Next year’s goose sea­sons short­ened, mal­lard lim­its re­duced

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At­lantic Fly­way wa­ter­fowlers will have to deal with re­duced bag lim­its for Canada geese and mal­lard ducks dur­ing the 2019-2020 sea­son. The mal­lard limit will drop to two daily, only one of which may be a hen, while Canada goose sea­sons in the At­lantic pop­u­la­tion zones will run just 30 days with a re­stric­tive har­vest.

The At­lantic Fly­way Coun­cil ap­proved the changes in Septem­ber, and they were for­mal­ized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice on Oct.

16-17. Canada goose hunters in Delaware, Mar yland, and Vir­ginia will be lim­ited to one bird daily, while the rest of the fly­way’s At­lantic pop­u­la­tion zones will be per­mit­ted two daily. The move was largely spurred by poor Canada goose pro­duc­tion last spring, plus a 30 per­cent de­cline among At­lantic pop­u­la­tion Canadas in the most-re­cent breed­ing pop­u­la­tion sur­vey.

“At­lantic Fly­way bi­ol­o­gists es­ti­mate it was the worst At­lantic pop­u­la­tion Canada goose pro­duc­tion in 22 years,” said John Devney, Delta Water­fowl’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent. “The col­lab­o­ra­tive At­lantic pop­u­la­tion band­ing ef­fort ac­counted 30 ju­ve­niles for the 3,000 geese banded. That is abysmal.”

At­lantic pop­u­la­tion goose reg­u­la­tions are based on a three-year av­er­age pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mate. The thresh­old for con­ser­va­tive reg­u­la­tions is 150,000 birds. While this year’s es­ti­mate was 155,000, poor goose pro­duc­tion com­pelled the At­lantic Fly­way Coun­cil to make changes.

The re­duced mal­lard limit is in re­sponse to a longert­erm prob­lem. Sur­veys in­di­cate breed­ing mal­lards in the north­east have de­clined about 20 per­cent since

1998. De­spite in­creas­ing seven per­cent in this year’s sur­vey to 482,100 birds, they are 32 per­cent below the long-term av­er­age.

At­lantic Fly­way hunters will still see a 60-day duck sea­son for 2019-2020. Al­though east­ern mal­lards are de­clin­ing, mal­lards oc­cupy a smaller per­cent­age of the At­lantic Fly­way har­vest than else­where.

***

New date for open house

The Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the new Bo­hemia River State Park in Ce­cil County, lo­cated at 3864 Au­gus­tine Her­man High­way in Ch­e­sa­peake City. The event was resched­uled from its orig­i­nal date due to bad weather. Com­mu­nity part­ners, out­door en­thu­si­asts, and oth­ers are in­vited to see and tour the prop­erty, and share thoughts on the new­est state park on our East­ern Shore.

Park Ser­vice staff will be avail­able to an­swer ques­tions about the park and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on top­ics such as hunt­ing, trails, and wa­ter ac­cess. A shut­tle ser­vice will be avail­able to ferry you to and from the wa­ter­front and other scenic ar­eas of the park.

*** Talk­ing turkey Hunters can pur­sue tur­keys now through Nov.

4 in Al­le­gany, Gar­rett, and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties with a bag limit of one bird. The

2018 Wild Turkey Ob­ser­va­tion Sur­vey Sum­mary showed turkey re­pro­duc­tion in western Mary­land was below av­er­age, but pop­u­la­tions re­main healthy and sus­tain­able, and should pro­vide am­ple op­por­tu­nity. Tur­keys are feed­ing heav­ily on acorns in ar­eas where they are abun­dant. When acorns are scarce, tur­keys will fre­quent fields more of­ten and tend to be eas­ier to lo­cate. A statewide win­ter sea­son will run Jan. 17-19.

*** Fish­ing re­port Shorter, cooler days are a sign for Ch­e­sa­peake Bay fish to pre­pare for win­ter con­di­tions or mi­grate out of the bay. For ti­dal rivers and main bay lo­ca­tions, an­glers can tar­get fish at ar­eas with good struc­ture such as un­der­wa­ter points, oyster bot­toms, reefs, chan­nel

edges, and large schools of bait­fish. Hun­gry striped bass will also roam nearby shal­low wa­ter ar­eas look­ing for an easy meal.

An­glers con­tinue to chum and chunk with men­haden or to fish with ar­ti­fi­cial lures. Lo­ca­tions in 25 feet to 35 feet of wa­ter around points, in­clud­ing Swan, Love, Pod­ick­ory, Hack­etts, and Thomas Point, are con­gre­gat­ing fish. Trolling has been a good op­tion along chan­nel edges in the bay or river mouths with um­brella rigs us­ing swimshads or buck­tails as trail­ers.

Pods of break­ing stripers

are show­ing up in lo­ca­tions in the mid­dle bay in­clud­ing Po­plar Is­land and Bloody Point. Light-tackle jig­ging with metal or soft plas­tic jigs can be fun and pro­duc­tive. Work­ing your jig un­der­neath break­ing fish or to sus­pended fish along chan­nel edges of­ten pro­duces larger fish. Trolling is a good op­tion with um­brella rigs be­hind in­line

weights with swimshad or buck­tail trail­ers.

Far­ther south, a hot bite has de­vel­oped in the Gas Docks area off Calvert Cliffs. There con­tin­ues to be good chum­ming for rock­fish and a few blue­fish at the mouth of the Po­tomac River and near St. Ge­orge Is­land.

On the At­lantic Coast, an­glers are catch­ing

blue­fish in the surf with cut mul­let and bunker as bait. Head­boats are see­ing some good days for both floun­der and sea bass at the ar­ti­fi­cial reefs and ship­wrecks when winds are calm enough. At the off­shore lumps and canyons, dol­phin-fish are pro­vid­ing ac­tion near lob­ster buoys and float­ing de­bris or weed lines. White mar­lin were

be­ing caught and re­leased from the Wash­ing­ton Canyon south to the Nor­folk Canyon prior to the big blow, but they are head­ing south. Duck blind know-it-all The blood of a green­blooded skink is green.

CHRIS KNAUSS

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