County teams pre­pare for hol­i­day tour­na­ments

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - Jamie Drake jamie drake out­doors @out­

For you that read my col­umn reg­u­larly, you might re­call an ear­lier ar­ti­cle about a ves­sel named the Loose Knot. It would be a fa­mil­iar name be­cause I men­tioned it back in May when the crew won first place in the Cham­pi­onship on the Ch­e­sa­peake. Those guys took home a check for $75,000, which is a pretty big deal.

Well, 2016 has been a par­tic­u­larly good year for this team of recre­ational fish­er­men. At this rate, maybe they should con­sider quit­ting their day jobs and go­ing at it full-time? They are back in the head­lines — and back in the money — as the first place win­ners of the 24th an­nual Mary­land Saltwater Sport­fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (MSSA) Fall Clas­sic tour­na­ment. It was held last month, Nov. 18-20,,which was a par­tic­u­larly news­wor­thy fish­ing week­end. As you might re­call, some es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous weather claimed the lives of three fish­er­men on the Po­tomac River that week­end. The weather was so ex­treme that the last day of the Fall Clas­sic had to be can­celed.

The Fall Clas­sic at­tracted nearly 900 an­glers aboard 200 boats vy­ing to land the big­gest striped bass. While only 39 fish were weighed in dur­ing the two days of fish­ing, the win­ning rock­fish was al­most ten pounds heav­ier than the sec­ond place fish and be­came an MSSA Tour­na­ment Se­ries record for striped bass, weigh­ing a whop­ping 55.30 pounds. It was caught on Fri­day, Nov.18 by a team of five an­glers fish­ing on the Loose Knot, who have been fish­ing to­gether for the past six years. Austin Davis, Ryan Rus­sell, John We­ber, Jr., Jack We­ber and Kyle Wood won the tour­na­ment and split nearly $30,000 in prize money. The mas­sive fish was caught while they were trolling near Point Look­out on a Chas­ing Stripes Tackle green pac­man with a 9-inch shad.

So, with their lat­est haul, these guys have picked up more than $100k in prize money this year alone. As we are tick­ing down the days un­til Christ­mas as I write this, I have to won­der about their gift-giv­ing plans? With that sort of good for­tune, I imag­ine the safe move for these gen­tle­men is to go out of their way and pick out some par­tic­u­larly nice gifts for their sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers. Since they are out fish­ing most week­ends, maybe jew­elry is worth con­sid­er­ing.

The MSSA Tour­na­ment Se­ries is the last re­main­ing tour- na­ment se­ries in the mid-At­lantic re­gion, com­prised of two Ch­e­sa­peake Bay tour­na­ments and two off­shore tour­na­ments. The Se­ries is a true test of fish­ing abil­ity while also an en­joy­able fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with friends and fam­ily.

“We hope to get more an­glers and new an­glers par­tic­i­pat­ing in our tour­na­ments. These tour­na­ments are a great way to spend a week­end with friends and fam­ily on the wa­ter,” said Dave Smith, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the MSSA.

MSSA is an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to fur­ther­ing recre­ational fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in Mary­land. Be­sides host­ing

these big fish­ing tour­na­ments to pro­mote and en­cour­age peo­ple to go fish­ing, the mem­bers of the 14 lo­cal chap­ters of MSSA ded­i­cate their time and ef­fort to projects that pro­mote the con­ser­va­tion of ma­rine re­sources and the restora­tion of habi­tat. One spe­cial mis­sion of MSSA is youth out­reach and ed­u­ca­tion. Lo­cal chap­ters sponsor fish­ing events for chil­dren, like fish­ing clin­ics, camps, and der­bies, to teach them the joys of fish­ing and how to be good con­ser­va­tion­ists.

Restor­ing the Bay

The Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DNR) just wished the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay a “Merry Christ­mas” when it an­nounced that lo­cal gov­ern­ments and non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions are in­vited to ap­ply for a piece of a $25 mil­lion dol­lar pie set aside to fund projects that will help re­store the bay and im­prove its wa­ter qual­ity.

The money comes from the Ch­e­sa­peake and At­lantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, which Gover­nor Hogan funded with $53 mil­lion back in Jan­uary. Ac­cord­ing to DNR, this fund “has di­rected over $350 mil­lion to over 2,000 projects. To date, it has re­moved 27,000 tons of nutri­ent and sed­i­ment from en­ter­ing the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, and helped re­store over 550 acres of wet­lands and 222,000 lin­ear feet of stream while sup­port­ing 2,000 jobs.”

There has been some bad news re­cently about the Conowingo Dam — it’s reached its max­i­mum ca­pac­ity and no longer has the abil­ity to trap sed­i­ment. What goes in must go out, and that means the pol­lu­tion and nu­tri­ents in run-off that orig­i­nate above the dam are now trav­el­ing through the dam and down­stream. Let’s all hope there are some truly in­no­va­tive thinkers with some cre­ative ideas ap­ply­ing this year.

Merry Christ­mas to all

Al­though this col­umn will be ap­pear­ing two days be­fore the “big day,” I want to wish each and ev­ery one of you who read this col­umn a very Merry Christ­mas! You can bet there will be lots of ex­cited and happy chil­dren at our house on Christ­mas morn­ing. Our youngest daugh­ter is only one-year old this year. She doesn’t un­der­stand what all the hoopla about Santa is about, but she’s a smart one and I have a feel­ing she’ll fig­ure out what to do with all that wrap­ping pa­per pretty quick.

Hope­fully they won’t be wak­ing us up too early on Christ­mas morn­ing. Back when I was grow­ing up, my par­ents had a rule that we couldn’t wake them up un­til the sun was out. I didn’t know much about as­tron­omy back when I was 8 or 9, but I did know wait­ing un­til the first rays of light were vis­i­ble was ab­so­lute tor­ture. My dad was a smart guy, though, and he knew that the sun rises later in the win­ter, so that rule was a good one from the par­ent’s point of view.

We don’t have that rule in our house, but in case you’re won­der­ing, sun­rise is at 7:21 a.m. on Christ­mas morn­ing.

Merry Christ­mas! And I hope you all make some won­der­ful me­mories with the peo­ple you love what­ever time you get up on Dec. 25.


The win­ners of the MSSA Fall Tour­na­ment pic­tured are, from left, Austin Davis, Ryan Rus­sell, John We­ber, Jack We­ber, and Kyle Wood.

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