This week ...* The last-minute rush is...

THE BALTIMORE EVENING SUN

This week ...

* The last-minute rush is on before the charterboat season for rock closes Saturday night, but if your favorite skipper is booked, try fishing elsewhere.

How about Liberty Reservoir? Fishing there is just gettin started -- and freshwater activity for landlocked rock and hybrids is not affected by the premature close of the Chesapeake's fishery.

Bank fishing live shiners along the steep dropoffs in late da scores at Liberty. Boat catches will improve as waters cool.

For added incentive: Jay Wolfenden of Old Reisterstown Bai and Tackle reports measurements of the biggest landlocked striper checked in thus far indicated it weighed 32 pounds. The fish wasn't weighed because -- after measuring it -- Steve Shoesmaker returned it alive to Liberty.

It was caught on a large shiner at Snake Point. Shoresiders ar taking hybrids at Loch Raven's Warren Point; at Piney Run, it's trolling live shiners. Roger Kramer took a 7-pound hybrid from Conowingo Reservoir on a white Rattletrap.

Another rock bet is the Potomac at Washington, which is no affected by the Chesapeake-Potomac shutdown. D.C.'s season will continue through Nov. 16. Among top baits there are Rattletraps.

A few rock are showing in the back bays of Ocean City, and th surf there -- and at nearby Assateague Island. However, not many of them measure up to the 28-inch minimum dictated for the ocean fishery, which will continue through Nov. 9. Cut mullet and crabs (if you can get them) are among the best bait for the surf; crabs, bloodworms, cut mullet and plugs are recommended for Sinepuxent Bay.

Calendar ...

* Tomorrow/Saturday: Maryland's early duck season (excepblacks). Puddle ducks are moving in. Look for fairly good shooting, though the North American Wildlife Foundation urges hunters to shoot only drakes of species of which the gender is distinguishable.

* Saturday: Help Mountain Club of Maryland work on th Appalachian Trail in Cumberland Valley north of Gettysburg. Call 335-2146.

* Saturday: Create dried floral and plant arrangements, 1 p.m. t 2:30 p.m., Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, upper Marlboro. Bring your own vase or basket. Call 1-301-888-1410.

* Saturday: Join naturalist Glenn Swiston on Oregon Ridg Nature Center whitewater canoe trip at the northern Gunpowder. Call 887-1815.

* Saturday/Sunday: Fall Forest Festival and Equipment Show noon to 5 Saturday, 9 to 4 Sunday, Tuckahoe Gas and Steam Engine Park, Route 50, seven miles north of Easton.

* Saturday/Sunday: 24th annual St. Mary's County Oyste Festival at the County Fairgrounds on Route 5 near Leonardtown -- a bay-oriented affair, with all kinds of seafood. Call 1-301-373-5242.

* Sunday: Beginning of Black Powder Hunting Safety Cours (both scattergun and balls), 10 a.m. until finished, Howard County Fairgrounds. Call Phil Wagonbrenner, 461-3007.

* Sunday: Early riser bird watch, 7 a.m., Downs Park, Pasadena call 222-6230.

* Monday: Family Bird Walk, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Merkle Wildlif Sanctuary, Upper Marlboro, call 1-301-888-1410.

* Wednesday: MCM hike at Morgan Run area of Libert Reservoir, call 486-1787.

Names and places ...

* Maryland's snow goose season opened yesterday, with few hunters afield and few birds here yet. Colder weather will help. Fair numbers of Canadas are arriving on the upper Eastern Shore.

* Funeral services were held yesterday at Chesapeake Beach fo one of the bay's best charterboaters, Capt. Mike Sullivan, whose custom-built Dolly Diesel was unquestionably the fastest chartercraft (30 knots) on the Chesapeake. Sullivan, 51, a past president of the Maryland Charterboat Association, had been on the bay for 45 years.

Though cancer was diagnosed a couple months ago, he fishe the first three days of the rock season -- and led his parties to catches at Love Point before his health folded completely. He was a fiery and colorful competitor, and a darned good fisherman.

* When I took over this job in 1956, Maryland's annual deer kil was several thousand. This year, DNR's forest game chief Josh Sandt predicts 50,000, about 10 percent above last year's kill. We bag more deer, but the herd continues to expand.

The outlook for hunter success this season: Excellent throughou much of the state, understandably. However, Robin Hoods are off to a not-too-spectacular start because of unseasonably warm weather and thick foliage, which should soon thin out.

* Hunters, if you want to justify rooting for the Cincinnati Reds i the World Series: Oakland A's manager Tony La Russa has joined the campaign of the anti-hunter Humane Society of the United States, which is pressing the theme "You should be ashamed to wear fur." HSUS claims success in its drives over recent years and brags in some areas fur sales have dropped 90 percent, with trapper pelt prices tumbling 75 percent or more.

Meanwhile, in the current issue of Rolling Stone, singer Chrissie Hynde is pictured wearing a blaze orange vest in the woodlands of McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area where last month she joined Fund for Animals activists in protesting bowhunting for deer. Maybe she's the center of attraction in the music world, but Maryland hunters didn't even recognize her. So much for fame.

* Trappe waterfowl outfitter Art Ayers spied 13 wild turkeys fro Route 301 in Queen Anne's County yesterday. That county will be added to the list of spring hunting areas next year.

Question box ...

* Peter Hopkins notes that in Pennsylvania muzzleloader regulations specify flintlocks during special season; yet Maryland doesn't. He asks if there really is a difference.

Our answer: Yes. A flintlock is ignited by flint, but man muzzleloaders are fired by percussion caps. The flintlock can be less dependable on damp days; much less in the rain. Pennsylvania likes to make it tough; we're more lenient in Maryland.

Incidentally, Hastings has come out with a new conversion kit -- 50-caliber barrel -- that in seconds converts either M-870 or M-1100/1187 Remington shotguns to muzzleloaders. Just switch the barrels; pour in black powder, seat the ball with a ball starter and ramrod, then add 209 shotshell primer into the special breech plug, close the action, turn off the safety, and you're ready to fire during a muzzleloader season that doesn't insist on flintlocks.

The 24-inch barrel of chrome-moly steel is hammer forged, usin twist rifling, and .500 land/.508 groove dimensions. Ramrod storage is on top of the barrel below the sights. The barrels sell for under $300. Call 606-623-2765, or write Hastings, 1613 Curtis Pike, Richmond, Ky., 40475.

* 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.

BILL BURTON'S BEST BETS

G=* LOVE POINT: Still loaded with rockfish for charterboaters.

* DEAL ISLAND: A great public hunting area for early duck shooters.

* STONE ROCK: Look for blues aplenty here.

OAKLAND POINT: A good bet for landlocked stripers at Liberty Reservoir.

* GUNPOWDER: Freshwater trout are hungry here again.

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