Angling, Outdoors, and Conservation News Recap
Welcome to the Weekly Creel, a compilation of regional news and announcements for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts of the Chesapeake Bay region. Please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your organization’s news item or event listing considered for next week’s column. Per usual, here are direct links to the lastest, local fishing reports from Reel Chesapeake, On The Water, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Anglers Sports Center, and FishTalk Magazine. This week’s catch also includes…
Fisheries Commission Takes Emergency Action to Save Stripers
Whaaat?! Amazingly, just two days into Maryland’s trophy striped bass season, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission made a major announcement concerning striper fishing regulations. On Wednesday, the Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved an emergency action to implement a 31-inch maximum size limit for all striped bass recreational fisheries, from Maine to Florida, effective immediately for 180 days (through October 28, 2023). Maryland’s current trophy season is exempt through May 15th.
According to the ASMFC, this action responds to the unprecedented magnitude of 2022 recreational harvest, which is nearly double that of 2021, and new stock rebuilding projections, which estimate the probability of the spawning stock rebuilding to its biomass target by 2029 drops from 97 percent under the lower 2021 fishing mortality rate to less than 15 percent if the higher 2022 fishing mortality rate continues each year.
“Based on concern for the stock and the long-term interests of its stakeholders, the Board acted decisively to protect one of the few remaining strong year classes,” said Board Chair Marty Gary with the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. “The public is concerned about stock rebuilding and has urged the Board to expeditiously respond to the new stock projections. Striped bass is one of the flagship species of the Commission, and this action sends a strong signal that the Board is firmly committed to rebuilding the stock for current and future generations. At the same time, the Board recognizes that this action will have a profound impact on the for-hire industry and recreational anglers, however, it feels it is a necessary step to ensure rebuilding.”
It’s important to note that we are eagerly awaiting word from Maryland Department of Natural Resources on the state’s official implementation of the new slot limit, which should begin May 16th. The ASMFC’s mandate will create a 19–31″ slot for Maryland waters. DNR’s guidance is necessary to ensure all recreational anglers, including those booking charter trips, have a clear understanding of the new regulations. Word should come any day now.
The expectation is that the ASMFC will reassess the regulation and its effectiveness during its next two meetings (this summer and early fall). We anticipate the potential for similar regulations to be enforced in 2024. How this could affect the 2024 Maryland trophy season remains to be seen. Stay tuned!
Help NOAA Save Sturgeon
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is asking for anglers to report sturgeon encounters to its fisheries agency. Like the many other anadromous species that spawn in the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries each spring, Atlantic sturgeon have been on the move from the ocean to bay. Though quite rare to hook into one, if you do, please reports the catch to NOAA Fisheries by calling 844-STURG-911 or emailing NOAA.Sturg911@noaa.com.
Researchers have been tagging the species for several years in an effort to understand their migration patterns and biology. Anglers and boaters in general can help scientific research by reporting the location of sighting, condition of the animal, it’s estimated lengh, and a photo of the entire fish. Because Atlantic sturgeon are a federally protected and endangered species, encounters should be kept as short as possible. Do not remove the sturgeon from the water. If hooked, cut the line as close to the hook as possible prior to release. For more information about the NOAA’s sturgeon research, visit the agency’s dedicated webpage to the species. Photograph credit: NOAA Fisheries.
Snakehead Tagging Program Can Earn You Cash
Tagged invasives a money maker? You bet. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is continuing a northern snakehead tagging program in an effort to spur removal of invasive fish from our waters. This spring, up to 500 tags will be put on snakeheads from Gunpowder River, upper Chesapeake Bay tributaries, and Mattawoman and Nanjemoy creeks of Potomac River.
Anyone who harvests a tagged snakehead will receive a prize of either $10 for a yellow tag or $200 for a blue tag. Anglers can report the tag number to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service phone number found on the tag, and they will be asked to email a picture of their harvested, tagged snakehead to Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Only snakeheads that are harvested—removed from the water and not returned—with a tag number that is reported in (sic) 2024 will qualify for monetary rewards.
The program also helps biologists measure snakehead harvest in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The measure of harvest helps agencies learn if the fishery is being managed in a way that helps minimize impacts of northern snakeheads. Learn more at DNR’s snakehead infosite. Photograph courtesy Maryland DNR.
ORP Plants 18 Million Spat in South River
Good news from Oyster Recovery Partnership. The nonprofit oyster advocacy and restoration organization planted 18 million oyster spat in the South River on April 24th. The planting took place between Ferry Point and Larrimore Point on a beautiful afternoon, during which onlooking boaters enjoyed watching the process. The oyster spat will grow in sanctuary waters, so they can reach maturity and help naturally filter the river. The event was a harbinger of the organization’s oyster planting season, which officially kicked off at the end of last month. And within the first two weeks, ORP has planted over 100,000,000 oysters! Photograph courtesy ORP and credit: Erika Nortemann/The Nature Conservancy.
Maritime Museum to Acquire Adjacent Restaurant
Last week, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum announced its intent to acquire two contiguous properties to its waterfront campus, including the current home of the Crab Claw Restaurant. Under the terms of the transaction, the restaurant will remain open for business throughout the 2023 season under its current ownership.
“This anticipated purchase marks an exciting new step in CBMM’s ongoing efforts to enhance our guests’ experience as part of our ongoing Master Plan campus upgrades,” said CBMM President & CEO Kristen Greenaway. “We believe that CBMM is the best possible owner for this longtime staple of our community, and we thank Crab Claw owner Tracey Jones Wass and her family for entrusting it to us.”
Adding the properties to CBMM’s campus is a natural fit, both in terms of their neighboring physical locations and shared history. The Crab Claw Restaurant opened in 1965, the same year CBMM did, and the two have stood side by side as staples of St. Michaels for decades. Learn more at cbmm.org. This map outlines the two properties that are set to be acquired by CBMM through this purchase. Map via Google Earth and CBMM.
Party on the Shore
ShoreRivers has announced plans for it’s annual summer soiree. On Saturday, June 24th, at Wilmer Park in Chestertown, ShoreRivers’ will host it’s Solstice Celebration. The fundraising event includes an open bar with Ten Eyck beer, Crow Vineyards wine, and a signature cocktail; hors d’oeuvres and a full buffet dinner with dessert prepared award-winning and classically French trained Chef Jordan Lloyd; and live music and dancing. The celebration begins at 6 p.m. and continues through dusk with a rousing live auction where guests will bid on exceptional artwork, trips to enticing destinations, and more.
During the event, the Robert F. Schumann Foundation will be presented with the 2023 Award for Environmental Stewardship in recognition of its legacy of generosity to ShoreRivers. “The solstice indicates the start to summer when so many people flock to the river,” says Isabel Hardesty, Executive Director of ShoreRivers. “We love being able to celebrate the season with the stunning backdrop of the Chester, and it’s important to gather our supporters together to enjoy what our waterways bring to our communities.” Learn more at shorerivers.org.
And that’s a wrap for this week’s Creel. If you have news to share, please send an email to email@example.com.