By: Cap’n Jack Russell, reprint permission given the

Message From the Captain is a compilation of fishing advice, waterman and weather insights,Chesapeake lore, and ordinary malarkey from the folks who keep their feet wet in the Potomac and St. Mary’s rivers.

We have many different types of turtles in and around the Chesapeake Bay, in spite of their clumsiness as suitors. These were caught in the act in a pond in Calvert County, MD, above Cove Point.

In the video are Common Snappers, once a freshwater snapper, but found increasingly in brackish water, as attest watermen seeing more of these and Alligator Snappers. The spiky look and name of the Alligator Snapper give it a more intimidating appearance, but for camouflage. The Alligator Snapper’s tongue dances like a worm in its open mouth and lures its prey into its lethal jaws. The Common Snapper hunts its prey. But neither has a good disposition and either could put a real hurtin’ on a perfectly good day.

The lesser-known Chesapeake species is the Snapping Turtle, locally known as Turkles, are a silent and a frequently overlooked species in our ponds and waterways. It’s possible they haven’t been as plentiful as other species, coming more recently to the brackish Chesapeake Bay area. Since 2012, based on a study published by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, freshwater turtles are not merely developing a tolerance for brackish water, but something of a taste for it.

One of the most frequently seen turtles in Maryland is theEastern Box Turtle, often trekking across a road. If you find yourself compelled, first take some hints here, beforehelping a turtle cross the road. And as for the snappers noted above, special rules apply.

Around the Chesapeake, you’ll also be seeing our variety of friendlier turtles out sunning. On our ponds and shallow waterways are different SlidersPainted Turtles, and our famous Diamondback Terrapins.

Terrapins need added protection from the lethality of crab pots. The same bait that attracts crabs, attracts turtles. Turtle extruders but are sized to allow large crabs inside, but not small terrapins. Just like the crabs, once inside, the turtles cannot exit. They have a short life span of only a few hours trapped underwater and unable to return to the surface for air.

With the midsummer, the Fourth of July holiday long over, the price of crabs continues to fall. With the heat, the sea nettles began to show up and plenty of bottom fish are to be caught according to the Tackle Box Fishing Report. Great catches of Spanish Mackeral are also being reported in the Lower Potomac.

From the Interpretive Buoy System, the water temperature is in the mid-80s and the salinity level struggles to reach 9 PSU. ( 13 to 15 would be a good average)

**********Smith Island Tour ****************

Still time to check off this trip from bucket list this summer…..MAKE RESERVATIONS ONLINE…..

FROM POINT LOOKOUT, MD: Departs 10:30am (Seasonal Thursday-Sunday)

2019 Schedule:

  • Thursday through Sunday departures through September 1, 2019.
  • Post season dates September 7, 8, 14 and 15


Till next time, remember “It’s Our Bay, Let’s Pass It On.”

Reach Cap’n Jack atarster694@gmail.comor 240-434-1385

To learn about tours and trips into the Chesapeake, get more information on Fins + Claws’Leader member page.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...