Moratorium may prove best shot for Canada geese


August 15, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would continue the moratorium on Canada goose hunting this year throughout the Atlantic Flyway, while the Mississippi and Central flyway states can select up to 70-day seasons.

The reason the Atlantic Flyway is closed for Canada geese is that the migrant population in the east is dangerously low, and a ban on hunting is considered the best way to assist in repopulation.

And if tight restrictions on hunting are any indication of what might lie ahead for Maryland and the other 12 Atlantic Flyway states, then perhaps the recent past in the Mississippi Flyway offers a glimpse of our future.

More than a decade ago, the Mississippi Flyway was beset by rapidly diminishing populations of its migratory Canada geese. This year, a three-bag limit is possible.

According to USFWS reports, the Mississippi Valley population of Canada geese, which nest primarily on the western side of James Bay in Ontario, has been growing at a rate of about 7 percent per year for a decade.

While the Atlantic population fell from 955,000 in 1980-81 to 569,000 in 1992-1993, the Mississippi Valley population grew from a low of 251,000 in 1981-1982 to a high of about 1.2 million in 1989-1990.

According to William Harvey, head of Maryland's migratory bird program, the Atlantic Flyway population has benefited from the initiation of the hunting moratorium last season.

During a survey of the Quebec breeding grounds earlier this year, Harvey said, biologists noted a "substantial increase" in the number of pairs of birds.

That there are more pairs on the breeding grounds, Harvey said, probably means the moratorium "allowed more breeding pairs from last year to return to the breeding grounds and allowed more younger birds to reach breeding age."

So, perhaps the Atlantic Flyway population, too, will rebuild and in a few more years Canada goose hunting in Maryland again will be more than a September season for resident geese.

This year's dates for resident geese are Sept. 3-14 in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Harford, St. Mary's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, Worcester and portions of Prince George's, Howard and Baltimore counties east of I-95.

In counties west of I-95, season dates are Sept. 3-25.

Kent and Queen Anne's counties are closed.

The daily limit is five and the possession limit is 10.

Fishing updates

Upper Chesapeake Bay: Bluefish from 1 to 3 pounds, which have made an appearance from the Bay Bridge to Love Point over the past few weeks, seem to have been scattered by recent rains and cool temperatures. Love Point area is the best bet.

Middle Chesapeake Bay: Catch-and-release rockfish action may be the most reliable fishing, but it also is the time of year when high water temperatures cause high mortality as a result of hooking. Water temperatures are in the upper 70s. Good croaker fishing at James Island, False Channel, the Gooses, Buoys 12 and 12A in the Choptank and on the dropoffs at Black Walnut Point. Spot seem to be moving north in the saltier waters along the Eastern Shore, with reports of catches into Eastern Bay.

Lower Chesapeake Bay: Flounder, sea trout, croaker, spot, rockfish, bluefish and some spanish mackerel all are possibilities. Best locations for sea trout to 18 inches have been the Mud Leads, Kedges Straits, Hooper Island Straits, Cornfield Harbor and Tangier Sound. Spot and croaker are mixed with sea trout in many locations.

Susquehanna River: Crankbaits worked around islands and rocky outcrops have done well for smallmouth bass to 18 inches. Catfish to 12 pounds on chicken livers or clam baits.

Tidal Potomac River: For largemouth bass fishermen, best bets are Washington Channel off Fort McNair, gravel pits on Maryland side near Wilson Bridge, Pomonkey Creek, upper Mattawoman Creek and Chopawamsic Creek. Recent rains have the river murky, but it should clear by the weekend.

Freshwater rivers and reservoirs: Deep Creek Lake continues its run of excellent bluegill fishing, with earthworms fished in 4 to 6 feet of water around docks, piers and shoreline brush working well. . . . Liberty Reservoir, in the area near the Route 26 bridge, has good striped bass action on drifted shiners fished near rocky points. Good crappie fishing along shoreline structure and bridge pilings. . . . Jigs have been working well for bass at Prettyboy, where schools of white perch seem to be more concentrated. . . . Upper Potomac River was high again early this week. Water temperature at Williamsport was 73 degrees, but best smallmouth fishing has been in the Hancock area. . . . At Loch Raven, good bass fishing around weed beds between the power lines and Warren Road Bridge, Feather Island and Peerce's Cove. White perch suspended in main channel.

Ocean City: Inshore, the ratio of keeper flounder has been increasing, but overall numbers seem to be dropping. Good areas are off the commercial harbor and south behind Assateague Island. In the area of the Route 90 bridge, croaker and spot. The piers at the inlet have been turning up sea trout from 1 to 3 pounds, small bluefish and rockfish, while triggerfish and a few tautog are being caught from the jetties. Small rockfish and small sea trout in the surf. . . . Offshore, lots of bluefin tuna action, but anglers are limited to catch-and-release because the National Marine Fisheries Service has closed bluefin fishing from Delaware south.

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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