Gunpowder Falls trout are raising questions Thriving fishery is subject of new tagging study

November 15, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The Gunpowder Falls trout project started in the 1980s by Trout Unlimited, Baltimore City and the Department of Natural Resources has produced a trout fishery that may be unequaled in the state.

Fisheries managers now want to know how to improve it and are asking anglers to help them through a tagging study of brown trout.

Annual surveys of the tailwater below the Prettyboy Reservoir dam have documented a naturally sustaining trout population in Gunpowder Falls, where once only stocked trout existed. But questions about specific life parameters remain.

A tagging study initiated this year in the Masemore, York and Bluemont areas of the river hopes to get the answers to the following questions:

What is the maximum size obtained by Gunpowder Falls brown trout, and at what age does it occur?

How long do these trout live?

What are the growth rates of these trout?

What are the mortality rates (natural and fishing) in the catch-and-return and limited-harvest areas?

Do these fish undergo extensive yearly, seasonal of life-long migrations?

Anglers along Gunpowder Falls are asked to look for and report tagged fish caught. (Numbered and color-coded tags were inserted behind the eye on the left hand side.)

Participating anglers should note tag color, number code, location caught, date caught and whether the fish was kept or released.

To report tag observations, contact Fisheries Service biologists Charlie Gougeon at 410-442-2080 or Jim Markum at 410-260-8287.

Too many geese

In Maryland and other Atlantic Flyway states, there is a moratorium on hunting migratory Canada geese. But 18 Midwestern or southern states have so many geese -- specifically lesser snows and Ross' geese -- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to drastically change hunting regulations for these birds.

Under the USFWS proposal hunters in the mid-continent states could use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls to hunt these "light geese" between Sept. 1 and March 10 as long as no other migratory bird season is open at the same time.

Also, USFWS proposes to issue a conservation order that would allow state wildlife agencies to open hunting for light geese between March 10 and Aug. 31, when all migratory bird hunting seasons are closed.

According to USFWS, the unusual management strategies are necessary because the mid-continent population of light geese has expanded from 800,000 in the 1960s to more than 3 million. USFWS biologists estimate the actual population of light geese may be as high as 10 million birds.

The great numbers of light geese, USFWS says, are severely damaging the Arctic nesting areas they share with many other species, and the numbers of light geese must be reduced to protect that habitat.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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