This weekend ...
* If only tomorrow is like yesterday sounds like the name of an old love song, but today it's being sung by those planning on shooting the first of the Maryland two-day early duck hunt. With dark morning skies, a definite chill in the air and brisk north winds, yesterday's weather was for the ducks.
Mallards appear to be the best bet; no black ducks can be taken until the second segment of the three-way split season Nov. 28-29. Bag limits are three a day, but no more than one hen mallard, one pintail, one redhead and two woodies.
The coot season runs concurrently with the duck season, but I haven't seen any yet. The sea duck season is under way, but it hasn't been cold enough farther north to bring many to the Chesapeake yet.
Southern Pennsylvania's duck season starts Monday, the snow goose season today (next Thursday in Maryland), and the Canada goose in southern Pennsylvania portions began Monday -- with fairly good results. Keep in mind that beginning this season, steel shot must be used throughout the United States. Lead shot is a thing of the past in waterfowling.
* Today: Snow goose hunting has started on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday basis at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Smyrna, Del. Generally, all hunters get a chance to draw a shooting site, and hunting success is fairly good -- also the hunting program helps lessen grazing damage that causes problems for other waterfowl on the refuge. Call 1-302-653-9345.
* Sunday: International Bowhunter Education Program, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Call 1-804-336-6122.
* Monday: Decoy auction involving collector's items including Madison Mitchell and Jessie Urie, 7 p.m., Hunter's Sale Barn, Rising Sun. Also D.U. prints, guns and old fishing equipment. Call 1-301-658-6400.
* Squirrels for bass; a good trade. Once again Mepps is purchasing tails of black, fox and gray squirrels bagged by hunters to dress up Mepps spinners. Prices are 12 to 21 cents each -- or a hunter can swap them for Mepps lures at a 50 percent discount. Write Mepps, Dept. ST92, 626 Center Street, Antigo, Wis. 54409-2496.
Names and places ...
* What has 3-year-old Matthew Bender of Pasadena accomplished that many men 25 times his age still dream of? He has already caught his season's limit of two rockfish -- and he did it on his own. The other day, his dad Doug Bender rigged a hook with peeler crab, set it below a bobber and cast it out for him from a pier on the Severn.
"A perch or a spot would have made him happy, because that's what Stephen [Matthew's brother] was catching," the father said, but it turns out that the youngster's first fish of his life was a rock that just made the 18-inch minimum. Bender hadn't expected such luck so he cast out the boy, raced to his truck 75 feet away for the required rockfish tag and a bucket to keep the fish in.
When he returned Matthew had another rock, also of just 18 inches. Bender didn't get any rock, but that brief fishing trip was so good he got home in time to watch the second half of the Redskins game. Before he was leaving he noticed a fellow fishing the Severn with several-inch pieces of eel. Seems the man -- he had caught no fish -- had heard eels took rock, but he didn't know, until told by Bender, they are drifted whole and alive.
And while on eels, if you don't think they're in demand, Jack Barnhart of Outdoor Sportsman in Essex said as of yesterday he had sold 14,000 of them. Charlie Ebersberger of the Angler on Route 50 said he keeps several thousand in reserve to satisfy eel drifters in the event his wholesale supplier runs short. Second in demand for rock are medium sized white or yellow bucktails -- no larger than 3/0s, which are dressed up with long twister tails of the same colors for either trolling or casting.
* Baltimore County policeman Steve Marcin also made a rockfish catch he'll not forget the remainder of his life. While working an eel with a party of other anglers at Teakettle Shoals, he got a strong strike, and while fighting the fish, his rod broke below the reel and all he had left was the handle.
Four hours later, he had a strike, so did two others aboard. They reeled in and discovered they snagged a wire line. At the other end of it was the lost rod, reel -- and the rockfish. Who else has caught the same fish twice in the same day?
* Another noteworthy catch was that of Todd Shepperd, who cast a nightcrawler into Liberty Reservoir, and reeled in an 11 1/2 -inch bluegill of 1 1/2 pounds. The Fishing In Maryland record is 2 3/4 pounds and 14 inches, but any 'gill of better than 10 inches rates bragging rights; 11 inches or better is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.