With a little help from a few of my expert fishing friends, here are a handful of my fishing pet peeves, learned the hard way and in no particular order of importance.

Poorly tied knots: Spying that little pig’s tail where your lure or rig once was has made many a grown angler cry. Learn a handful of proven knots, one or two for each situation and/or specific lure (e.g. braid, mono, topwater, vertical jigging, etc.). Practice them so you can tie them well, even on a rolling deck.

Fooling with the drag: Stop it already; let the reel’s drag do its job. Smart engineers sweated for years so you can land big fish on lightweight reels. If the fish wants to run, let it run.



Quickly cranking the drag down all the way, especially when the fish first takes off fast or still “green,” is a recipe for disaster. “If anything, an angler should lighten up on drag a little as a big fish gets closer to the boat,” advises pro guide Captain Kevin Josenhans.

Slack in the line: I’ve seen this enough times to believe, along with too much pressure, a slack line, even for a moment, is surefire way to lose a trophy fish. Always maintain tension in line to prevent the fish spitting a lightly or poorly hooked fish.

Captain Harry Nield of Kingfish II Charter also reminds us not to “let the line touch the boat or let the fish get under the boat.” A smart and agitated fish can chaff line or leader against the running gear or hull bottom, and whamo, bye-bye fishy.

Improper Rod Position: Modern rods of good quality are built to handle strong fish. Change the rod angle to turn a fish’s head, which can help wear it out more quickly, which then reduces opportunities for errors.

This also helps the fish recover more quickly if it is released. “Don’t let the rod hit the gunnel. When under a load, a small knock will explode your favorite stick, a not-so-great way to test your rod manufacturer’s warranty policy!” says Capt. Chris Newsome of Bay Fly Fishing.

Listen and learn: If you’re on a charter or guided trip, you can learn a good deal from an experienced captain and his crew even if you’ve fished for half-century.

Also, pay attention to changes in barometric pressure, how the tide is affected by the wind, presence of bait and other natural factors like habitats and water clarity.

Upcoming Tournament: Back for its third year is the Rod & Reef Slam, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 21 and hosted by the Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), Chesapeake Bay Foundation, NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Organizers bill this event is different than most tournaments in which winners are typically decided by who catches the heaviest or longest fish. Not so with the Rod & Reef Slam. The anglers who land the most different species – rockfish, speckled trout, croakers, even the lowly toadfish – win.

The tournament fleet will fish over six oyster restoration sites near the mouth of the Choptank River, including the Clint Waters Reef at Cooks Point and oyster sanctuaries in Harris Creek, the Tred Avon River and the Little Choptank River.

This to help bring more awareness to the importance of healthy fish habitat, highlighting how restored oyster reefs can benefit sport fishing as well as promote sound management of oysters.

The after party and awards take place from 3 p.m.—6 p.m. at the Lowes Wharf Marina Inn in Sherwood. For more information, call (443) 482-2097 or hgibson@cbf.org.

Through Sept. 27: Deadline is 5 p.m. for public comment on the ASMFC’s striped bass rules for 2020.

Through December 15: Maryland’s Resident Rockfish Season. All tributaries opened. Min. size 19 inches, daily limit of two rockfish per day between 19-28 inches, or one rockfish between 19-28 inches and one fish over 28 inches.

Sept. 2-Oct. 19: Dove, first split. 15 birds per day, possession limit of 45. Shooting hours Noon to sunset.

Sept. 9: Pasadena Sportfishing Group meeting. Capt. Kyle Johnson will discuss fishing for cobia and redfish in the lower Chesapeake. Doors open 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Hwy (Route 2), Severna Park.

Sept.10: Public hearing for the striped bass Draft Addendum VI, Potomac River Fisheries Commission. Begins 6 p.m. 222 Taylor Street, Colonial Beach, VA. Contact: Martin Gary martingary.prfc@verizon.net or (804) 224-7148.

Sept. 11: Frederick Saltwater Anglers Meeting, Frederick Moose Lodge #371, 828 East Patrick St, Frederick. 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Open to the public. Details at wefishsalt.com.

Sept. 17: Upper Eastern Shore Anglers. DNR Assistant Secretary Bill Anderson and Director Mike Luisi discuss ideas for 2020 DNR agenda. Meeting starts 6 p.m. at Chester River Yacht and Country Club, Chestertown.

Sept. 18: Annapolis Angler’s Club meeting. This particular meeting is Club’s annual Crab Feast. Meetings are held at the American Legion Post 7, 1905 Crownsville Rd, Annapolis and start at 7 p.m. For info clickannapolisanglersclub.com.

Sept. 21: “Rod and Reef Slam: Angling for Oyster Restoration.” Hosted by CBF and CCA MD, this tournament highlights the angling benefits of restoring oyster reefs. Entry fee: $40 per individual, $120 per boat (up to 6 people). Kids fish free with a CCA Youth Membership. Register at ccamd.org. For more details, contact hgibson@cbf.org.

Sept. 21: Pasadena Sportfishing Club’s “Kid’s Fishing Derby.” Downs Park, Fernwood Pavilion. 7:30- Noon. Open to first 75 youths who register. Details and registration at pasadenasportfishing.com/events/psg-kids-fishing-derby.

Sept. 23: CCA MD, Greater Baltimore Chapter meeting. Free to the public. Doors open 6:30 p.m., meeting starts 7 p.m. VFW Post 10067, 6309 Ebenezer Rd. Middle River, MD.

Sept. 25: Public hearing for the striped bass Draft Addendum VI. From 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Calvary United Methodist Church (Basement Room) 301 Rowe Boulevard Annapolis. Contact Michael Luisi at michael.luisi@maryland.govor (410) 260-8341.

Sept 28: Kayak Fishing Class, at Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD. Instructors: Mark Bange and John Veil. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Register at aacc.edu/apply-and-register/noncredit-registration.

Oct. 2: Free State Fly Fishers meeting. Guest speaker is Ashlee Horne of Maryland’s DNR, talking on “Sturgeon in the Chesapeake Bay: Their history and future.” 7 p.m. at FSFF’s Clubhouse, 3789 Queen Anne Bridge Rd., Davidsonville.

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Oct. 3: Public hearing for the striped bass Draft Addendum VI. 6 p.m.-8 p.m. The American Legion Dorchester Post 91, 601 Radiance Drive, Cambridge, Maryland.

Nov. 2: Fish For a Cure. Supports the Cancer Survivorship Program at Anne Arundel Medical Center Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute. Details at fishforacure.org.

Nov. 6: Free State Fly Fishers meeting 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Dan Rodricks, long-time award-winning columnist for the Baltimore Sun newspapers, discusses his book, Father's Day Creek: Fly Fishing, Fatherhood and the last best place on Earth.

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