LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
We bought a vacation home on Tilghman Island 12 years ago. We do a lot of fishing around the island. From personal experience, I can tell you there are hordes of smaller rockfish in the central Bay and its tributaries.
Currently, state regulations make it illegal to keep rock under 19 inches. How this helps the fishery is a mystery to me. This time of year, recreational fishermen catch and release quite a few smaller fish in order to obtain their twofish limit. This process is killing many smaller rock. Many fish are released fatally injured, mangled or with hooks in throat. When the fishing is slow, some use treble or double treble hooks, which is even more fatal. This practice is also a violation of law, but nobody seems to care. The regulations, as they stand, are doing nothing to preserve the fishery. In fact, the kill rate is astronomical because of the law.
I think it would be far wiser and better to the fishery to lower the Rockfish limit to 15 inches and allow no culling. This way fewer fish would be killed or injured. Fishermen can obtain their limit easier with less stress on the fishery. Besides all that, the smaller fish taste better. These smaller fish also are far more indiscriminate in their feeding habits. They eat anything that fits in their mouth and have a negative impact on the Bay’s commercial crab harvest. This is particularly true in relation to smaller crabs which an individual rock will eat by the score.
I’m no political activist. I’m sure however the regulations are established is complex with a lot of meetings and opinions discussed. Whoever thinks the current laws make sense never saw a school of juvenile rock feeding. They can witness this mid-October in the Choptank if they care to. They could also go live lining and experience what I am saying first hand. FRANK LEADEM