The rockfish pot continues to bubble.
What happened to this year's rockfish season? The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave some preliminary data last Monday evening that might help you understand, assuming you agree with the DNR's data.
DNR officials say that, based on their best estimate, 180,000 recreational fishermen went fishing during the first three days of the season. The DNR estimates that one out of three anglers caught fish during this three-day period and 172,000 pounds of fish were caught. That is more than half the total allocation (318,750 pounds), so the season was closed the following weekend.
During the first three days, the 445 charter boats caught 32,500 pounds, about 29 percent of their total allocation (112,500 pounds).
W. Peter Jensen, director of Fisheries for the Tidewater Administration, said this year's transitional striped bass season did not hurt the fishery.
Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Waterman's Association, said that he and his people have never seen so many rockfish. He also said that commercial fishermen in Massachusetts are saying the same thing as other commercial fishermen along the coast.
The Striped Bass Advisory Board, which is working on the 1991 striped bass regulations, is leaning toward a May rockfish season. It has asked the DNR to work up the numbers of striped bass that could be harvested from the coastal migration stocks.
If we do have a May fishery, the advisory board recommended that fishing for striped bass be restricted to Bloody Point and below.
Simns and waterman Bob Eurice said they believe that Maryland fishermen should have an opportunity to catch these fish. They also said that they would recommend giving the commercial allocation to the recreational and charter-boat user groups.
In a related matter, Gov. William Donald Schaefer has sent a letter to the Maryland Waterman's Association saying that "we must guarantee that everyone -- commercial fisherman, sports fisherman and charter boat operator -- gets their fair share of the catch. No group must benefit at the expense of another."
This will certainly not help the Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman's Association (MSSA) plans to make the striped bass a game fish and eliminate commercial fishing.
The governor reportedly told MSSA managers to drop the game fish push for this year because it is an election year. Now it appears he has decided to be a more gentle governor for all striped bass fishing groups. I think the governor has made the right decision.
I think Maryland's striped bass fishery management plan holds the future for commercial fishing in this country. The DNR is managing the fishery for all user groups.
In states such as Texas and Louisiana, wide-open commercial fishing has caused recreational fishermen to unite and close down commercial fishing. I believe commercial fishermen have a right to their fair share of the resource, as do the recreational angler and the charter boat operators. The key word is "management."
For the first time since brown pelicans began nesting in Maryland, the number of breeding pairs declined in 1990. Maryland is the northernmost nesting location of brown pelicans in North America.
DNR biologists found only four breeding pairs at the colony site the pelicans have used since they first nested here in 1987. Of these, three pairs successfully raised four young.
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.