When dove season opens next month, hunters no longer will be allowed to shoot over fields where small grains have been top-sown or broadcast on top of the soil and are readily available to feeding doves.
Additionally, doves may not be hunted in any area that has been seeded by broadcasting unless the seed has germinated, been plowed under or removed.
Hunting will be permitted over fields where small grains have been top-sown or broadcast only 10 days after the complete removal or germination of all grain or other feed.
The Department of Natural Resources announced the changes in regulations last week. The changes are expected to "reduce the long-standing confusion that has surrounded this practice of top-sowing grain."
In the past, hunters have been allowed to hunt doves where small grains, primarily wheat, have been top-sown. However, inconsistent interpretation in planting dates, rates of seed application and frequency of planting caused confusion among hunters and conservation law enforcement officers.
It is illegal to hunt migratory game birds with the aid of baiting -- placing feed or salt, for example, to lure birds. But doves can be hunted in areas where seed-producing plants such as sunflower, wheat, foxtail and corn are mowed or knocked down to attract doves.
What's with chumming?
This year, unlike the previous four years, chumming for rockfish has been inconsistent, and one of the reasons might be the large numbers of menhaden in Maryland waters of Chesapeake.
According to the DNR, pound net fishermen from Hoopers Island to Kent Island report large numbers of menhaden in their nets, and netters north of the Bay Bridge also are finding greater numbers of menhaden than usual.
Charter and private boats also have been reporting large concentrations of bait fish on their fish finders.
"With an increased amount of menhaden in bay waters this year, it could well be that stripers [rockfish] need not concentrate in specific areas and have spread out with their forage," said Fisheries Service biologist Martin L. Gary, who tracks commercial and recreational catches.
When chumming, bait fish are ground into a thick soup and ladled over the side to create a slick of flesh and fish oils that draws fish to feed. Once fish are in the chum line, anglers bait up and drift their hooks down current to the feeding fish.
Hitting the spot
Over the past few years, sea trout and croaker have been in Maryland waters in increasing numbers, and this year spot appear to be numerous, as well. The DNR points to tighter regulations on commercial fishing off the Carolinas as a possible reason for the recovery.
Spot winter off the Carolinas, where the shrimp trawl fishery apparently had been doing much damage to finfish.
Currently, many locations in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast are reporting strong numbers of spot up to 12 inches in length.
Some of the best current fishing for jumbo spot is the mouth of the Choptank River.
Public waterfowl meetings
The DNR will announce and discuss proposed regulations for the 1999-2000 waterfowl hunting seasons on Aug. 23 at Easton High School in Talbot County.
The meeting is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
The proposed regulations will be announced by the DNR on Aug. 6 and will be based on frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The high school is on the west side of Route 50 in Easton.
The Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation won five national awards from the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society for conservation, community service/public relations, publication, youth program and youth chapter of the year.
"These awards represent a lot of hard work from countless volunteers who care a great deal about the sport of bass fishing," said MBF president Butch Ward of Clear Spring. "We are proud of our achievements, especially when you know you're helping out kids and the environment."