Fine weather on the opening day of Maryland’s deer hunting firearm season helped produce a 29% increase in harvest over last year, according to a press release by the Department of Natural Resources. Hunters reported taking 8,061 deer on opening day. Poor weather with high winds and rain on Sunday, though, dropped the take down 9% for the overall weekend.

The opening weekend harvest consisted of 4,248 antlered and 4,953 antlerless deer, including 147 antlered and 126 antlerless sika deer. The two-week deer firearm season runs through Dec. 14.

“The strong antlerless harvest for the weekend is reassuring, and is vital for managing deer numbers in the state,” said Paul Peditto, director of the DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Hunters in Region A (Allegany, Garrett, and western Washington) harvested 878 antlered deer, while hunters in Region B (the rest of the state) harvested 3,370 antlered and 4,953 antlerless deer.

Junior hunters enjoyed excellent deer hunting weather and harvested 2,423 deer during the Junior Deer Hunt Days on Nov. 16-17. The harvest was 12% higher than the harvest of 2,164 last year. Juniors registered 1,471 antlered and 952 antlerless deer.

Across the Mid-Shore, the totals were:

Caroline 457 (Junior Hunt: 37 antlered, 45 antlerless; Saturday: 110 antlered, 212 antlerless; Sunday: 21 antlered, 32 antlerless).

Dorchester 604 (Junior Hunt: whitetail 32 antlered, 27 antlerless; sika 12 antlerless, 21 antlered; Saturday: whitetail 95 antlered, 93 antlerless; sika 99 antlered, 82 antlerless; Sunday: whitetail 25 antlered, 41 antlerless; sika 39 antlered, 38 antlerless).

Kent 532 (Junior Hunt: 54 antlered, 36 antlerless; Saturday: 144 antlered, 248 antlerless; Sunday: 16 antlered, 34 antlerless).

Queen Anne’s 521 (Junior Hunt: 46 antlered, 39 antlerless; Saturday: 159 antlered, 234 antlerless; Sunday: 11 antlered, 32 antlerless).

Talbot 392 (Junior Hunt: 40 antlered, 32 antlerless; Saturday: 94 antlered, 181 antlerless; Sunday: 9 antlered, 36 antlerless).

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New Fisheries Award

Maryland’s DNR and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission have announced a new Maryland Sport Fisheries Achievement Award. The award will recognize an individual who has provided sustained efforts in habitat management, conservation, education, research, or other contributions that benefit fish and recreational fishing in Maryland.

Nominations for the annual Maryland Sport Fisheries Achievement Award are being accepted now through Jan. 31. Members of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission will vote on a winner in the spring, and the award recipient will be announced during a July ceremony in Annapolis.

The recipient will receive a proclamation signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and the chair of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission. A donation will also be made to a fisheries-related organization designated by the recipient.

Nominations can be made by completing an online form along with submitting an essay describing the nominee’s contributions to recreational fisheries. More information is available by contacting Paul Genovese at 410-260-8328 or paul.genovese@maryland.gov.

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Fishing report

Fishing for Chesapeake Bay striped bass is focused on targeting the deeper channel edges by jigging or trolling. Popular places to fish are the east side of the shipping channel near Buoy 83, down to the False Channel at the mouth of the Choptank River. It takes a lot of weight to get down to the fish, so heavy inline weights are required when trolling. Umbrella rigs are the most popular item being trolled, usually with a Storm Shad type trailer or a bucktail dressed with a sassy shad in chartreuse or white.

Jigging is a fall tradition and there is still some action along the shipping channel edges on both sides of the middle Bay. Many anglers have moved up to ¾-ounce and 1-ounce jig heads adorned with skirts and soft plastics up to 10 inches or longer in shades of pearl, chartreuse, and white, often dipped in red-colored garlic scent. Much of the action is occurring at 30 feet or deeper.

Recreational fishing for striped bass in the bay turns to catch-and-release from Dec. 16-31.

White perch can be found suspended close to the bottom. Some of the traditional places to look for them include holes off Kent Island, the mouth of Eastern Bay, and the mouths of the Choptank, Little Choptank, Severn, and West rivers. A metal jig with a dropper fly above or a bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm work well.

Farther south in the Chesapeake Bay, the shipping channel edges along the west side of the bay and the mouth of the Patuxent and Potomac rivers are excellent places to find striped bass, and even a speckled trout now and then. The east side of the shipping channel near the HS Buoy and south past Buoy 72 are also good places to jig or troll.

On the freshwater scene, crappie are schooled up near deep structure and will be holding there. Bridge pylons, sunken wood, fallen treetops, and marina docks are great places to look for them. Fishing a minnow or small jig close to structure can pay off in a nice catch of good-eating crappie. Chain pickerel love cold water and are widely spread throughout Maryland’s small ponds, larger reservoirs, and tidal waters. They will be oriented near any kind of structure they can find, patiently waiting there to ambush anything that might swim by. Often the largest chain pickerel will be found out in more open and deeper water, sitting tight to structure.

Coastal anglers continue to wait for migrating striped bass from northern waters, and we may be getting closer to that event. These large stripers are following the southern migration of menhaden, schools of which are being spotted off the beaches of Maryland. Fishing for sea bass and tautog continues to be good at nearshore and offshore wreck and reef sites.

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Duck blind know-it-all

In many parts of the world, shrimp are eaten with the heads on.

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

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