This week ...
Duck hunting is off to a fairly good start on both the Eastern and Western shores of the Chesapeake. Most of the fowl are blacks, mallards and other puddle ducks (too early for divers), and public hunting grounds on the lower Eastern Shore are providing the best shooting in years. It's not like the good old days, but it's good enough to make things interesting.
It's a do-it-yourself proposition. Guides and outfitters cater to goose hunters these days. Duck hunters have to go it on their own, but it can be worth it. Call the Department of Natural Resources at 974-3195 for information on public hunting areas.
Saturday: Eight-mile hike at Liberty Reservoir near Morgan Run. Call Mountain Club of Maryland at 486-1787.
* Saturday: Christmas Is A Natural Workshop, 10 a.m. to noon, Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian. Make your own decorations out of natural materials. Call 1-301-741-9330.
* Saturday: Christmas Lighting of Crisfield program (including boat parade), 5 p.m. Call Greg Cunningham at 974-7613 or Terry Rawley at 1-301-968-0925.
* Saturday: Santa's Saturday Magic, 4 to 7 p.m., Martinak State Park. Will include a visit by Santa, caroling, ornament making. Call 1-301-479-1619.
* Monday: Birds are still around, especially on the Eastern Shore, for the start of the final phase of the dove shoot that continues through Dec. 29.
* Monday: Western Virginia muzzleloader deer season opens. Call 1-804-367-1000. West Virginia muzzleloader season also starts. Call 1-304-348-2771.
* Tuesday: The Maryland Striped Bass Advisory Board could decide many issues for the 1991 rockfishing season at a 6 p.m. public meeting at the Department of Agriculture Building, Truman Parkway, Annapolis. Issues involve a spring fishery with possibly two phases including one for trophy fish of 36 inches or more. A 1991 fall season also will be discussed, possibly involving changes in the charterboat creel limit.
* Tuesday: Looking for something in fishing tackle or sporting art for a Christmas gift? The 7 p.m. meeting of the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited will have it at a public meeting at the IOOF Hall, above Set's Sport Shop, 5112 York Road in Towson. Call 668-9006 after 5 p.m.
* Tuesday: Interested in joining an active fishing club? The Essex-Middle River Chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association meets at 7:30 p.m. at Commodore Hall, 1909 Old Eastern Ave. Call Pete Reid at 583-8749.
* Wednesday: MCM six-mile hike, Patapsco State Park, 10 a.m. Call 242-8091.
* Wednesday: Another chance to join an MSSA chapter, that of Perry Hall, which meets at 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, Silver Lake Drive. Call George Zizwarek at 426-9982.
Planning ahead ...
Dec. 22: Maryland muzzleloader season opens for deer and continues through Jan. 5. Call 974-3195.
* Jan. 4-6: Chesapeake Sportfishing Show, Annapolis Guard Armory. Call 841-6974.
* Jan. 26: Opening of the 37th annual Chesapeake Bay Boat Show, Baltimore Convention Center and Festival Hall. It continues through Feb. 3. Call 385-1800.
DNR's Buckingham Forest Tree Nursery has loblolly and white pine cones for sale, $4 a bushel. Call 859-7730.
Names and places ...
Lightning strikes in the same place twice -- or at least it did for Rick Thompson of Monkton, who got a deer with a bow from a tree stand 150 yards from his back yard, and then from the same stand he got another with a gun during the modern firearms season. The bow kill was a 13-pointer of 216 pounds with a 22-inch spread and 6 1/2 -inch base that scored 146 points (before drying) under the Pope & Young system. The big buck was taken with a 55-pound pull compound bow. The gun-killed buck was a six-pointer.
* No, we didn't catch all the big rockfish in our recent season. Schools of large fish were seen breaking water in much of the upper bay, and at Chesapeake Beach many up to 12 pounds worked into the little creek near Rod and Reel docks as far upstream as the Route 261 bridge. Capt. Shaker Black said no one can recall when rock that big moved up the creek, and he thinks that means a great year ahead for stripers.
Also on the rockfish front, New Jersey, the state that has been dragging its feet on sea trout and flounder restrictions, has decided to allow its fishermen a bonus rock. The daily creel limit is one of 28 inches, but anglers are allowed an additional one of 38 inches or more daily, although the bonus does not apply to Delaware Bay and Delaware River, where the creel limit remains at one a day of at least 36 inches.
And on still another rock front, Charles Lesser, who heads Delaware fisheries, said Delaware River rock reproduction appears to have been outstanding in contrast to the Chesapeake's disappointing young-of-the-year index. "There are fish -- many of 13 inches -- all over the place," said Lesser.