"If you were representing me," says I to the Striped Bass Advisory Board recreational fishing representatives, "I'd fire the whole bunch of you."
The Striped Bass Advisory Board was created after a White Paper Committee drafted regulations for the 1990 striped bass season. The advisory board was appointed to advise the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the 1991 regulations.
Members of the board tried to negotiate the best deal they could for the user group they represented.
I think Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Waterman's Association, said it best when he noted that no one would come away from the meetings happy. The board was not designed to have winners or losers, but to strike the best deal among the commercial, recreational and charter boat fishermen.
The board is feeling pressure to meet a deadline for getting regulations through the state bureaucracy. If there is to be a May fishery in 1991 the regulation must be completed in December. Right now I don't think board members could agree on their own hat sizes.
A segment of the charter boat industry is pushing hard for a May fishery. Charter captains say they need a few rockfish in May to get clients on their boats and offset the disastrous 1989 and 1990 seasons, when charters were off 40 to 70 percent.
The DNR has said that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission may give Maryland anglers permission to fish on the coastal migration stocks after the DNR puts in safeguards to ensure that spawning fish will not be taken until after they have spawned. This fishery would be in addition to our standard allocation.
My frustration peaked at the advisory board meeting last Monday night when DNR biologists offered possible spring allocations. The board has two options: a 28- to 36-inch size limit, for a spring allocation of approximately 380,000 pounds; and a 28-inch minimum size limit and no maximum size limit for a spring quota of a little over a million pounds.
The recreational side of the board favors the smaller of the two quotas, and since there are more of them than there are commercial and charter representatives, that may be the approach for 1991.
The biologists who closed the fishery are now saying that we can take a measured portion of the stocks. In my opinion, those on the board supposedly representing the recreational fishermen are being ultra-conservative and are afraid to catch a striper for fear the species will be lost again. More than one of these reps would rather not open the season, but would prefer to wait another year and then, maybe another year.
I know that I will be painted as a killer of rockfish and young children, but Maryland fishermen have waited five years for this fishery.
Now that the biologists say it is OK, we should be able to take our fair share of the pot.
The advisory board has scheduled another public meeting for 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Truman Parkway, Annapolis, in the lower-level conference room.
If you are interested in the rockfish, you should attend.
* * * "Bob, I don't think I have ever seen so many bluefish," said Capt. Ed Darwin. "There were acres after acres of them."
This conversation took place earlier this week not far from the Bay Bridge, well within our area. Fishing continues to be very, very good.
In the upper bay, the bluefish have the white perch scattered, but where the bluefish aren't, the perching is reported to be good. Catfish are occupying the deeper holes. White perch are medium to deep, maybe 20 to 30 feet with 25 about optimum.
Bluefish start at about Swan Point and can be found in good numbers south to Virginia. The fish are tightly schooled; once you find a school, your catches will improve. Some of the hot spots in the upper and middle upper Bay are Swan Point, Love Point, Hacketts Bar, along Kent Island, Eastern Bay, Poplar Island and Bloody Point.
A few people are beginning to look for flounder and finding many toadfish. They're finding quite a few small flounder, but very few keepers until you reach the Choptank and the tributaries further south. The Patuxent is fair and the Potomac is rather good.
The Spanish mackerel have begun their southern migration to the ocean. Last weekend the bulk of them had moved to Cove Point or further south. They are still taking the small golden spoons.
Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.
Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990