Mackerel run is big disappointment
The head boats in Ocean City had their act together early this year, with Capt. John Bunting and the Miss Ocean City ready for mackerel trips out of the Ocean City Fishing Center late in February.
But the mackerel, a tasty little fish that migrates northward along the coast, has yet to come close inshore. And the bet at this point is that there will not be much mackerel fishing in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland waters this spring.
"It's terrible. I don't even want to talk about it," said the fishing center's Charles Nichols, who has the O. C. Princess and the Miss Ocean City available for daily trips but little to fish for.
"The mackerel run? I have talked to people from Virginia Beach up to Lewes [Del.] and then to Cape May [N.J.] and there has been just nothing to it anywhere," he said.
Nichols, John Bunting and his father, Capt. Jack Bunting, have decades of experience with the mackerel runs between them.
"Even Captain Jack said he has never seen anything like this year," Nichols said. "And we can't pin it on anything except maybe the weather."
The spring has been wet, windy and cold, which may have kept most of the mackerel farther offshore than usual and kept those few small groups inshore off their feed.
"Our guys have been marking them [on the depth finders]," Nichols said. "But they just have not been biting.
'Some of the long-liners [commercial fishermen] have been taking them farther out, although they have not encountered great numbers. But we can't run with 50 people aboard out 80 miles."
In a normal spring, the mackerel run would have ended in another week or so.
"Maybe they will just show up late," Nichols said. "That's what we have been hoping anyway."
The boats have been going out on weekends and catching spiny dogfish and tautog in addition to a small number of mackerel. But better fishing might not come along until the sea bass get in sometime in the next few weeks."
Cruise over to boat show
Until a few years ago, the fall powerboat and sailboat shows in Annapolis were the best time to inspect and buy a boat for racing and cruising. The Annapolis Spring Boat Show and the weak economy have changed that.
From Thursday through Sunday at the Annapolis Yacht Basin, the spring show sponsored by the Marine Trades Association of Maryland and the Yacht Architects and Brokers Association offers an opportunity to inspect and purchase new or used boats ranging from racing dinghies to cruising sloops and motor yachts.
All used boats on display on land and at 100 dockside slips will be listed by yacht brokers, who can provide a listing of boats not at the show as well as information on financing.
New boats on display will include the Bertram 28, C-Hawk 23 and 25, Boston Whaler 14 and new models from Correct Craft, Chapparal, Larson, Maxxum, Renken, Bayliner, Beneteau, Gemini, Catalina, Tartan and PDQ.
Marine equipment, accessories and services also will be on display in shoreside tents.
Show hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.
Pa. stream guides available
Almost 30 years ago, Dr. Howard Higbee completed a map detailing 45,000 miles of Pennsylvania streams -- and then the original drawing and the printing plates, which included details of 10,000 miles of potential trout waters, were lost.
Now, with the aid of modern printing methods, Vivid Publishing Inc. of Williamsport, Pa., has brought the Stream Map of Pennsylvania back.
The publishing company also has produced a cross-reference booklet, the Stream Map Location Guide, that lists and locates more than 900 trout streams, 300 lakes, dams, reservoirs and ponds and bass and trophy fish waters.
The map and guide are available for $199.95 on 80-pound paper or $39.95 for a laminated version. Write Vivid Publishing Inc., 347 Rural Ave., Williamsport, Pa. 17701 or call 1-800-STREAMS.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit Pennsylvania's Trout Unlimited stream conservation program.
Reef plans being shifted
The Department of Natural Resources is reworking plans for 500 acres of fishing reefs to be placed at the mouth of the Patapsco River off Bodkin Point. The Maryland Port Authority wants the location changed to keep the reef and fishermen away from the shipping lanes leading into the Patapsco and Baltimore harbor.
Tuna tournament on tap
The Ocean City Tuna Tournament will run July 15-18 with a $50,000 prize for the angler who can break the International Game Fish Association all-tackle record for bigeye tuna. The record of 375 pounds was set by Cecil Browne of Maryland off Ocean City in 1977.
Questions about rockfish
Rockfish are making a comeback in the Delaware River, but state officials are concerned that stripers caught in the river or Delaware Bay are tainted with toxic chemicals and may be unsafe for human consumption. Delaware officials hope to have determined the level of contamination by the end of the month.