Chris Dollar: Try to cash in on fishing fun

cdollar@cdollaroutdoors.com

Now is arguably prime-time to get offshore, as long as the weather cooperates, which it hasn't for me. In fact, it’s been downright rude, scrubbing three scheduled trips, including one for this weekend. But that’s my sob story; not so much for the hundreds of sport anglers from Virginia Beach to south Jersey who have run to the Hudson and Washington canyons to chase pelagics, particularly billfish. Throw in mahi mahi, wahoo, tilefile, and even cobia — Patrick Coomes' scored a 70-pounder at Little Gull — and it’s easy to see why anglers are having a ball.

Speaking of “good news,” the other day NOAA Fisheries continued to deny pelagic longline vessels access into the East Florida Coast Pelagic Longline Closed Area, a conservation zone off-limits to this type of fishing gear.

Closer to home, over the Labor Day weekend locals Dale and Dave Dirks, Kevin Thomas, Jane Millman, Kevin McMenamin and their friend Danny Collision of Roanoke had a great weekend on board Dale’s sportfisher, Heatwave. They kicked things off with a limit of blueline tiles — Danny Collision got a 12.5-pound citation — and then kept the good times rolling by bailing dolphin, the largest of which was a 23.50-pounder decked by Jane.

Another group to cash in on the fun was Rob Pellicot, Daryl Thomas and Adam Morris, all members of the recently formed Frederick Saltwater Anglers group. They went to the Washington Canyon on Rob’s center console Reel Screamer and had a blast catching white marlin and mahis. Hopefully, the fish will stick around bit longer for those of us snake-bit by bad weather windows.

TOURNEY SUPPORTS FISH HABITATS

So here’s the challenge: In eight hours, catch-and-release as many different gamefish species as you can — rockfish, white perch, weakfish, spotted seatrout (do toadfish count?) — on one of six oyster restoration bars sprinkled around the Choptank River. That’s the basic format for the low-key “Rod & Reef Slam,” yet the long-term goal is far more important: Highlighting the importance of oyster reefs as both crucial fish habitat and natural water filters.

“Historically, the live bottom provided by three-dimensional oyster reefs produced an amazingly diverse fishing community,” says the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s long-time naturalist, John Page Williams. “Our aim here is to bring that rich diversity back to our recreational and commercial fisheries.”

The Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, a coalition of 40 or so Bay conservation groups, has set a goal to plant 10 billion new oysters in Virginia and Maryland waters by 2025.

The tournament runs Sept. 22, and anglers with the highest number of different fish win prizes such as an Engle cooler, Costa Sunglasses gift cards, Lyon Distilling Rum, and fishing

tackle. The powerboat and kayak divisions each require an entry fee of $50, but youth anglers can participate for free if they’re a member of the Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, a whopping $10 a year. Anglers can start fishing at 6:30 a.m,. but must stop at 2:30 p.m., after which, from 3-6 p.m., the all-important “after party” and awards presentation takes center stage at Lowes Wharf Marina Inn in Sherwood on the Shore. If you don’t fish, for $10 you can go to the party, and that gets you food and entertainment.

The tournament is being co-sponsored by CBF, NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, CCA MD, and the Maryland’s DNR. The title sponsor is Curtis Stokes & Associates, Inc. For more information, contact CBF’s Hilary Gibson at (443) 482-2097 or hgibson@cbf.org.

OUTDOORS CALENDAR

Thru Oct. 20: Dove Season, first split. Check DNR website for complete regulations.

Thru Sept. 15: Early resident Canada goose season, Eastern zone. Check DNR website for complete regulations.

Thru Sept. 25: Early resident Canada goose season, Western Zone. Check DNR website for complete regulations.

Sept. 10: Pasadena Sportfishing Group’s Monthly Meeting. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Highway (Route 2) Severna Park. Guest speaker is Capt. George Bentz, Jr. of Drizzle Bar Charters. Meeting begins 7:30 p.m. Free to the public.

Sept. 15: Pasadena Sportfishing Group’s “White Perch Open.” $50 entry fee required per team (up to 4 anglers). Captain’s meeting Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at PSG’s monthly meeting, Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Hwy (Route 2).

Sept. 17-29: September Teal Season. Check DNR website for complete regulations.

Sept. 20: Public meeting on Cobia Management Plan. Hosted by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and Department of Natural Resource. Meeting begins at 6 p.m. at PRFC’s facility, 222 Taylor Street, Colonial Beach, Va. Contact Ellen Cosby (PRFC) at (804) 224-7148 or Lynn Fegley (MD DNR) at (410) 260-8285.

Sept. 22: “Rod & Reef Slam” Fishing Tournament. Benefits oyster restoration that improves water quality and fish habitat. Three Divisions: Youth, Kayak and Powerboat. Party at Lowe’s Wharf Marina & Inn, Sherwood. Register at ianglertournament.com/2018-rod-and-reef-slam-angling-oyster-restoration.

Sept. 28-30: Red-Trout Tournament, hosted by CCAMD at American Legion, Crisfield. Register and more information@ccamd.org.

Oct. 3: Free State Fly Fishers Club, 7 p.m. at Davidsonville Family Recreation Center (Behind Ford Hall), 3789 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville. Guest speaker will be Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper, discussing “Enforcing Clean Water Laws.”

Oct. 12-13: CBKA Charity Kayak Fishing Tournament. Camp Wright on Kent Island. Benefits Heroes on the Water and CCA MD. Registration at chesapeakebaykayakanglers.com.

Oct. 20: Rocktober Cup, hosted by Baltimore Chapter, CCA MD. Details at information@ccamd.org.

Oct. 27-Nov. 2: Dove Season, second split season. Check DNR website for complete regulations.

Nov. 3: Fish For A Cure. Monies raised in the Paul C. Dettor Captain’s Challenge funds the Survivorship Program at AAMC’s Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute. Details at fishforacure.org.

Dec. 18-Jan. 12, 2019: Dove Season, third split. Check DNR website for complete regulations.

Chris Dollar writes about the outdoors for The Capital. Contact him with items for his column or the outdoors calendar at cdollar@cdollaroutdoors.com

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