Rain keeps check on fall turkey harvest

ON THE OUTDOORS

November 20, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The recently concluded fall season for wild turkey produced better hunting than last year but, as expected, fell short of record levels, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

"There was some heavy rain during the season," said Steven L. Bittner, DNR's Forest Game Project Manager. "And it rained pretty hard on the last day of the season, which may have had an impact on hunter success."

Bittner said a preliminary count from check-in stations in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties showed hunters bagged 359 birds, 10 more than last year. Only Garrett County (169) appears to have been up since last year.

The state east of I-81 in Washington County is closed during the fall turkey season.

"The season was pretty much in line with what I expected it to be," Bittner said. "Our breeding survey showed recruitment [of young birds] this year was not so good and about similar to last year's."

Freshwater changes

The Department of Natural Resources has implemented several new regulations for a handful of trout and bass areas in the state. These regulations took effect Nov. 17, rather than Jan. 1, 1998, as originally scheduled.

Howard's Pond in Cecil County has been added to the put-and-take trout areas. The creel limit is five per day, and there will be no closure period in 1998.

Sections of the North Branch of the Potomac River, Casselman River and Town Creek are delayed harvest trout areas, with two fish per day allowed from June 16 through Sept. 30, without bait restrictions. Through the rest of the year, only artificial lures can be used and fish caught must be released.

The Patapsco River, from I-70 downstream to Route 144, has been made a catch-and-return area for largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Clopper Lake in Montgomery County now has a 12-inch minimum size for largemouth bass.

Fishing updates

For anglers after rockfish as the season winds through its last weeks, trolling deeper waters is the best bet, although stripers aren't always found close to the bottom.

As bay waters cool, rockfish will be changing locations in the water column looking for the most beneficial temperature ranges.

In the upper bay, the edges of Brewerton, Craighill and Tolchester channels are good bets, as are the deeper edges in the Patapsco and Chester rivers. In the Patapsco, don't pass up the Fort McHenry area or the docks and pilings of the Inner Harbor.

Bottom bouncing is the best bet along the channel edges, but casting plugs or bucktails will work better around piers and pilings.

Another good area is Kent Narrows on the Eastern Shore, where the shallows are turning up decent rockfish for fly-casters as well as those fishing small bucktails, plastic shads and plugs.

Chumming is on the wane in the middle bay, although The Diamonds still turns up fish over the 18-inch minimum, along with the mouth of the West River, the Hill and the Stone Rock.

The best trolling has been in waters 50 feet or deeper, with the gas docks and the mouth of Eastern Bay good choices, along with the edges of the main bay channel from West River to Parker's Creek.

Large schools of rockfish breaking in many areas during the day are mostly sub-legal size and built from the 1996 class, but beneath them often can be found schools of sea trout.

The lower bay is one area that still works reasonably well for chummers, especially along the edge below Buoy 72. Trolling, however, is the better method for larger fish.

Umbrella rigs, bucktails and parachutes are the best rigs and waters 70 to 100 feet deep in the mainstem of the bay and the mouth of the Potomac are the best areas. Catches range from 22 to 34 inches, with occasional rockfish over 40 inches.

Sea trout are still numerous in the lower bay, depths of 25 to 65 feet along the main channel favored.

Still good striper catches can be found along the shorelines of Tangier Sound in the evenings.

At Ocean City, live-lined eels at the south jetty have been working best for oceanside rockfish, as well as the Route 50 bridge. Occasional bluefish catches can be had in the evenings. Sea trout, bluefish and some stripers to 30 inches can be taken in the surf.

Offshore, sea bass and tautog are available for wreck fishermen and migrating rockfish can be found moving through the sloughs off Ocean City and Assateague.

In fresh water, the spawn continues in the lower Gunpowder, with upstream sections at normal levels and water temperatures in the lower 50s. Gold-ribbed hare's ears, March Browns, woolly buggers and egg patterns should work well.

Stone flies and terrestrials are good bets at Hunting Creek, and nymphs, streamers, woolly buggers and clousers are good choices for Morgan Run.

At Liberty Reservoir, striper catches continue to be good, with several between nine and 18 pounds and one 26-pounder checked in over the weekend.

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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