Tom Gruber will be getting a different type of Christmas present this year.
The Lothian resident caught a 265-pound tuna off Wachapreage, Va., which turned out to be the largest tuna registered in the annual Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.
The minimum size to qualify for a tuna citation is 70 pounds, and 98 citation-size tuna were landed in 1990.
A total of 2,296 trophy-size fish were registered for citation awards in the 33rd Annual Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, which ran from April 15 through Nov. 30. This was a decline of more than 250 from last year, when 2,883 citations were awarded.
The non-resident "Angler of the Year" award went to Alan Scott of Willards, who was one of six out-of-state anglers registering two different species of fish for citations. A special tournament committee decided his catch was the most meritorious. Scott registered a red drum and a speckled trout for citations. Coincidentally, Scott caught both of his fish on the same day, April 29, and was the first non-resident angler with two citations.
For the second year in a row, more than 50 percent of all citations earned by tournament participants were for fish released alive.
The 1,302 fish qualifying for "release" citations represent more than 57 percent of all citations awards earned during 1990 -- a new tournament record. Last year, 1,600 fish were entered for release recognition, which represented slightly more than 55 percent of all citations awarded in 1989.
Maryland dropped its "Catch a Fortune Tournament" in 1990 because of the striped bass fishing moratorium. The tournament was paid for by a portion of the Watermen's Compensation Program that would have gone to charter boat captains.
It might be a good idea to take a look at Maryland's fishing tournament with an eye to increasing the number of species that qualify for release citations. Many anglers would be happy to trade their dead fish for a picture and a big citation, both of which could go on the wall instead of the dead fish.
* Gov. William Donald Schaefer has unveiled Maryland's Chesapeake Bay license plate to honor the state and county's most precious natural resource. The special license plate will be available for $20 from Jan. 1, 1991, to Dec. 31, 1992.
The plate can be ordered now by mail or at the full-service Motor Vehicle Administration office in Glen Burnie. All registered drivers of passenger cars, multipurpose vehicles, and trucks up to -ton can buy the bay plates.
Holders of handicap or personalized plates can buy modified Bay plates.
The license plate depicts one of the bay's most abundant water birds, the Great Blue Heron, which was chosen as a symbol of conservation and rebirth.
Delicate bay grasses and the slogan, "Treasure of the Chesapeake," are also featured on this blue and green plate.
"Buying a Chesapeake Bay license plate is a great way for citizens to help the bay," the governor said. "I am especially excited that this special plate is Maryland's first license plate to be made of recycled aluminum."
The anticipated revenue of $1 million from the sale of the bay plates will go to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a state-initiated, non-profit organization that helps finance bay restoration projects, such as shoreline improvement, tree plantings, development of environmental education centers and water-quality monitoring programs.
To raise additional money for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a limited number of plates with the letters BAY and three numerals will be available for $100; special numerical combinations will be sold for $500 (such as BAY-100, BAY-123). These "BAY" plates can be ordered through the Chesapeake Bay Trust by calling 974-2941.
By purchasing a plate, Marylanders can participate in the statewide effort to restore the bay. Call the Motor Vehicle Administration for more information at 950-1MVA.
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.