Bureaucrats Come Unglued As Rockfish Season Opens

OUTDOOR

May 10, 1991|By Capt.Bob Spore

"Hooray, hooray, the 11th of May, and outdoor sex begins that day!"

We used to sing it, "the first of May," but you get the idea. The trophy rockfish season begins at 5 a.m. tomorrow, the 11th of May, and not a minute sooner.

Bureaucrats are not the right folks to be controlling brush fires, and this rockfish situation is burning out of control.

Some of it is laughable, and some of it makes you want to cry. It is time to take the Department of Natural Resources out of the rockfish game. Thebureaucrats are panicking.

The problem is that no one can be heldaccountable. Management decisions are made by political appointees and then sent down to the professionals to implement.

For a while, I thought the professionals were going to win this one, but I should have known better.

This trophy fishery really has DNR management quaking. Some of us "good old boys," as some fourth-floor management types refer to outdoor scribes, have been bombarded with last-minute press releases to stress catch and release. This probably is due to some appointee promising the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission we would do so as a condition for opening the fishery.

Anyone inhis right mind realizes the chances of catching a rockfish 36 inchesor larger, beginning tomorrow and running through May 27th, are somewhere between slim and none.

Much of the spawning was early this year, and many of the big fish have spawned and left. I talked to one charter boat captain Wednesday who had fished every day for over a week and had caught only one rockfish that would have qualified as a keeper.

Overall, the number of large rockfish is down from last year. I think many have migrated to the ocean.

The average rockfish catch of captains this past week has been maybe two or three 20- to 24-inch stripers a day. Very few trophy striped bass will be caught during Maryland's 1991 Trophy Striped Bass Season because they have returned to the ocean.

To please my DNR handlers, let me reiterate the regulations for Maryland's Trophy Striped Bass Season. Season dates are May 11 to 27. Minimum size is 36 inches, and legal fishing hours are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Only artificial lures may be used, and should you accidentally catch a striped bass while chumming for bluefish or using "other

bait" not specified, you must return the fish unharmed to the water.

You may not use a gaff to land the striped bass, and each angler is permitted one fish for the entire season. Each angler must have a striped bass tag, which is available at the DNR and many tackle shops.

I will refrain from asking you to cut or grind the barbs 33X off your hooks. Instead, I will ask that you release and return the undersized rockfish as gently as possible. Most of what you catch will be undersized, so you should get some experience.

I also would like to suggest a de-hooker, which facilitates getting thehook out of the fish as quickly as possible.

If you have any questions concerning Maryland's 1991 Trophy Striped Bass Season, contact Frances Macfaden at 974-3365.

As for a last-minute fishing report,I fished Wednesday -- the day this report is written. My first (and only) bluefish was a 12-pounder caught on a white 11/0 Crippled Alewive, and I took an approximately 20-inch striped bass on a white 9/0 Crippled Alewive.

I fished approximately four hours and also used Cather and Huntington Drone lures. The area fished was between the BayBridge and Bloody Point. The majority of fish caught in the area were medium-size striped bass. I know of one other bluefish caught in the area.

I wouldn't get too hyper over the trophy season. Go out and enjoy yourself. If you get a legal-size fish and really want it, keep it!

But if you don't really want it, take a quick picture and send it on its way. If you want a mount, then measure it, photograph it and send it on its way.

Almost all mounts are fiberglass, and you don't need a dead fish to put something on the wall.

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.

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