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