I suggest that you line up a charter date if you do not own a boat or have a pal who lets you hitch a ride on the bay during the fishing season.
A number of Chesapeake charter boat captains have told me that prime-date bookings for the April 28 to May 31 Spring Trophy striped bass (rockfish) season are running ahead of this time last year.
If you have your sights set on hooking a trophy-sized rockfish, most experienced anglers will tell you to book early in the season, especially if you wish to fish the areas around the Bay Bridges and south to about Chesapeake Beach or across the Bay around Tilghman Island.
Prospects of boating a lunker later than mid-May are usually best found in the Bay waters around Point Lookout and south.
I was pleased to see the Department of Natural Resources drop the minium size during this spring season from last year's 34 inches to 32 inches.
In fact, I like most everything about this year's relaxed regulations -- the one-fish-per-person daily creel (maximum of five per season), regardless of whether the angler is fishing from a private boat or charter and the expansion of the fishing boundaries north of the Bay Bridges to the Brewerton Channel off the mouth of the Patapsco and in straight line across to Rock Hall.
Participants in the spring season will be required to purchase a $2 permit again this year. Last year 145,000 of these permits were sold.
Pete Jensen, director of DNR's Tidewater Fisheries, furnished me with a handy chart detailing striped bass growth rates. According to the chart, for example, a 34-inch rockfish is 10-11 years old and weighs around 13.9 pounds, while a 38-inch striper could be as old as 12 and weigh an average of 19 pounds.
Keith Walters, retired Evening Sun outdoor editor Bill Burton and Bill Perry will conduct their popular one-day rockfishing seminar at Chesapeake College, which is located on Route 50, at Wye Mills, Saturday.
The seminar's highlights include tips, tackle, techniques for the spring and fall seasons plus trolling, casting, surf and fly fishing for stripers.
To register for the course, "Catching Striped Bass," call Faye Lister of the Chesapeake College's Continuing Education Office at (410) 822-5400.
Anne Arundel trout stocking
Anne Arundel County trout anglers will be treated to 6,000 stocked trout this year.
Severn Run will be closed the weeks of March 12 and April 16, when it gets stocked with 1,250 and 1,500 fish, respectively.
Lake Waterford, which will not be closed for stocking, will get 1,000 the week of March 12, 750 the week of March 26 and another 750 the weeks of April 9 and 16.
Waterfowl numbers up
Almost 100,000 more waterfowl were found in Maryland this past winter than the previous year, according to the 1995 Mid-winter Waterfowl Inventory.
While the Canada goose population remained stable (260,300 last year; 259,200 this winter), more than 124,000 greater snow geese were counted, which is highest number of snows ever recorded here.
Duck numbers were especially encouraging. Significant increases in ruddy ducks, ringnecked ducks, American coot, pintails, widgeon and green-winged teal were found. Canvasback numbers remained essentially the same as last year's -- 47,700 in 1995 versus the frighteningly low 26,500 found during the 1991 survey. Black ducks also remained stable at 20,800 compared to the 21,600 found last winter.
The survey teams were made up of personnel from the DNR Wildlife Division and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In total, the surveyors found 651,300 ducks and geese wintering in the Chesapeake area. We remain North America's Waterfowl Capital.