The early bird might get the worm, but Rich Parker gets nothing for his early catch of an 11 1/4 -pound bluefish on a small gold Crippled Alewive the other day off Love Point. That fish just might have won him the $15,000 top prize in the $25,000 Big Bucks III Bluefish/Sea Trout Fishing Tournament sponsored by the Rod & Reel Docks at Chesapeake Beach -- had he and the trophy blue waited until Saturday or Sunday.
Most bay blues go between 1 and 6 pounds, with an occasional one of 8 or 9 pounds. Parker's catch is the biggest I recall in the past three months.
Don't plan on a sea trout to take the big fish prize. Most of them run only a few pounds and seldom more than 6. But fishing is good, and everyone has a chance for that lonesome biggie.
As for Parker, at the time of the catch, he was thinking about signing up for the competition with a few friends, who now tTC complain he has already used up a season's good luck. For tournament info, call 1-800-233-2080.
* Today: Opening of Shantytown Village Sunfest Boat Show, West Ocean City, with about 100 boats, and other exhibits, free admission. Call 1-301-289-8121.
* Tonight: Dundalk Power Squadron Boating Course starts, 7:30 p.m., Dundalk High, 1901 Delvale Ave. Call 282-6464.
* Tomorrow: $10,000 Liberty Lake Bass Classic; $5,000 for largest bass; $2,000 for second, $1,500 for third, $1,000 for fourth and $500 for fifth. Trophies for some other catches. Boat fishermen entry fees are $100 for two, $25 for an additional angler. Shore fisherman entry fee is $45; $20 for anglers over 65, $10 for those 10 to 15, and free for those under 12.
Promoter Chuck Motsko, who with brother Jim initiated Ocean City's very successful and rich White Marlin Open, said the new freshwater contest is designed to allow the little man -- even if he doesn't have a boat -- to try tournament fishing at an affordable price.
"Liberty Reservoir is an ideal place; it has the fish, and it's open to everyone," said Motsko.
Late entries will be accepted through Sunday. Fishing hours tomorrow and Saturday are 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by the award of prizes. Cash winners will be given polygraph tests, and there will also be tests of prize-winning fish, said Motsko.
To sign up, go to Boat Ramp No. 1 off Old Liberty Road, and look for the big headquarters tent. For additional information, call Chuck Motsko evenings at 653-2765, or during the day at tournament time at 456-0992.
* Tomorrow: Start of four-session Canoeing Course, 7 to 9 p.m., Essex Community College. Course includes water safety, lure and solo tandem positions and strokes. Second classroom session is Sept. 27, same time; in-water instructions Saturday and again Sept. 28. Call Mrs. Broadwater, 522-1754.
* Saturday: Hunting & Fishing Flea Market, 8 a.m. until sold out, Bel Air American Legion, 500 Hickory Ave., Bel Air. Call Dave Chenoweth, 1-301-838-2603.
* Saturday/Sunday: Three trap shoots: Farewell To Summer shoot, traps open at 9 a.m. both days, Prince Georges Shooting Center, near NASA, and Sunfest Shoot, traps open at 9 a.m. both days, Synepuxent Trap Club, near Berlin; Easy 300 Shoot, traps also open at 9, Loch Raven Skeet and Trap Club. For all, call John Stevens, 679-4199.
* Oct. 9: Opening of the fall rockfish season in Maryland. Free permits now available in participating tackle shops, also at DNR Service Centers and on the first floor of DNR headquarters, the Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis. Buy bucktails early, and order live eels now. Remember last year, when they were tougher to get than a rock of legal size -- 18 to 36 inches?
Names and places...
* Putting the kibosh to rumors generated by cutbacks in Delmarva Canada goose shooting: No, Kennedyville outfitter Floyd Price is not giving up his goose shooting operation, the largest on the Eastern Shore; outfitter Art Ayers of Trappe is not moving entirely out of state, and M&M Hunting Lodge near Smyrna, Del., has not shut down.
Price has purchased a ranch in Montana and plans to accommodate big game hunters out there next year, but his Kennedyville goose, regulated duck and pheasant shooting, and fee fishing pond for hybrid rockfish and bass will continue under his supervision, he said yesterday. He is now trying to figure a way to get goose hunters to come for the first of the split season when only one goose a day will be allowed.
His free fishing offer and 10 free pen-reared mallard shooting plans tied in with goos'n didn't work well last year -- and this year hunters are scheduling hunts for Dec. 9 and thereafter when a two-bird limit is in effect. Call 1-301-5300.