Sport fishing is full of corny cliches, but one stone cold fact remains: You never know what you’ll catch.
Sure, your sophisticated arsenal of sonar and text network has made finding fish much easier than in previous decades, but the mystery of what swims beneath still endures. At least that’s a big reason why I fish—to satiate that curiosity.
Another axiom of angling is change is constant. Fish were here yesterday, and so forth. If I told you a few years ago you could catch double-digit blue catfish trolling tandem bucktails, you’d have scoffed. I know I would have.
Capt. Jeff Popp on Vista Lady did just that, recently. He’s one of a handful of skippers who’ve told me the cats like trolled bucktails, apparently. Who knew?
Last week, Capt. Randy Dean on Bounty Hunter landed a black drum in the 40-pound class, also trolling. It was the first black drum of the season I’ve heard about caught on hook and line in our local waters.
Recently, two Maryland fishing records fell, one in fresh water and the other in salt. The first record went down on May 18 when Nick Palese of Baltimore City was fishing from his kayak at Big Gunpowder Falls and pulled in a 4.94-pound bullhead catfish to claim the state’s non-tidal record.
The second record-setting catch took place 50 miles off Ocean City in the deep of Poor Man’s Canyon. Brian Gay of Millsboro, DE hauled in a 16.71-pound white hake from 280 feet below, making him the state’s first-ever record-holder for that species.
“I had no idea what it was,” Gay told Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, believing it to be a possible world-record red hake that looks similar to a white hake. State biologists identified Gay’s hake by meticulously examining the fish’s eye and jaw structure and counting scales. Martin’s Fish House in Ocean City officially verified the weight.
According to the Department of Natural Resource’s recreational fishing guru Erik Zlokovitz, “The species is recognized by several northern states as well as the International Game Fish Association so it should be distinguished as a state record in Maryland.”
In case you’re as curious as me, the all-tackle IGFA record is a beast: 48 pounds, 4 ounces, caught in July 2018 by Stephen Selmer in the Gulf of Maine.
Maryland sport fish records are divided into four divisions: Atlantic, Chesapeake, Non-tidal and Invasive. Fish caught from privately-owned, fee-fishing waters don’t count.
Think your catch is a record? First step, says DNR, is to immerse it in ice water as soon as possible to preserve its weight until it can be certified. Then call (443) 569-1381 or (410) 260-8325, and download and fill out the state record application.
Also of note are two upcoming license-free fishing days, June 8 and July 4. This is perfect for visiting family and friends who want to try fishing but for one reason or another are not ready to buy a license. Hopefully, they’ll catch the fishing bug. Remember, you still have to follow current size and catch limits.
Canada Goose Hunting: Last month’s announcement that Canada goose hunters will be limited to one honker a day this upcoming season is no surprise to anyone paying attention to the dip in this popular game bird’s population.
Biologists say poor weather conditions surrounding the breeding grounds of Canada’s Ungava Peninsula have been the major factor driving below average reproduction seven out of the past 10 years.
Years of decline triggered the restrictive hunt package issued by the Atlantic Flyway Council, said Josh Homyack, the DNR’s Waterfowl Program Manager. Soon, the finalized seasons for migratory birds and other game will appear online and in the 2019-2020 Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping. Here’s a snapshot:
* Dove seasons: Sept. 2-Oct. 19, Oct. 26-Nov. 29, and Dec. 21-Jan. 10, 2020.
* Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days: Nov. 2, 2019 and Feb. 8, 2020;
* Regular Duck Seasons: Oct. 12-19, Nov. 16-29 and Dec. 16-Jan. 31, 2020. Daily bag limit of six birds, including two canvasbacks.
* Sea ducks in the designated zone: Nov. 2-Jan.10, 2020.
June 1-Dec. 15: Maryland’s Resident Rockfish Season. Tributaries opened. Min. 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 8: Freedom and Fishing Snakehead Derby. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, Cambridge. Q&A session starts at 8 a.m. Derby kicks off at 9 a.m.
June 8: Kids Fishing Derby 2019, hosted by the Pasadena Sportfishing Group and Lake Shore-Severna Park Rotary Club for children with special needs. Fernwood Pavilion at Downs Park from 7:30 a.m.-noon. Open to the first 75 applicants. Registration is deadline is May 30. Ages 4 to 16 with parent or chaperone 21 years of age or older.
June 10: 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.
June 15-16: Annual Marlin Club Small Boat Tournament, Ocean City. Open to all anglers and boats 34-feet and under.
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 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 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.
Sept. 8: Bahia Marina Flounder Pounder Tournament. One-day event is great for kids.
(Email photos, calendar listings and outdoors news to Chris Dollar at email@example.com)