In conditions I’d call a tune-up before Friday’s big blow, I took a father and son kayak fishing for part of their Father’s Day weekend celebration.
There wasn’t much to celebrate on the fishing or weather front. We struggled to find willing piscatorial participants, and were even less successful in our bid to find a respite from a relentless wind.
On the up side, gliding over gorgeous underwater grass beds almost made up for the slow catching and annoyingly stiff breeze. Almost.
We threw just about every lure I could think of and there was some bait around, yet we only got a few hits before the wind chased us off the water. It’s a bit strange since this patch we were fishing over – probably widgeon grass, though it could’ve been sago pondweed because they look similar – has been a good spot to me and should have held at least a little rockfish. Go figure.
More broadly, I’ve seen lush meadows of this important sub-aquatic habitat in places I haven’t in years. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the abundance since last spring researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) who map underwater grasses reported Chesapeake acreage topped 100,000 acres in 2017 for the first time ever. Encouragingly, even acreage in the Patapsco River shot up, from three in 2016 to 14 in 2017.
VIMS legend Dr. Robert “JJ” Orth, who founded and directs the program, said last spring that “2017 was quite an exciting year.”
“First, we exceeded 100,000 acres for the first time ever in the survey (which began in 1984), and now have three successive years of record high numbers,” Orth said. “Second, we noted SAV in two areas of the Bay that had not seen any since 1972 – near Solomons Island, Maryland, and in the upper York River in Virginia. Hopefully this trend will continue in 2018.”
That survey has not yet been released.
Bay grasses do a lot for the Chesapeake Bay’s crabs, fish, waterfowl and other marine life by providing food, habitat and shelter. They’re also an important ecological indicator; if there’s too much pollution present then grasses typically won’t grow, or at least not very well. Lastly, underwater grasses help protect against shoreline erosion, trap carbon and mitigate climate change.
For all of these reasons the professionals in public resource agencies and private environmental and conservation organizations working to restore the Chesapeake are encouraged.
Those of us who fish, hunt and otherwise enjoy the bay and its tributaries should be as well. However, if we want more of it, or at least maintain the progress achieved, now is the time to ramp up pollution controls and increase restoration and conservation efforts, not scale back. Keeping politicians accountable to these goals will take all of our efforts.
Through Dec. 15: Maryland’s Resident Rockfish Season. All tributaries opened. Minimum size 19 inches, daily limit of two rockfish per day between 19-28 inches or one rockfish between 19-28 inches and one fish over 28 inches.
June 18: Cobia Webinar Hearing. 6 p.m. Maryland is not holding a public hearing on the coastal cobia draft management plan, Amendment 1. The webinar hearing is intended to accommodate stakeholders in this and other states. Registration required at GoToWebinar. Or dial (888) 585-9008 and enter Conference Room Number: 275-479-282.
June 19: Annapolis Anglers Club meeting. John Veil presents “The Fishing Comfort Zone.” Meeting starts 7 p.m. American Legion Post #7, 1905 Crownsville Rd., Annapolis.
June 22: Chesapeake Rockfish Open, sponsored by Nick’s Fish House. The 6 a.m.-9 p.m. event highlights the Patapsco River. Tochterman’s Tackle gift certificates and more prizes from sponsors. Visit their Facebook page for details.
June 25: Annapolis Chapter CCA MD meeting. Michael Malpezzi will highlight DNR’s the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative. 7 p.m. The Greene Turtle (Annapolis), 177 Jennifer Road.
June 29-30: Fish N’ Paddle Saltwater Slam, Ocean City, MD. Minimum purse of $7,000 to be divided amongst the top 3 anglers. Visit FishNPaddle.com to sign up or for information.
July 4: Free Fishing Day. No license required to catch and possess finfish in any Maryland tidal and non-tidal waters. Recreational purposes only, all other regulations apply.
July 8: Pasadena Sportfishing Group meeting. Daniel Mallonee of Bay Country Crabbing Supply will discuss crabbing techniques and regulations. Doors open at 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Hwy (Route 2), Severna Park.
July 12-14: Ocean City Tuna Tournament. Weigh-ins Friday and Saturday 4 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Fishing Center and Sunset Marina; Sunday 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Ocean City Fishing Center only.
July 26-28: Huk Big Fish Classic. Talbot Street Pier, Ocean City, MD. Register at bigfishclassic.com.
August 5-9: White Marlin Open. More than $2.5M last year.
August 15-17: Poor Girl’s Open ladies only billfish release tournament benefiting breast cancer research.