Maryland's muzzleloader hunting season for deer opens Thursday with a few new wrinkles, including an expanded season in all or parts of 19 counties.
"Maryland's General Assembly passed legislation in 1999 which provides for an additional two-day antlerless-only whitetail deer season in Regions C and D," said Mike Slattery, director of wildlife with the Department of Natural Resources.
The statewide early segment of muzzleloader season will run through Saturday. The extra two days will be Oct. 29 and 30.
Regions C and D include all areas except Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Carroll counties and northwestern Frederick County (Zone 1).
According to Slattery, the expanded dates were approved because of legislators' concerns "for elevated white-tailed deer numbers in portions of Maryland."
Last year, with liberalized bag limits in place for antlerless deer, muzzleloader hunters increased the antlerless harvest by 121 percent during the October season.
Limits this year are:
Region A (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Zone 2) -- One antlered whitetail; no bonus stamps for October split.
Region B (Washington, Zone 1, Frederick, Zone 1, Carroll) -- One antlered or antlerless whitetail; no bonus stamp for October split.
Region C or D -- One whitetail, with a second available on bonus stamp. Only one deer per region may be antlered, and all deer taken on Oct. 29-30 must be antlerless.
Sika deer are open in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties only Thursday through Saturday this week, and one antlerless or antlered sika may be taken. Bonus stamps are not valid during the early segment.
Telescopic sights are allowed only in regions B, C and D during the October split.
Fall trout stocking
DNR has completed its fall trout stocking, having released more than 57,000 adult rainbows and browns raised in state hatcheries.
Because of low stream flows this year, most of the stocking was limited to larger lakes, ponds and rivers.
Areas stocked include:
Anne Arundel -- Lake Waterford (750 trout).
Baltimore -- Upper Gunpowder Falls (1,000); Little Gunpowder Falls (1,000); Patapsco River, Daniels (2,500), Avalon (2,500); Stansbury Park Pond (750).
Carroll -- Upper Patapsco River (1,500); Piney Run Reservoir (1,500); Farm Museum Pond (500); Westminster Pond (500); Taneytown Rod and Gun pond (500); Morgan Run catch and return area (1,000).
Cecil -- Big Elk Creek (2,500); Howard's Pond (750).
Harford -- Deer Creek (2,000).
Howard -- Middle Patuxent River (1,500); Centennial Lake (750); Patuxent River catch and return area (1,000).
Hickory shad resurgence
Kent Narrows, one of the best areas around for shallow water, light tackle fishing for rockfish, has been the site of great action for hickory shad in the evenings the past few weeks.
"Why the hickories have been at the Narrows is anyone's guess," said Martin L. Gary of DNR's Fisheries Service. "The prevailing thought had been that the fish return to the ocean after spawning."
However, Gary said, a resurgence in the hickory shad population the past few years may be the cause of an unusual distribution of these anadromous fish.
Some of the shad taken at the Narrows have measured 20 inches.
"Anyone who has fished the spring run certainly would maintain that a 20-inch hickory is a very nice fish indeed," Gary said.