Bet on rock to survive the season


As predicted, the rock are winning!

Prior to the opening of the 1990 striped bass season a week ago, some questioned whether the charter boats and/or recreational fishermen might catch their quota in a short period of time, thus shortening the length of the proposed five-week season.

Those who entertained such thoughts can just forget them. The old adage, "once bitten, twice shy," protects most of Mother Nature's creatures. You might hit them once, but when you come back the next time they will be wary. And as predicted, the rockfish are skittish and not all that easy to catch after the opening weekend onslaught by a record number of anglers.

I hope to have some statewide figures by Sunday, but you can rest assured the season won't be closed early; neither the charter boat nor recreational fishermen's allocation has been caught up. I suspect the closure rumors were started by anti-fishermen or anti-charter boat groups attempting to reduce charter boat fishing -- if you had planned on booking a charter fishing trip later this month and someone told you the season was going to be closed early, you might decide not to book the trip.

Personally, I believe the fishing will improve in a week or two. The fishing pressure will drop off and the fish will be able to relax.

Now for the questions and observations. One fisherman complained: "I followed this charter boat all day and he caught fish and I didn't. Why?"

I could say the charter boat captain was lucky, but I imagine he presented the proper lures at the proper depth and speed to improve his chance of catching something, while the recreational fisherman trolled too fast, used monofilament line and never got his bait near a rockfish.

The rockfish are on the bottom. If you want to catch them, you must put your lure where the fish lives. He will not come to you.

One way of slowing your boat down is to drag a couple of five-gallon buckets behind your boat. However, if your boat can't troll slowly enough, find another way of catching them. Bottom fish with eels, or try vertical jigging with bucktails or jigs.

Boat show now open

The U.S. Powerboat Show opened yesterday at the Annapolis City Dock. Yesterday was trade, press and VIP day, but today is considered opening day for the public -- although you could have paid the increased admission price and been a VIP. If you are reading this column, I already consider you a VIP.

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Today is an excellent day to come to the show if you really want to see the show -- that is, if you want to look at the boats and talk to dealers about their products. Weekend crowds sometimes impede even a walk through the show.

Overall, the boating market has been soft the last couple of years. Prices should be very good and I'll bet most dealers will negotiate.

My favorite part of the show is the goodies in the tents. If it has to do with boating, it will be at the show. This might be a good time to upgrade your marine electronics. I know that I'm replacing a few items and will be looking for boat show specials.

And if you want to talk fishing, come to the Fishing Information Center at the show, where my guest Harold Madtes and I will be happy to talk fishing.

Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.

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