If portions of the tidal Potomac River seem unusually crowded with boat traffic today through Friday, take a closer look. More than 300 of the additional boats won't be racing to the best striped-bass grounds. Instead, those extra boats and their drivers will be looking for black bass in the $175,000 Bassmaster Maryland Invitational.
The tournament, the second of 10 qualifying events for the BASS Masters Classic, will operate out of Smallwood State Park's Sweden Point Marina on Mattawoman Creek.
The first Maryland Invitational was held on the same waters last year, but was cut short by Hurricane Hugo. The area to be fished runs upriver from Point Lookout at the mouth of the Potomac.
Among the top professional fishermen entered are Classic champion Rick Clunn of Montgomery, Texas, B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Guido Hibdon of Gravois Mills, Mo., and Roland Martin of Clewiston, Fla., nine-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year.
A contingent of 18 Maryland anglers -- including Ronnie Bise, Bob Dobart and Paul Koluch of Baltimore -- is entered in the event.
Other Marylanders entered are: Leo Doran of Belcamp and Michael Draper of Glen Burnie, Thomas Fouche of Frederick, Piers Hackley of Kensington, Mark Hoos of Abingdon, Frank Ippoliti of Mount Airy, William Kramer of Gaithersburg, Michael Luzier of Wheaton, Dick Martin of Lothian, James D. Noell of Bowie, Mike O'Conner of Waldorf, Jeff Pesce of Riverdale, Charles Schurman of Pasadena, George Scones of Joppatowne and Robert Smith of Frederick.
The ceremonies, celebrity events and glad-handing are over, and the Cadillac Columbus Cup sailing regatta gets down to business today in the Chesapeake Bay off the mouth of the Patapsco River.
The field for this year's regatta, which features a round-robin series of races among eight teams from seven countries, is headed by Russell Coutts of New Zealand and Makoto Namba of Japan.
Coutts is No. 2 in the World Match Racing Conference standings. Namba is the skipper for Japan's Nippon Challenge for the America's Cup.
Racing will begin at 11 a.m. today, as well as tomorrow and Friday. On Saturday, the top four teams will race for first through fourth places.
For the final day of the regatta, spectators may purchase tickets to watch the race aboard the motor vessel Sentinel, which is berthed at the foot of Broadway in Fells Point.
Tickets cost $50 and include an open bar and a catered lunch. For ticket information and departure time, call 547-5023.
Mike Pivec and Tim Fisher, co-founders and past presidents of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, have produced a videotape that will help solve some of the puzzling questions that may have arisen since the opening of striped-bass fishing in Maryland.
The 55-minute video, "Trolling for Rockfish," deals quickly and easily with equipment and techniques, from rods and reels to terminal tackle, presentation, finding fish and catching them.
The cost of the video is $29.95 (plus $1.50 tax) and $3 for shipping and handling. The tape is available from Sportsfishing Productions Inc., P.O. Box 36351, Towson, Md., 21286-6351 (301-494-1071).
Another aid for frustrated striped-bass fishermen new on the market is Maryland outdoors writer Keith Walters' new book, "Chesapeake Stripers."
Walters, in a humorous and informative manner, details the haunts and habits of Maryland's state fish in a variety of seasons. Toward the back of the book, Walters deals in detail with rigs and lures that work especially well for striped bass in deep or shallow water.
But where the video produced by Pivec and Fisher deals with trolling, Walters' book deals more with spinning for stripers near the surface or in shallow waters.
Together, the video and the book seem to cover all the options.
"Chesapeake Stripers" can be purchased in area tackle stores for about $20.