Anglers will need to get rockfish permits as fishing gets help from scientific group


September 11, 1992|By Capt. Bob Spore

Late rockfish flash: Recreational anglers WILL need a striped bass permit for the 1992 fall season. The permit is free and will be available at bait and tackle shops.

By issuing permits, the state can determine how many people fish for rockfish and establish the recreational striped bass harvest.

The estimates on the number of people who fish the bay vary greatly. I've seen numbers ranging from 100,000 to over 900,000. Most numbers are either inflated or deflated to fit people's arguments. For example, a representative of anglers would use a larger number when lobbying a politician to impress him or her.

Requiring an angler to apply for a free permit before he or she goes rockfishing gives you a much better count. There will always be a few who forget to get a permit and are lucky enough to not be checked by the Department of Natural Resources police, but the number will still beat anything being used now.

Once you have a fairly accurate number of fishermen, the next thing to figure out is how many fish they catch.

The DNR has hired KCA, Inc., a company that does scientific surveys for federal and state agencies to survey the striped bass anglers. They will interview anglers exiting the bay at locations like Sandy Point State Park and to determine the number of fish caught per fishing trip. They will then telephone a number of the permit holders to see if they went fishing that day.

Put both numbers in a computer, stir gently and it will come up with the theoretical number of fish caught per day. Charter boat operators report how many fish were caught on their boats each week.

To me, the number of fish caught by recreational anglers looks a little shaky, but the biologists think it is fairly close. The charter boat data, unless someone lies, is accurate. Sounds too good? It is. You forgot projections.

If you project the season's length based on the catch of the first few days, you will have a short season.

During the first few days of the season, a multitude of anglers are catching unwary fish. As the season goes on, the number of fishermen becomes fewer, and the fish harder to catch.

Also, the weather has a bearing. Late October and November have some nasty days. Nasty days usually produce few fish, if any. In both 1990 and 1991 the charter season was closed prematurely because of faulty projections. DNR representatives have assured the charter boat industry that 1992 will be different.

Don't forget, go get your permit.

I'm certain you will all rest more comfortably to know that the Coast Guard has successfully removed osprey nests from the day markers and navigational aids in the Magothy River and supposedly other Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

Sunday, I noted one osprey sitting alone where once he and his mate raised their small family. He was broken-hearted and could only lift one wing to wave as we went by.

The fearless Coasties could have waited a month until most of the ospreys have flown south, but there is no glory in defeating a departed foe. I'll bet they made the families watch as they destroyed their nests.

Want a budget suggestion? Do away with the Boating Administration of the Department of Natural Resources.

Rumor has it the Boating Administration is pushing the same foolishness for Bodkin Creek as they did in the Magothy: six knots, at all time at the entrance.

You may be operating the only boat on the Magothy River some Tuesday morning at 7 o'clock, but you must slow down to six knots because the Boating Administration has decided that the mouth of the river may become congested at any time.

This is an example of Boating Administration thinking. There is no logic, only bureaucracy. Dismantling, not down-sizing the Boating Administration would go along way to balancing Maryland's budget. And you know what? We won't miss it at all. Not at all!

Fishing has been very good. I am having a hard time finding flounder above the Bay Bridge. However, if you are willing to run to Poplar Island Flats or the Stone Rock you can find fair to excellent catches.

Bluefish have been allusive as late, only spending part time feeding on the surface. The usual early fall haunts -- Swan Point, the mouth of the Chester River and Love Point -- are doing well, but if you are looking to chase birds, you may be disappointed.

By the way, fresh flounder on the grill with a bit of tarragon, lemon and butter is a feast fit for a king.

Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.

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