Cobia are running wild around Cape Charles

THE BALTIMORE EVENING SUN

If you want to go back to the great cobia days of yesteryear, head for Cape Charles where these fish are in the best numbers in at least three decades. Boats out of there are taking as many as seven a day, reports Donnie Stiles of King Creek Marina.

Calendar ...

* Today: Opening of the Maryland State Sportsmen's Association 91st annual Maryland State Trapshooting Championships, Maryland State Sportsmen's Association's facilities, Thurmont. $28,150 added money and trophies. Incidentally, the program lists Bill Bozman as having shot the most targets in 1990, some 15,950. The state handicap championships will be fired Sunday. Call John Stevens, 679-4199.

* Saturday: Ducks Unlimited of Towson Dick Fetzer Fun Shoot, 10 a.m., featuring simulated quail, teal and dove shoots, optional snipe shoot, Loch Raven Trap and Skeet Range. Call 488-3106.

* Saturday: Maryland Fly Anglers work party at Falling Spring Greenway in Pennsylvania. Call 263-5093.

* Saturday/Sunday: Basic fly casting course, on the water instruction, Fenwick Fly Fishing School, Frederick, conducted by Jim Gilford; advanced course, Aug. 17-18 at Thurmont. Call 1-301-663-3966,

* Tuesday: Deadline for entries in the 1991 Yachting Governor's Cup Sailing Race from Annapolis to St. Mary's College. The 70-mile race starts Aug. 2. Call 1-301-862-0291.

* Wednesday: First in a series of DNR meetings on freshwater fisheries management, 7 p.m., Garrett Community College. Among proposals is one to add Leonard Mill Pond -- better known as Leonard's Lake -- in Salisbury to the trophy bass list, and there will be discussion of reciprocal license agreements for fishing the Potomac. Other sessions: July 29, 7 p.m., DNR Police meeting room, Route 309 and 404, Queen Anne's; July 31, 7 p.m., Hereford Middle School, anfd Aug. 1, 7 p.m., Sweader Hall, Frederick Community College, Frederick. Call 974-3061.

* Wednesday: Boyd Pfieffer will talk about simple outdoor and fishing photography at an open-to-the-public 7:30 meeting of Maryland Fly Anglers, Community Hall of Ridge Garden Apartments, 8509 Old Harford Road. Call 381-5436.

Planning ahead ...

* July 26-28: Last call to get bow or gun kill buck heads scored for competition in the second annual Hunting Show that runs both days at Howard County Fairgrounds. Maryland top trophies will be selected, and there will also be many seminars, exhibits and demonstrations -- also bowhunter and waterfowl calling contests. Call 922-5549.

* Aug. 5-9: Eighteenth annual $50,000-added White Marlin Tournament, Ocean City. Heaviest White Marlin alone worth $15,000. Call 1-301-289-9229.

* Aug. 11: A chance to fish competitively in waters to be fished in the 21st annual BASS Masters Classic late next month. American Bass Association of Maryland tournament will be held this date out of Dundee Creek. Payback is 95 percent of entry fees. Call Jim Burkhart, 544-5091, or Ed Lohr, 1-301-989-2507.

Names and places ...

* There is a chance that Canada goose production on the Far North nesting grounds might show an improvement this year, but don't look for much -- if any -- relaxation in shooting days or bag limits this year. It will be several years before '91's birds of the year are of prime nesting age. Recently, DNR proposed a Nov. 19 opener of the season, but is delaying any other decisions until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assess waterfowl counts.

At yesterday's session of the Wildlife Advisory Committee it was decided to hold two public hearings on geese in mid-August; dates and places to be announced next week. One hearing will be near Cambridge, the other near Baltimore. Look for a season of less than 60 days with a split bag limit of one and two.

Meanwhile, DNR's Don MacLauchlan, just back from a federal briefing on duck statistics, said indications are that once again we'll have a short season something like that of last year -- 30 days with a general bag limit of three. Bluewing teal are up 34 percent, mallards 1 percent, widgeon 11 percent, scaup 25 percent, but canvasbacks are down 9 percent, redheads 3 percent, greenwing teal 9 percent and pintails 20 percent. Black ducks appear to be holding their own -- thanks to tightened seasons and bag limits, and also severe cutbacks among Canadian shooters.

* Bob Burkhead of Glen Burnie got a 1-pound, 1-ounce crappie that took honors for the division in Deep Creek Lake's weekly fishing contest . . . Another Glen Burnie angler, Charles Walker, won the flounder division in Ocean City's weekly fishing contest for a 6-pound, 6-ouncer taken near No. 9 buoy . . . The 893-pound blue marlin taken by Brad Simmons of Deale at Poor Man's Canyon was 15 feet long.

* Sonny Heineke was the angler aboard Capt. Albert Simpson's Pursuer who caught the winning 144-pound bluefin tuna that won last weekend's Ocean City Tuna Tournament.

* Virginia appears to have a new state record dolphin thanks to the 71 1/2 -pounder caught off Virginia Beach by Don Dorey of that city. Maryland's record is 65 pounds.

Question box ...

* Baltimorean Leo Plummer asks how game wardens could have done their job in 35-hour weeks -- and suggests that even the new 40-hour week under the controversial Schaefer edict isn't enough to do the job. "Why didn't you DNR defenders tell us about their office hours?" he asks after complaining that wildlife has to be in trouble if wardens patrol short weeks.

Our answer: First a minor correction. No longer is it "game warden," a term that has been dropped across much of the country. Here, it's now "DNR Police." Now for the question and complaint.

Hunters, fishermen and boaters should not demand that fish and wildlife officers go to a 40-hour week. It's frightening to consider the consequences. These people have long been working 40-plus hours a week, and rarely with overtime.

It's a thankless job, but they're a dedicated lot -- and among them a clock-watcher is a rarity. I can't vouch for other state departments, but within DNR, the wildlife, fisheries and park managers, administrators and much of their staffs (including secretaries) have and continue to put in long days, long enough that they would welcome a 40-hour week. I know because I communicate with them before and after "regular hours" as well as during normal times.

I have been with marine and wildlife officers on stakeouts who have worked their 35 hours in just two days -- and without overtime for working the remainder of the week. It's part of the job. This writer doesn't consider himself a "DNR defender" -- he has on many occasions strongly criticized the department. But he finds it troubling that the department is judged in the public eye by the one unit within it that is most in contact with the outdoor public. That unit is licensing and consumers services. Enough said.

* 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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