Re: Marylands Trophy Season April 21
C. Boyd Pfeiffer
BALTIMORE - It is not quite chiseled in concrete, but the regulations for Chesapeake Bay spring trophy striper season were set late Thursday morning at one fish per angler per day, between 28 and 35 inches — or one fish 41 inches or over.
The concrete-chiseling part comes when Department of Natural Resources fisheries service director Howard King sends the proposal for final approval to the legislature’s Administrative Executive Legislative Review Committee. Only then will it be final, but the chances of it being nixed now are along the lines of catching a world-record striper on a trout-weight fly rod. It ain’t happening.
There are a couple more biggies in the regulations. The season starts on April 21, not April 15 as listed in the Maryland 2007 Fishing Guide that you are looking at right now and got with your license. That’s a cut-back of one week — less time, by about 25 percent, to get the big fish of the year, maybe. Let your buddies know about this opener change before a Natural Resources Police officer does it for you.
The other important part is the modified slot limit that stipulates the catch at one fish per angler per day. The big “OR” in the equation is not two fish, but one fish between 28 and 35 inches, OR one fish over 41 inches. The reason, according to King, is to protect the huge 1996 year class of stripers, which are fueling the Chesapeake striper fishing.
According to King, most of those 1996 stripers are 37-39 inches. The 28- to 35-inch slot, or one fish over 41 inches, allows wiggle room to protect these fish, including the big guys who ate their Wheaties or the runts of the litter.
The change is a big one from last year, designed to keep catches within the 30,000 allotment allowed by the striper-governing Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, to whom King must answer. Last year, we had a limit of one fish over 33 inches; in 2005, a limit of one fish over 28 inches. Last year, we were only allowed to catch 41,000 fish, but caught 66,000. Uh-oh.
On May 16 through May 31, the regulations will change to two rockfish per day, 18-28 inches, or one striper in that slot range and one over 28 inches.
Fishing is allowed downstream of a line from the south corner of Hart-Miller Island Dike to Route 21 at Tolchester, excluding bays, creeks, sounds, tributaries and rivers.
On June 1 through Dec. 15, the catch limit is the same (two from 18-28 inches, or one that size and one over 28 inches) throughout the whole bay.
Just watch that April 21 opener and no culling of dead fish in the 28- to 35-inch range just to catch a 41-plus striper.