Safety should be top priority this holiday weekend
It’s hard to believe the unofficial start of the summer season is already upon us. It sure doesn’t feel like it’s around the corner.
I’m not ready to stand kneedeep in freezing water with my teeth chattering on Saturday when the neighborhood pool opens. There’s not a chance my kids are going to miss the opening day; they’ve been counting down for weeks. Maybe I should be looking at wetsuits instead of bathing suits. If you’ve been by the farmer’s market lately, you’ll see that tomatoes and squash have been missing the sunshine too.
Memorial Day weekend is traditionally one of the busiest times of the entire year out on the water. The list of fun things to do with family and friends is endless, but safety should always be our top priority.
2015 was an especially dangerous year for boaters on Maryland’s waterways with 20 fatalities. Last year, 12 boaters lost their lives. The number one precaution boaters can take is having everyone onboard wear a life preserver.
A lifejacket can’t do its job properly if it’s stowed away and out of reach during a true emergency. The U.S. Coast Guard reports only about 10 percent of adults wear their lifejacket when under way. The statistics for children are better, thank goodness, with about 70 percent wearing them. But that number shouldn’t be less than 100 percent. The law requires children 13 and younger to wear a life preserver.
There’s no good reason not to wear one. Today’s life preservers aren’t bulky or awkward, and they allow a natural range of motion. You won’t even feel like you have one on since the newer ones don’t inflate until they come in contact with water.
More than three-quarters of all boating deaths could have been prevented if people had been wearing lifejackets. Make 2017 the year you wear a lifejacket every time you go out on the water. Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — Anthony Hancock, assistant manager at Gilbert Run Park in Dentsville, relayed that park employees discovered two bass on separate occasions that had choked to death on large crappie they had swallowed, proving the old adage “big baits catch big bass.” Both crappie were alive in the bass’ throats and were released.
Warmer temperatures are needed to bring bluegill and redear sunfish back to the shallows.
Patuxent River — According to Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301-863-8151), perch are behind schedule. Hopefully there will be some sunshine this weekend to warm things up. Croaker migration is underway and good numbers of this tasty fish should be making their way into our waters over the next month.
Town Creek Pier, which is located within the allowable fishing area for rockfish, opens
On June 1, the boundar y for rockfish changes again with the remainder of the Patuxent open for fishing. The creel limit is two per person, minimum 20 inches, with only one fish over 28 inches.
Potomac River — Life Outdoors Unlimited guide Kenny Penrod (240-478-9055) reports lots of bass biting in Mattawoman Creek, Belmont Bay and the Occoquan River. Penrod said the combination of milfoil and a weightless Case Magic Stik can’t be beat and recommends slowing down to catch the bigger ones.
Chesapeake Bay — Lamb has some good news. Lots of striped bass in the 20- to 30-inch range are congregated in our local waters. Plenty can be found at Cedar Point on the lighthouse rocks and from Little Cove Point south to the PR Buoy for trollers who are heading out this weekend (Note: Smaller lures are in order).
Lamb is hoping the rockfish chummers are finding on the Middle Grounds mean they are going to stay local this summer instead of migrating to the north as they have the past few years. That would be a real treat since trophy rockfish season never really took off.