County teams prepare for holiday tournaments
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.