Maryland has been given the green light by the Atlantic Coast Marine Fisheries Commission for its proposed May season for trophy rockfish, but lost in the last-minute scramble at the General Assembly was Senate Bill 575 to designate the rock as a gamefish.
With 29,000 signatures on petitions asking that commercial fishing for rock be banned, it seems only fair that the Senate would have shown more interest in prompt consideration of the bill fostered by the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermens Association.
A hearing was held on the bill three weeks ago, and early this month it won approval by a 6 to 4 vote in the Senate Economics and Environmental Matters Committee. One is tempted to think that it was a matter of foot dragging to let it die.
"Of course I'm disappointed," MSSA executive director Rich Novotny said last night, "but we made headway -- more than ever before for such legislation -- and we'll be back with more signatures than ever."
Back to rockfish matters in a moment, but first a rundown on other fishing fronts:
Not only was the weather great, but so was the catching as the Loch Raven Fishing Center opened over the weekend. And probably the happiest fisherman of all was Will McCully, who fished a big shiner in hopes of a big fish.
He got his wish, a 13 1/2 -pound northern pike. Of 39 inches it ranks among the best taken there in recent years.
Fishing center manager Kevin McComas said perch fishing has been good, but there was another surprise at LR. About a dozen rainbow trout of 16 to 18 inches turned up. It wasn't a case of a few fishermen hitting the jackpot, said McComas, the catching was spread among about a dozen anglers.
Meanwhile, on the offshore front, Boston mackerel remain a guessing game. Here today, gone tomorrow -- and maybe back the next day. That seems to be the rule. So your guess is as good as mine.
All of this suggests the run is about over, but a few more days of fishing might be squeezed out, especially for boats fishing to the north of Ocean City. Capt. Dale Parsons of Lewes reported doing fairly well yesterday, and curiously he sailed south from there.
But the pattern is erratic. Two consecutive days of catching is the exception. Capt. Jack Bunting said ocean temperatures rose to 52 degrees yesterday -- and that's warm for macks. "We're wrapping it up," Bunting said last night, "and we're going on a weekend-only schedule [7 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays] for sea bass around wrecks."
Parsons is going to sea today to try wrecks for bottom dwellers, which will be his mode from now on.
As for the spring trophy rockfish season, it will open May 11 and continue through May 27, with anglers allowed one fish of at least 36 inches during the entire affair.