- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Just days before the April16 trophy rockfish season opener, Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) charged three recreational anglers for possessing striped bass ain the Nanticoke River near the town of Nanticoke.

Michael A. Nibblett, 33, of Delmar, Md., and Jason W. Nibblett, 23, and Craig A. LeBarron, 23, of Laurel, Del., were each issued citations for taking striped bass during a closed season. LeBarron also was arrested on outstanding warrants from the NRP and the Salisbury City Police.

The boat from which the men were fishing, a 19-foot Grady White, was seized as evidence, as was all fishing equipment and three female striped bass measuring 30 to 32 inches in length. The fish were donated to a temporary housing shelter in Salisbury.

The striper violation charges carry a maximum fine of $500 per fish for first-time offenders, but in the case of fishing protected zones during a closed season, the NRP can apply an additional penalty of $1,500 per fish for first-time offenders. The Nanticoke River remains closed to striper fishing, while the Chesapeake Bay is open over most of its geographic area.

Maryland duck stamp winner — Wilhelm Goebel of Salisbury, Md., took top honors for the second time at the 31st annual Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp Design Contest. Goebel’s painting of a ruddy duck will be scaled down and reproduced on the state waterfowl stamp.

Goebel’s work was selected from a field of 36 entries by five judges at the Patuxent Wildlife Art Show at the Patuxent National Wildlife Visitor’s Center in Laurel.

In 1997, the artist’s rendition of surf scoters won the coveted Federal Duck Stamp Competition and in 2001 he won his first Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp contest with a pair of widgeon rising from a cattail marsh.

Lampreys in the Potomac? — Local fishing guide Andy Andrzejewski caught a largemouth bass the other day in the tidal Potomac that had what appeared to be a lamprey attached to its side.

Heretofore, the guide and I both believed lampreys were seen only in the Great Lakes, where they cling to the sides of salmon and lake trout, feeding off their hosts.

Not necessarily, according to Maryland DNR biologist Martin Gary. When informed of the incident, Gary said, “The parasitic sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is commonly found throughout the Chesapeake Bay drainage in the spring when it enters the bay and its rivers to spawn — not in great numbers, but not uncommon by any means. They spend the majority of time in the Atlantic Ocean, and enter coastal estuaries and rivers to spawn. They die after spawning. We see them [typically] attached to striped bass, American shad, hickory shad, bluefish or other ocean-going fish that have entered the Chesapeake. We don’t hear of them attaching to largemouth very often.”

Well, there you have it. Another mystery solved.

Virginia deer disease update — After two rather quiet years, chronic wasting disease (CWD) that affect deer and elk has jumped further east. Last week, the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets reported that captive white-tailed deer from two separate facilities in Oneida County in central New York had tested positive for CWD.

Originally found only in Western states, the disease alarmed wildlife officials around the nation when it first crossed the Mississippi River into Wisconsin in 2002. That same year, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) took aggressive steps to prevent introduction of the disease into the Commonwealth and established a surveillance program. CWD has not been found in Virginia or in any adjacent states.

According to VDGIF Deer Program leader Matt Knox, “Regrettably, the finding of CWD in New York is not that surprising. It has been the opinion of our [staff] for years that private ownership of deer and the intrastate trafficking in deer that accompanies the captive deer industry represents the No. 1 chronic wasting disease risk factor. Any state with a major captive deer industry has a high CWD risk.”

The New York press release noted that the state had 433 establishments raising 9,600 deer and elk in captivity. In contrast, VDGIF records indicate there are currently only 23 facilities in Virginia that hold and possess approximately 550 captive deer.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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