Big month begins for sportsmen

OUTDOORS

September 03, 1995|By LONNY WEAVER

This is a huge month for Anne Arundel County anglers and hunters.

Friday saw the beginning of fall striped bass (rockfish) season and the most popular split of the traditional three-way split mourning dove season.

Then, we hardly get a breather before Tuesday's start of the only Canada goose season Maryland will see this year, followed Sept. 15 by the beginning of the bow hunting season.

And, on top of all of this action, September just happens to be one of the best months for Chesapeake Bay flounder, trout, spot, Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

Trollers have been catching good numbers of bluefish on small spoons or surgical hose with equally good numbers of Spanish )) mackerel mixed in with them throughout the middle Chesapeake Bay this past week.

Also, the flounder fishing off Taylor's Island and Poplar Island really broke loose in mid-week. Farther south, in the area of Point Lookout, the trout fishing has exploded with 16- to 18-inch fish common. They also are getting 10-pound class blues in the same area.

Throughout this fall rockfish season, most anglers will be drifting chumlines or casting to breaking schools chasing baitfish. With an 18-inch minimum-size limit, lots of rock will have to be safely released.

The key to releasing stripers safely is to get the fish out of the water (if necessary), into the boat and back into the water as quickly as possible and with very little human contact.

Keith Walters, author of the book on area striped bass fishing, "Chesapeake Stripers," has told me that the most important element of releasing "is, don't touch a striper. Leave it in the water if at all possible because touching the fish removes some of the slime coating that protects it from disease."

Walters says that if you most handle the fish, never hold it up by sticking your hand in its gills because the fish won't survive after it is back in the water.

Every fish biologist I've asked strongly recommends the use of a rubber landing net rather than the usual cord net.

The cord nets tend to injure the fish just by their natural abrasiveness, especially the eyes of the striper. The coarse net also removes the protective slime from the fish's body. The rubber net is smooth and a lot easier on the fish and will not foul up a treble hook lure.

Anglers may fish the entire Bay and its tributaries throughout this Sept. 1-Nov. 19 season, which brings up another problem overlooked by many anglers.

"Being basically a saltwater fish, the striped bass is badly stressed in freshwater," said Walters.

"When biologists transport wild fish to the hatchery, they add salt to the water in the tank truck to lessen stress. The Department of Natural Resources found that hook-and-release mortality in high-salinity Choptank River water near Oxford was nearly zero. But, in the upper Bay's Susquehanna River, which has little or no salinity, nearly 100 percent of the hooked-and-released stripers died.

By the way, an average 18- to 21-inch rockfish is about 4 years old and will weigh between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds.

I made my first dove hunt yesterday and will follow it with another tomorrow. The season continues through Oct. 21. The second and third portions are set for Nov. 18-24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 6.

Yesterday's hunt took place in a Carroll County cornfield, but tomorrow I'll be gunning a spot in southern Anne Arundel County.

The resident Canada goose season, which begins Tuesday and continues through Sept. 15 in the 14 counties west of the Chesapeake and portions of Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester, promises to be a memorable one.

We're up to our necks in resident geese from one end of the state to the next, but the problem will be getting at them near areas such as parks, golf courses and local ponds where they are causing big problems.

If you can get permission to hunt, you should have no problem bagging the three-bird daily limit.

To participate in the resident Canada goose hunt, you need a Maryland Waterfowl Stamp ($6) and federal duck stamp ($15) in addition to a resident Maryland Hunting License and free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit.

You do not need the two stamps to hunt mourning doves, but the HIP stamp is required.

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