April 19 start to rockfish season likely

Easter conflict spurs emergency proposal

Outdoors

March 06, 2003|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Anglers facing a conflict between going fishing on the first day of trophy rockfish season and celebrating Easter will most likely be able to do both.

Department of Natural Resources secretary C. Ronald Franks plans to submit an emergency regulation to move the opener one day to April 19 from April 20.

The emergency regulation will be reviewed by the General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review. If lawmakers do not object or request a hearing, the starting date can be quickly approved, said Eric Schwaab, director of the fisheries service.

The likely change was applauded by charter boat captains up and down the Chesapeake Bay.

"That's one more day of fishing for our customers and a day of income for us," said Jim Brincefield, captain of the Jil Carrie out of Deale.

Said Sonney Forrest, captain of Fin Finder out of Solomons Island, "I'm a God-fearing man myself, and I appreciate the opportunity to go to church with my family."

In 2001, state fisheries managers decided to set a permanent starting date - April 20 - so that recreational anglers and charter boat captains could book trips. Previously, the date was fluid and subject to last-minute legislative approval.

The permanent date worked fine last year, when Easter fell on March 31.

"Then, lo and behold, the second year, Easter pops up," Schwaab said.

Charter captains and members of the clergy both voiced concerns over losing business, or worshippers, and creating family friction.

"Who the heck wants to start on Easter Sunday? It's just asking for trouble," said Capt. Bruno Vasta, who also is president of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association.

DNR is looking for ways to avoid future scheduling conflicts, Schwaab said.

One proposal, backed by the sportfishermen's association, would establish the third Saturday in April as opening day.

NOTE: The Baltimore chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association is having a daylong fishing seminar Saturday as a prelude to the start of the catch-and-release season on Susquehanna Flats.

The season runs from March 15 through May 3.

Workshops on tackle and tactics will be led by Capts. Norman Bartlett, Brady Bounds, Skip Slomski and Gary Neitzey. The program will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Heritage Gardens Community Center, 7631 Harford Road. The cost is $15.

For more information, call 410-280-8770 or e-mail info@ccamd.org.

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