Rockfish tourney benefits youth, the Bay and its resources
The Boatyard Bar & Grill 15th annual Spring Fishing Tournament is slated for the opening day of the spring striped bass season, Saturday, April 16.
The event’s catchand-release philosophy and proceeds help sustain the Chesapeake Bay’s rockfish population. No fish are brought in to be measured. Winners are determined from digital photos of the fish taken next to a Boatyard Measuring Device, better known as the “yardstick” (even though it is 48 inches long to accommodate the best fish!) or as the “fish-sticks.”
The registration deadline is April 13 and is limited to 150 boats. Online registration and payment is preferred.
Prizes will be awarded for the first three longest fish with the winner’s name featured on a Boatyard ceiling beam. The tournament also includes a junior division.
Proceeds benefit the Coastal Conservation Association, the Annapolis Police Dept. Youth Fishing Camp, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
A skipper’s meeting is 5-7 p.m. on Friday, April 15. Anglers should be in line for the measure- in by 4:30 p.m. Saturday, with a party and awards ceremony from 4-8 p.m.
The last post-tournament party was about 1,000 strong of captains, anglers, family, friends, and locals.
Dick Franyo, Boatyard Bar & Grill owner and event founder, said, “We started this tournament because everyone was out on the water anyway, so giving them a means to really celebrate the day and help out these important causes caught on. We share a passion with anglers for a healthier bay and preserving the sport of fishing for future generations.”
*** Distinguished Service One of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s longest tenured staff members, Dave Nomsen, was honored last week at the 81st North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference with the George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation.
The award was initiated 16 years ago in the memory of George Bird Grinnell, the acknowledged “Father of American Conservation.” Among many accomplish- ments, Grinnell was a founding member, with Theodore Roosevelt, of the Boone and Crockett Club. He also organized the first Audubon Society and was an organizer of the New York Zoological Society.
Nomsen is Pheasants Forever’s director in South Dakota following more than two decades as the organization’s vice president of government affairs. He has spent the last two decades as the organization’s voice on Capitol Hill and is one of the most respected and knowledgeable advocates in support of federal farm conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program.
*** Fishing Report Most of the tributary rivers draining into the Chesapeake Bay have had good spawning runs of white perch, and for the most part the spawning in the upper reaches of those rivers and creeks is about over as water temperatures reach the low 50s. Post-spawn white perch are moving back down the rivers and can be intercepted in areas below the spawning reaches. Deeper holes at low tide are good places to work your favorite lures.
Alewife herring are currently spawning and they will be seen splashing and milling around shorelines and shallows. In a few weeks, blueback herring and hickory shad will also be spawning when water temperatures become warmer. All of these species are strictly catch and release. The alewife herring can provide some fun light-tackle catch-and-release action on small shall darts, bluebacks on small gold hooks, and hickory shad on small flashy spoons, shad darts, and brightly colored wet flies.
Spawning adult rockfish are moving into the major spawning rivers. The Potomac, Patuxent, Nanticoke, and Choptank tend to receive the first wave of spawning fish. Water temperatures are still in the low 50s in most rivers and it will be a while before the spawning actually begins. Anglers are reminded catch-and-release fishing is illegal in the designated spawning reaches and violators face license suspensions and stiff fines.
Catch-and-release fishing for striped bass is allowed in the main stem of the Chesapeake and more than a few anglers have been light-tackle jigging at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant warm water discharge. Some are also shaking the cobwebs out of fishing tackle and giving boats a test run by trolling along the shipping channel edges in the middle and lower bay areas.
On the freshwater scene, largemouth bass are moving into shallow regions of tidal rivers, lakes, and ponds. Transition zones along channels, sunken wood, and fallen tree tops are also a good place to look for them. Soft plastics, small crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits are all good choices to use.
Crappie are active and tend to be holding near structure in slightly deep water. Fallen tree tops, rocks, marina piers and docks, bridge piers, and sunken wood all provide the cover they seek this time of the year. A minnow or small plastic tube or grub under a bobber and slowly retrieved is a great way to catch them. Bluegills and sunnies are already sucking down poppers landing lightly from a fly line.
Channel catfish and blue catfish fishing opportunities should not be overlooked this time of the year. There are lots of channel catfish in most of the bay’s tidal rivers. Fresh cut bait such as white perch, nightcrawlers, shrimp, or chicken liver makes good bait and a simple bottom rig completes the package.
*** Duck blind know-it-all Skewered scorpions, deep fried and sprinkled with spices, are considered a delicacy in China.
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