Time to put the gun away and turn to fishing, but let's not forget about hunting before fall returns. There's much to think about, but first a fishing update.
Suddenly, the flounder have arrived at Wachapreague, the favorite early flatfish grounds for many hereabouts. Though the flounder run isn't expected to be much this year, some anglers have taken their Virginia creel limit of 10.
The fish average a couple pounds, nearly all are of the 13-inch minimum. Green and Drawing channels are the best bets.
Monday, the first flattie turned up at Quinby, a 2-pounder, though none have been reported at Chincoteague or Ocean City, where yesterday headboats were forced to work far north for mackerel -- and then didn't do too well. Most of the macks were still farther north, which could mean they are leaving. This weekend could be the last, but it has been a long run of 35 days.
At Cape Charles, tautog are around the wrecks, and the first black drum turned up in nets along with some speckled sea trout. A few gray trout also were netted off Tangier Island, and in the Virginia Beach area a few specks were taken on jigs.
Look for the Cape Charles drum run to start at the end of the month, and in the meantime, watch for bluefish, some of which have been taken in nets off Virginia Beach.
The mild winter allowed blues to stay north of their usual wintering haunts, and some biggies have been taken at the Hatteras beach. A few more warm days could put some in the mouth of the bay. Capt. Bruce Scheible out of Wynne, Md., said Potomac waters are warm down his way, and he will scout around next week.
Scheible expects good fishing for blues by the end of the month unless winter plays an encore.
While enjoying the fishing this season, consider that you and your colleagues on the water probably will be the next target of humane extremists, who only last summer paraded against the Governor's Fishing Tournament that promoted fishing -- not drugs -- for youngsters. Tourney officials were harassed with claims they were promoting killing instead of drugs.
One poster read to the effect that if hooked fish could scream, Loch Raven -- where the fishing center opens today -- would be a noisy place. Like hunters, anglers could be next on the hot seat.
So says Don MacLauchlan, head of the Department of Natural Resources hunting and freshwater fishing programs, who just returned from the North American Wildlife Conference in Edmonton, Alberta. Vice chairman of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, he said animal rights activity is now among the top three concerns of wildlife administrators.
Maryland and California are in the forefront of the activity, he warns. "With a large urban population, we're on the cutting edge of social issues."
The anti-hunter movement is hailing recent Montgomery County Court action, which it contends vindicated those who harassed bowhunters at McKee Beshers Wildlife Management area, but their claims might be premature.
Contrary to their assertions, the charges were not dropped when DNR Police and hunters failed to appear in court. Their absence is attributed to confusion in the scheduling of the trial, which is expected to be held later.
Of concern is the recent State Senate vote on an amendment to a bill to clarify how DNR could use bow stamp monies for bowhunter-wildlife programs. The surprise amendment would have restricted all stamp funds to educational purposes only. Thankfully the original bill passed, but 11 senators voted for the restriction pushed by Sen. Howard Dennis of Montgomery County.
So between bites on the water this season, consider the plight of hunters and trappers and your chances of being next. Others shouldn't ignore the issue either.
Is it too far-fetched to think that runners, cyclists and golfers could have their turn to spare insects that could be squashed by their treads and spikes?