Poor weather conditions limit number of striped bass pulled from bay

After suspending gill net season due to poaching, state's watermen fall 120,802 pounds short of reaching quota

March 01, 2011|By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun

Hampered by bad weather, Maryland watermen were able to catch just 82,567 pounds of striped bass during the two-day commercial gill net season that ended Monday.

That total leaves a surplus of 120,802 pounds, which will be rolled over to the December season or used to cover any additional poaching discovered by Natural Resources Police.

The season closed on Feb. 4 after officers found illegal nets containing 10 tons of striped bass in the waters off Kent Island and state officials acknowledged they could not ensure that the February quota would not be exceeded. Officers confiscated an additional 2.6 tons of fish in subsequent days.

But last week, the Department of Natural Resources agreed to reopen the season for two days — Friday and Monday — when it became clear that watermen likely would not net the remaining 200,000 pounds in the quota.

Facing high winds and dangerous waves, few watermen went out last Friday. Those who did brave conditions netted 32,346 pounds of striped bass — about half of the daily catch in early February. Before a powerful cold front created similar conditions Monday, watermen were able to improve their catch to about 50,221 pounds. One check station hasn't reported yet.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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