Chris Dollar outdoors: the arrival of autumn is changing the fishing scene

Just at the right time, almost at the same time that summer officially gave way to fall on the calendar, a raucous cold front rushed into our area – bringing with it strong northwesterly winds that made drop temperatures.

The announced change in the early days of fall is bound to shake up the fishing scene, and wildlife in general will react to the shorter days and colder nights.

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel will no doubt feed voraciously to fuel up for the hike in the bay. White perch and redfish cousins ​​will also put on the feed bag, as will other game fish like red drum and speckled trout.

The biggest and tastiest crabs of the year are waiting to be caught in the weeks to come. I imagine the change in weather will also cause doves to trade from field to field and cause the teals to fly more actively in the swamps.

Larger waterfowl migratory surges are not too far away. National Estuary Week coincided with the arrival of fall, as it has done the third week of September for 34 years. It’s a way of highlighting the importance of one of Earth’s most important resources, and few estuaries in the world are as special as our Chesapeake.

Even in its current weakened state (compared to its untouched state), today’s bay still harbors unique gems of nature waiting to be discovered. And above all preserved.

But let me remind you what an estuary is: an area where fresh water meets the ocean. Specifically, the Chesapeake Bay combines the salty mix of the Atlantic Ocean with the fresh water of dozens of rivers and creeks. The mighty Susquehanna system provides most of the fresh water, followed by the Potomac and then the James. The result is brackish water, and for me there is no softer water anywhere.

Way smarter people than me (not that hard to do) have analyzed data that pegs the annual economic value of the Chesapeake Bay at over $100 billion. Although production varies from year to year, approximately half a billion pounds of seafood are harvested each year in the Chesapeake, not only to support people’s livelihoods, but also to provide them with a unique way of life. Together, sport fishing, boating, hunting and other recreational activities are worth billions of dollars.

I can’t begin to calculate what the Chesapeake Bay has meant and still means to my soul. I can’t put a price on that.

Sometimes Congress proves that it can rise above the cry of partisan politics and initiate things that can actually make us a stronger community.

This appears to have happened last week after Virginia Congressman A. Donald McEachin and Florida Congresswoman Maria E. Salazar introduced a bill, called the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act, which, if passed, would create a grant program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA) to establish youth fishing programs for urban and underserved communities.

A good concept is far from fully funded and established, of course, but proponents say it would go a long way to reducing the financial and structural barriers that often prevent young people from becoming the next generation of anglers and conservationists. .

In a statement, Congressman McEachin said, “No child should be unable to participate in outdoor recreation simply because of their socioeconomic status or zip code. The bipartisan Youth Inshore Fisheries Program Act will provide our youth, especially those in historically underserved communities, with new opportunities to get outside, cultivate a love and appreciation for fishing, and learn more about it. on marine science and conservation.

Congresswoman Salazar said, “I am pleased to offer younger generations of Americans across the country, especially minority Americans, the opportunity to learn more about our seas, oceans and lakes, as well as providing them with the tools to take advantage of it.

Many major sportfishing and conservation groups have signed on to support the measure, including the American Sportfishing Association, BoatU.S., the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. Other supporters, perhaps lesser known in the outer space but undoubtedly equally important, include Ebony Anglers, Hunters of Color and Youth Environmental Alliance.

As an outdoor guide and educator, I have seen how time spent on the bay and its rivers – catching your first fish, catching a crab, paddling through a wetland – can have a positive influence on a young. Research shows that time spent outdoors improves many aspects of our health, as well as our view of the world.

Who can’t use more of this?

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Until September 30: Hunting season reserved for teals. Shooting times: half an hour before sunrise until sunset. The daily bag limit is six teal (blue-winged or green-winged); the possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

Until October 15: Dove Season, Premier League. Fifteen birds a day.

September 26: Maryland and Potomac River Public Hearing for Menhaden Fisheries Management Plan. 6-8 p.m. Hybrid meeting, in person at the DNR Tawes Building, C-1 Conference Room, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis.

September 30: Public Comment Deadline for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Draft Menhaden Addendum I. Email [email protected], with Atlantic Menhaden in the subject line.

October 6-9: American Motorboat Show. City Wharf, Annapolis, MD. Check out the “Fishing Spot” display with the vendors. Discover the debut of Harvester, a new multimedia platform for fishing, hunting and shooting sports. Details at annapolisboatshows.com.

October 9-17: Rod and Reef Slam Fishing Tournament. Anglers who catch the most different species win gift cards and prizes worth up to $300. The family tournament includes powerboat, kayak and youth divisions. Admission is $25. Register before October 1 and get a free shirt. Sponsored by CBF, Chesapeake Oyster Alliance and Coastal Conservation Association Maryland.

Send calendar listings, news and photos to [email protected].

Helen L. Cuellar