Archives for June 2013

Rising Seas, Sinking Land Put Maryland’s Waterfront Communities At Risk

By Brandon Goldner

Noah Bradshaw knows what the rising waters of the Chesapeake Bay can do to a community.

The 68-year-old city inspector grew up in a house in town that had been moved from nearby Holland Island a century ago. “Holland Island is gone,” Bradshaw said. “It’s underwater.”

The last house disappeared into the bay two years ago, marking the demise of an island once 5 miles long and home to a fishing community of 300 residents.

Now, rising sea levels and sinking land, the same forces that doomed the island, threaten Crisfield, its seafood industry and its 2,710 residents. And a newly discovered tidal pattern puts them in greater peril than previously known.

“This is our home, and eventually, this will be underwater,” said Bradshaw, a bespectacled, balding man with a white beard. “We know that, because the sea level is rising.”

Scientists say sea levels around the world are rising, that storms are intensifying due to climate change, and that policymakers need to make tough decisions on where to spend limited resources to protect the shoreline and what to let go.

Maryland’s leaders may need to make those difficult choices sooner than other regions.

In his state-of-the-state address this year, Gov. Martin O’Malley warned that Maryland is one of the most vulnerable states in the country to rising sea levels.

Studies show he is right. The Chesapeake Bay is rising at two to three times the rate of worldwide sea levels. It rose more than a foot over the past 100 years and is expected to rise 2 to 5 feet within this century.

Property all along Maryland’s meandering shoreline is at risk, from the seaside mansions of Anne Arundel and Talbot counties to the modest cottages of Somerset and Dorchester counties. Industrial powerhouses like the Port of Baltimore, ecological treasures like Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and historic sites like the Harriet Tubman monument all lie in the path of rising sea levels. Baltimore Barriers

Lawmakers say they want to protect Maryland’s waterside. But the coastline is 7,700 miles long, according to updated measurements by the Maryland Geological Survey. That’s twice previous estimates, because of improved aerial imagery and more complete accounting of coastal inlets.

Not all can be saved. And that is a touchy issue in a state where an estimated 900,000 people — a sixth of the state’s population — live in neighborhoods likely to be affected, a CNS analysis of census and U.S. Geological Survey data found.

The state has adopted measures to protect its own property but ceded the tough decisions about the fate of coastal communities to local officials — questions such as whether and when to build sea barriers, elevate land and buildings, or retreat inland.

Yet when researchers interviewed local officials all along the shoreline for a 2010 study, they found “no explicit plan for the fate of most low-lying coast lands as sea level rises.”

While significant resources are likely to be poured into saving property in some of the bigger cities, such as Baltimore and Annapolis, shore protection is unlikely along 60 percent of the Eastern Shore, said the study, which was done for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

That Eastern Shore stretch is dotted with rural, poorer and less-populated areas. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers communities financial assistance for sea-level rise planning through its federally funded CoastSmart Communities program. Just four of 16 coastal counties and the city of Annapolis have taken advantage of the program in the past five years to develop plans or guidance documents.

Dorchester County, just north of Crisfield, is among the few. Yet local planners “anticipate that most of the county will not be protected from sea level rise” due to “economic difficulties that the county and its residents are experiencing,” the study said. Tubman Flood

“Some of the solutions are very costly or very delicate in terms of making decisions about what areas you’re going to protect and what areas you may not be able to protect,” said Zoe Johnson, climate change director for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “There’s a lot of public and social issues with making those decisions. Not many politicians are ready to take that on.”

Maryland’s predicament is due to a troublesome combination of rising water and sinking land. The land in the Chesapeake region has been sinking over the past 1,000 to 2,000 years, said Raymond G. Najjar Jr., a Pennsylvania State University oceanographer who has studied the impact of climate change on the mid-Atlantic coast.

Called subsidence, the land has sunk 1.3 millimeters each year on average — a trend scientists say is likely to continue at its current rate.

The rise in sea levels is a relatively new phenomenon and part of a global trend. As the earth warms, polar ice caps melt, the volume of water in the oceans expands, and sea levels rise.  Sea levels worldwide rose on average 4 to 8 inches during the 20th century — but more than a foot in the Chesapeake region.

The rate that sea levels are rising appears to be accelerating, Najjar said. The bay is very likely to rise 2 to 5 feet more by the end of this century, according to his and others’ studies. They also predict more intense storms, bigger water surges during storms, and higher high tides.

CNS analyzed the potential impact, using land elevation data from U.S. Geological Survey and population survey data from the U.S. Census. The effect of local man-made structures, such as seawalls, is difficult to determine and not included in the calculations.

The analysis found that if sea levels rose just 2 feet, water would cover roughly 800 square miles, a 12th of the state, inundating part or all of neighborhoods where nearly 900,000 people live.

At an increase of 5 feet, roughly 1,900 square miles would be underwater, reaching into neighborhoods with about 960,000 people and 440,000 homes worth more than $200 million. An estimated 3,700 miles of roads would be underwater.

Already, more than 13 islands in the bay have disappeared.

Crisfield RiskOn the mainland, high tides alone are enough to prevent charter fishing boats from clearing Fishing Creek Bridge on the western shore — and fill roadside ditches in low-lying areas across the bay, such as Somerset County, where Crisfield is located.

“They have this tradition of working with nature and being able to adapt,” said William Nuckols, who co-authored the 2010 EPA report. “Whether they’re able to work with the increased rate that we’re expecting in terms of the changes they may see, that’s a little more of an uncertainty.”

Crisfield was founded as a fishing village in the mid-1660’s on a finger of land that juts out onto the Chesapeake Bay. It’s the southernmost city in Maryland, just a few miles from the Virginia border.

In the 1800s, large beds of oysters were discovered in surrounding waters. Oysters were so plentiful that much of downtown near the shoreline was built on an oyster shell foundation. Residents would dredge for oysters in the winter and fish for crabs in the summer.

Recognizing a business opportunity, the town’s namesake and a former congressman, John W. Crisfield, brought the railroad into town, and by the beginning of the 20th century, Crisfield was shipping so many oysters and crabs that the city attracted workers from as far away as New England and the Midwest, briefly becoming Maryland’s second-largest city, behind Baltimore.

“I remember as a kid having 40 or 50 seafood houses along the waterfront,” said Carl Emely, 68, a retired waterman and seafood broker as well as a long-time city resident. “All of them going full-steam ahead with oysters and crabs and trainloads of seafood going out of Crisfield daily.”

To this day, the city refers to itself as “the seafood capital of the world.”

But today Crisfield’s main drag is dotted with empty storefronts dwarfed by new, bright, luxury, waterfront condo developments. Some condos sell for nearly $400,000. They dominate the skyline, towering over the old seafood boats.

The oyster catch began to decline due to overfishing, disease and bay pollution by the 1950s, said Tim Howard, museum director for the J. Millard Tawes Museum in Crisfield. Crisfield sustained itself by switching to hard-shell, crab-meat production and processing, he said.

But the pollution also hurt the hard-shell crab industry, as did regulations and competition from Asian markets, he said. So the city shifted to soft-shell crabs.
Now two of Crisfield’s main sources for soft-shell crabs — Tangier Island, Va.,  and Smith Island — are sinking into the bay. Tangier is expected to disappear in 50 to 100 years. Smith Island could be gone as soon as 2025.

Crisfield itself is surrounded by water on three sides. The community rests just 3 feet above sea level — a problem if the bay rises another 2 to 5 feet. The CNS analysis found the entire city and its surrounding neighborhoods would be partially underwater at 2 feet; most would be underwater at 5.

Over the past half century, Crisfield has been declared a federal disaster area at least four times because of hurricanes and tropical storms.

In total, Crisfield drew more than $200,000 in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, money used for emergency repairs. That doesn’t account for the millions spent on long-term repairs for individual Crisfield residents, including almost $5 million to city residents just for Hurricane Sandy.

Crisfield was the hardest hit town in Maryland during Hurricane Sandy and among the worst on the East Coast.

The storm’s intense winds and devastating waves flooded the entire town in 5 feet of water, damaging 585 homes of the city’s 2,300 housing units — with 71 of those homes suffering major water damage. About 100 residents were forced to move out of their homes because of serious damage to the structures.

The storm was so damaging that the floodwater lifted a pair of coffins in a local cemetery from their graves they were discovered when floodwaters receded — on Halloween.

After Sandy, oceanologists discovered a complex tidal pattern in the bay that not only changed how scientists study the Chesapeake Bay but may explain why Crisfield has been hit so hard.

Water is being pushed from the mouth of the Potomac on the western portion of the bay to the bay’s Eastern Shore, creating a bulge that splashes into Crisfield. That bulge forces floodwaters deeper into Crisfield.

“The impact in terms of damage is going to be substantial because 1 foot makes a huge difference,” said Dr. William Boicourt, an oceanologist who is studying the tidal pattern. “The average extreme event like Hurricane Sandy will make it far worse….All you do is go up a little bit, and it spreads a lot further inland.”

Federal, state and local governments share responsibility for addressing the threat of sea level rise, said Ken Mallette, director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

He said his office assists with funding and guidance and could do better at communicating with local governments. But the choice of when and how to address sea-level rise is a local one, he said.

“It’s not a state decision. It’s a local decision. It’s an individual decision because it not only impacts the individual, it impacts the economic viability of that local community.”

Crisfield Mayor Percy Purnell, 72, said Crisfield sought funding from Mallette’s agency for two years to install 24 tidal gates. Tide gates are structures placed in storm drainage pipes to stop water from flowing in but to allow it to flow out, preventing some flooding.

But the city didn’t receive the $125,000 grant until last October — a week before Hurricane Sandy. The tidal gates would have had a major impact during Sandy and will reduce flooding in future storms, Purnell said.

Mallette said a high volume of project requests as a result of hurricanes Irene and Lee partly contributed to the delay.

Since Sandy, city officials have scrambled to find additional ways to protect Crisfield, Purnell said.

“We never had a flood like this before,” he said. “We had water in places we never had before.”

He is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a proposal to install a series of pilings, known as breakwaters, into the shoreline. The breakwater measure is in the initial assessment phase and could cost $6.75 million or more. The corps would cover most of the cost with federal funds that Congress set aside for recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

The city also passed a new law requiring that the first floor of all new structures be elevated 2 feet above the base flood elevation level — or 6 feet above ground in Crisfield.

The base flood elevation level is what the National Flood Insurance Program predicts will be the worst possible flooding an area could see in 100 years. But it is based on historical data and does not take into account climate change.

And while the tide gates and shoreline measures may alleviate flooding and erosion in the short run, they can’t stop the sea from rising or the land from sinking.

Purnell said he has “no idea” what to do about that.

“You’re talking about something that’s going to happen 25 to 30 years from now,” he said. He has more immediate concerns. “The only thing is to bite into the problem and fight to survive.”
Sitting at the countertop of Gordon’s Confectionery, a Crisfield cafe established in 1924, customers can’t help but notice a small photo taped to the mirrored wall.
The photo is the exterior of Gordon’s when it was swallowed by the floodwaters of Sandy.

The picture is a reminder of the community’s resilience. But that only goes so far when the bay’s lapping at three sides of town.

“There’s only a certain amount that you can do in a town like Crisfield. You can’t be oblivious to it. It’s going to happen,” said Emely, one of the town’s longtime residents, as he sat at a table in the confectionery. “People try not to dwell on it. You’ve got to carry on.”

Donna Parks, a visitor waiting for lunch at the counter, said, “Everybody is so friendly and so willing to help each other that it would be a shame to lose this community.”

“We’ll leave it in the Lord’s hands,” Emely said. “Let him take care of it.”

Capital News Service reporter Sydney Paul contributed to this story.


maryland municipal

Final Clean Water Concert Saturday June 29th – Them Eastport Oyster Boys In Easton

This Saturday marks the final concert in the CBF Clean Water Series offered by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Avalon Foundation in Easton. A stage will be set up on Harrison St. across the Tidewater Inn. The show will go  from 6:00 – 8:30 pm.

To help raise awareness about the Bay and involve the community in its restoration, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has partnered with the Avalon Foundation to host a series of concerts in downtown Easton.

The series kicked off in June with a Farmer’s Market concert featuring national recording artist Susan Werner, who wowed the crowd by singing and telling stories about her own agricultural background.

The  event continued with a ticketed show at the Avalon Theatre with Susan, followed a week later by an outdoor, block-party-style concert featuring the XPDs on June 8.

The series concludes this weekend, with a final concert on June 29, this one featuring the popular and fun Eastport Oyster Boys.

At each concert, CBF volunteers and staff are prompting people to share stories about the Chesapeake Bay and its value in their lives. It is amazing to hear about all of the ways in which clean water motivates us, from those who grew up fishing and swimming in the Bay, to people who came to this area because of the beauty and opportunity provided by this important resource. You’re invited to join in.

Get a taste of the concerts by clicking the youtube video link below:

Op-Ed: Another Step for Justice for All by Linda Dutton

Yesterday, another step toward justice for all was offered by our US Supreme Court. The ruling strengthened our Maryland Marriage Equality Act of 2012 by connecting more than 1000 federal laws involving marriage to same sex couples who have legally “tied the knot” per the requirements of their state laws. In Maryland, we legalized same sex marriage beginning in 2013…and now these families will also pay all taxes, access a wider variety of services and travel with less fear of discrimination among other benefits and responsibilities.

The ability for couples to engage equally as married citizens also brings respect to families. The value of being respected as a “real” family is immeasurable. If you don’t understand why this is a big deal, please be curious enough to try to “get it.” Reach out to others who are pleased with these new laws. Talk with a local friend or seek understanding from your friendly local chapter of PFLG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. We value and support the future of same sex married families and want others to understand more about them. These families are proud of their civic roles; they take on parenting with intention as well as with great love; and they are our relatives, neighbors and co workers.

Finally, we know our children are learning constantly. We cannot predict who they will grow up to be or what their futures hold, but we know they will need other caring people in their lives. We also know that being treated with respect in a safe environment encourages children to engage with others. These facts are fundamental to youth led Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs). Would you support such a club in our community? This is the time to reach out one another, regardless of age or history, as we affirm gay families and their allies among us. Because of their widespread courage to come out to the rest of society, they have created a time of remarkable change. All of us are asked to consider what it means to be married, to raise a family, and to be a citizen. Their challenges and answers are as important as your own in a country that values liberty and justice for all.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Chapters exist to provide the support, education and advocacy services that are needed now. Our local chapter meets monthly and offers our community access to excellent resources that have been praised nationwide. Please spread the word and help us create a community where all families enjoy the freedom and the fair treatment so basic to everyday life. For more information email, call 443 480 3138 or visit Check out our local face book page and watch for a new local chapter website in the weeks ahead.

Linda Dutton
Chestertown Chapter

Food Friday – Cherry Bombs for the Fourth of July!

Are you getting excited about the Fourth of July? I am. I ready for a four-day weekend, sleeping late, fireworks, swimming in the pool, languidly of course, and generally enjoying some summertime. No computer for me! I am still steering clear of the kitchen, too. If something needs to be cooked then it has to go on the grill. That will free up some of my valuable time for books and blockbuster movies. (Last weekend we helped Brad Pitt save the world from air borne zombie pathogens and this weekend we are stopping by Joss Whedon’s place for cocktails and a little Shakespeare…)

For our neighborhood’s annual Fourth of July extravaganza we will have to decorate our bikes (and the dog) with crepe paper streamers, bunting and flags. More importantly, everyone must bring a covered dish to share. We all admire one friend’s trademark handiwork every year: the ceremonial red, white and blue cake. She bakes a simple vanilla sheet cake and decorates it with a bucket o’whipped cream, a precise arrangement of blueberries and some snappy red waves of strawberries, sliced with surgical skill. It is a crowd pleaser. We light a couple of sparklers and feel patriotic. And then we fall on the cake like a pack of wolves. Forget about always having room for Jell-o, give us Red White and Blue Cake, even though we have already stuffed our suburban bellies with all the standard cookout goodies. You know the drill: potato salad, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, watermelon, beans, weenies…

We grownups all stand in the back yard, swatting at the mosquitos, waiting for it to get dark enough to go to the fireworks downtown. The sun never seems to set fast enough on the Fourth of July. Can you remember the joy of writing your name, in newly mastered cursive, with the glowing tip of a spent sparkler? Some joys never diminish with time.

I can’t compete with Lisa’s annual patriotic confection, but I can appeal to a different crowd: a large pitcher of sangria. The founding fathers would have enjoyed this during that hot July in Philadelphia.

Even though I am in my summertime kitchen denial, I do like to have a few things up my sleeve and sitting in the fridge. Sometime between the end of our latest Netflix binge and bedtime, someone I know will want a dessert-y snackum. Even if it doesn’t have any chocolate, this is a sweet summer treat. And the fresh tangy cherries are so lush and tempting and ephemeral

Just a Little Bit of Hot Stove Time Cherry Pie

Pre-fab pie crust
4 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Take the pie crust out of the packaging. Recycle the plastic, please. Bake as per directions.

Pit the cherries (very important!) and arrange most of them in the baked crust. Reserve about 1/3 cup.

Mash remaining cherries, and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into the boiling cherries. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Allow the cherry mixture to cool slightly and then pour it over the cherries in the pie shell. Canned cherries never tasted like this!

Chill for several hours before serving.

This is one I am going to make for the Tall One when he gets home. Since single-handedly he discovered Walker’s shortbread biscuits while on walkabout in Scotland a couple of years ago and brought them back to the intrepid colonists here…

Now I need to go supervise the ritual grilling of the hamburgers, brats and ears of corn. Have a wonderful, and safe, Fourth of July! Walk away from the computer!

“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation and freedom in all just pursuits.”
-Thomas Jefferson


Gunston Near Space Balloon Project

Last fall, The Gunston School’s science department head Dr. Ken Wilson presented students with a one-of-a-kind opportunity. Dr. Patrick Shanahan and Dr. Andrew Ferguson of Chestertown, MD, sponsored a project that required a very dedicated group of students. Several groups across the country have carried out similar launches, but it is believed that this is the first such balloon launch on the Delmarva Peninsula and perhaps the first launch near the Atlantic coast. The project challenged a team of approximately 25 students and 4 faculty members to send a high-altitude weather balloon to near-space with a camera attached in order to record the voyage. Led by its mission commander senior Jay Wegner, who collaborated with his faculty advisor Dr. Ken Wilson, they hoped to view Earth from an altitude greater than 10 miles.

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The goal of the project was to use a helium-filled weather balloon to take cameras and scientific instruments to “near space”, which is a region above the majority of the Earth’s atmosphere that begins at 65,000 feet. Photos taken in near space show the blackness of space and resemble photos taken from orbit. This region includes the lower reaches of the stratosphere and the ozone layer.

Students named the project Balloon Force Team 12 because the team was comprised of twelve sub-groups: Science, Payload Integration, Launch, Descent, Recovery, Communications and Tracking, Trajectory, Imaging, Safety, Team Building, Public Relations, Finance, and Creative Arts. The students chose the Latin motto: “Gaudeamus mittere in spatium vesicam”: Let us send a bladder into space. The Romans used bladders for balloons.

The students had to monitor the winds carefully to find a day on which there was minimal cloud cover and the prevailing winds would not blow the balloon out over the ocean. The project began in fall of 2012. The first balloon was launched on June 1, 2013. Students notified the relevant FAA authorities and followed FAA safety requirements for balloon launches.

The weather balloon lifted its payload to its maximum altitude. As the altitude increased, the latex balloon grew in size until it burst. The payload then descended by parachute. Two devices were placed in the payload to record and transmit GPS information that the students were able to follow online to keep track of the position of the balloon.

Mission Control was located in the Gunston Library. A map of the Delmarva Peninsula showing the real time GPS coordinates of the balloon was displayed on a TV. Students kept the Gunston community up to date via twitter on all the mission milestones. The first flight generally followed the trajectory that the students predicted using openly available software and weather data. When the payload returned to Earth, the GPS information that it emitted indicated that it had landed on an unused golf course on MD Route 404 near Denton. The students drove to that location and recovered the payload.

Gunston plans to launch balloons each year, with the goal of reaching higher altitudes and adding more scientific instrumentation to investigate the properties of the stratosphere and the ozone layer.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor: Maple Trees, Carpenter Ants, and Root Damange

Question #1: We have two maple trees in our front yard. The roots are at the surface and my husband has to run over them with the tractor when he mows the lawn. He wants to cut them out but I think that will hurt the tree. Who is right?

Answer #2: Removing tree roots is not recommended as this could potentially damage or even kill a tree. However, running them over with a lawn tractor is also not good for the tree. People will sometimes add soil to cover the roots and plant more grass seed. This is not the best solution either as the roots will just rise to the surface again and it is not recommended to cover roots with more than 2 inches of soil. The best solution is to replace the grass with a low-maintenance, low growing groundcover or a 1-2 inch layer of mulch. Just make sure the mulch is not packed up around the base of the trunk. Leave about a 2-3 inch barrier of soil.

Question #2: How concerned should I be about carpenter ants? I am assuming that is what I am seeing as sometimes I find one or two large black ants inside my home. Does that mean I have a nest inside?

Answer #2: Carpenter ants usually nest outside in wo

od piles, rotting trees or other sites with older or rotten wood. It is very common to find some in the house on occasion especially in the spring as workers travel from the nest to find food. Occasionally, they will nest inside if there is a moisture problem and a suitable site exists. Look for sawdust-like material called frass near moisture damaged wood. If there is a nest indoors, in addition to treating it, you need to figure out and correct the moisture problem. Any wood that is compromised by moisture should be replaced. For additional information see publication HG 115 Carpenter Ants found on our website.

Question #3: I have a rhododendron planted in one of my ornamental beds that is not looking good. Within the last 2-3 weeks I have noticed that the leaves are very droopy, some of them are turning brown and hanging on the shrub. It almost looks like it needs water but I know it is not that because we have had so much rain. Not sure what to do. Can you help?

Answer #3: Has anything like drainage, new construction or any root disturbance occurred around the shrub? Root damage can cause the wilting you describe. There is also a little creature called a vole that chews on bark at ground level causing major branches to die. Another possibility is Phytophthora root rot. This soil pathogen exists in soil but is worse where the soil is wet and drainage is poor. Some plants like rhododendrons are more susceptible to this pathogen than others. Unfortunately there is no control and your shrub will most likely succumb. Do not replant another rhododendron or azalea in this spot. Chinese and winterberry hollies, Abelia, and Calycanthus are some suggested replacements.

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Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview June

Summertime is here and now that the kids are out of school, many families are planning vacations and spending more off time with their children. Make sure to make fishing part of that time spent together; few activities offer the one on one quiet time together that fishing does. Even heading down to the local community pond to tackle some feisty Bluegills and chasing frogs is often a special time for children and parents alike.

Rising water temperatures in the upper bay are starting to move fish into a typical summer pattern of seeking out deeper and cooler water. Water temperatures are close to 80-degrees in many areas of the upper bay and fishermen are beginning to see the best fishing in the lower Susquehanna during power generation water releases at the Conowingo Dam. The influx of cooler water tends to spur fish such as Striped Bass into feeding. Most fishermen are casting swim shads and crankbaits in the river but soft plastic jigs can also be a good bet. Fishermen report there are still plenty of White Perch in the Susquehanna and other major tidal rivers in the upper bay as well as the reefs and knolls between Rock Hall and Baltimore Harbor. Most fishermen are using bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm for White Perch fishing.

Trolling for Striped Bass in the upper bay has been good this week along some of the steeper channel edges such as Love Point and around Sandy Point Light. Chumming is a viable option and most days will see boats laying out chum slicks at Swan and Love Points and to a lesser degree Podickory Point. If one can gather up some live spot that puts a fisherman’s luck and success rate in an entirely different category. Any steep channel edge that is holding Striped Bass is a good bet as well as structure such as the bay bridge piers, rock piles or the sewer pipe on the northeast side of the bridge span. The bay waters are still cool enough that casting a variety of lures along shoreline structure around locations such as Pooles Island and Baltimore Harbor can offer some fun fishing in the early morning or late evening hours. Jigging soft plastics over suspended fish near channel edges or similar structure is also a good option in the upper bay.

Photo by Jay Yesker

Photo by Jay Yesker

The area below the Bay Bridge continues to hold a wonderful grade of Striped Bass this week. Traditional locations such as the outside edge of Hackett’s Bar, the Hill, Thomas Point, Clay Banks and similar channel drop off edges have all been excellent places to catch Striped Bass this week up to 30″ in length. The action is pretty hot south to some grey area below the False Channel and Breezy Point; below there the action tends to taper off and fishermen report that there are hardly any Striped Bass outside of the Gas Docks. Live lining Spot is the most popular way to catch one’s Striped Bass and fortunately the Spot are plentiful in the shallower areas of the middle and lower bay regions. Bluefish have yet to show up yet so this is a happy time for live liners.

Trolling is a good way to catch Striped Bass this week and small to medium sized spoons such as Tony and Crippled Alewife spoons tend to lead the way in the better catch success, followed by chartreuse bucktails. The reports are that deeper is better so most fishermen are employing inline weights to get presentations down to where the fish are holding. Chumming is still a good option for fishermen and locations such as Thomas Point, Buoy 72 and the channel edges in the lower Potomac have been popular places to successfully chum up some Striped Bass. Jigging over suspended fish near channel edges continues to be a successful way to catch Striped Bass on light tackle and many of the channel edges all over the middle bay region have been producing good results. Jay Yesker was jigging in Eastern Bay when he caught this nice Striped Bass.


The early morning and evening shallow water fishing for a mix of Striped Bass and Speckled Trout continues to be good this week during periods of good tidal flow with a high tide being the best. The success rate on Speckled Trout really picks up south of the Choptank River as does the chance of catching a red drum within the 18″ to 27″ slot size. Most fishermen are casting a variety of swim shads and topwater lures but the white Gulp Mullet tends to stand out for the Speckled Trout and Red Drum. Some enterprising fishermen have been live lining Spot in some of the fast moving guts and channel areas in the eastern lower bay region and catching some bragging size Speckled Trout or as they are called down south, “Gator Trout”.Bottom fishing for a mix of croaker, Spot and White Perch has been good in the middle and lower bay regions. Most of the best action is taking place in the lower sections of the tidal rivers in the channel areas. Baits such as peeler crab, squid, bloodworms and shrimp have been popular baits. Fishermen are reporting there are lots of croakers to be caught but unfortunately many are 9″ or less and 10″ to 13″ seems to be the most common “keeper” size; once and a while fishermen are treated to a 17″ croaker which of course invokes memories of years past when we all enjoyed those large croakers. A few flounder are showing up along hard channel edges around Point Lookout and the Tangier Sound area and Speckled Trout can also be part of the mix.

Recreational crabbers are reporting fair to good crabbing in the middle and lower regions of the bay and most often success tends to lean more towards fair. Crabbers are reporting a lot of crabs that are missing the legal mark by less than an inch and it would appear that those folks purchasing crabs for the Fourth of July will see Number One crabs measuring at 5-1/2″. Recreational crabbers will be allowed to crab on July 3rd which is a Wednesday this year. Rich Watts took his wife and daughter out crabbing recently in the Miles River and reported a lot of 5″ to 51/2″ crabs which they threw back and held out for a couple dozen jumbo sized beauties such as these being held up for the camera.

Photo By Rich Watts

Photo By Rich Watts


Freshwater fishermen in the western region are enjoying good fishing for Smallmouth Bass in Deep Creek Lake and the upper Potomac River this week. Most fishermen are casting tubes and crankbaits with good success. They do report that most of the Smallmouth Bass are in the 14″ size range but there is plenty of action. Largemouth Bass present good fishing opportunities in Deep Creek Lake and other lakes and ponds within the region and let us not forget the feisty Bluegill Sunfish. Trout fishing in the trout management areas can offer some wonderful fly fishing opportunities this time of the year with various dry flies and terrestrial flies.

In the Central and southern regions of the state Largemouth Bass tend to dominate the fishing scene this time of the year. The bass are starting to move into a summer pattern of behavior and the early morning and late evening hours tend to offer some of the better fishing. Bass are orienting to thick grass and similar structure now looking for shade, docks are always a popular location to flip soft plastics as are fallen tree tops. Buzzbaits, chatterbaits, frogs and poppers are popular lures to work over grass for Largemouth Bass. Trevor Tufty sent in this nice picture of a Largemouth Bass he caught on a Senko in the tidal Potomac.

Photo by Trevor Tuffy

Photo by Trevor Tuffy

Fishermen in the tidal Potomac and its tributaries may also find snakeheads attacking baits. There is a big snakehead tournament at Smallwood State Park this weekend with speakers such as tidal bass managerDr. Joseph Love form the Maryland Fisheries Service and Joshua Newhard from the U.S.F&W.S. There will also be snakehead cooking demonstrations and plenty of good laughs, for more information check out WWW.Potomacsnakehead.Com.

Ocean City area fishermen are settling into the summer months now and surf fishermen are catching a mix of Kingfish, croakers, Spot and small Bluefish. For those fishermen looking for a little more pull there are Blacktip Sharks, dogfish and sting rays on larger baits. In and around the inlet fishermen are finding flounder and Tautog during the day and a few Striped Bass and Bluefish at night. The tog are being caught on fresh sand fleas and it should not be too long before Sheepshead begin to be caught. The Striped Bass and Bluefish are being caught on swim shads and live spot. In the back bay areas there are flounder in the channels along with blowfish, croakers, Spot, small sea bass and Cow-Nosed Rays.

Offshore the boats fishing the reefs and wrecks for sea bass are doing well with double digit catches being common. A few big flounder are being also caught near the wreck sites. Out along the 30-Fathom Line fishermen are finding large Bluefish and a few small Mako Sharks. In the canyons Yellowfin Tuna are being caught and they range from throwbacks to 75lbs. Fishermen are now starting to do some deep drop fishing in the canyons and are bringing back tilefish to the Ocean City docks.

By Keith Lockwood


Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.


Wilson Wyatt: Man of Words- Part 1

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Wilson Wyatt at his place near St. Michaels.

Wilson is a published writer and photographer and an advocate for the regional writing community. He is a founder and executive editor of The Delmarva Review, and active with the Eastern Shore Writers Association and Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. He serves on the board of The Writer’s Center, in Washington, DC, where he is a coordinator of its annual “Publish Now” seminar. Following his education at Sewanee, The University of the South, he started his career as a journalist at The Courier-Journal, in Kentucky. He later was the senior communications officer for three international corporations. In addition to writing in newspapers, magazines and literary journals, he published a photography book, Yosemite—Catching the Light (2011). His latest book, Chesapeake Views-Catching the Light, distributes in September 2013. He writes a blog on writing and photography, “The Art of Words and Images,” at


Book Bits – Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

Monk 2In the dawn of the Atomic Age, the hottest music trend was bebop. Fast and dissonant, it packed returning soldiers into New York’s nightclubs on The Street — 52nd Street. The high priests of this music were Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and their young protege Miles Davis. To those players, the father of this new music was Thelonious Monk, with “‘RoundMidnight,” his angst-laden song filled with all the strange angularities of the new music:

“The war officially ended on September 2, 1945. A celebratory mood pervaded the country, including The Street, where the hipsters were usually too cool to care. War-weary New Yorkers were ready to put the past behind them and embrace the promise of peace, prosperity, and productivity. It was the dawn of a new era, the ‘American Century,’ when the U.S. emerged as the leading global power. Technology became the country’s obsession — the possibilities of space exploration, jet travel, the availability of cheap televisions and high-fidelity recordings. Speed was the order of the day. It was also a period of uncertainty. The atomic age had arrived, revealing an ominous side with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but also promising new sources of power (energy and military).

“Jazz was the perfect accompaniment to the new atomic age. It had become faster and more dissonant, without losing its sense of joy and humor. Audiences were drawn to Bird’s velocity and his joyous, spring-like melodies. From Hawk [Coleman Hawkins], Monk, and company, came hip harmonies, danceable tempos, and nostalgic references to foot-stomping swing. … The popularity of the clubs exploded. For anyone looking to cel­ebrate the return of the GIs, to laugh after so many years of killing and dying, here was exuberant fun. Monk pulled listeners in because he made them laugh and wonder if he was for real. Miles Davis would rush over to the Down Beat Club to catch Hawkins and Monk while on his break from playing with Bird.

Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947

Thelonious Monk, Minton’s Playhouse, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947

“Miles had great admiration for Monk as a teacher and elder (nine years separated them), and he found his compositions bril­liant and beautifully balanced. As someone who spent his days at Juilliard studying the great composers of the Western tradition, Miles believed ‘ ‘Round Midnight’ was as challenging as anything Ravel, Schoenberg, or Bach had to offer. …

“Virtually every arts and entertainment maga­zine was scrambling for anything related to the hottest trend in music — bebop. Besides the jazz mainstays — Down BeatMetronomeThe Record Changer — popular magazines such as The New RepublicEsquire, and Saturday Review began carrying profiles, editorials, and curiosity pieces on bebop and its major players throughout 1947, a good six months to a year before debates over the new music began to really heat up. The battles were fierce: bebop was great, or terrible. No one could define it musically, but that didn’t matter. … Of course, those musi­cians who came to represent the different camps continued to call music ‘music,’ and neither generational nor stylistic differences kept them from sharing the bandstand or a recording studio. But collaboration, flexibility of style, and ambiguity in genre distinc­tions didn’t sell magazines.

“Bird and Diz suddenly became the new heroes — or antiheroes, depending on one’s stance — in the jazz wars. And in virtually every interview they granted, they mentioned Thelonious Monk. Monk had mastered the new harmonic developments; he was one of the pioneers at Minton’s Playhouse. Suddenly Monk came across as the 1940s ver­sion of Buddy Bolden, that missing link who started it all but then disappeared. To [Down Beat writer Bill] Gottlieb, he was ‘the George Washington of bebop.’ ”

Author: Robin D.G. Kelley
Title: Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Publisher: Free Press
Date: Copyright 2009 by Robin D.G. Kelley
Pages: 106, 122-123


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