Salisbury offers wave of saltwater information* Popular...

THE BALTIMORE EVENING SUN

Salisbury offers wave of saltwater information

* Popular Sportfishing Expo will open its 19th annual run tomorrow at Wicomico Civic Center, Salisbury, with scores of angling and associated outdoor and travel booths. This is a saltwater oriented show, with much of the emphasis on the Ocean City area.

Hours tomorrow are 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 to 10, and Sunday, 10 to 6. Admission is $3; free for children 8 and under. A two-day ticket is available at $5.

Calendar ...

* Tonight: Beginning of Dundalk Power Squadron Safe Boating Course, 7:30 p.m., Dulaney Senior High School. Call 282-6464.

* Tonight: Public meeting to discuss volunteer assistance at McKeldin Area of Patapsco Valley State Park, 6:30, Sykesville Middle School, 7301 Springfield Ave., Sykesville. Call 974-3017.

* Tonight: Pennsylvania trout season closes; reopens April 13.

* Tomorrow: Winterfest Scholastic Ski Races, Wisp Ski Resort, Deep Creek Lake. Call Jerry Geisler, 1-301-387-4911.

* Saturday: All-day boating seminar with heavy emphasis on sailing -- including a session on catching blues while under sail, starts 9:30 a.m. aboard the cruise ship Bay Lady at Tidewater/Inner Harbor, off Key Highway. Covers all aspects of boating for novice and experienced, including the women's perspective. On the program will be Tania Aebi, the first woman to skipper her own boat alone around the world. $25 includes lunch. Call 625-4992.

* Saturday: Fishbusters Fishing Club trip for snapper, grouper, and king mackerel, Morehead City, N.C. Public invited on cost/share basis. Call 1-301-292-8377.

* Saturday/Sunday: Hike to Sugar Bush to collect maple syrup, 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Oregon Ridge Nature Center. Same program next weekend. Call 887-1815.

* Tuesday: HarborView Marina and Yacht Club boating seminar, featuring Hood Sailmakers, 7 p.m., Harborview Drive. Call 752-1122.

* Wednesday: Start of Hunter Education Course, 7 p.m. Howard County Fairgrounds. Second session starts 8 a.m., March 10. Call Phil Wagenbrenner, 461-3007.

Names and places ...

* "Any day now" is how Department of Natural Resources director of fisheries Paul Massicot describes when Maryland's fishermen will learn when they can fish for rock in the spring, presumably in May. Massicot declined to add anything to that, but word from the grapevine is that there's very little chance that the proposed minimum size for the season will not be lowered to 28 inches as some -- including many charter skippers -- have urged.

If I was a gambler, I'd wager the proposed 36-inch minimum holds, though it might be dropped a couple inches. As for a trophy segment of the season with a 45-inch minimum, it's 50-50 at best that it will survive final review. In addition, I wouldn't bet the barn that the season will run the entire month of May. I'm inclined to think two or three weeks later in the month.

If I was planning an early bluefish trip in the Chesapeake, I'd hTC choose a date from May 15 on if I wanted a crack at a large striper. In any event, we'll know any day, as Massicot said.

* In checking back, I found that one of the best Boston mackerel catches of the season off Ocean City occurred on March 2, which this year is Saturday. Keep in mind that this winter is not much unlike last winter, and some offshore commercial fishermen made nice mackerel hauls early this month.

Capt. Jack Bunting's Miss Ocean City is scheduled to sail again today to try and find them, if he does the headboat will sail again tomorrow -- and in any event, there will be a trip on Saturday. The headboat Angler also will sail Saturday, and at Ocean City Fishing Center on the West Ocean City side of Sinepuxent Bay the headboat Judy V is set to carry fishermen as soon as the macks start running.

The 60-foot Mariner at Talbot Street Pier won't sail for about two weeks. "She's in dry dock getting an extensive facelift," reports owner Lloyd Lewis, who adds she is being totally modernized, complete with fiberglass hull for a faster and smoother ride, a more modernistic configuration, aluminum rails and such. "You won't recognize her," Lewis added.

In late month, a totally new Florida-built headboat of 90 feet will arrive in Ocean City to sail out of the Ocean City Fishing Center for mackerel -- and in warmer months for anything from sea bass to tuna. Nearing completion, she's the OC Princess, the biggest out of OC and one of the biggest along the coast, and will be fitted with state-of-the-art electronics and other gear, including lunchroom. For those who don't want to leave all their work back at the docks, there will be cellular phones. To sign up for her maiden voyage, call 1-301-289-8121.

* The impending approach of mackerel is reflected in large numbers of mud shad working up the coast close to shore. The other day a private boat sailed 10 miles off the beach to catch a few, but thus far weather has worked against the early birds.

* A series of public hearings will start March 18 on proposed changes in hunting regulations, including one that would combine the two fall wild turkey seasons in Western Maryland for a single five-day hunt. Also, it is proposed that the spring 1992 season be April 18 to May 16, though being considered is an April 20-May 18 hunt.

A controversial proposal is one that would virtually do away with the big bonus deer program for bowmen and muzzleloaders in Dorchester County, though in the regular firearms season a hunter could take a second deer without a special bonus stamp. Sika regulations also would be tightened, and still another proposal would allow the use of muzzleloader handguns (.40 caliber, minimum 6-inch barrel) for deer hunting.

And Worcester County would get a special whitetail deer shoot Jan. 24-25 for one deer of either sex. Call 974-3195.

Question box ...

* Jay Freeland of Dundalk wants to know if packaged power baits can be considered artificials under Maryland's trout fishing regulations. He writes that he thinks he should be able to use them in artificial baits only zones, but isn't sure. "They're not worms or minnows so why not? They are no different than corn."

Our answer: It's a good thing you asked. Both corn and packaged power baits are as illegal as live baits. "We've made it very plain," said Bob Bachman, chief of freshwater fisheries for DNR, who referred fishermen to pages 23 and 24 in the Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide issued with fishing licenses.

Bachman is right, and his advice is a reminder we all should use the guide as more than a reference. We should read it each year to refresh memories as well as just check out what's new.

Molded worms, grubs and such are considered artificials, but real ones are classified as baits. "Any item that emits an odor or scent such as worms, minnows, crayfish, insects, doughballs, corn, cheese, bread, meat and marshmallows" are listed as baits. Also -- and I'll bet many fishermen didn't realize this -- the addition of any scent to an artificial fly or lure to make it smell like the real thing is also considered a bait.

One might argue that corn, marshmallows and bread have no scent, but if found fishing in an artificial zone with any of them an angler could end up arguing to no avail with a wildlife officer. And as for bottled power baits, manufacturers make it very obvious on their labels that they are scented. That's the big sales pitch.

* 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.

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