The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board has approved Addendum VI to Amendment 6 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass.
The addendum reduces all state commercial quotas by 18 percent and implements a one-fish bag limit and a 28- to 35-inch recreational slot limit for ocean fisheries and a one-fish bag limit and an 18-inch minimum size limit for Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries.
However, states may still submit alternative regulations through conservation equivalency to achieve an 18 percent reduction in total removals relative to 2017 levels.
Addendum VI was initiated in response to the 2018 Benchmark Stock Assessment, which indicates striped bass are overfished and are experiencing overfishing. The addendum’s measures are designed to reduce harvest, end overfishing, and bring fishing mortality to the target level in 2020.
Since catch-and-release practices contribute significantly to overall fishing mortality, the addendum requires the mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce release mortality in recreational striped bass fisheries.
States are required to submit implementation plans by November 30 for review by the Technical Committee and approval by the board in February 2020. States must implement mandatory circle hook requirements by January 1, 2021. All other provisions of the addendum must be implemented by April 1, 2020.
Additionally, in February 2020, the striped bass board will consider a postponed motion to initiate an amendment to rebuild spawning stock biomass to the target level and address other issues with the management program.
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Bear hunt concludes
Favorable weather conditions helped bear hunters during Maryland’s 16th annual black bear hunt. Official results reported by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources show that 145 hunters harvested a bear during the five-day hunt held in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties.
The largest bear weighed 539 pounds and was taken in Garrett County by Carl Lee of Swanton. Other notable bears included a 529-pound bear, also taken in Garrett County, by Tyler Minnick of Grantsville, and a 422-pound bruin taken in Washington County by Robert Droneburg of Rohrersville.
“We are pleased with another successful bear hunt and view it as further evidence the department is managing the state’s black bear population sustainably and effectively,” said Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto. “With such an expanding and healthy bear population throughout western Maryland, this hunt is an essential management tool.”
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Record gray triggerfish
Ocean City resident Mike Glyphis has set a new Maryland state record for gray triggerfish. Glyphis caught the 5.6-pound fish Oct. 30 while fishing 16 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.
Glyphis said at first he thought his line was snagged on debris. But after a few tugs on his line, he said “the thing took off.” After a few minutes of fighting the fish, the veteran angler pulled up the triggerfish. “This was something I never expected.”
The catch broke a record held almost exactly five years by another Ocean City resident, Wayne Gower, who caught his 5.2-pound triggerfish Oct. 31, 2014.
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The Chesapeake Bay fishing pattern is changing again. Since the waters have already “turned over” or fully mixed, there is adequate oxygen for fish from surface to bottom. In addition, continued cool weather has reduced surface water temperatures, and now the warmest waters can be found in the bottom quarter of the water column.
So while bay fish have lots of places to roam, anglers should generally focus on warmer, deeper water near prime habitat areas for larger concentrations of baitfish and hungry gamefish. As always, make sure to focus on moving water periods for best results.
Locations offering good topwater fishing in the early morning and late evening hours include the mouth of the Chester River, Love Point rocks, and the general area from Podickory Point to the mouth of the Magothy. Jigging with soft plastics under breaking fish is also producing some nice striped bass. Most of the breaking fish are small stripers feeding on bay anchovies, but larger fish can be found underneath and close to the bottom.
White perch are steadily moving into the deeper waters of the region’s tidal creeks and rivers. Fishing with bottom rigs baited with pieces of bloodworm is a good way to catch them. Using dropper rigs with small plastic dropper flies can also be a good choice to catch them. Perch are starting to show up at the Bay Bridge pylons and rock piles.
As tidal river waters cool, yellow perch are starting to appear in the tidal rivers and creeks. The best way to catch them is fishing with a small minnow close to the bottom or working small beetle spins close to the bottom. Channel catfish are waiting in the tidal rivers for someone to place a piece of cut bait in front of them.
Largemouth bass in the tidal rivers and freshwater impoundments can be found holding in transition zone cover. Sunken wood will be a good place to look for the fish, which are hoping to ambush crayfish and small baitfish exiting the shallower areas where grass beds have declined. Small crankbaits and jigs that resemble crayfish and spinnerbaits are good choices to work in the transition zones. In tidal rivers, fallen treetops are excellent places to find largemouth. The drop-off areas outside of declining spatterdock or pickerel weed fields are good places to work spinnerbaits, especially on a falling tide.
On the Atlantic Coast, boats venturing out to the wreck and reef sites — inshore and offshore — have been finding a good-to-excellent sea bass fishing. Limit catches are not uncommon. There is also a mix of flounder, triggerfish, and bluefish at times.
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Duck blind know-it-all
Archeologists have found traces of popcorn in 1,000-year-old Peruvian tombs.