This week ...
* Rockfish rule the roost. Many boats heading to rockfish grounds steam right by breaking blues. Stripers are their target, nothing else will do.
Late yesterday, the Department of Natural Resources was stil evaluating early catch figures to determine if there is a trend to indicate the five-week season might be cut short. Tidewater fisheries chief Pete Jensen said indications were that 15 percent of recreational fishermen catch a rock.
Some charter craft get limits, but most average one to three to boat. The hottest bait so far is live eels, but their price has skyrocketed to as much as $1.50 each -- and tackle shops can't get enough of them.
The more productive areas are the shoals of the upper bay - pick one, also Love Point, Hacketts, the Kent Island Shore, Tollys, Thomas Point, sometimes the Bay Bridge, the Patuxent from Broomes Island to Benedict, the Potomac near Morgantown, the mouth of West River sector, lower Nanticoke, the LNG plant above Solomons, Kent Narrows, and the Hooper-Honga River area.
* Today: Delaware's early three-day muzzleloader season for deer opens.
* Today: Opening of the 19th annual U.S. Powerboat Show, Annapolis City Docks. About 600 powerboats on exhibit; see special boat show section in today's Evening Sun. Hours through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission, $8 for adults; $4 for youngsters 12 and under -- including infants. Call 1-301-268-8828.
* Tomorrow: Opening of the Maryland sea duck season, but not many fowl here yet.
* Saturday: Opening of Pennsylvania grouse and squirrel seasons; also the opening of grouse, woodcock, deer by bow and bear by bow seasons in West Virginia. In addition, bow seasons for bear and deer start in Virginia.
* Sunday: Baltimore Bird Club walk, 8 a.m., Northampton Furnace Trail. Call 825-1204.
* Sunday: Bowhunter Course for those who hunt national wildlife refuges, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Call 1-804-336-6122. Call the same number for information on restricted waterfowl gunning at the refuge.
* Tuesday: Baltimore Bird Club walk, 9 a.m., Lake Roland. Call 825-2704.
* Oct. 21: Beginning of a unique Black Powder Hunting Safety Course, 10 a.m., Howard County Fairgrounds. For an eight-hour day the $8 fee includes pioneer food, with instructors attired in buckskins and other frontier dress to take one back to the days when muzzleloaders were in vogue. Both scatter shot and balls will be covered -- anything of the variety used prior to the Civil War. Call Phil Wagonbrenner, 461-3007.
Names and places ...
Here's a pleasant surprise. Piers Hackley of Silver Spring, with 17 pounds 7 ounces of bass, has a comfortable lead after the first day in the three-day $175,000 BASS Master Maryland Invitational being fished on the Potomac.
* While most anglers were fishing the Chesapeake for wild rock 29 of their freshwater counterparts fished the first annual Goose Valley Fishing Tournament at Kennedyville for hatchery reared rock, hybrids and largemouth bass with surprising success. Andy Kastel, 14, of Kennedyville won the striper division with a 2 1/2 -pound hybrid only 15 months old.
The best bass from the new 12-acre fee fishing lake was E Pirkey's 3 1/4 -pounder. Twenty-eight anglers checked in 149 stripers and hybrids and 40 largemouths. The rockfish strain preferred Twister, CP Swing, and Mepps lures; the bass wanted spinnerbaits. Most of the stripers weighed 2 pounds, said pond owner Floyd Price.
This was the kickoff of the new fee fishing lake, part of th Vonnie's farm and waterfowl operation in Kent County. The fishing fee is $15 a day, and $5 a fish either by boat or shore. Call 1-301-778-5300.
* Reel Maniacs of Berlin won the 11th annual Mid-Atlantic Sur Fishing Tournament of Ocean City Surf Anglers Club at the O.C. Beach, and MUQUE of Rockville placed second as 65 teams caught 638 fish -- mostly blues -- with a few flounder, puppy drum and kingfish mixed in. Not a single rock or sea trout were taken.
Herb Richardson was captain of the winning crew. Teammate were Scott Jarman, Ted Burbage, Press Darvy, Joe Cocron and Chris August. Top catches were a 17 3/4 -inch flounder taken by Ronnie Bounds of Berlin, and a bluefish of the same length caught by Bob Quillan of Berlin. Nancy O'Day's 15-inch blue was the best lady's catch.
* Will fishing become a woman's world? The other day, Johnn Marple, a senior at Maryland and daughter of Deep Creek Lake tackleman Johnny Marple, spied a casting contest dominated by males on the campus, so she grabbed a rod. No king of the casters anymore -- it's Queen Johnna, whose mother Elaine is also an avid angler.
* A big wave of smaller bass -- mostly of 13 to 14 inches -- ha taken over the fall fishery at Deep Creek Lake. In addition, the stocking of 10,000 rainbows there is evident everywhere with catches of them of up to 14 inches. Drew R. Doxin got a 25 3/4 -inch chain pickerel on a minnow. If you're not stung by the rockfish bug, head west where leaves are turning, grouse and squirrels seem plentiful -- and fish are biting.
* That odd-looking fish taken by young Josh Harrison in Tangie Sound recently has been identified as a 7 1/2 -pound smooth puffer, a distant cousin of the blowfish that ordinarily spends its life far offshore the East Coast.
* Gypsy moth damage and the current removal of afflicte hardwood trees might be bad news for squirrels and wild turkey that depend on mast, but the subsequent regrowth is ideal for deer, bear and ruffed grouse, said assistant DNR secretary Don MacLauchlan. "We've got to learn to live with it," added MacLauchlan. "It's not something we can eradicate."
Question box ...
* Baltimorean Ed Polchak thought he had a problem the other day when one of his twin outboards conked out as he was heading back to the docks with two rock aboard -- and he just made it by the 8 p.m. deadline for docking with stripers in possession. He asks what happens if a boat is disabled, with rock aboard, and time is running out?
Our answer: Cpl. Ralph Parker of DNR Police said fisherme should promptly radio the Coast Guard or DNR Police of their problem. "Maybe we can go to their rescue," he said. "We don't want someone in trouble for something beyond their control."
* NOTE: To have an item or question included in the Outdoor Journal, write Bill Burton, The Evening Sun Sports Dept., 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001.
BURTON'S BEST BETS
1. LOVE POINT: If you can't get rock here (you should), you can't miss on nearby blues.
2. HACKETT'S POINT: Blues galore -- and they're get-
3. MUD LEAD: This bay spot off the mouth of the Poto-
mac is loaded with sea trout and sea bass.
4. GARRETT COUNTY: Native brook trout are hungry in the streams.
5. BOAT SHOW: U.S. Powerboat Show today through Sunday, Annapolis.