Don't plan on the anticipated liberalized Maryland trophy rockfish season next spring. The Technical Committee of Atlantic States Marine Fisheries has voted down the proposal of the Department of Natural Resources to lower the 36-inch minimum length in effect last spring to 32 inches.
Anger was evident everywhere last night when the Striped Bass Advisory Committee was notified of the move, but ASMF approval is necessary. The rejection came as a surprise in that last May only 326 rock met the 36-inch minimum -- and they totaled only 6,000 pounds -- while New Jersey's spring season claimed 700,000 pounds; Massachusetts, 500,000 pounds. The DNR is figuring its options but still plans a trophy season of some sort -- probably a May 1 opener, 11 days earlier than last year to give sportsfishermen a chance at larger fish before they leave the Chesapeake.
Last spring many fish fell a few inches short of the minimum, and would have been legal under the proposed guidelines for next spring. DNR's fisheries chief Paul Massicot said the Technical Committee is playing things conservative, and opposes any liberalization of regulations. Striped Bass Committee members complained Maryland is being penalized for starting out conservative.