Record numbers for turkey hunters and snakehead
Hunters reported harvesting a total of 3,874 wild turkeys during the 2016 regular spring and junior hunt turkey seasons that ended on May 23. This year’s har vest is three percent higher than 2015 (3,767) and well above the ten year average of 3,131.
“The high har vest can be attributed to a combination of factors, including growing turkey populations, excellent weather during the first week, and more Sunday hunting opportunities across the state,” said Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said.
Garrett County reported the highest harvest this year with 387 turkeys, followed by Washington with 355. Rounding out the top five were Frederick (299), Dorchester (274), and Charles (265). Hunters in nine counties were able to hunt on Sundays this year, which led to a harvest of 251 turkeys.
Caroline County hunters tagged 172 turkeys this season, Kent County tagged 181, Queen Anne’s 190, and Talbot 88.
Youth hunters kicked-off the spring turkey season with
the Junior Turkey Hunt on April 16 statewide and April 17 in select counties. They took advantage of the pleasant weather and harvested 193 wild turkeys.
Nearly 50 percent of the total harvest typically occurs during the first week.
* * * Record snakehead Emor y (Dutch) Baldwin III from Indian Head and his regular bow-hunting partner Franklin Shotwell were wrapping up a night of stalking northern snakehead from Baldwin’s boat along the Maryland side of the Potomac River when they decided to check the flats near Marshall Hall to see if the blue catfish had moved up into the grass.
According to Baldwin, “Franklin saw the big snakehead, but it was on my side of the boat.”
After quickly aiming his compound bow with a slight adjustment to account for the refracted shadow cast by railmounted search lights, he released the arrow and was immediately engaged in a tug of war with an 18.42-pound Maryland record.
The following day, Baldwin brought the fish to Gray Brothers Market in Marbury where it was weighed on a certified meat scale. DNR Southern Region Manager Mary Groves later confirmed the species and the new record was made official.
While state fishing records are normally awarded only for fish caught by rod and reel, Maryland makes an exception for three invasive fish species: northern snakehead, blue catfish, and flathead catfish.
* * * Free fishing days If you’ve got a hankering for fishing, but don’t want to pay for a license, no license or trout stamp is required to recreationally fish in Maryland waters this summer on June 4 and 11 and July 4. During the free fishing days, anglers must adhere to all state regulations and rules, including size and possession limits, which are outlined in the Maryland Fishing Guide.
New this year, Maryland is offering half-price fishing licenses for 16-year-old anglers purchasing a license for the first time. If you are 16 years old at the time of purchase, you will automatically receive a 50-percent discount on your 365-day resident, non-resident, nontidal or Chesapeake Bay and Coastal fishing license.
The rescheduled Greensboro Fishing Derby, now June 4, might be a good place to get started.
* * * Fishing report In the upper Chesapeake, striped bass are being found along channel edges near the entrance to Baltimore Harbor, Love Point, Baltimore Light, and Sandy Point Light. Trolling mediumsized tandem bucktails behind planers or umbrella rigs behind inline weights has been effective as well as chumming. The best chumming has been reported to be on a falling tide. The Bay Bridge piers always hold rockfish and some are chumming and chunking up current of the piers or jigging close to the bridge pylons with bucktails and soft plastic jigs.
Chummers have found some good action at Hackett’s bar and boats have been anchoring up near the Green Can on the 35-foot edge and farther out towards the shipping channel. Schools of bay anchovies are arriving in the middle bay and stripers strongly represented by the 2011 year class are working them over.
The shallows near the mouth of the Choptank River are good places to try with topwater poppers such as the Chug a Bug or the Smackit Jr. Skipping bugs will likely keep you entertained if you’re fly fishing.
Some of the better mid-bay spots to check for striped bass holding along channel edges are the Gum Thickets, Buoy 83, the Hill, Thomas Point, Holland Point, the Clay Banks, and the western edge of the shipping channel from Holland Point south to the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant.
Black drum fishing on some of the shoal areas in the middle and lower bay now have some anglers thinking about dunking soft crab baits. Locations such as the Sharps Island Flats, the James Island Flats, and the Mud Leads above the Target Ship are three of the traditional locations to slowly inspect with depth finders.
White perch continue to move into their traditional summertime habitat haunts in the tidal rivers and creeks. Recreational crabbers are finding good action starting at the Choptank River and farther south.
On the coast, the best opportunities now exist for catching large stripers in the surf as these fish pass by Mar yland shores on their way to New England waters. Smaller bluefish are also in the mix. Tautog continue to be caught near bulkheads and jetty rocks on pieces of crab or sand fleas. Sea bass fishing has been ver y good on many of the reef and wreck sites with limit catches.
Offshore, a few boats have been making the run out to east of the Poorman’s and Baltimore canyons and bringing back yellowfin tuna and dolphin-fish. * * * Duck blind know-it-all There are more than a quarter million species of beetles in the world. Follow me on Twitter @csknauss Email me at email@example.com