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THIS WEEKEND Tomorrow at 8 a.m., Capt. Jack Bunting plans to leave the docks in Ocean City for the first mackerel trip of the season aboard the head boat Miss Ocean City -- several weeks earlier than usual.

Traditionally, mackerel begin running offshore of Ocean City in early March, but the past couple of years, warm winters have caused the mackerel migration to start earlier than usual.

Last year, Bunting's first trip of the season produced a boatload of fish for his customers. Commercial netters this winter are bringing in good numbers of mackerel, and Bunting thinks it is time to head out.

A second trip is scheduled Saturday morning, with additional trips every day if the fish are running. Cost is $26 per person. Rod rentals are available at $4 per day. The boat has a heated cabin and hot lunch will be available.

Call (410) 289-7238, (410) 289-7936 or (410) 289-8234.

The Miss Ocean City is berthed at the foot of North First Street on the bay.


Today through Sunday: Baltimore Boat Show at the Convention Center. Monday through Friday, the show opens at 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, at 11 a.m.

Feb. 8-17: Eastern Sports, Boat, Camping, Travel and Outdoor Show at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa. Call (717) 234-8091.

Feb. 9: Laurel Team Bassmasters fishermen's flea market at American Legion Post No. 60, 2 Main St., Laurel, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $2 donation. Call (410) 381-5006.


Feb. 12: Monthly meeting of Pasadena Chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportsfishermen's Association at Maurgale Inn and Marina, 864 Nabb's Creek Road. Scheduled speakers are Lt. Rodney Gadsen of the U.S. Coast Guard and Dave Blazer of DNR fisheries.

Feb. 14-16 and 21-23: Maryland Recreational Vehicle Show at the state fairgrounds in Timonium. Outdoor enthusiast seminars by author Gaylord Maxwell Daily. Admission is $6 Children under 12 free. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 9 p.m. Sundays noon to 6 p.m. Call (410) 561-1140.

Feb. 14-16: Maryland Fishing and Hunting Show at the National Guard Armory in Pikesville. Comprehensive show dealing with all aspects of fishing and hunting in Maryland. Hourly seminars, archery demonstrations and trade booths. Show opens at 6 p.m. on Friday and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Call (410) 841-6974.

Feb. 15-16: Camrod Hunting Club Gun and Knife Show at the Agriculture Center in Westminster. Show opens at 9 a.m. both days. Buy or sell guns, ammunition, swords, books, etc. Admission is $4, with children under 12 free when accompanied by an adult. Call (410) 391-8883.

Feb. 16: Rebel Bassmasters fisherman's flea market at the Winfield Volunteer Fire Hall on Liberty Road two miles east of Route 27 in Carroll County, 3 p.m. Admission is $10, with children under 10 admitted free. Call (410) 374-4504.

Feb. 22: Saltwater Sportsman Magazine's national seminar series at Towson State University in the Chesapeake Room. Seminar times are 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. National experts as well as regional expertise from captains George K. Horn, Bob Marshall, Ed Darwin and Len Belcaro. Ticket price is $35. Call (800) 448-7360.

Feb. 23: Fisherman's flea market sponsored by the Chesapeake Bass Masters and Bucketmouth Bassmasters at Owings Mills Volunteer Fire House on Route 140, 3 miles north of the Baltimore Beltway, Exit 20, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., door prizes, new and used tackle, equipment and bass boats on display. Donations of $1 per person. Children under 8 free. Call (410) 833-7159 or (410) 833-7498.

Feb. 24-29: Izaak Walton League York Outdoors Show at York (Pa.) Fairgrounds. Weekday hours are 6 p.m. until 10; Friday hours are Noon to 10 p.m. and Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adult admission is $3, with children from 6 to 12 $1.50. .

Feb. 26: Monthly meeting of Maryland Fly Anglers at Ridge Gardens Apartments clubhouse, Old Harford Road and Putty Hill Avenue, 7:30 p.m. The program will be on beginning and advanced fly tying.

March 7: Harford Hooksetters annual flea market at Bel Air American legion Post 39, 500 Hickory Ave. in Bel Air. New and used fishing tackle, motors, boats, hand-made lures, electronics, etc. Admission is $1.50 for those 12 and older. Call (410) 838-2603.


Think Alaska and you think salmon, Dolly Varden, cutthroat, rainbow, steelhead and grayling. Think Alaska and you think big money if you are going there from here.

A week at a first-rate fishing lodge might cost $4,000.

But it can be done cheaper. Alaska Angler Publications of Fairbanks, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, has produced a guidebook to help anglers develop their own fishing trips at greatly reduced cost.

Fishing Alaska on Dollars a Day, written and compiled by Christopher and Adela Batin, two longtime Alaskans, is a guide to fishing the best of the waters in the 23-million acre Chugach and Tongass National Forests.

The method to this fine madness is based on using Forest Service cabins that rent for about $20 per day and usually include rowboats, basic furnishings and fuel or firewood supplies.

The guide includes tips on where, when and what to fish, as well as maps of camp locations, wildlife concentrations and what weather might be expected at different times of the year in different locations. Specific hunting information for each location also is included.

You will, of course, have to clean your own fish, cook your own meals and enjoy the solitude.

Fishing Alaska on Dollars a Day is available from the publisher. Call (907) 455-8000 or write Alaska Angler Publications, PO Box 83550, Fairbanks, Alaska 99708. The cost is $19.95, plus $4 handling.


* The Midwinter Waterfowl Inventory conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Grand National Waterfowl Hunt Club of Cambridge reported a decline from 690,000 last winter to 577,000 ducks, swans and geese.

However, the counts for most species were close to last winter's totals. The biggest decline was in diving ducks, where the scaup count was down to 31,900 from 107,600 last winter.

Canvasbacks (35,600), goldeneye (3,000), bufflehead (15,200) and ruddy ducks (8,100) were comparable to last winter.

Dabbling ducks numbers were up to 82,000, an increase of 4,000. Mallards and black ducks comprised the majority of dabblers, with counts of 53,000 and 19,300 respectively.

The Canada geese count was down from 332,000 to 306,000, with preliminary age ratio data indicating that gosling production was poor in 1991.

Snow geese numbered 63,400 and Tundra swan totaled 23,000.

* The mid-winter bald eagle survey turned up 185 birds at three locations -- Aberdeen Proving Grounds, the lower Susquehanna River and Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. It was the second highest count taken since the survey was initiated in 1979.

The survey targets only concentrated areas of eagle habitat and is not an indicator of population trends in the state.

* The DNR has scheduled public meetings to discuss recreational opportunities for Rocks and Susquehanna state parks in Harford County. On Feb. 12, a meeting on Susquehanna State Park will be held at Havre de Grace High School. On Feb. 13, a session to discuss Rocks State Park will be held at North Harford High School. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

* The Santa Maria Cup, a match racing event for women, will be held at HarborView Marina and Yacht Club in the Inner Harbor June 11-14. The event is organized by the Columbus Cup Committee, which also hosts the Columbus Cup, which this year is scheduled for Oct. 4-10.

* Harry Rehmert will present a course on the Chesapeake System of teaching fly casting at Dundalk Community College from March 2 to April 1. The course is designed to make easy use of fly fishing gear in fresh or saltwater. Tuition is $100 with additional costs for materials. Rod and reel will be furnished for the course. Call (410) 477-4096.

(Items for the Outdoors Journal may be mailed to Outdoors Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21278-0001. Please include time, date and location of events to be listed, as well as a short description of planned activities and a telephone number for more information. The Outdoors Journal is published each Thursday in The Sun and The Evening Sun and each Sunday in The Sun. Please mail listings four weeks before the date of the event.)

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