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Fishing Reports

Would you believe in an advanced Doplar-based marine radar system that can detect a 3-foot-square object from 7 miles away?  Well, you better because it might just be zoomed in on you next time you’re fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. Last night, I attended a presentation by the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) about a new law enforcement tool called MLEIN. That stands for the Marine Law Enforcement Information Network.  It’s a mobile command center consisting of radar monitoring, video surveillance, and advanced software that allows the NRP to keep a very close watch on what’s happening on the water.  I was invited to the presentation by Candy Thomson.  Yes, the former Baltimore Sun Outdoors Girl has skipped across College creek to a new position in Annapolis as the Public Information Officer for the NRP.  I first heard about MLEIN a couple of years ago in one of her articles in the Sun Paper.  You can read it here.  http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-12-14/sports/bs-sp-chesapeake-security-system-20101214_1_radar-units-mlein-cameras

That article reveals a little more than DNR Special Projects Manager Tim Bowman gave away in his presentation last night.  Nevertheless, his updates for 2014 were extremely informative.  The twenty-something people in attendance – including 8 guys from CCA Maryland – were glued to their seats as Bowman showed real-life examples of how the system worked. Read More!

Fishing Reports

“Let’s kill as many as we can before we have to save them.” That seems to be the attitude of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.  Tuesday, just before closing for a five day Thanksgiving weekend, DNR fisheries dropped a turkey on recreational striped bass anglers by announcing a 14% increase in harvest in the Chesapeake Bay.  At a time when striper stocks are steeply declining and states up and down the Atlantic seaboard face impending cuts mandated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), Maryland & Virginia are grabbing more fish.  Here’s a link to the press release and a quote:

Determination of the Available 2014 Chesapeake Bay Commercial Striped Bass Quota

For 2014, it was decided  that fishermen could safely harvest 8,652,528 pounds of Striped Bass – without detriment to the Bay  population. The previous year’s quota was 7,589,937 pounds and for the first time in many years the quota has been increased in the Bay. This increase of approximately 14% is attributed to a large number of fish from the 2011 year class (fish that hatch and enter into the population in a given year) which are just now reaching the legal minimum size of 18 inches.

I hope you find that as unbelievable as I do.  I’ve tried to keep fisheries politics out of this blog lately because I want to concentrate on the fun parts of our sport, but when something this egregious comes out, I think it’s important to spread the news and let our fisheries managers know just how pissed off recreational anglers can be.   Read More!

Fishing Reports

You’ve probably heard by now that the bottom is dropping out of striper fishing.  The latest Atlantic States Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) stock assessment shows a population in decline.  Don’t be fooled by the first few lines of the report when it says, “Stripers are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.”  They’ve been saying that for years while fishermen all up and down the Atlantic coast have been warning of a crash.  Now we have proof.  Using the current fishing mortality threshold, we have been overfishing for striped bass five out of the last eight years.  If we keep catching at the rate we are now, the fishery will decline rapidly.  Concerned fishermen up and down the Atlantic coast agree that harvest reductions should be implemented quickly.  Check out this article from Captain John McMurray in New York.

Since striped bass is a highly-sought-after species with big money involved on both the commercial and recreational sides, any reductions will be controversial. I get the sense that there may be some within the ASMFC who believe that the commercial striped bass fishing industry has already sacrificed enough.  If that perception spreads, recreational fishing could take the brunt of the reductions.  I won’t flesh out the arguments pro and con here, but suffice it to say that I believe cuts are overdue and necessary and should be equal across both sectors.

Commercial fishing aside, disagreements are sure to follow within the recreational community.  They will be especially apparent here in the Chesapeake Bay, where the charter boat industry and some fishing clubs rely heavily on fishing revenues from spawning-class stripers during times of the year when they are easiest to catch.  It’s sure to get interesting, and I expect blood letting on all sides. Read More!

Fishing Reports

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? A right to have fun? That’s something we all take for granted. Well, you shouldn’t according to some lawmakers in Annapolis. This week, a bill was introduced in the House Environmental Matters Committee that seeks to define one simple thing – that the public has a right to use and enjoy the water. Who wouldn’t vote for that? Your delegate probably won’t. In fact, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) testified against it. Seem odd?

Here’s how it breaks out. Some wealthy waterfront property owners got involved in a not-in-my-backyard user conflict over proposed oyster floats in the Chincoteague Bay. The case went to a hearing and the attorney general issued a half-witted ruling that said, “on public waters, the state does not recognize the right to recreate.”  Seeking to appeal, the property owners got a few state delegates to help them out and a bill was introduced to make sure the right for recreation is defined in the law. Read more about it here.  I don’t think the delegates – all from red districts – intended to do anything more than help out a few rich constituants, but they opened an interesting issue and things got dicey. Read More!

Fishing Reports

By all accounts, 2012 was an unusual year for fishing.  For me, it was absolutely strange at times. I jigged up my biggest striper of the year on the first day of the year, a 49-incher that might have pushed 50-pounds. It was the only fish I caught.  A few days later I got another 47-incher and another one about that size on the next day. Each time it was only one fish per day.  Is one fish worth five hours or more of casting?  When they’re that size, I think so!  Those were some of my biggest fish of 2012, but I’ve been lucky enough to jig up a few more mid-40s class fish since then including this pretty 45-incher I caught in the snow this week.  Warm water discharge (WWD) fishing was good last spring, but we really had to pick our days.  Our most successful times were early-morning windy weekdays when it was raining or snowing.  The WWD big fish bite is always very specific.  I explain how to get the trophies in my book, Chesapeake Light Tackle, An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.  Read More!

Fishing Reports

Hurricane Sandy has sped up and will make landfall sooner than expected.  I suspect that’s good since she will hopefully move through more quickly.  Unfortunately, the center of the storm has turned slightly southwest, and is now projected to track a few miles north of us. The Bay Bridge is closed after recording three gusts over 55 MPH within 10 minutes.  I’m hearing a few limbs cracking in the woods behind our house and I noticed some trees down when I visited Matapeake a few minutes ago.  We’ve seen 8 inches of rain so far and it’s coming down harder than ever now. There’s been a lot of damage due to storm surge on the ocean side of Delmarva including Ocean City, Maryland, but we still aren’t seeing a storm surge this far north on the Chesapeake side.  There is a surge lower in the Bay on the east side and I just heard Crisfield, Maryland has been evacuated with 3-5 feet of Bay water in the streets. Power is still on over most of Kent Island.  Here’s a video I just shot at the Matapeake pier.

 

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