Taking small boat on bay can create...


Taking small boat on bay can create big problems

A Gettysburg father and son will be treated to a day's trolling for blues off Tilghman Island over the weekend -- a happy ending to a near tragedy that illustrates the potential dangers of heading out on the big Chesapeake in a small boat.

Last Saturday was a moderate day on the bay,though not fitting for a 14-foot jonboat,which the father and son boarded to troll for blues of Parker Creek.Luckily,Capt.John Hoffman of Baltimore happened to pass by while heading to Calvert Cliffs to try for blues with two companions aboard his 34-foot Sea Hunter.

It was 9:30 a.m. when Hoffman spotted the overturned boat, gear scattered nearby, and its two occupants trying to stay afloat.He pulled alongside and his fiancee,Donna Cooter,and Barry Neuman dived in to save them,Things had happened too fast for them to don life preservers.

" The 15-year-old boy had just about had it," said hoffman after this,his third successful life-saving mission on the Chesapeake. " His 46-year old father was in better shape,but was obviously in distress."

Winds were 12 to 15 mph, and they were fishing in the lee of the Western Shore, but their boat was too small. The wakes of a couple boats caused them to broach. Two boats passed without offering aid, they said.

"We saved the boat, outboard, and some fishing tackle," said Hoffman, "and when we got them aboard we gave them some dry clothing. Then I offered them a trip on my boat this weekend to cheer them up -- and they accepted."

All is well that ends well, but there is a lesson here for all small boatmen -- including those who defy treacherous tides and wakes in the area of the Bay Bridge. Keep life preservers on. Things can happen fast leaving no time to don them.

In addition, don't head for open waters in boats not designed to handle them. Not only are there wakes, but also the possibility of sudden storms. In addition, there is a chance of falling overboard in the excitement of trying to land a fish -- and turning the boat over while doing so.

As for wakes and waves, head into them at a slight angle. If things get too rough drop a bow anchor, which should keep the boat headed toward the waves to ride better.

At problem times,all aboard should seated on the deck amidships to keep the center of gravity low-and of course, the life preservers should be on and secured. It's no time for macho appearances.

But before heading out,consider that small boats designed for rivers and reservoirs aren't designed for the open waters of the Chesapeake.Enough said.

Calendar ...

* Tomorrow: Evening trap shooting, 100- and 50-target events, 6 p.m., Carroll County Gun Club off Liberty Road. Call John Stevens, 679-4199.

* Tomorrow/Saturday: Second annual Western Maryland Loggers and Forestry Field Day and Equipment Show, including fisheries and forest exhibits -- and hunting and fishing programs. Noon to 8 tomorrow; 9 to 5 on Saturday at Garrett County Fairgrounds, McHenry. Call 1-301-334-1948.

* Saturday: Introduction to Windsurfing program, 10 a.m. to p.m., Sandy Point State Park. Call 974-1249.

* Saturday/Sunday: Sixth annual Trout and Bluefish Pro-Am Solomons. $20,000 in prizes. Call 1-301-535-1554.

* Saturday/Sunday: Call 974-3771 to sign on for a canoe tri along the Potomac out of Green Ridge State Forest. Experienced paddlers only; $60 covers canoe rentals, transportation and meals.

* Sunday: The 90-foot OC Princess will sail at 4 p.m. out o Ocean City Fishing Center for a 24-hour mako shark fishing trip 20 to 40 miles offshore.Reservations preffered. call 1-800-289-0926.

Sunday: The big day for freshwater fishermam. Beginning a 12:01 a.m. non-tidal anglers can keep five bass a day of 12 inches or more-and the tidewater length limit is reduced to 12 inches

Planning ahead ...

July 5-7: Ocean City Marlin Club Small Boat Tournament.Call 1-301-289-8121.

TC * July 11-14: Fourth annual Ocean City Tuna tournament.Call 1-301-289-8121.

Names and places

* This is the week that the Department of Natural Resources' decision on the fall rockfish season was expected, but the announcement has been delayed pending a meeting Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. of the Striped Bass Advisory Board at the Matapeake Conference Room at Matapeake State Park. To be discussed will be Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission proposals for both fall and next spring's rock fishery. Public is invited. Call Frances McFaden, 974-3365.

* DNR's forestry chief Josh Sandt said Maryland's spring wild turkey hunters set a record once again, taking 1,145 birds -- 24 more than last spring, and possibly the best of any turkey season, fall or spring, in modern times. The count, with 1990's harvest in parentheses:

Garrett, 379 (356); Allegany, 274 (310), Washington, 216 (228) Frederick, 89 (100), Montgomery, 39 (49), Howard 0 (first season), Calvert, 68 (66), Kent, 3 (first season), Queen Anne's, 18 (first season), Dorchester, 20 (first season), Worcester, 25 (12), and Somerset,14( first season.

* National Marine Fisheries Service is seriously considering a limiof two large coastal and pelagic sharks a day to a boat ( originally proposed,one a person),and for makos, a minimum size of 72 inches.

* Baltimorean frank Simpson took a 17 1/4 -pound tautog fishinout of wachapreague.

Question box ...

* Baltimorean Al Messick wants to know how to locate Ocean City's new fishing reef, the 100-foot sea-going tug sunk last week near the bow section of the African Queen.

Our answer: Wait several weeks is the advice of Talbot Street Pier dockmaster Lloyd Lewis, who said it usually takes about 30 days for new structure to attract fish -- then things get progressively better. The Loran reading for the wreck is 270290 by 42204.5.

Incidentally, O.C. could use many more wrecks to accommodate the burgeoning headboat fleet thereabouts. Lewis said there are only about 15 "real working" wrecks now, and they can get fished out fast, and need a couple of weeks to re-establish new fish like sea bass, ling, tautog and such. Many old wrecks settle and silt over -- in 10 years some are useless.

From Delaware comes news of a proposal to bring a tidewater stamp for fishing in Delaware, with part of the proceeds targeted for artificial reefs to attract bottom fish to supplement dwindling sea trout runs. A survey is under way to determine the effectiveness of a reef drop two years ago off Brown Shoal -- and preliminary reports indicate significant numbers of fish have moved in.

The stamp -- required in all tidal waters with the exception of the Atlantic -- would cost $5. No charge for those under 16 or over 65. Private boats could get a $25 annual stamp; charterboats, a $200 stamp -- with those carrying more than six anglers, an additional $40.

* 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

* SHARPS ISLAND FLATS: Blues, maybe a few black drum linger.

* BUSHWOOD: Good spot fishing.

* POINT LOOKOUT: Best bluefish action in the bay.

* OCEAN CITY: More flounder, but many are small. First marlin and tuna have been caught.

* CHINCOTEAGUE: Try flounder here.

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