Record num­bers for turkey hun­ters and snake­head

Record Observer - - Sports -

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 ck­nauss@star­dem.com

CHRIS KNAUSS

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