DNR ac­cept­ing com­ments on cownose rays and co­bia

Record Observer - - Sports -

The De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources is ac­cept­ing com­ments through Thurs­day, Nov. 10, on pos­si­ble changes to cownose ray man­age­ment. The de­part­ment is con­sid­er­ing pro­hibit­ing the use of archer y equip­ment to catch cownose rays from July 1 through Dec. 31.

Ac­cord­ing to the DNR, cownose rays are a mi­gra­tory species that range from Florida to New Jersey and use the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay as nurs­ery habi­tat be­tween the months of May and Oc­to­ber. Male cownose rays de­part the Bay in late June to early July. There­fore, cownose rays present in the Bay after July 1 are pre­dom­i­nantly preg­nant fe­males and young-of-theyear pups.

Cownose rays are a species that ma­tures late (males 6-7 years, fe­males 7-8 years), has a pro­longed ges­ta­tion pe­riod of 11 months, and has only 1 pup per year. This com­bi­na­tion of traits lim­its pop­u­la­tion growth and causes the an­i­mal to be sen­si­tive to ad­di­tional sources of mor­tal­ity in­clud­ing fish­ing.

Com­ments on the pro­posal (and an­other one de­tailed be­low) can be sub­mit­ted through the DNR web­page (dnr.mary­land.gov/fish­eries/Pages/ reg­u­la­tions/changes. aspx).

The DNR is also con­sid­er­ing list­ing co­bia as “in need of con­ser­va­tion.” Co­bia are caught in both state and fed­eral waters along the At­lantic Coast and in Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. Ac­cord­ing to the DNR, in 2015 both the recre­ational and the to­tal an­nual catch lim­its of At­lantic mi­gra­tory group co­bia were ex­ceeded. As a re­sult, changes in man­age­ment are needed in or­der to pro­tect against the po­ten­tial neg­a­tive im­pacts re­sult­ing from an un­reg­u­lated fish­ery.

The ad­di­tion of co­bia to the “in-need-of-conser va­tion” list pro­vides the Sec­re­tary of Nat­u­ral Re­sources author­ity to adopt rules and reg­u­la­tions nec­es­sary to con­serve the fish when fed­eral rec­om­men­da­tions are made.

* * * Fish­ing re­port Striped bass are bit­ing along main chan­nel edges in Ch­e­sa­peake Bay such as Brew­er­ton Chan­nel and the main shipping chan­nel. Jig­ging has been one of the more pro­duc­tive meth­ods when birds can be spot­ted or sus­pended fish can be lo­cated on a depth finder. Trolling has also been a good way to fish when heavy in­line weights are used to get buck­tails and spoons down deep to where the fish are hold­ing.

White perch in the up­per bay are also hold­ing deep in the chan­nels near the mouths of the tidal rivers and the bay. Many an­glers are us­ing bot­tom rigs baited with pieces of blood­worm or jigs. Chan­nel cat­fish and yel­low perch can also be part of the mix. At the Bay Bridge, white perch are hold­ing near the rock piles and some of the bridge py­lons.

South to the mid­dle-bay re­gion, striped bass are spread out over a wide area. Most of the legal­sized fish are hold­ing deep along chan­nel edges or in the chan­nels. One of the bet­ter ways to lo­cate them is to watch depth find­ers near these ar­eas and then jig me­tal or soft plas­tics. Slicks are a good thing to look for and also jig­ging deep near smaller sur­face feed­ing striped bass, which are of­ten marked by div­ing sea gulls.

Shore bound an­glers have been en­joy­ing some good fish­ing for rock­fish and white perch at some of the fish­ing piers within the re­gion that of­fer ac­cess to deeper waters, and the Kent Nar­rows of­fers good fish­ing from the bulk­heads. Cast­ing jigs on an an­gle up cur­rent and jig­ging as the cur­rent sweeps a buck­tail along is usu­ally a good bet. Crankbaits and jerk­baits can also be a good choice where the cur­rent is not strong at prom­i­nent points and jet­ties and blood­worms or cut bait work well on bot­tom rigs.

Far­ther south, the Mid­dle Grounds has been hold­ing a lot of striped bass and sea trout as well as the Cover Point and Point-No-Point ar­eas. The mouths of the Nan­ti­coke, Wi­comico and Po­comoke rivers are of­fer­ing good fish­ing for striped bass, sea trout and white perch.

On the fresh­wa­ter scene, fish­ing for large­mouth bass is good this time of the year due to cooler water tem­per­a­tures push­ing bass to ac­tively feed. Chain pick­erel, north­ern pike, and north­ern snake­heads will be part of the mix de­pend­ing on where you’re fish­ing. Tran­si­tion ar­eas that have struc­ture such as sunken wood, rocks, or grass are great places to tar­get with spin­ner­baits, crankbaits, jerk­baits, soft plas­tics, and stick baits. In tidal waters, work­ing the out­side edges of grass beds or spat­ter­dock fields on a fall­ing tide is al­ways a good bet.

On the At­lantic Coast, surf cast­ers are pick­ing away at rock­fish on cut bait and small blue­fish on fin­ger mul­let. Fish­ing with blood­worms, clams, or sand fleas can get some black drum ac­tion also. Boat an­glers fish­ing the wreck and reef sites are re­port­ing limit catches of sea bass and floun­der.

* * * Duck blind know-it-all A 3.5-ounce por­tion of crick­ets of­fers 26 per­cent (13 grams) of the USDA rec­om­mended daily al­lowance of pro­tein.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss. email me at

ck­nauss@star­dem.com

CHRIS KNAUSS

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