Time to dry out, think about stripers


April 10, 2005|By CANDUS THOMSON

The long-range forecast shows just a few showers between now and Saturday, the opening of trophy striped bass season. The magical day itself is supposed to be partly cloudy, with just a 20 percent chance of liquid falling from the sky.

It's about time, don't you think?

Try not to look at the satellite imagery that shows brown-stained water from Harrisburg, Pa., to just below Kent Island. Stare straight ahead if you're crossing the Bay Bridge or the Tydings bridge across the Susquehanna River.

Do not listen to the folks who tell tales of lawn furniture and gas grills floating past Downs Park in Pasadena. (But do watch for those prop-bending, hull-bashing items if you venture from shore.)

The weather hasn't allowed for much spring training in preparation for the season, but there's still two ways to gather intelligence.

Go to the Pasadena Sportfishing Group tomorrow night to help celebrate that outfit's 14th anniversary. There's decades of fishing knowledge in one room, and lots of folks will be happy to share what they know while they eat birthday cake.

The meeting is at the Earleigh Heights Fire Station, Ritchie Highway and Earleigh Heights Road. The doors open at 6 p.m. for food and talk. The meeting starts at 7:30.

The other suggestion is to visit the best Web bulletin board for local fishing information: tidalfish.com. Among the participants are charter captains, guides and tackle shop owners. It's a feisty bunch - Lord knows, I've been filleted - but you can't beat the amount of up-to-date information.

Finally, if you and your fish need a place to brag on opening day, may I suggest the Boatyard Bar and Grill tournament?

In its fourth year, the tournament raises money for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Annapolis Police Department's Youth Fishing Camp.

Last year was a hoot, with more than 400 anglers filling the front yard of the Eastport establishment for the weigh-in. There's food, drink and a band.

In addition to the usual prizes for the three largest fish (the winner last year was a 43 1/2 -inch beast caught off Bloody Point), bar owner Dick Franyo hires an artist to paint the outline of the biggest fish along with the angler's name up on the rafters.

Entry fee is $150 per boat. Give Franyo a buzz at 410-336-8880.

Just remember to think like a fish, not drink like a fish, OK?

Deer dip

It seems the deer reduction plan for Garrett and Allegany counties worked a little too well. So now DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Service wants to scale back hunting opportunities to allow the deer population to grow a wee bit.

Less than a decade ago, the deer population in Western Maryland soared to an all-time high. Beginning with the 1997 season, wildlife managers imposed regulations that increased the number of antlerless deer hunters could shoot.

Hunters who at one time wouldn't dream of shooting anything but a buck, embraced the concept with such enthusiasm that the harvest numbers were exceeded the past two years.

As the deer population decreased in Western Maryland, so did the harvest totals. Garrett County, which had the fourth-highest total in the 2001-02 season, dipped to sixth this past season. Allegany, No. 3 in 2001-02, slipped to fifth. Baltimore and Montgomery counties have moved up to third and fourth place, respectively.

To put it another way, it took just one season for Allegany and Garrett to go from an increase in the antlerless take (31 percent in Allegany and 18 percent in Garrett) to a marked drop in antlerless harvest (down 35 percent in Allegany and 9 percent in Garrett) last season.

"We thought it would take longer, but the hunting community has recognized the value in taking antlerless deer to balance the population," said Paul Peditto, director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service. "It took us by surprise."

Biologists are recommending five revisions for the coming season that they expect will reduce the deer kill by 10 percent:

Change the bag limits for each season (bow, firearm and muzzleloader) from two deer - one antlered and one antlerless or two antlerless, to two deer - one antlered and one antlerless;

Cut the private and public land firearm season either-sex days from the last two days of the season to the last day;

Cut the private land, either-sex days in the two-week muzzleloader season from the last seven to the last three days;

Cut the number of public land either-sex days in the muzzleloader season from the last two days to the last day;

Eliminate the three-day, antlerless-only muzzleloader season on private lands.

Comments on the plan are being accepted through April 19. You can register your thoughts at the agency Web site, www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife, or by phone, 410-260-8540, or by fax, 410-260-8596.

Stamp of approval

Ruddy duck - sounds like one of those fad drinks, doesn't it?

"Bartender, I'd like a Dark and Stormy, a Sea Breeze and a Ruddy Duck."

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