Safety should be top pri­or­ity this hol­i­day week­end

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors @out­

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

this week­end.

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.

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