Message From the Cap’n/Oysters, Another Lesson From Mother Nature

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).

AND the 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 River is 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.

Resulting in 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 the Interpretive 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.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II

© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.