Fingerlings point way for largemouth


Maryland's stocking of largemouth bass in tidal waters this year was directed toward upper bay tributaries and rivers on the Eastern Shore, with some 260,000 fingerlings raised and released this spring.

The Department of Natural Resources uses its Unicorn Lake Fish Hatchery in Queen Anne's County to spawn adult bass taken from tidal waters, then allows the newborns to develop in a sympathetic environment.

"Fish hatcheries are needed to provide more bass for tidal waters," said DNR Secretary Torrey C. Brown, "because many more young bass are able to survive in the hatchery ponds than in the wild."

Predators, tides and heavy currents all contribute to poor spawning success in natural surrounding.

The fingerlings released this spring can be expected to reach the legal minimum of 12 inches by 1996.

River systems and numbers of fingerlings stocked include: Chester River, 58,474; Sassafras River, 25,464; Elk River, 23,040; Northeast River, 20,176; Susquehanna Flats, 18,004; Pocomoke River, 22,440; Big Blackwater River, 45,797; Gunpowder River, 27,168 and Marley Creek, 19,760.

Bob Lunsford, director of DNR's Freshwater Fisheries Division, said stocking is done by rotating hatchery stocks to various tidal waters of the state.

A sidelight to the Chester River stocking of largemouths is the continuance of smallmouth bass stockings in the upper river near Millington.

"It surprises a lot of people that we are doing that," Lunsford said, "but we have been and there are some large fish in that area.

"The overall growth rate [of the stocked population] hasn't been what we wanted in terms of numbers, and we haven't quite figured out the environmental questions. But it might just be that those big fish are eating the little ones."

Burton finishes second

Diane Burton of Annapolis finished second in the single-handed division of the U.S. Women's Open Championship sailed recently in Rochester, N.Y. Burton finished 2-4-4-1 for 10.75 points, but Danielle Brennan of New York City finished 1-1-1-2 to place first, with 4.25 points.

Shad population boom

DNR reports that the shad population in the upper Chesapeake Bay has increased 2.5 times over last year's figure and is nearly 13 times what it was in 1980, when the population was below 10,000 and a moratorium on fishing was put in place.

"We are thrilled that our long-term shad restoration program is working so well," said Brown, adding that the moratorium, fish passages around dams on the Susquehanna River and hatchery efforts have played major parts in the restoration.

From 1980 to 1991, shad populations increased to 141,000, but dropped to 48,000 last year. This year, the figure grew to 129,000.

Red Man qualifier

Jack Bell of Kane, Pa., won the Red Man Northeastern Division qualifier tournament recently at Tydings Yacht Basin in Havre de Grace with five bass weighing 14 pounds, 11 ounces.

Paul Koluch of Baltimore placed second with five bass weighing 11-15.

Other Marylanders in the top 10 were:

Fifth: Robert Martin, Baltimore, five bass, 10 pounds, 8 ounces; sixth: Anthony Vicari, Baltimore, five, 9-6; seventh: Bob Dobart, Bel Air, five, 8-13; eighth: Jim Waller, Abingdon, five, 8-10.

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