters, including those possessing an apprentice license, need a Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp, but do not need to purchase a federal duck stamp if under 16 years of age.

The bag limits for this hunting day are the same as the regular seasons except:

  • Two black ducks may be taken
  • One Canada goose may be taken when hunting within the Atlantic Population Canada Goose Hunting Zone
  • Five Canada geese may be taken when hunting within the Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada Goose Hunting Zone.

Snow geese (light geese) are open season for everybody through April 15, with some exceptions. Please check the regulations for specifics.

* * * Turkey take up a tad

Hunters reported taking 82 wild turkeys during Maryland’s winter turkey season, which was open statewide Jan. 23-25. The Department of Natural Resources reported turkeys were harvested in 22 of the state’s 23 counties, with St. Mary’s and Garrett counties reporting the highest numbers.

The harvest was higher than the 73 turkeys taken last year. Adult males, or gobblers, comprised 42% of the harvest with the remainder adult females and juveniles. Seventy-three percent were taken with a shotgun, but some hunters harvested their bird with a crossbow or vertical bow.

* * * Hunting comments sought

DNR Wildlife and Service Director Paul Peditto says input on proposed changes to the 2020-22 hunting and trapping seasons will be taken beginning Feb. 3, which is also when we’ll find out what they are.

According to a press release, through the past several months the department has presented a variety of management concepts to internal and external stakeholders representing a diverse group of staff, citizens, and advisers.

“We are now pleased to present the current concepts for further public review and input,” Peditto said. “We look forward to this phase of the public process as it always helps inform and further refine our proposals.”

You will be able to view the proposed regulations and comment online from Feb. 3 through Feb. 24. The department will also accept feedback by phone at 410-260-8540, by fax at 410-260-8596, or in writing to Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 580 Taylor Avenue, E-1, Annapolis, Maryland, 21401.

The proposals will also be presented and discussed in person at the following public local meeting in Wye Mills: Feb. 10 at 7 p.m., Chesapeake College, Room 127 in the Wye Mills Health Professions and Athletics Center.

* * * Fishing report

Tidal rivers in the upper Chesapeake Bay are offering some good fishing for yellow perch. They can be found holding in the middle to upper sections of the rivers, in some of the deeper holes. Minnows or grass shrimp on a dropper rig are usually a good choice to entice them in deeper and more open waters. Casting out a minnow or an artificial on small jig head and working slowly along the bottom works best where waters are shallower and more confined.

Anglers looking for some catch-and-release action with striped bass are finding some at the Bay Bridge. The stripers are deep and holding close to the rock piles and concrete abutments. They can often be seen stacked close to the bottom. Jigging is the best way to get to them.

Chain pickerel are active and can provide some fun action in most all of the region’s tidal rivers. Small spinners, suspended jerk baits, and minnows under a bobber will lure them, among other choices. They will attack most any kind of lure, often violently, so replacing treble hooks with single hooks and flattening barbs is a good idea for a photo and a quick release.

Northern snakeheads slow down during the cold winter months but warm sunny days can spur them into activity. Large minnows under a bobber is perhaps the best way to fish for them when its cold.

Channel and white catfish are active despite the cold water temperatures and can offer some fun fishing from a small boat or a river bank. Most any kind of fresh cut bait works well as does chicken liver, hearts, and breast. Shoreline fishing can be especially relaxing this time of the year. Putting out a lighter rod rigged with small minnows can attract some yellow perch that are often in the same areas.

Trout fishing offers another opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy time outdoors. Trout management waters are spread from the Eastern Shore to the far western regions of our state, ranging from community ponds to spectacular mountain rivers. You can fish as simply as using a bobber and bait from a chair on a grass bank of a community pond, or go completely outfitted in waders and casting a nymph with a fly rod in fast moving waters.

* * * Duck blind know-it-all

Clouds fly higher during the day than at night.

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

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