Maryland hunters reported harvesting 4,002 wild turkeys during the 2019 regular spring and junior hunt turkey seasons, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This year’s harvest was the second-highest on record and reflects a 4 percent increase compared to the 2018 harvest of 3,861 birds.
“A combination of abundant wild turkeys throughout most of the state and good weather during the season contributed to the increase in harvest,” said wildlife and heritage service director Paul Peditto.
Garrett County reported the highest harvest numbers this year with 429 turkeys, followed by Washington County with 414. Rounding out the top five were Charles County with 348, Frederick County with 304, and Allegany County with 278. Baltimore, Cecil, Charles, and Prince George’s counties each reported record harvests for their locations.
Hunters in 10 counties were able to hunt on Sundays again this year, leading to a harvest of 314 turkeys.
Youth hunters kicked off the spring turkey season statewide on April 13 with the Junior Turkey Hunt, with additional junior hunting on April 14 in select counties. In total, junior hunters harvested 232 wild turkeys.
The Mid-Shore take was:
Caroline 152, Dorchester 221, Kent 166, Queen Anne’s 145, and Talbot 87.
* * *
Chesapeake Forest Lands meeting
The DNR will host a public meeting on June 18 to present a new proposal for restructuring the Chesapeake Forest Lands lease program for hunting clubs. Maryland Forest Service staff will be on hand to answer questions about the proposal and provide access for public comment.
The meeting is from 6-7 p.m. at James M. Bennett High School Auditorium, 300 East College Avenue, Salisbury.
The Chesapeake Forest Lands comprise more than 73,000 acres in Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.
* * *
The traditional summer and fall striped bass season began June 1, so anglers can now fish wherever they wish in the Chesapeake Bay and tidal rivers and settle into the legal limits of two fish at 19 inches to 28 inches or one fish above and one below 28 inches.
Bridge structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge are hosting and producing keeper striped bass for anglers using large soft plastic jigs near the pylon bases. Chunking or live-lining white perch at these locations can also be a good option. Remember that non-offset circle hooks must be used when using live fish for bait or when chumming or chunking.
Trolling along the steep channel edges of Love Point and near the mouth of the Magothy River is also producing legal-size fish. Umbrella rigs with bucktail or swimshad trailers are popular, as well as spoons pulled behind inline weights or planers.
Chumming or chunking is also enticing some keepers at Podickory, Love, and Swan points. The 30-foot edge at Podickory has been a good place to set up a chuck slick. Large numbers of catfish are also being lured to the slicks and providing action, so extra bait is a good idea.
Trollers are also finding rockfish along the channel edges of Hackett’s, Bloody, and Thomas points as well as Buoy 83 and Breezy Point. Jigging in these same areas or wherever fish can be found suspended will catch them as well. Using soft plastics in the 6-inch or better sizes with light jig heads is one of the best ways to jig. Steep edges off Holicutts Noose, Claiborne, and the southeast edge of Bloody Point Bar are holding fish. Small fish chasing bait on top may indicate there may be some larger fish underneath, holding close to the bottom.
Fishing for white perch continues to be a fine option in tidal rivers. A bottom rig baited with pieces of bloodworm or grass shrimp will catch them and casting beetle spins along shoreline structure will also lure them.
Speckled trout are showing up in greater numbers along the marshes and creeks of the lower Eastern Shore. Working soft plastic shads along marsh edges, stump fields, or bouncing along the bottom in creeks has been a good tactic. Topwater lures in the morning and evening hours can draw a mix of small stripers, speckled trout, and an occasional redfish.
Overall, recreational crabbing is improving. The bulk of the heavier crabs are 5 inches to 5¼ inches, with larger 6-inch or better crabs still being light.
On the freshwater scene, the shallow-water bite for largemouth bass is lasting longer into the morning but will get shorter as the month progresses. Targeting shallow grass beds with topwater lures in the early morning or late evening hours will produce fish. Buzzbaits, frogs, and lipless crankbaits are among the many lure options for catching them. Once the sun is high in the sky, it’s often a good tactic to flip soft plastics under docks or overhanging bushes or drop them down through thick grass.
On the Atlantic Coast, bluefish are biting for surf anglers along the Ocean City and Assateague beaches. Cut mullet and menhaden baits are attracting them. Casting metal lures will also work. Kingfish are being caught on pieces of bloodworms and blowfish on squid or clams.
Flounder are in the inlet and can be caught by casting white soft plastic mullet or shrimp type baits and bouncing them along as the current sweeps them by.
Bluefish are also being caught near some of the offshore shoal areas by trolling spoons behind inline weights or planers. Skipjack tuna, king mackerel, dolphin-fish, mako and thresher sharks, and even a white marlin have also been caught near some of the 30-fathom lumps. Sea bass are biting at offshore wreck and reef sites, with limit catches possible.
* * *
Duck blind know-it-all
Chickadees do not migrate and continue to eat insects all year round.