Deer, trout, black drum, bears, and bobbers in the news
Hunters get another chance to bag some venison when the winter portion of firearm deer hunting season opens Jan. 4 in Deer Management Region B, which includes all of the state except our westernmost counties. Hunters with a valid hunting license may use firearms to harvest sika and white-tailed deer during this season.
The season is open Jan. 4 and 5 in all Region B counties and Jan. 6 on private lands only in Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Washington (Zone 1), and Worcester counties. On Sunday, shooting hours end at 10:30 a.m. in Kent and Montgomery counties.
Please make sure you’ve consulted the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping to keep undated on bag limits, regulations, and registration procedures. And remember that during firearms season, Mar yland requires deer hunters and their companions to wear daylight fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink in one of the following manners: a cap of solid fluorescent daylight orange or pink; a vest or jacket containing back and front panels of at least 250 square inches of fluorescent daylight orange or pink; or an outer garment of camouflage daylight fluorescent orange or pink worn above the waist and containing at least 50 percent daylight fluorescent color. Make sure your tree stand is safe and be careful climbing up and down.
* * * Trout stocking begins The DNR has already started preseason trout stocking at several popular fishing locations in western Mar yland including Lake Habeeb. The state’s hatcheries are raising more than a quarter million brown, golden, and rainbow trout, which will be stocked in more than 130 locations across 14 counties during the 2019 spring season.
The stocking schedule and daily updates are available online as well as the department’s regional service centers and license agents. Anglers can also receive stocking notifications by email or calling 800-688-3467.
The stocking program is funded by the sale of nontidal fishing licenses, trout stamps, and federal Sport Fish Restoration Program funds.
* * * Black drum comments
The DNR is accepting comments on a proposal to reopen the commercial black drum fishery within the Chesapeake Bay. Currently, the commercial harvest of black drum is prohibited in the bay and that should continue. Comments will be accepted through Jan. 22. Right now, it looks like the DNR is hell-bent on satisfying a few members of a special interest group to the detriment of thousands of recreational anglers and the industries that support them.
Black drum are often the largest fish anglers will ever fight in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake. Besides being an exciting fish to catch, the fishery also spurs sales of hooks, leaders, rods and reels, baits, boat fuel, and charter trips.
* * * Dip into some paint The 23rd annual Maryland Black Bear Conservation Stamp and 45th annual Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp design contests are now underway. These contests are open until March 8 and are open to anyone wishing to submit a design for consideration.
Entries will be judged on March 16 in conjunction with the annual Eagle Festival at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge.
The Black Bear Conservation Stamp contest is open to both residents and nonresidents. Each contestant may submit one entry for a nonrefundable $10 fee. Proceeds are used to compensate farmers who experience agricultural damage caused by black bears.
New this year, the Migratory Game Bird Stamp contest is also open to both residents and nonresidents. Each contestant may submit up to three entries with a fee structure of $15 for one, $20 for two, and $30 for three. Proceeds help fund game bird and waterfowl research and projects.
All entries must be original works, neither copied nor duplicated from any previously published paintings, drawings, prints, or photographs. To enter, contestants must mail their designs with required fees and forms by March 8. Complete information is available online or by contacting DNR service offices.
* * * Fishing report With colder Chesapeake Bay temperatures, warm water discharges will attract more fish and plastics on jigs will entice them to strike. On the freshwater scene, pickerel have been providing good action in ponds here on the Shore. Minnows under bobbers are usually a great choice to land them as are spinnerbaits such as those offered by Mepps.
Lipless crankbaits and stickbaits causing some commotion will also draw pickerel strikes. Among many places where they’re biting, the upper Choptank is a good place to try in three- to five-feet of water. Tuckahoe State Park hosts pickerel both in the pond and in the creek.
On the coast, anglers have reported catching a few large striped bass off the coast of Fenwick Island, using white and chartreuse Mojos, but action has been described as dismal throughout the region. Stripers are still being caught off the Jersey coast, so it’s possible a run might come close to the coast anytime now. Headboats are catching sea bass and tautog when the weather cooperates.
* * * Duck blind know-it-all The record black drum caught in Maryland waters was 103 pounds, 8 ounces, reeled in by Robert Messik Jr. on September 23, 1973 at Buoy 16.
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