Tomorrow and Wednesday, the Department of Natural Resources will hold public hearings on proposed changes to regulations for sea trout and spotted sea trout, and Capt. Butch Tawes of Crisfield said he expects lower bay fishermen to turn out in force to protest the changes.
Under the proposal, recreational fishermen would be limited to 10 of each species per day for the remainder of this year and to five of each species per day starting next year. Sea trout or weakfish would become subject to the 12-inch minimum size that now apples to spotted sea trout.
"This proposal just shouldn't fly," said Tawes, who operates a charter boat out of Sommers Cove Marina. "I think that what happens in Maryland isn't going to make a difference.
"What needs to be done is to regulate the Virginia netters and the [North] Carolina commercials. They are scooping up all the fish before they even have a chance to get to Maryland."
Sea trout especially is an important fish in the Crisfield area, where rockfish are less abundant in the spring and fall seasons and bluefish have been below average the past few years.
"It is hard enough already to get people to come aboard," Tawes said. "But under these guidelines we are just going to lose more people to the Virginia boats."
Virginia's recreational limits are 12 inches and a daily creel of 15.
"At least we should have parity with Virginia," Tawes said. "But to eventually go to five per day is ridiculous."
DNR also proposes to close the commercial season in Maryland waters of the Atlantic Ocean and its coastal bays from July 1 through Sept. 30.
Tomorrow's hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the Wicomico County Library, 1222 South Division St., Salisbury.
Wednesday's hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the Department of Agriculture headquarters building on Harry S Truman Parkway in Annapolis.
Written comment on the changes may be sent to R. S. Early, Fisheries Division, Tawes State Office Building, C-2, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis 21401. Written comment must be received by May 18.
Crab panel recommendation
Maryland's Blue Crab Advisory Board has recommended the following changes to help control the fishing effort for blue crabs:
Time limits: Potters begin tending pots at 4:30 a.m. and quit at 5 p.m.; trotliners begin tending pots at 3 a.m. and quit at 5 p.m.; recreational crabbers begin at sunrise and quit at 5 p.m.
Now, that all may be fine if you are a commercial crabber, but what happens to the recreational crabber who wants to go out for an hour or two after work?
Pa. panel OKs grass carp
The Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission has voted to allow the use of sterile grass carp to control vegetation in ponds of less than 5 acres. Under special exemptions, owners of larger bodies of water can apply for permission to introduce the fish.
Maryland officials had lobbied against the move for fear that grass carp might escape the ponds and make their way into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, many parts of which already have reduced areas of vegetation.
Grass carp can grow to 35 pounds and are capable of eating their own body weight in vegetation daily.
Maryland's Department of Natural Resources also contends that the test for sterility in the carp is flawed and if fish escape the impoundments, they may begin to breed. The grass carp has no natural predators in North America.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Susquehanna State Park is offering a weekend of camping and activities for adults only. Transportation, gear, food and an activities schedule are available for $85 per person. Participants should be over the age of 21.