At last, it's official. The Department of Natural Resources has announced the final dates and regulations for the fall rockfish season, and its quota of 1,074,000 pounds total for the recreational, commercial and sports fisheries -- an increase of about 30 percent. All fish must be of between 18 and 36 inches.
Necessary free permits and tags for recreational fishermen should be available tomorrow; none are needed for the charter fishery as skippers will tag the catch. Fishing will be stopped in any segment that catches its quota before the designated season's end.
* RECREATIONAL: Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Oct. 9-26, 456,747-pound quota, two fish for entire season. If the quota is not caught, the season will be extended with a creel limit of two a day, no tags required. Atlantic Ocean, Oct. 9-26, no quota, one rock a day, no permits needed.
* CHARTER: Chesapeake Bay and tributaries, 161,206-pound quota, Oct. 9-Nov. 11, two fish a day, no season limit. No extended season if quota is not reached. Charter skippers responsible for tagging fish. Atlantic Ocean, same dates; creel limit of one a day, no quota.
* COMMERCIAL: Chesapeake quota of 456,747 pounds; haul seines and pound nets, Sept. 2-30; hook and line, Dec. 2-31; gill nets, Jan. 2-Feb. 28. Atlantic Ocean, gill nets and trawls, 25,000-pound quota, Dec. 2-31.
For further information, call Frances McFaden, 974-3365. Following are some sports stores, listed by county, where recreational permits are available. Zip codes are included in some Baltimore listings to assist in locating closest outlets.
BALTIMORE CITY/COUNTY: Outdoor Sportsman, 807 Eastern Blvd., Essex; Set's Sport Shop, 509 York Road, Towson; Tochterman's 1925 Eastern Ave., 21231; Clyde's Sport Shop, 2307 Hammonds Ferry Road, 21227; Bowley's Bait and Tackle, 11427 Eastern Ave., Middle River; Bush's Sport Shop, 6929 Holabird Ave., 21222; Chase Bait and Tackle, 12510 Eastern Ave., 21220; Clark's Sport Shop, 3724 S. Hanover St., 21225; Dick's Sporting Goods, 221 Stemmers Run Road, Essex; E & R Gunsmith, 17025 York Road, Hereford; Laursen's Bait & Tackle, 7002 North Point Road, 21219; Old Reisterstown Bait, 16 Westminster Pike, Reisterstown; The Fishing Shop, 7682 Belair Road, Overlea; Tom's Tropicals, 9020 Belair Road.
ANNE ARUNDEL: Anglers, 435 Revell Highway, Annapolis; Bart's Sports World, 6814 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie; Brown Boys ** Marine, 668 Deale Road, Deale; C & EJ's Hunting & Fishing, 308 Southern Maryland Blvd., Lothian; Daubert's Sport Shop, 4729 Mountain Road, Pasadena; DJ's Hunting & Fishing, Crofton; Fish 'n Barrell, 8220 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena; Marty's Sporting Goods, Edgewater; MSSA, 7626 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Glen Burnie; On Target, 2618 Annapolis Road, Severn; Riviera Sunset Pet Shop, 8518 Fort Smallwood Road, Pasadena; Stammer's Sport & Marine Center, 8938 Fort Smallwood Road, Pasadena; Warren's Bait Box, 7403 B & A Blvd., Glen Burnie.
CALVERT: Rod 'n Reel Docks, Chesapeake Beach; Bunky's Charterboats, Solomons; The Tackle Box, Lexington Park.
CARROLL: Belcher's Hardware, 20 Liberty Road, Eldersburg; Fish Maryland, 1912 Liberty Road, Eldersburg; Heagy's Sport Shop, 16 West Main St., Westminster; Manchester Bait & Tackle, 3041 Main St., Manchester.
CECIL: Herb's Tackle Shop, 2003 South Main St., Northeast; Townsend's Rock Run Docks, Port Deposit.
DORCHESTER: Gootee's Marina, Route 355, Golden Hill; Tommy's Sporting Goods, Route 50, Cambridge.
FREDERICK: Rod Rack, 181 Thomas Johnson Drive, Frederick; Fox's Sport & Bait Shop, 501 S. Market St., Frederick; Frederick Sports Center, 7629 Devilbliss Bridge, Frederick; Thurmont Sporting Goods, 4 E. Main St., Thurmont.
HARFORD: Conowingo Bait, 2517 Shures Landing Road, Darlington; Hunton's Sportfishing Center, 587 Baltimore Pike, Bel Air; Penn's Beach Maina, Lewis Street, Havre de Grace; Stonewall Sports, 904 Pulaski Highway, Joppa.
HOWARD: Fishing-Archery Outfitters, 10054 Washington Blvd., Laurel.
KENT: Bear's Den, 851 High St., Chestertown; Toy's Outdoor Store, Rock Hall.
PRINCE GEORGE'S: Ugly Mike's Tackle Shop, 1322 A, Route 301 South, Bowie.
QUEEN ANNE'S: Sportsman's Service Center, Route 50, Chester; Queen Anne Marina, Stephensville.
SOMERSET: Somers Cove Marina, Crisfield.
TALBOT: Harrison's Chesapeake House, Tilghman Island; Albright's Gun Shop, 36 Dover St., Easton; Fairbank Tackle Co., Tilghman Island; Shore Sportsman, Trappe.
WICOMICO: Dave's Sport Shop, Quantico; Dick's Sports Center, South Salisbury Blvd., Salisbury.
WORCESTER: Talbot Street Pier, Talbot St., Ocean City; Sea Hawk Sport Center, Pocomoke City; Paul's Tackle, Talbot Street, Ocean City.
DNR: The following Regional Service Centers, among others, also will issue permits: From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Lobby of DNR Headquarters, Tawes State Office Building, next to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, Annapolis. Central Service Center, 2 S. Bond St., Bel Air; Eastern Shore Service Centers, 120 Broadway Ave., Centreville, and 201 Baptist St., Salisbury; Western Service Center, Naves Crossroads, Cumberland; Southern Service Center, Prince Frederick, and Baltimore Service Center, North Point Government Center, 7701 Wise Ave., Baltimore.
* Saturday: Mountain Club of Maryland hike, Loch Raven Reservoir. Call 289-6363.
* Tuesday: Trail Guide Training starts this day, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., either four consecutive days, or four consecutive Tuesdays. Prepare to lead school children on nature walks. Call 887-1815.
Planning ahead ...
* Sept. 21: Hunting & Fishing Flea Market sponsored by Harford Hook Setters, 8 a.m. until sold out, Bel Air American Legion, 500 Hickory Ave., Bel Air. Call Dave Chenoweth, 1-301-838-2603.
Names and places ...
* Many smallmouths of up to 16 inches were taken by Nancy Majchrzak of Carney and her husband Ray on the upper Potomac near Shepherdstown, but the prize of the day was her 10 1/4 -inch bluegill that took a shiner. All fish were released, including the trophy 'gil.
* The Searching for Success Environmental Achievement Award of the National Environmental Awards Council was given to Maryland's Save Our Streams Adopt-A-Stream project. SOS is headed by Barbara Taylor, and is part of Gov. Schaefer's One Million Marylanders for the Bay program.
* Those who want to train their dogs over live pheasants should find much more game available before the hunting season thanks to the release of 32,050 hen birds in Pennsylvania's Southern Zone. In all, the game commission produced more than 230,000 ringnecks for the fall season.
Question box ...
* * "Why don't we have a creel limit of Spanish mackerel?" asks George Barton, who complains he saw boats load up with more than 75 fish off the mouth of the Potomac. "It doesn't seem right when we have more blues than mackerel that we can keep only 10 blues, and all the mackerel we want," adds Barton, who isn't seeking more blues -- just less mackerel.
Our answer: A good point, but mackerel are relative newcomers, and until this year there was no need to slap on a creel limit. You can expect the DNR to review the situation under one of its new management plans -- as did Virginia, which then imposed a creel of five a day.
* 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
* LOVE POINT: Blues still here, also some mackerel.
* CHOPTANK: Flounder and big spot here.
* LOWER POTOMAC: Flounder, spot, blues and Spanish mackerel here.
* UPPER POTOMAC: Good smallmouth bass fishing.
* DEEP CREEK LAKE: Good for smallmouths, pickerel, trout, perch and bluegills.