Boston mackerel are off, running in Ocean...

THE BALTIMORE EVENING SUN

Boston mackerel are off, running in Ocean City

Forget what the procrastinators claim. Boston mackerel are running off Ocean City; have been for nearly two weeks.

Macks are so thick that mother ships of foreign fleets have moved in and are buying many tons caught by domestic netters. "They're making big hauls, but we're still catching 75 to 150 fish to the man," said Capt. Jack Bunting of the Miss Ocean City.

Because much of the fleet wasn't ready for an early kickoff, only a couple boats have been sailing, and weather has disrupted their schedule. If winds die -- last night they were at 30 knots off O.C. -- the action will resume, though boats will have to look for them again. But they won't be hard to find.

If weather is doubtful, call your favorite headboat skipper. As for lures, see Question of the Week. And, incidentally, giant blues following mackerel are reported off the North Carolina coast.

Calendar ...

* Saturday: Free spring wild turkey clinic, 1 to 4 p.m., Rod Rack, Amber Meadows Shopping Center, Frederick. Call 1-301-694-6143.

* Saturday: Virginia trout season opens at 9 a.m.

* Saturday/Sunday: 21st annual Maple Syrup Demonstration, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Cunningham Falls State Park. Call 1-301-271-7574.

* Saturday/Sunday: Trap shoot, 9:30 a.m., Carroll County Gun Club, Liberty Road. Call John Stevens, 679-4199.

* Saturday/Sunday: Turning Sap Into Sugar exhibitions 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Herrington Manor and Swallow Falls state parks. Call 1-301-334-1948.

* Monday: First of series of DNR public hearings on hunting regulations (see Hunting Proposals below), 7 p.m. South Hagerstown High School. Call 974-3195.

* Monday: Deadline to apply for permits for Delaware's first wild turkey season, April 23 through May 13. Call 1-302-739-5297.

* Tuesday: DNR public hearing on hunting proposals, 7 p.m., Southampton Middle School, Bel Air. Call 974-3195.

* Next Thursday: Ash Law will talk on fly fishing on the Delaware River at a 7:30 public meeting of Potomac/Patuxent Chapters of Trout Unlimited, Glenallen Elementary School, Wheaton. Call 1-301-236-0267.

Planning ahead ...

* March 22: Last DNR public hearing on hunting regulations, 7 p.m., Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis. Call 974-3195.

* March 23: Ninth annual $20,000 Early Bird Open sponsored by Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Piney Run Reservoir in Carroll County. A $10,000 tagged crappie is being released -- and remember in the first event a $10,000 tagged bass was taken. Entrance fee is $30 for shoresiders; $35 for boaters. Many cash prizes for big fish; also the landlocked rockfish season is under way there. Call 1-301-992-8944 or 1-301-795-3274.

* March 29: Deadline for submitting written comments on DNR hunting proposals. Write Don MacLauchlan, DNR, Tawes State Office Building, Annapolis 21401.

* March 29/30: Father and Son Fishing Seminar, including mothers, grandparents, daughters and such, Friday night and closing with lunch on Saturday, Harrison's Chesapeake House, Tilghman Island. Seminars on all aspects of bay fishing, meals and lodging furnished. Call 1-301-886-2121.

Ongoing ...

* New Germany State Park in Western Maryland will remain open through the end of the month, thanks to the donation of $5,000 in cash and services made available by the Save the Parks Committee. The 455-acre park had been scheduled to close earlier this month, not to reopen until July 1 because of state financial woes. The closing of parks -- 12 scheduled for closures until that date because of insufficient operating funds -- has brought cries of protest across the state. Gambrill State Park in Frederick County also has been opened due to citizen action.

Hunting proposals ...

* Following are some DNR proposals for the coming hunting seasons that were not listed here previously:

* To open for hunting in Patuxent River Wildlife Management Area the Hall Creek Tract in Calvert County and the Milltown Landing Tract in Prince George's County. Permits would be available at the Cheltenham Service Center.

* Designate shotgun-only zones for deer in heavily populated areas of two counties. In Worcester, south of St. Martins River and north of Route 50 east of Route 589 and west of Assawoman Bay. In Frederick, south of Interstate 70 and east of Route 15.

* Seasons (all dates inclusive): rabbits, Nov. 15-Jan. 31, except in Garrett where it would open 15 days earlier; quail, Nov. 15-Jan. 15, lasting until Feb. 28 in the Eastern Zone; pheasants, Nov. 15-Dec. 31 (closed in Garrett); crows, Aug. 17-March 19; squirrels and grouse, Oct. 5-Jan. 31.

* Also, wild turkey (fall shoot), Nov. 5-9, restricted to Western Washington and Garrett and Allegany counties; wild turkeys (spring shoot, 1992), April 18-May 16 in Allegany, Calvert, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Washington and Worcester counties. A suggestion will be considered to modify dates slightly.

* And, deer: Bow, Sept. 14-Nov. 29, Dec. 9-20, and Jan. 6-31; muzzleloader, Dec. 21-Jan. 4; modern firearms, Nov. 30-Dec. 8, with antlerless permits required in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties. A special deer season would be held Jan. 24-25 in Worcester County.

Names and places ...

* Despite all the gloom on the deer hunting front after the weather-related slump during the past modern firearms season, it turns out that Maryland hunters just about equaled results for the 1989 hunt -- thanks to muzzleloaders and bowhunters.

Josh Sandt, who heads the Department of Natural Resources' deer projects, said the overall kill for all three seasons was only 60 less than in '89. Bowmen set a record, and despite some rainy weather, muzzleloaders did the same. The overall kill was 46,231 as compared with 46,293 in '89.

The score with the '89 kill in parentheses: Bow, 8,537 (7,988); modern firearms, 33,035 (34,518); muzzleloaders, 4,634 (3,787).

* A quarter of a pound cost Mike Arujo of Santa Monica, Calif., about a cool million bucks. The largemouth bass he caught from California's Lake Castaic weighed an even 22 pounds -- just 4 ounces shy of the 1932 Montgomery Lake, Ga., world record. BASS president Ray Scott claims a new mark is worth a million dollars in appearances, endorsements, cash and such, but Arujo just missed with a fish said to look like a "bluegill on steroids."

* Les Simering has reported to DNR a kill of big yellow perch on the Choptank above the Greensboro Bridge. There was an excellent spawn, but since then the kill occurred, and he figures it was either caused by nets set illegally upstream (which he saw), or waters turning sour.

Question box ...

* Hank Fowler wants to know why DNR proposes to drop requirements that hunters wear a tag on their back when afield. "Won't landowners revolt?" he asks.

Our answer: Landowners would probably object because they would lose a way to identify errant hunters, especially trespassers, but have no fear. DNR has found a different way to save about $18,000 for printing the tags -- and $18,000 is needed in these tight budgetary times.

The proposal is being dropped, thanks to a new design in the hunting license that will include a removable permit to be worn on a hunter's back. Happy hunters, happy landowners, and happy wildlife that can profit by the money saved.

* 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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