Message From the Cap’n 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.

What do we know about what is going on around us in the river? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It makes us think we’re dumber than a box of rocks.” Indeed, by Gawd cap’n, we just don’t know diddly squat.

WHY: We were very much alarmed after a year of rainfall, which dropped salinity levels to around 5-7 parts per thousand, that many oysters would be killed and reproduction ceases as a result. But the weather went from one extreme to the other, and we have now had about three months of drought, bringing salinity back up to normal, about 15 ppt.

BUT oysters grew like crazy and the oystermen in the Chesapeake are having a good 2019 opening season, (catching their limits). A rule of thumb: There are about 300 three-inch oysters in a bushel and about 150 five-inch oysters in a bushel (or thereabouts).

ANDthe Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ reduced per-person limits (from 12 bushels a day to 10 per day) and closing Wednesdays to commercial harvest (oystermen call it “taking Wednesdays off”) will make the season last longer. Perhaps, we can have the successful Thanksgiving harvest extend through Christmas and the New Year.

Potomac Riveris helping take up the slack for watermen. The Potomac is open all week for commercial harvest. The section opened on Jones Shore is producing a good catch, also.

Resultingin the price paid to the boat going down from a high of $55 to $57 per bushel to $50 per bushel before Thanksgiving.Unheard of in the history of oystermankind: prices going down before a holiday!

Keep in Mind: the little oysters experienced fantastic growth over the past summer, fooling all of us. These little oysters that grew like crazy will not last long, but will greatly assist in keeping the industry partially refreshed for the 2019-2020 season.

In reality: Mother Nature teaches us a lesson on a regular basis: We don’t know as much as we think we know.

From theInterpretive Buoy System: The Lower Potomac water temperature is about 49 degrees Fahrenheit and the salinity at 17 parts per unit this week.

Till next time,

Cap’n Jack

To learn about tours and trips into the Chesapeake, keep in touch with Fins + Claws on Facebook. Catch up on Messages from the Cap’n Member Page. Please visit Cap’n Jack’s lore and share it with your social media sites. Or reach him at or 240-434-1385.

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...