It’s turkey time again in Maryland with the winter season that runs from Jan. 23-25 for hunters who did not harvest one during the 2019 fall season.
Hunting hours will run from one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset. The bag limit is one turkey of either sex.
“Wild turkey populations are at an all-time high in much of Maryland,” said Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto in a press release. “The winter season provides a fantastic opportunity to get outdoors after other popular hunting seasons are winding down.”
During the winter season, turkeys can be taken with shotguns loaded with No. 4 shot or smaller as well as crossbows, vertical bows, or airguns that shoot arrows or bolts.
Remember that it is illegal to hunt turkeys with the aid of bait, regardless of whether you put the bait there or not.
Hunters are required to check in their harvest via phone at 888-800-0121, online, or via the department’s mobile app.
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Jeff Rosenkilde, 33, of Monkton, caught a state record 22.1-pound big-scale pomfret on Dec. 28 in the Atlantic Ocean canyons off the coast of the Delmarva Peninsula.
Rosenkilde and four friends were deep-drop fishing for swordfish and tuna out of Ocean City, about 75 miles offshore, when he knew something had taken his whole squid bait nearly 1,000 feet below the surface. It took approximately 15 to 20 minutes to reel the fish in.
“At first I thought it was big-eyed tuna, but it had a purple, iridescent color,” he said.
Rosenkilde’s crewmates knew the species and knew it was exceptionally large. A department biologist verified the species as a big-scale pomfret — Taractichthys longipinnis. Its weight was certified by Hunter’s Crab and Seafood Market in Grasonville.
The big-scale pomfret is commonly found in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, but occasionally moves northward.
Rosenkilde’s catch could qualify for an all-tackle world record by the International Game Fish Association. The current world record is 20.6 pound, caught Oct. 17, 2004 off St. Augustine, Florida.
The department maintains state records for sport fish in four divisions — Atlantic, Chesapeake, Nontidal, and Invasive — and awards plaques to anglers who achieve record catches. Fish caught from privately owned, fee-fishing waters are ineligible for consideration.
Anglers who think they have a potential record catch should download and fill out a state record application and call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325. The department suggests fish be immersed in ice water to preserve weight until it can be checked, confirmed, and certified.
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In response to my column last week, I received a friendly propaganda email from Gregg Bortz, Media Relations Manager for the DNR. He wanted to let me know that Maryland’s proposals to rebuild our striped bass stocks include a possible reduction in commercial fishing quotas by 1.8 percent for the 2020 season. So the commercial quota would drop from approximately 4.82 million pounds to 4.73 million pounds.
Gregg also let me know the “scientific fact is the vast majority of striped bass mortality coastwide comes from the recreational sector,” although he did not include any evidence to support that “fact,” probably because there is no credible evidence. Even if there was, the last I checked, striped bass are a public resource. Shouldn’t we have the opportunity to catch them?
The DNR is proposing to cut the recreational and sustenance catch by 20 percent. In other words, people who get to fish occasionally for fun and to provide nourishment for themselves and their family will have to throw back their catch, or not fish at all, because we should buy our fish without any real knowledge about where the fish came from, e.g. the Patapsco.
Commercial landings of striped bass from the Patapsco in 2018 were 13,286 pounds. Because of PCBs in the Patapsco, the Maryland Department of the Environment recommends the general population limit their consumption of striped bass caught in the Patapsco to 7 ounces per month from a striped bass over 28 inches, 3 ounces every other month for children due to PCBs and mercury contamination. Do you know if the rockfish filet you purchase from a seafood market came from a fish over 28 inches? I have never seen any fish marketed as “Fresh from the Patapsco.” Have you?
The same MDE recommendations actually apply to the entire Chesapeake Bay and tributaries.
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Duck blind know-it-all
The first known contraceptive was crocodile dung.