Hunters in Maryland now have two new public hunting opportunities in state wildlife management areas. The Department of Natural Resources has announced that Browns Branch Wildlife Management Area in Queen Anne’s County and Popes Creek Wildlife Management Area in Charles County are now open to regulated hunting and trapping.

Hunting on the 1,172-acre Browns Branch Wildlife Management Area is managed through the department’s Central Region public hunting permit and reservation system. Those interested in hunting the area must possess a free Central Region seasonal permit and make daily reservations. Anyone interested in trapping the area can contact the Millington Wildlife office at 410-928-3650. Interested hunters can contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Management Area office at 410-356-9272.

Hunting on the 522-acre Popes Creek Wildlife Management Area will be managed through the Southern Region public hunting permit and reservation system.

Hunting for all regulated game species will take place during established season dates and bag limits, which are posted in the 2019-2020 Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland. All users of wildlife management areas must park their vehicles in designated areas.

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Teal season begins

Hunters can try their luck at bagging some teal during Maryland’s September teal-only hunting season, which runs from Sept. 16-30. Shooting hours are one half-hour before sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit is six teal (blue or green-winged), and the possession limit for teal is three times the daily bag limit.

Seasons and bag limits for all migratory game birds can be found in the 2019-20 Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping.

All migratory game bird hunters, including landowners who are license-exempt, must possess a valid Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp/Harvest Information Program permit. All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are also required to possess a federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (federal duck stamp), which must be signed in ink across the face to be valid. Hunters buying the federal stamp online may use the purchase code or printed receipt to show proof of purchase for 45 days. Hunters will receive the physical stamp in the mail from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within this time frame.

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Fishing report

In the Chesapeake Bay, we have relatively warm water, higher salinities, and a very strong run of Spanish mackerel, which is delighting anglers able to get out and fish for them.

Striped bass tend to be spread out throughout the upper bay region, so it may take a bit of exploring to find them. We are seeing some better oxygen mixing of surface and deeper waters. Some locations to check out are the Pooles Island Lumps, Gales Lumps, Hodges Bar, Swan Point, and the Triple Buoys.

Live-lining spot continues to be one of the most popular ways to fish and jigging can be productive when suspended fish can be found. Anglers are reminded that circle hooks are required when live-lining or chumming in tidal waters. Any sub-legal fish should be released as quickly as possible, with minimal handling.

When jigging, 6- to 8-inch soft plastics in white, pearl, or chartreuse combinations are working well on ½-ounce skirted jig heads. Trolling is becoming a better option along channel and shoal edges. Bucktails dressed with soft plastics pulled in tandem or small spoons and red hoses behind inline weights are working well. All of these lures can also be pulled behind umbrella or coat hanger rigs as trailers and are working well.

Thomas Point has been popular lately to live-line or jig for striped bass. A large fleet has been positioned around the point’s outside edge and to a lesser degree Tolly Bar. Most of the stripers being caught are sub-legal in size, but some nice-sized ones are part of the mix. Spot are still readily available in shallower areas.

Spanish mackerel are spread throughout the region along main channel edges of the Bay. Trolling small spoons behind No. 1 planers and inline weights at a fast clip is one of the best ways to target them. Watching for diving seagulls and breaking fish is a fun and exciting way to also catch them. A mix of small striped bass and bluefish are feeding on bay anchovies and Spanish mackerel are joining in the melee. Casting heavy metal jigs and letting them settle down into the action for about five seconds and then speed reeling is a great way to catch the mackerel and to avoid striped bass and bluefish.

Anglers trolling for bluefish and striped bass are using a mix of bucktails, spoons, and red hoses behind inline weights along channel edges, or using spoons or bucktails as trailers behind umbrella rigs or spreader bars that are often called clothes hanger rigs. The Poplar Island area has been a good place to troll. A few cobia are being caught, so it’s a good idea to have a couple red hoses in your trolling spread.

White perch fishing has been good and when water temperatures cool, the shallow water fishery will last later into the morning and starting earlier in the evenings. A variety of lures will work for them with a mini-Rat-L-Trap my go-to lure.

Recreational crabbing is good to excellent lately in the middle and lower Bay tidal creeks and rivers. Some of the best crabbing is in shallower waters near hard bottom and grass. Recreational crabbers will see a lot of sooks chewing up baits, but there is a reward of some large jimmies in the mix.

On the freshwater scene, fishing for northern snakeheads is good right now in lower Dorchester County tidal rivers and creeks. Buzzbaits, chatterbaits, and frogs tend to be the best baits to use when fishing grass.

On the Atlantic Coast, kingfish continue to provide action for anglers fishing in the surf with pieces of bloodworms on bottom rigs. Spot, croaker, and blowfish are also part of the mix. Small bluefish are being caught on cut spot or mullet and a few anglers have been putting out a rig with sand fleas and catching a black drum or pompano now and then.

At the inlet and Route 50 Bridge area, bluefish are moving in and out of the inlet on the tides. Outside the inlet and close to shore, a mix of Spanish and king mackerel are being found near the shoal areas along with bluefish. Trolling silver spoons behind inline weights is the best way to catch them. Cobia are still in the area and are being caught by trolling red hoses or sight fishing and casting live eels.

Sea bass fishing is improving and many anglers are experiencing double-digit catches and adding a few flounder to the mix. False albacore and a few chicken dolphinfish are being found around the 30 Fathom lumps.

Farther offshore, the Baltimore, Wilmington and Norfolk canyons have been producing a wide variety of fish. White marlin catches have been good. Some large yellowfin tuna and wahoo are being caught and boats are loading up on dolphinfish.

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Duck blind know-it-all

A falling raindrop looks like the top half of a hamburger bun.

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