Potomac appears unhurt by spill Fish, wildlife escape with little damage

April 11, 1993|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

The Potomac River, to this point, seems to have escaped the recent diesel-fuel spill on Sugarland Run with minimal damage to its fish and wildlife, according to Ken Penrod, a bass guide and conservation chairman for the Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation.

Penrod, who spends virtually every day between late March anNovember on the Potomac guiding bass fishing parties or

participating in volunteer work with state and federal fisheries groups, said that by Thursday there was little remaining evidence of the spill below Little Falls near Washington.

"Now, that doesn't mean that there won't be some after-effects," Penrod said. "Not even the biologists are sure that something might not happen over the next couple of weeks."

There are several reasons for the minimal initial damage. The primary one is the diesel was light and stayed atop the water, where a couple of days of sunshine this week evaporated much of it.

Cool weather and high water also worked to lessen damage.

The white perch run is later than usual so it's not expected to be affected.

Bottom-feeding fish probably will be unaffected except near thshorelines, where tidal action carries the diesel up the high-water mark. It is possible that there will be some leeching back into the water, but water levels may have been high enough at the time of the spill that much of the contaminated areas will remain above the high-water line.

The underwater grasses that form the river's best summer bass habitat have not really started to grow heavily so they are likely to be unaffected.

At midweek, Penrod said, the river seemed in good enough shape to again start taking out parties.

However, it probably will be best to refrain from using livewells to hold catches for a few more weeks. Livewells draw surface water, which still may be toxic.

BASS on hold

The spill on the Potomac caused the postponement of the Maryland BASS Federation's top tournament and major fund-raiser. In fact, virtually every bass tournament scheduled from Maryland and Virginia launches during the critical period of the spill were canceled or postponed.

Fishy studies

The Southern Maryland Chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association has agreed to help fund an aquaculture class at Chopticon High School. The students, who have been working with Tilapia, an African fish, will also receive a donation of striped bass from the Department of Natural Resources.

The stripers will be studied and then released by the end of May.

Public meeting

DNR's Freshwater Fisheries Division, in cooperation with Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, will hold a public information meeting Saturday to discuss a draft management plan for Big Hunting Creek in Frederick County.

Interested parties are encouraged to attend and participate. The meeting will be held at the American Legion Hall in Thurmont, from 1-3 p.m.

Record bear

A 701-pound black bear taken last year by Keith A. Boyer of Berks County, Pa., is the second largest ever taken in that state, according to Boone & Crockett guidelines.

Boyer's bear, killed in Carbon County on opening day of the 1992 season, had an estimated live weight of 827 pounds.

The bear's skull measured 22 10/16th inches, 1/16th off the record set by Chad Reed of Lititz in 1991.

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials say that, includinBoyer's bear, three of the top five black bears in the world listed by Boone & Crockett were taken in Pennsylvania.

Miles feted

On Thursday evening, the Maritime Square Club will present the Bell Award to Jon Miles, Master of the Pride of Baltimore II for distinguished service to the Inner Harbor, Baltimore and the state.

The presentation will take place during a dinner-dance and show cruise on the Spirit of Baltimore after a dockside tour of the Pride.

Tickets for the tour and cruise are $50. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the old Maryland Drydock site next to the Rusty Scupper on Key Highway.

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