Friday, September 9, 2011

Storms Delay Potomac River Ramble

The 2011 Potomac River Ramble, originally set for Sunday, September 11, 2011, has been rescheduled due to conditions on the river.

The make-up date is set for Sunday October, 16 2011.

The October make-up paddle will be contingent upon enough participants signing up.

For more information, please visit

Upper Potomac River Advisory until September 13, 2011

According to Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP), the recent Upper Potomac River Advisory has been extended until September 13, 2011 and will be updated at that time if necessary.

Due to recent precipitation, river levels are hazardous for recreational use on the main stem of the Upper Potomac River from Cumberland to Little Falls.

For more the latest information on Potomac River conditions between Cumberland and Little Falls, call the National Weather Service at 703-996-2200.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Upper Potomac River Advisory

On September 7, 2011, the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) announced that boating and other recreational use of the Upper Potomac River, including its creeks and streams, should be avoided until September 9, 2011 and will be updated at that time if necessary.

According to DNR, the advisory is based on information received from the National Weather Service and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Due to recent precipitation, river levels are hazardous for recreational use on the main stem of the Upper Potomac River from Cumberland to Little Falls.

Hazardous stages are water levels which pose a threat to non white- water vessels, tubers, swimmers and other recreational users and are caused by wave action, water velocity, and treacherous currents.  This hazardous condition may also exist on tributaries of the Potomac River.

This warning does not apply to professionally guided river trips. NRP reminds boaters to always wear a life jacket; it is mandatory to wear a USCG approved life jacket while boating on the upper Potomac River from November 15 to May 15.

For more the latest information on Potomac River conditions between Cumberland and Little Falls, call the National Weather Service at 703-996-2200. 

NOTE: see the updated Upper Potomac River advisory.

Hurricane Katia Rip Currents

Ocean kayakers along the Mid Atlantic coastline could encounter high surf, rip currents and other hurricane-related threats.

With the offshore passage of Hurricane Katia, the National Weather Service has issued an advisory warning of possible life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The Coast Guard is urging mariners and beachgoers to be aware of the dangers of high surf and rip currents in their area. 

When offshore storms pass thru the Mid Atlantic, inlets are subject to high surf conditions. Strong currents and shallow water may result in breaking surf in these areas.

Mariners are advised to assess inlet conditions prior to attempting a transit as the surf may create hazardous conditions that limit rescuers' ability to assist victims.

High surf creates rip currents that can drag swimmers away from the beach and lead to drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted. Rip currents can also affect ocean kayaks that are launched from the surf.

According to the United States Lifesaving Association rip currents cause approximately 100 deaths annually in the United States, more than all other natural hazards except heat and floods.

For more information on rip currents, please visit the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration website.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Boaters Guide to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

A new free resource entitled A Boater’s Guide to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail introduces kyakers and other boaters to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers.

Explorers can learn the location of trailheads (including GPS coordinates), see suggested trip itineraries, and compare on-the-water experiences for paddle-craft, skiffs and runabouts, and cruising powerboats and sailboats.

The guide’s interactive features include links to additional maps, NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System, navigation charts, and information on facilities and points of interest.

The guide is a joint project of the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office, the Chesapeake Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

A Boater’s Guide to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is available
for free download from the trail’s website,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2011 Potomac River Ramble

The Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin invites the public to attend 2011 Potomac River Ramble on Sunday, September 11, 2011.

Attendees will enjoy paddling between the shores of Maryland and West Virginia. Along the way, paddlers will stop for an out-of-boat brunch and a couple of educational programs focusing on watershed issues.

The Potomac River Ramble is a canoeing and kayaking event that features environmental programming, restoration projects, festive meals, meetings with elected officials, and much more.

Experience with boats is not necessary. Guides, food, and transportation will be provided. Attendees can enjoy Potomac River scenery, presentations, food, camaraderie, and paddling.

For information or to register for the event, visit the River Ramble page on the ICPRB website.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2011 Lynnhaven River Western Branch Kayak Tour

Paddle into History with Lynnhaven River NOW and Wild River Outfitters on August 21, 2011 at 2:00 PM.

This special tour will showcase the waters of the ducking of Grace Sherwood, Virginia’s only convicted witch. This year marks the 305th anniversary of the famous witch trial. A historian will accompany the trip as will skilled kayak guides. Solo and tandem kayaks are furnished, but participants must be able to paddle.

This trip will depart from Crab Creek at 2pm. Along the way we will discuss the sites of the first church and courthouse, hear about the old riverside plantations, and visit the site of the famous ducking of Grace Sherwood, view the former ferry site for which Ferry Plantation House was named, and other points of historic interest. Kayaks will take out at Ferry Plantation House, 4136 Cheswick Lane.

Limited to 30 participants, advanced reservation is required. Cost is $50 per person, all paddling equipment provided. If you have your own boat, pfd & paddle, you can join us for a $25 fee for solo kayaks or $35 fee for tandem kayaks which will be donated back to Lynnhaven River NOW.

Participants should bring plenty of water for the trip. Snacks and drinks will be provided at the Ferry Plantation House at take out. After the paddling trip, paddlers will be welcomed to the historic Ferry Plantation House for a complementary guided tour with costumed docents. Rides back to the launch site will be provided.

Important things to know:

1:30 pm be at Crab Creek launch site near Lesner Bridge & Lynnhaven Boat Ramp

2:00 pm depart for paddling trip

5:30 pm take out at Ferry

Please bring your own water

Free tour of Ferry Plantation House after trip. Snacks and drinks provided at take out.

Registration cut-off is Thursday, August 18 at 5 pm

Contact Wild River Outfitters to register: 757-431-8566

For more information, contact Karen Forget with Lynnhaven River NOW @ 757-962-5398.

Virginia Hunting-Fishing Mobile App

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is now offering a free Hunt Fish VA mobile application for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

The Hunt Fish VA app allows users to search for a wide variety of Virginia hunting and fishing related information on their smart phones. Having the new app will allow anglers and hunters to:

*get the latest news from DGIF

*look up hunting regulations, seasons, and bag limits while in the field

*view freshwater fishing regulations and state record fish

*identify the fish just caught

*get the sunrise and sunset times for their location

*record trophy harvests

*find nearby boat ramps, Wildlife Management Areas, and lakes

Kayak fishermen and other anglers can download the FREE DGIF Hunt Fish VA iPhone®; App on the Apple Store(SM) at

Friday, July 22, 2011

Delaware Bay Kayaking

The Delaware Bay is one the largest estuaries in the Mid Atlantic region. The Delaware Bay is a semi-enclosed body of water where freshwater from the Delaware River mixes with salt water from the Atlantic Ocean. The estuary serves as a vital nursery area for fish, shellfish, birds and other marine life.

The north shore of the bay belongs to the state of New Jersey, while the southern shoreline is occupied by Delaware. Kayakers have plenty of access to the region, including several state parks.

The lower section of the bay is notorious for its dangerous conditions, especially in areas where shoals and deep channels are located in close proximity to each other, causing dangerous rips.

The Delaware Bay is famous for its outstanding fishing, including fisheries for striped bass, seatrout, tautog, sea bass, flounder, croakers, spot and other species. In addition to fishing, kayakers and other boaters enjoy harvests of crabs, clams, mussels and other shellfish.

In winter, outdoor recreation continues. Saltwater fishing remains good in much of the bay. In addition to fishing, winter pastimes include waterfowl hunting, birdwatching, oystering, or simply exploring backwater areas of the estuary.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kayaking in Mid Atlantic Rivers and Creeks

The Mid Atlantic region is home to some of North America's most beautiful kayaking destinations. Habitats in these waterways are determined by salinity and tidal flow. Depending on location, the transition from salt to fresh water may span hundreds of miles or occur in a very short distance.

In the lower sections of these rivers, marsh grasses, crabs, oysters, saltwater fish and other marine life is usually present. Birds are abundant in salt marsh areas, ospreys, kingfishers, herons, egrets, plovers, and rails being a few of the most commonly seen species. Salinity can fluctuate considerably, depending on rainfall, tidal flows and other factors.

Moving up river, salt marsh grasses give way to pickerelweed and trees begin to appear along the banks. Saltwater fish species disappear and brackish species such as channel catfish, white perch, yellow perch and gar become common.

Further up tidal areas, rivers and creek habitats change considerably. Lily pads and cypress trees begin appearing in greater numbers. A wide range of wildlife is abundant. Species of fish that live in these areas include largemouth bass, chain pickerel, sunfish, crappie, several species of catfish, shiners, white perch, yellow perch and other species. In some remote waterways, beavers and river otters are present.

The final zone occurs above the tidal line. Here water levels occasionally rise and fall due to extreme high tides, but the apparent flow is always downstream. This type of habitat is famous for American shad, hickory shad and river herring spawning runs, which occur for 2-3 weeks in the spring. At this stage, water visibility varies widely, depending on a range of factors. A variety of freshwater fish species are found in these smaller creeks and streams.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kayakers Rescued in James River

On June 13, 2011, a Coast Guard boat crew rescued two kayakers from the water near Riverside Beach in Newport News, Virginia. One kayaker had called 911 after their kayak capsized.

A 25-foot response boat from Station Portsmouth responded to the call. The rescue boat crew arrived on scene, located the two kayakers and their kayak, and safely transferred them to a Newport News fire boat that was also dispatched for the rescue.

Also responding were the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Isle of Wight County rescue boats.

"They both had lifejackets on, and the constant cell phone contact with the dispatcher helped in the quick response of all units involved," said Jerry Besecker, operation unit specialist at Sector Hampton Roads.

source: USCG 5th District press release

Friday, June 10, 2011

Things To Do With Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are among the most popular of all watercraft. Their light weight, ease of handling and versatility make them an ideal craft for a wide range of activities.

This list highlights uses for recreational kayaks and things to do while kayaking:

exploring local waterways

exercise - kayaking is a great way to exercise

group activities - tours, field trips, etc.

meditation - peace and quiet

sports - fishing, clamming, crabbing, hunting

outdoor hobbies - birdwatching, outdoor photography, en plien air art, camping, picnicking, viewing North American wildlife

science related activities - research, education, environmental studies

transportation - floods, disasters, emergency response, search and rescue

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birdwatching by Kayak

Prothonatary warbler
Birdwatching by kayak is a great way to see some of America's most beautiful birds, including seldom seen bird species. Kayaking is a good way to explore aquatic habitats where many of these elusive birds are found.

In spring, several species of warblers begin seasonal migrations across North America. Many of these tiny songbirds prefer streams, creeks or swampy woodland habitats.

Among the most beautiful are yellow warblers and Prothonatary warblers, two species that prefer semi-aquatic environments. Mid Atlantic birdwatchers often spot these beautiful birds along creek banks while exploring by kayak.

The indigo bunting is another small but brilliantly colored songbird that is sometimes seen around ponds, creeks or streams. These opportunistic feeders also like overgrown areas and shoreline brush.

Swallows are another type of specialized bird that orient to aquatic environments. These amazing birds catch and eat tiny insects. Look for them along rivers, lake shorelines, or other areas.

The Baltimore oriole is another tree-orienting songbird that is sometimes seen by Mid Atlantic kayakers. These colorful birds prefer a diet of insects and nectar. They are often found along river banks where flowering plants and berries are abundant. Orioles are known to be shy but sometimes tolerate the approach of a slow moving kayak.

In cypress swamps and other low-lying woodlands, many birds specialize in feeding around fallen trees, cypress knees and low lying vegetation. Towhees and members of the sparrow family search the ground along streams and creeks, sorting thru leaf litter for insects and invertebrates.

Songbirds seen along Mid Atlantic streams and creeks are popular among photographers and artists, especially some of the more colorful species such as summer tanagers, Prothonatary warblers, and Baltimore orioles.

As expected, members of the heron and egret family are easily seen by kayak. By moving unobtrusively, kayaks are often able to approach quite close to these birds and observe their antics. Other fish-eating birds are also commonly seen by kayakers, including kingfishers, ospreys, bald eagles and other species.

Depending on the region and season, kayakers may see ducks, geese, brant, swans, or other waterfowl. In coastal estuaries, sandpipers, plovers, oyster catchers, marsh hens, coots, loons, terns, gulls and other aquatic birds can be observed and photographed by kayak.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

1 Person Kayaks vs. 2 Person Kayaks for Fishing

For many kayak anglers, a choice must be made between owning a one person or two person kayak.

What type of kayak is best for fishing?

Before buying a kayak of either type, paddlers may want to ask themselves several questions:

Will anglers be fishing most often as a pair or solo?

How much kayaking experience does each angler have?

What type of waters will be fished?

Are kayak rentals available nearby?

Advantages of 2 Person Kayaks

In most cases, fishing is easier as one angler can control the kayak while the other fights a fish or deals with other tasks.

Having 2 paddlers can increase speed, range and safety.

A single craft costs less than 2 individual kayaks.

Equipment can be shared by 2 people on these models.

Advantages of 1 Person Kayaks

Solo kayakers have more freedom.

One person kayaks tend to maneuver easier.

One person kayaks tend to be lighter and easier to transport.

One person kayakers are usually less expensive per unit than 2 occupant models.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gift Ideas for Kayakers - Equipment, Accessories, Gadgets

When choosing a gift for kayaking enthusiasts, shoppers are faced with an overwhelming a variety of kayaking-related gear.

This list includes several equipment categories as well as examples of products from each category:

Storage and Transportation - car top carriers, loading mats, straps, trailers, bungee cords, security cables, locks, skirt, kayak covers, dry bags,waterproof pouches for electronic devices

Clothing - kayaking shoes, boots, waders, hats, eyewear, water resistant pants, shirts, gloves

Navigation - compass, charts, GPS

Convenience - hi tech towel or chamois, bucket or tub, zipper bags, pliers, knife, fold-out seat cushion

Fishing - gripper, pliers, de-hookers, rags-towels, stringers, nets, rods, rod racks, lure assortment, lure organizers, tackle bags, live baits

Gadgets - cell phone, camera, PLB, fish finder, satellite messenger, trackstick, VHF-wx radio

Safety - personal flotation devices (PFDs), paddle lanyards, hand pumps, bladders, anchors, rope, d-rings, clevises, grapnel hooks

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kayak Fishing for Sunfish: Spring Techniques

bluegill sunfish (bream)

During spring, Mid Atlantic kayak anglers enjoy excellent fishing for members of the sunfish (bream) family. Sunfish species include bluegill, redear, pumpkinseed, green, and others. These colorful fish are sometimes found among other members of the sunfish family such as crappie, fliers, rock bass, and warmouth.

Most sunfish feed aggressively leading up to the spawning season. This is a good time to practice early season fishing for sunfish. Prior to the spawning season, sunfish species migrate into spring habitats and begin feeding right away. Most will attack small jigs, soft plastics, or other lures that imitate food sources. Natural baits also work well for sunfish, especially nightcrawlers, insect larvae, tiny minnows, or small crayfish.

During early spring, sunfish are sometimes found in near shore vegetation where they can feed as well as seek shelter. In some cases, kayak fishing is the only possible means of access to these areas.

In slow moving rivers, creeks and farm ponds of the Mid Atlantic, water lilies appear in spring. Sunfish quickly take up residence among the beds. As the spring season progresses, a food chain develops. This aquatic micro-system begins with tiny insects and invertebrates that come to feed on lily pads or algae. These inhabitants attract minnows, sunfish, and other species of fish.

As the season progresses these areas become important feeding areas for crappie, bluegill, and other sunfish species. Most kayak anglers are familiar with these habitats and have a preference for this type of fishing.

Some anglers carry a second rod which is rigged for largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Both species are frequently found in the same structure and are known for their habit of attacking angler's hooked sunfish.

Wye-Tri Adventure Race

The Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area (NRMA) in Queen Anne’s County is registering participants for the inaugural Wye-Tri Adventure Race on May 7.

The event is sponsored by the Maryland Park Service (MPS). The Wye-Tri Adventure Race has been designed in a triathlon format and will consist of three segments: running, kayaking and biking.

The first leg is a 2.5-mile run over wooded and open field trails along Dividing Creek, followed by a 0.75-mile paddle on the Wye River and Granary Creek, and finally a 4.5-mile bicycle course along Wye Island Road and back onto the island’s trail system.

The Wye-Tri Adventure Race is open to anyone 14 or older in good physical health and costs $15 per person. Each participant will receive a souvenir event shirt.

Kayaks of all sizes will be permitted and a limited number of vessels will be available for rental the day of the race (for an additional $5). Personal flotation devices (PFDs) are mandatory for those under 16 years of age and strongly encouraged for all participants.

Wye Island NRMA is a State Park located in the tidal recesses of the Chesapeake Bay between the Wye River and the Wye East River and is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for resource management, nature-based recreation and agriculture. A major emphasis at Wye Island is providing quality habitat for wintering waterfowl populations and other native wildlife.

For more information or to register for the Wye-Tri Adventure Race, contact the Wye Island NRMA office at 410-827-7577 or the Tuckahoe State Park office at 410-820-1668. Visit the Wye Island park website at

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Janes Island State Park Open House Kayaking

Janes Island State Park recently announced that the public is invited to attend its open house from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m on Saturday April 23. This scenic state park lies along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay, near Crisfield Md.

Planned activities include a hayride through the park, kite making, crabbing and/or fishing on the Daugherty Creek Canal, canoeing or kayaking at the marina, a live animal display, Geocaching and other family activities.

For saltwater kayakers, this is a great way to scout out summer fishing areas in the nearby Chesapeake Bay marshes and creeks. There is no cost to attend and free refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact Beth Shafer at the Janes Island Park Office at (410)968-1565.

Mid Atlantic Hickory Shad Fishing

In the Mid Atlantic region, hickory shad have begun their spring spawning runs. Recreational fishing for these acrobatic fish should continue until mid-May.

These exciting fish can be caught in numerous tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, with the Susquehanna, Gunpowder, Patuxent and Choptank Rivers being known for strong spring runs.

"Now is the perfect time to fish Hickory shad," said Tom O’Connell, director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service.

Hickory shad are anadromous; they spend their adult life in the near shore waters of the Atlantic ocean and coastal bays, ascending streams and rivers each spring along the eastern seaboard.

Hickory shad are part of the herring family and related to the American shad. They can be caught by using small shad darts on ultra light spinning tackle, or on a variety of small “shad flies” on fly rods.

Kayaks are especially effective for catching hickory shad as their shallow draft allows anglers to explore smaller creeks in search of schools.

Hickories are smaller than American shad, averaging 14 inches in length, with large specimens topping 20 inches.In most states, fisheries allow for recreational catch and release only. The best fishing for shad often occurs at dawn and dusk.

source: MD DNR

Friday, April 1, 2011

Best Kayaking Areas in Maryland

Maryland has a diverse range of areas for kayaking. The state's waterways range from fast moving whitewater rapids to saltwater tidal marshes of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast.

Western Maryland offers some of the most striking scenery in the state.

Both the upper branch of the Potomac and the Youghiogheny River are famous for their whitewater kayaking opportunities.

Deep Creek Lake (3900 acres) is the largest lake in Maryland. Although its size and boat traffic can be a factor, Deep Creek Lake is a perennial favorite among Maryland kayakers. Deep Creek lake also has man-made areas for white water kayaking.

In Garrett County, Broadford Lake (140 acres) is popular among kayak fishermen. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, panfish, and tiger musky.

Piney Reservoir (Garrett County) - This lake has largemouth bass, yellow perch, tiger musky, rainbow trout, and a variety of pan fish.

Youghiogheny Reservoir lies along the Maryland - Pennsylvania border. The reservoir is known for its outstanding fishing for smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, yellow perch, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

Blairs Valley Lake is located in Washington County on the Maryland - Pennsylvania border.

Rocky Gap Lake - Lake Habeeb in Allegany County is another western Maryland lake where kayaking is popular.

In the Northeast part of the state, kayakers can explore rivers such as the Susquehanna and Elk. The lower reaches of these famous rivers are important nurseries for fish and wildlife.

On the Western Shore, historic rivers such as the Severn, Patuxent and Patapsco offer exceptional sightseeing trips.

In Harford and Baltimore Counties, Gunpowder Falls State Park encompasses Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Gunpowder River. Topography within the park ranges from tidal marshes and wetlands to steep, rugged slopes. For kayakers, the Hammerman Area offers Gunpowder River access, with beaches and launch facilities for kayaks.

The Potomac River is a nationally famous river for kayaking. Potomac River kayakers can choose from a variety of environments, including fast moving white water, main river trips or excursions along the lower Potomac's tidal marshes. The Potomac is known for its excellent fishing with both freshwater and saltwater species occupying its waters.

On Maryland's Eastern Shore, several rivers provide outstanding habitats for kayakers. Upstream, these rivers are home to cypress swamps and other black water environments. Many of these areas are teaming with fish, birds, reptiles and other wildlife.

In Queen Anne's County, Tuckahoe State Park offers access for kayaking. The main attraction of the park is Tuckahoe Creek, a quiet stream which runs through the length of the park. The park's 60-acre lake is perfect for kayaking and fishing.

The southern counties of Wicomico, Worcestor and Somerset have several outstanding kayaking destinations that are suitable for fishing, birdwatching, and viewing wildlife.

The Wicomico River has plenty of kayaking access. In its upper reaches, the river offers good fishing for largemouth bass. As the river nears Tangier Sound, white perch, striped bass and catfish dominate catches.

In Somerset County, Janes Island State Park offers excellent access. Kayakers can explore the creek that borders the park, or venture farther out to dozens of isolated islands in the Chesapeake Bay.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mid Atlantic Bass, Crappie and Sunfish

The following tips and techniques may help kayak anglers catch more early season bass, crappie, sunfish and other species:

- Prepare your tackle before leaving the dock. Have a small selection of lures ready to go. Prepare natural baits to save time on the water.

-  Bring essential tackle only. Most kayaks have a small void in the bow where a small container can be stored while underway, yet still be accessible while fishing.

- Keep line clippers, pliers, tackle, rods, camera, water and a rag within reach.

- When fishing in a current, turn the bow towards shore and cast towards shore. In most cases the kayak and bait or lure will drift along at roughly the same speed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Kayak Maintenance

With spring underway, Mid Atlantic kayakers are about to start their busy season. Now is the time to do a quick inspection and prepare kayaks for the upcoming paddle sports season.

Most kayaks are due for a wash and rinse, which helps rid craft of insects, spiders and winter debris.

A hull inspection is always a good idea. Checking the hull for deep gouges, cracks or other faults takes just a few minutes. Kayak hardware should also be checked, including fasteners for any accessories.

Finally, safety equipment should be inspected. Flotation devices should be inspected for tears, rotting or other damage. If in doubt, replace damaged or old equipment.

Spring is also a good time to check any kayaking-related equipment. Vehicle carriers and their straps should be inspected prior starting the season.

For kayakers that rely on electronic devices, now is the time to replace batteries in hand held GPS units, marine radios or other devices. Fish finders should have wiring inspected for corrosion or damage.

Last but not least is fishing tackle. Reels may need new line, lubrication and a rinse. Rod guides should be inspected and any broken or cracked eyes replaced.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Clamming by Kayak

Spring is a great time to explore shallow coastal bays in search of quahog clams. These delicious shellfish can be caught year round and in most states do not require a license or any specialized gear.

Not much is required to catch clams except a boat or kayak, rake and a mesh bag or bucket. Some clammers use only a gardener's hand rake, while others use a long handled potato rake or a new england style clam digger.

One of the easiest methods is to paddle out and locate a suitable area where flats are exposed at low tide. After stowing the kayak in high ground, clammers fan out and look for holes in the bottom which indicate a clam below. These holes, called "clam signs", can be found from the waterline out to depths of 6-10 inches.

Clam breathing holes are not always easy to spot, with success depending on weather, tides and seasonal factors. Breathing holes may appear to be "keyhole" shaped, or look more like a small anthill. Spring is a good time to enjoy this activity because clams "sign" better during cooler weather. Also, the water is usually clearer in winter or spring, allowing clammers to see the bottom better.

Several organisms live in the sand or mud and make holes. For clammers, learning to identify which holes indicate a clam becomes an art form in itself. to complicate matters, not all clams produce the classic keyhole shaped breathing hole and clams are not always found directly below the hole.

In most areas, this method of clamming happens fast. Kayakers must time their trips to coincide with low tides. The best clamming usually occurs during the last hour or less of the outgoing. As the tide turns and begins to flow in, clams are much harder to detect.

Occasionally, clams are so abundant that no signing is required, clammers simply rake areas blindly, feeling for a thump as they rake thru the sand.This type of clamming is best done in warm weather, when kayaks can anchor, hop in and work an area of water that is more than ankle deep.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Susquehanna River Water Conditions Expected to be Poor

Susquehanna River and upper bay kayakers could encounter poor water conditions this spring. According to Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, early March runoff into the Susquehanna River watershed from heavy rains and snowmelt has brought a flood of nutrients and sediment-laden freshwater.

Heavy flows of spring runoff has resulted in record low water clarity for the month of March in much of Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

Continued wet spring weather could extend these high flows which, in turn, could result in less underwater grasses and increased algal blooms. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is expected to continue its comprehensive Chesapeake Bay water quality habitat and living resources monitoring.

A review of 26 years of water clarity data collected by the State shows that depth measurements in the Chesapeake Bay and many tributaries in March 2011 are below historic measures or set new historic lows.

Runoff can hamper kayak anglers from targeting species such as striped bass, yellow perch, river herring and American shad, all species that spawn in the Susquehanna during the Spring.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Felt Soles Banned in Maryland

A new law could have impacts on Maryland paddlers and other stream users. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is banning felt soles in Maryland waters beginning March 22, 2011 to protect and preserve native wildlife and habitats.

The new regulations are intended to combat didymo, an invasive form of algae which thrives in cold flowing waters such as trout streams. Didymo infestations, also known as rock snot, can result in masses of yellow-brown algae that may dominate sections of a river. The thick mats of algae can harm wildlife and make fishing virtually impossible.

"Felt is porous and can remain damp for weeks, keeping harmful microscopic organisms alive and making it virtually impossible to disinfect," said Jonathan McKnight, head of DNR’s invasive species team.

According to Maryland DNR, rubber soled footwear for use in streams is readily available at most outdoor retailers.

Maryland also advises kayakers, and stream lovers to remove all debris and water from their boats, clothes and gear before leaving a stream.

For additional information on didymo, the felt ban and how to equip boots or waders with new rubber compounds, visit