As far as first hunts of the season go, this one was just about perfect.
Within a few minutes of placing all of our Canada goose decoys and silhouettes, around 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve Eve, a flock of around eight birds flew in fairly low to our right. They crossed overhead and began to circle, but it didn’t take them long to decide that they wanted to join our impostors. As they flew into shotgun range, two of us were ready enough and took a shot, perhaps hitting the same bird as it fell quickly onto the field just behind us.
I wasn’t quite sure if I hit it, but as the outlier in our group of three, I was offered the chance to retrieve it and count it as my keeper. A Christmas goose sounded pretty good to me, so I placed it by my side hoping that more birds would fly in to fill the bag limit for my brother Jim and friend Larry Osman Sr.
With my one-bird limit already in the bag, I was offered the opportunity to leave, but since I just there, I definitely wanted to stick around. Being out there and watching the action and passing the time of day with fellow outdoor enthusiasts is about as good as it gets for me.
Fortunately, just a few minutes before 9, Jim and Larry took advantage of the next opportunity. This group of geese came from the same direction and they were low enough to already look committed to the party. A few calls from Jim and just a circle or two by the birds and they dropped down to join their plastic and metal posers. With that came several more shotgun blasts and all three of us had a goose to fill the cross pot, roaster, or frying pan.
Saturday morning, we had four hunters in the blind with Joe Mister to my immediate left. It was a bluebird day, but the geese were still flying around a lot. The limit came a bit later, but we reached it around 10 a.m. In between shots, there was plenty of guy talk not suitable for publication, of course, mixed in with some philosophy from Larry. For instance, his punch line to a story about his grandson who wasn’t fond of school went something like this: “You like women don’t you? He said YES. Well, education helps you make money; women help you spend your money.”
Some recipe information was also shared and appreciated. Joe suggested goose legs in a crock pot with some cream of chicken soup. Larry said Frase’s in Preston makes a fine goose bacon from breast meat, which definitely deserves a try.
With a one-bird limit, limits are coming quickly throughout the Mid-Shore during this first segment of Maryland’s migratory Canada goose season, which runs through Jan. 4 before picking up again from Jan. 14-31. That will likely change as birds gets smarter as the season unfolds. I’m hoping we get a chance to outsmart them a few more times this winter.
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In the mid-Chesapeake Bay, the best option for a reliable bite continues to be for white perch at the rock piles at the Bay Bridge. Anglers are having success jigging two-inch plastics; bloodworms or grass shrimp will attract them as well.
When the weather’s cooperates, now’s a great time to cast a line in tributaries and ponds for freshwater species such as crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, pickerel, and catfish. A minnow suspended under a bobber always seems to be a fine attractant. Small spinners will work especially for pickerel, and crappie and yellow perch will bite small jigs and small plastics like the Crappie Magnet. Trout present some peaceful scenic fishing on the other side of the bridge.
The 11th annual Saltwater Fishing Expo at the Frederick County Fairgrounds, Jan. 11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers a reason to head over the bridge to combine some trout fishing with saltwater knowledge. The seminar lineup includes “Rockfishing” with Capt. John Whitman at 9 a.m.; “Kayak Fishing” with Capt. Chris (CD) Dollar at 10:15; “Offshore Fishing” with Capt. Drew Cooper at 11:30; “Light Tackle” with Shawn Kimbro at 12:45 p.m.; and “Cobia Fishing” with Lenny Rudow at 2 p.m.
On the Atlantic Coast, the striped bass bite has been pretty good over the last week with at least one fish over 50 inches that tipped the scale at 59 pounds. According to Coastal Fisherman, the fish was caught by Ed Baker and his son Zack trolling a mojo as part of a doubleheader with a 36-incher. The fish were caught approximately 10 miles south of the Ocean City inlet.
Anglers are finding stripers up and down the coast. Circling birds will let you know where they’re located and trolling and jigging will catch them.
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Duck blind know-it-all
The bag limit for migratory geese in Maryland includes white-fronted geese.