DNR ready to propose new rules

OUTDOORS

January 30, 1994|By LONNY WEAVER

The Department of Natural Resources is set to propose new striped bass (rockfish), flounder and crab regulations directly affecting Anne Arundel County anglers.

Formal hearing dates and regulations will be announced shortly, said DNR Assistant Secretary Jim Peck.

The proposed spring rockfish season will be May 1-31 and be limited to the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay below the northern span of the Bay Bridge and includes Tangier and Pocomoke sounds as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

As in past spring seasons, since the partial reopening of the rockfish fishery, live bait and gaffs will be prohibited.

New this spring will be a reduction in the minimum size of keeper rockfish to 34 inches. Recreational anglers will be allowed one 34-inch or larger rockfish per day but no more than three such fish for the 31-day season.

Recreational anglers will be required to purchase a $2 permit stamp. Instead of taking any fish you intend on keeping to an official checking station as in the past, successful anglers will be asked to call a toll-free number and report the details of their catch. The DNR will close the season early only if 5,000 "legal" rock are caught, said Tidewater Fisheries director Pete Jensen.

Charter-boat anglers will be allowed one 34-inch or bigger rock a day. If such an angler can afford more than three successful trips, the angler can keep more than the three rockfish mandated to recreational anglers.

The DNR also will revamp flounder regulations. The season will be May 1 through Sept. 30 for both bay and ocean. Minimum size will be 14 inches. Daily creel will be reduced from 10 to six per person per day.

Anne Arundel County probably has as many, if not more, recreational crabbers in the bay area as anywhere else. They will be required to purchase a Bay Fishing License to crab.

Recreational crabbers will be limited to crabbing the bay from sunrise to 5 p.m. It is, of course, generally felt by local crab fans that an hour or so before sunrise is an optimum time to collect a bushel from the Chesapeake. Also, if you work you can all but forget about getting in some crabbing to unwind from the rigors of earning a living. And a lot of local crabbers will tell you that some mighty fine crabbing takes place after 5 p.m.

If the DNR gets its way, anyone wanting to try to put a dozen or so crabs in the steamer will be limited to 10 traps or rings per person, see a limit of 25 traps per boat and put out not more than 2,000 feet of trotline per boat or 1,000 per person.

Under the proposals, county waterfront property owners will be limited to two crab pots for each waterfront property, and each pot must have one 2 5/16 inside diameter cull ring in the outside panel of the upper chamber.

Commercial crabbers are being hit with restrictions, too. But, as one lifelong crabber told me recently, "They aren't crying themselves to sleep over them."

Be assured, the little guy will be carrying the load on this one.

Said Peck: "I want to assure you that the blue crab is not in any trouble. But, we recognize the increased demand and we want to move now to protect this valuable resource and we feel this is the right path to use."

In other news from the DNR, 146 bald eagles and one golden eagle were observed during the annual survey conducted Jan. 7-9. The largest concentration was the 62 found at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, followed by Blackwater and the Susquehanna River.

Angler's flea market set

The Pasadena Sportfishing Group's second annual Fishing & Boating Flea Market is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 at the Orchard Beach Fire Department on Solley Road, just off Fort Smallwood Road.

There will be bay fishing seminars, loads of reasonably priced new and used tackle and boats. Admission is $1.

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