To address declines in our striped bass population, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is considering a summer closure for striped bass, aka rockfish, in either July or August for recreational anglers in the Chesapeake Bay.

Erik Zlokovitz, of the DNR’s fisheries staff, sent out emails on Friday, to recreational fishing groups asking for their opinion on what anglers will likely do if faced with a summer closure. According to the email, the “main question is, would you continue to fish the Bay for other species during the closure (perch, bottom fish, catfish, snakehead, cobia, mackerel, etc.), or would you stop fishing entirely during the closure? In other words what percentage of the fleet would continue fishing and what percentage would stay home or travel elsewhere for recreation?”

The department is also hosting a public meeting, on Thursday, Jan. 9, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis, to take public comment on management proposals. The public comment period for the proposed spring regulations is open until Jan. 21.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has set a target to reduce the coast-wide removals of striped bass by 18% from 2017 levels. Maryland’s plans do not include any reduction in harvest by commercial exploiters. That likely won’t change because recreational anglers have historically not been capable of holding unethical government officials accountable for inequitable harvest reduction measures.

Under Maryland’s proposed options, recreational charter captains will be prohibited from catching an extra fish for themselves throughout the year. Options for the spring season include a delayed start of the season until May 1. Summer season closure options include the dates of July 6-31, July 11-31, or Aug. 17-31. A one-fish bag limit for private anglers with a two-fish limit for charters is an option May 16 through Dec. 10. An early closure, as early as Dec. 2, is an option for the winter season.

ASMFC will give final approval to Maryland’s spring fishery plans in February. At that point, the DNR will submit a separate package of proposed regulatory changes for the summer and winter seasons. Once the regulations are submitted, a public comment period on the proposed changes for those seasons will begin.

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Firearms for deer reopens Jan. 10

The winter portion of the firearm deer hunting season opens Jan. 10 in Deer Management Region B, which includes all of the state except the westernmost counties. Hunters with a valid hunting license may use firearms to harvest sika and white-tailed deer during the season.

The season is open Jan. 10-11 in all Region B counties. The season is also open Sunday, Jan. 12, on private lands only in Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Washington (Zone 1), and Worcester counties; shooting hours end at 10:30 a.m. in Kent and Montgomery counties.

Please consult the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for information on bag limits, regulations, and registration procedures.

During firearms season, Maryland requires deer hunters and their companions to wear daylight fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink in one of the following manners: a cap of solid fluorescent daylight orange or pink; a vest or jacket containing back and front panels of at least 250 square inches of fluorescent daylight orange or pink; or an outer garment of camouflage daylight fluorescent orange or pink worn above the waist and containing at least 50% daylight fluorescent color.

If you don’t think that’s necessary, Google “father daughter fatally shot South Carolina,” although what they were wearing has not been released.

You can still donate any extra deer you harvest to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry. A tax credit of up to $50 is available for each legally harvested deer that is processed and donated to a nonprofit food sharing program. The approved form to claim this credit is available online.

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Duck blind know-it-all

A group of geese flying close together is called a plump.

Follow me on Twitter @csknauss / email me at cknauss@stardem.com

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