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. The leading photograph (above): Striped bass jigged up and released at the Severn River’s Route 50 Bridge in early November ’23. Photo by yours truly.
Last Call for Public Comment on Striper Regs
Last week I wrote about what’s possible for the 2024 striped bass season and regulation changes on the horizon. Before the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Maryland Department of Natural Resources adopt any of the proposed changes, they are asking the public for final input/comments on Draft Addendum II to Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass to help steer the decision making. Here is the table of, well, what’s on the table—the regulations being considered, one set of which will be adopted for ’24 and, likely, a few years ahead, too:
The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding the proposed management options by the deadline of Friday, December 22, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). Comments may be submitted by email to email@example.com. Include the subject line “Striped Bass Draft Addendum II.” Personally, I’m in favor of option B1. Of course, ethical anglers and charters will abide by any regulation doled out, but the poachers won’t care—there are so many issues that go into managing this fishery.
Pre-season Trout Stocking Begins in Maryland
Yesterday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced that pre-season trout stocking has begun with the first of about 290,000 trout in Maryland waters statewide.
This stocking will help coldwater hatcheries reduce overcrowded fish densities caused by record drought conditions this year. The first preseason stockings will be allocated to impoundments, special management, and delayed harvest streams providing ice fishing and catch-and-release fishing opportunities through winter and into the spring.
The state’s hatcheries are raising more than 290,000 brown, golden rainbow, and rainbow trout, which will be stocked in more than 119 locations across 19 counties during the 2024 spring season. The annual stocking program will be completed in three rounds—preseason from now through February 2024, followed by two rounds of spring stocking, March 4 to 29 and April 1 to 26.
Once stocking is complete, DNR will provide updates on its website and via email bulletin and social media. Anglers may also call 800-688-3467 for a recorded weekly update (usually updated on Fridays) when stocking is in process. Stocked locations that fall under a closure period are not included in the daily updates but will be announced before opening day on March 30, 2024.
Maryland Fish Consumption Advisory Updated
Also yesterday, the Maryland Department of the Environment issued a new fish consumption advisory for certain locations based on levels of a chemical compound in a class known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for 15 fish species found in Maryland waterways.
“Fish is an important part of a healthy diet, but it is important to share what we’ve learned to help people—including subsistence anglers in underserved communities— make informed decisions about what they and their families eat,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain. “Maryland is committed to informing the public, following the science, and providing data as part of our comprehensive response to PFAS as an emerging national concern.”
Though the vast majority of fish from Maryland waters may be eaten in moderation, the advisory provides updated guidelines for recommended consumption for certain recreationally-caught fish species in Maryland’s fresh, estuarine, and marine waters. Of the species with a new PFAS-based advisory, large and smallmouth bass (13 advisories), sunfish, including bluegill (12 advisories) and white perch (11 advisories) had the highest numbers of advisories based on location and accounting for more conservative recommendations for women of childbearing age and children. None of the results from this round of PFAS sampling led to an advisory for all populations to completely avoid any fish from any Maryland waterway. Testing revealed no PFAS levels of concern or need to recommend meal limits for blue crabs or oysters.
New CBF Virginia Director Announced
Chris Moore, most recently the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist, has taken the helm of the CBF Virginia office as its executive director. He replaces former Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner, who retired in August. Moore’s first day in the new position was December 4th.
“I’m excited to help continue the excellent work of CBF’s Virginia office. We have a very talented staff that is doing great things from resiliency solutions to oyster restoration to conservation. I’m honored to be able to guide their efforts moving forward,” Moore said.
Moore looks forward to applying his scientific and advocacy expertise to support the Virginia office’s initiatives in improving water quality and reducing pollution in the Bay watershed. He received his undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. He received his master’s degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University.
Moore currently resides in Virginia Beach with his wife Kristyn, children Aubrey and Callen, and their dogs Nauset and Haven. An avid sportsman, he spends as many days as possible on the waters and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Congratulations Chris!
National Aquarium Opens New Marine Rescue Center
In November, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, National Aquarium President and CEO John Racanelli, and honoree Chuck Erbe were among those on hand for the dedication of the National Aquarium Stranding Response Center—the Aquarium’s new Animal Rescue triage and treatment space located in the Ocean City Municipal Complex at 65th Street.
The new 400-square foot space is dedicated in honor of Animal Rescue volunteers Chuck Erbe and his late wife, Ellen, who began volunteering with the Aquarium’s Animal Rescue team in 2007 and donated countless hours to the care and wellbeing of animals rescued and released by the program. National Aquarium Animal Rescue has released more than 350 rehabilitated animals since its inception in 1991.
Stranding Response and Triage Manager Kate Shaffer relocated from Baltimore to become the Aquarium’s first permanent Ocean City-based staff member two years ago.
“We are so excited to settle into this beautiful new space,” Shaffer said. “We have everything we need here to triage animals in need of help and begin necessary treatments as soon as possible, an advantage that could sometimes prove lifesaving. This space fills a critical need within the Greater Atlantic Region for short-term stabilization and holding of seals.”
And that’s a wrap for this week’s Creel. If you have news to share, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.