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Kreh, Martin reel in big one as they join Gowdy in Hall

There's not enough room on a business card to list all the awards and titles accumulated by Lefty Kreh and Roland Martin.

But then in the outdoors world, neither fisherman needs much of an introduction. Books, TV shows, seminars, videos. Heck, they could probably make a killing doing the greetings on people's answering machines.

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Can you just imagine it: "Hi, this is Lefty Kreh. No one is home right now, but did you hear the one about the minister, rabbi and priest out golfing?"

With the number of jokes he knows, Kreh could give each person an individualized greeting. (Hey, Lefty, if you decide to go into business, cut me in on the profits, will ya?)

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Come fall, though, these two guys with Maryland roots will have to make a little room on the card, having landed the highest honor an angler can hook: induction into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.

Joining them in the Hall will be Curt Gowdy, the man who owns the title, "The American Sportsman"; Hal Lyman, publisher of Salt Water Sportsman magazine; William "Billy" Pate, fly rod wizard; and Sir Garrick Agnew, who pioneered bill fishing in Western Australia.

The IGFA, founded in 1936, has just 44 members in its Hall of Fame. The list includes all of the heavy hitters -- one literally: Maryland native Joe Brooks, authors Ernest Hemingway and Zane Gray, conservationist Izaak Walton, fly-tying guru Mary Orvis Marbury and baseball legend and fishing fanatic Ted Williams.

Ray Scott, the founder of BASS and a member of the IGFA board of trustees, called Kreh, Martin and Gowdy "enduring performers. They're not just some southern-fried cowboys."

Gowdy, Scott said, always understood how to present outdoors shows on TV. Martin helped promote bass fishing and is one of the sport's great innovators. And Kreh "is one of the best teachers I've ever met, period."

Typically, Kreh, 78, was out giving a casting lesson when I called to chat. When we finally hooked up, he expressed delight at the honor, but made a joke at his expense.

"I'm humbled by the fact that they've done this, and I wonder if I deserve it," he said. "But when I called them I asked if they'd heard about a funeral in my family. This is the first time they've put in living people!"

Scott laughed and agreed. "This is almost like a signal to die."

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Like Kreh, Martin also said he was humbled by the honor. Although he lives in Florida, Martin once called Laurel home and the Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge reservoirs his home waters.

Martin, 63, has won 19 BASS tournaments and is a nine-time BASS Angler of the Year. He was at the first Bassmaster Classic in 1971, and has qualified for the event 25 times.

"This is the most elite honor of them all," Martin said at this year's Classic. "I'm proud of my BASS accomplishments, but the IGFA is beyond that. It represents sports fishing, in general. Look who else is in there. That's impressive company."

The University of Maryland graduate said he took up fly fishing in earnest about a dozen years ago and zeroed in on tarpon.

"That's what did it for me to get me into the Hall," he said. "I got to be really proficient. The good [anglers] would give me good marks."

The ceremony will take place Oct. 28 at the Hall of Fame and Museum in Dania Beach, Fla.

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Figuring on ducks

State biologists who keep an eye on the sex lives of waterfowl say there's good news and some so-so news coming from the breeding grounds of Canada and middle America.

All of it was factored into the preparation of the state's 2003-2004 waterfowl hunting season. The plan will be up for discussion tomorrow at a public meeting in Annapolis.

First, the upbeat stuff. Ducks had a pretty active offseason. The overall breeding population rose 16 percent from last year. And even though the population declined 17 percent from 2002 in the eastern breeding areas, the number of ducks remained within a six-year average.

With those numbers in mind, the Department of Natural Resources is proposing a split season of Oct. 25-Nov. 1, Nov. 8-28 and Dec. 16-Jan. 24, with a five-duck daily bag limit. In addition, hunters may shoot one extra teal during any of the three splits. Black ducks may be shot only during the second two splits.

The proposed canvasback season would run from Dec. 22 to Jan. 24, with a daily limit of one bird.

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Biologists are still concerned about the long-term health of the pintail duck population. The spring survey shows that the number of breeding pintails rose 36 percent this year to 2.2 million, but the total is still 39 percent below the average over the past 47 years. DNR is proposing a split season of Oct. 25-Nov. 1 and Dec. 30-Jan. 24, with a daily limit of one pintail.

Like the news of the pintails, the news on migratory Canada geese is troubling. The breeding-pair survey conducted this spring in northern Quebec indicates a 5 percent decline in one year from 164,800 to 156,000 pairs.

Federal regulators did not alter the formula used last year, so hunters will have a 45-day split season, Nov. 15-Nov. 28 and Dec. 18-Jan. 24. The daily bag limit will remain one goose.

DNR's plan also includes a resident Canada goose season for the western portion of the state. The dates are Nov. 15-28 and Dec. 12-Feb. 15, with a five-goose daily bag limit.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Annapolis High School, 2700 Riva Road. Folks who can't attend but would like to throw in their two cents can make online comments at www.dnr.state. md.us. Or they can write to the Wildlife and Heritage Service, Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis 21401.

Don't dally. DNR will announce its plan in early September.

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Deer deadline

Friday is the deadline for applying for a permit to hunt deer at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Kent County.

Refuge manager Martin Kaehny says muzzleloader season will be Oct. 10 and 17, and shotgun hunters will have Oct. 31 and Nov. 7. The refuge will be open to bow-and-arrow hunters on Oct. 3.

Permanently disabled hunters holding a state-issued "Hunt from a vehicle" permit can apply to hunt at the refuge on Sept. 22. The youth hunt, restricted to those between the ages of 10 and 15, will be Sept. 27.

Hunters can print an application from the refuge Web site -- easternneck.fws.gov/huntapp -- or call the refuge at 410-639-7056.

The drawing will be Aug. 25. Winners of the lottery will be allowed to kill two deer, but one must be antlerless.


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