This weekend ...
* How much longer will the rockfishing last? We should get the word late today or tomorrow. Word is the charter fishery is close to its quota of 161,206 pounds, and the recreational fishery is due to close as originally scheduled Saturday at 8 p.m., with a provision to reopen if the quota of 456,747 pounds is not reached.
The Department of Natural Resources has been burning the midnight oil to keep abreast of catches, and it is apparent the charter season won't make it through its scheduled Nov. 9 close (see Question Box).
Rock have been obliging for both charter and recreational boats, and with the exception of a day or two the weather has been good -- and is expected to remain so through the remainder of the week.
Recreational fishermen who have not "spent" their two permits yet might consider drifting eels, jigging or trolling medium to large white or yellow bucktails to which are added long thin strips of white or yellow pork rind or soft plastics.
Twister tails are a good bet, but seasoned skippers have found the new Solomons soft plastic tail is even better. This add-on has no curve; instead is a long thin strip split almost to its front. In
appearance, it looks like it would have the action of a stick, but those who use it swear by it.
This plastic has no name, it evolved in Solomons for the spring season, and worked well on huge fish. The greenish-yellow seems to be best. Many tackle shops have sold out, but a look-alike, the Got Cha by Sea Striker, is also available (Sportsmen's Service Center, Grasonville); get the longer ones of about 8 inches.
In casting, Rat-L-Traps, Atom Poppers and bucktails should do well on breaking fish. In trolling, pay out lots of line on a heavy sinker rig. And, in most places, troll 30 to 60 feet depths. The lure need not work right off the bottom.
Where to try:
* Upper Bay: Bay Bridge and Love Point, of course; also Belvedere Shoals, Snake Reef, Pooles Island, Turkey Point, a drop off near the Dumping Grounds, the Kent Island Shore from Matapeake south and the Patapsco near Fort Smallwood.
* Mid-Bay: The Tilghman Island area near at the mouth of the Choptank, Bloody Point, Eastern Bay, Clay Banks, Winter Gooses, James Island and Thomas Point.
* Lower Bay: Cedar Point at the mouth of the Patuxent, the mouth of the Potomac, off there, and up the river with many in the Washington area, Tangier Sound near Crisfield, and the Honga River above Tangier Sound.
Names and places ...
* From Wynne in St. Marys County, Capt. Bruce Scheible reports rockfishing is good in the Potomac, and will remain under way for charters through Nov. 11, with a limit of two a day. Potomac fishing is regulated by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, independent of Maryland. The recreational season closes Sunday, but has a Nov. 8-20 encore with a limit of one a day. Scheible is able to fish the bay under the Maryland regs, and the river under PRFC regs, but his parties are limited to two rock a day in possession. Call 1-301-872-5182.
* This time of year, you can distinguish a buck from a doe by its antlers, right? Wrong! Ask Dan Wilhelm of Manchester, who journeyed to Eastern Neck Island National Wildlife Refuge near Rock Hall for the muzzleloader shoot. He thought he shot a 6-point buck in the neck at 25 yards with his 45 caliber round ball, but closer examination revealed it was a doe. A doe with horns, which is rare but occurs among whitetails with hormone mix-ups.
* Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Ark., took 18 pounds, 2 ounces of bass to win $87,912 in the $481,575 BASS Master BP MegaBucks Tournament at Lake Chickamauga in Chattanooga, Tenn., edging, by 12 ounces, Rick Clunn, who won $67,828. Classic winner Ken Cook was third. Frank Ippoliti of Mount Airy won $3,342 for 30th place. Woo Daves, Randy Romig and Roland Martin didn't make the cut -- only the top 50 fished the finale.
Question box ...
* Baltimorean Walker Judge is curious whether recreational fishermen will be able to fish for rock on charterboats if the charter season is closed because it has reached its quota, but the recreational season is reopened because it hasn't reached its quota.
Our answer: That's opening Pandora's box. There are many ways to look at this; the answer is so elusive DNR is checking it out, but tends to consider it a no-no.
If closed soon, as expected, the charter season will have its quota, but if the recreational season is reopened the permit system now in effect will be dropped -- and recreational fishermen will be on a basis of two fish a day (same as charter-boaters now enjoy, not the two a season as currently in effect on private boats) until the quota is reached.
In planning the season, DNR and the Striped Bass Advisory Board, kept the two fisheries separate. One could not involve the other. Charterboats were not to profit from the recreational fishery. Period.