- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Here’s a bit of a follow-up to last Thursday’s column, which dealt with reduced striped bass catches during the spring trophy season in Maryland’s portions of the Chesapeake Bay and questions about the accuracy of certain surveys.

As far as a cap on catching large rockfish in the bay, how would anybody ever know 30,000 spring trophy rockfish has been reached? The question answers itself. No one really knows.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says that in the fall of 2004 it asked the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to review the various recreational fishing surveys funded and/or conducted by NMFS.

The result of the review, I believe, was that current fishing surveys are not accurate. I say “I believe” because the report was written in befuddling, long-winded government language common mortals might have a tough time following. (I’m one of those.) However, I gleaned enough from the report to learn that many of these surveys can be wrong. Overestimates and underestimates occur, and the NMFS will try to fix that by using different formulas in the future.

None of this surprises me. In many decades of saltwater fishing, I’ve only been checked or asked twice what my catch was. Practically all of my fishing acquaintances say the same. If most fishermen never have been asked what or how much they caught, how often they fish or what types of recreational methods they employ, where do these survey numbers come from?

A worthwhile CCA fund-raiser — The Southern Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will have its annual winter fund-raiser from 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, at Middleton Hall in Waldorf, Md. The event is open to the public and costs $40 a person ($75 a couple if preregistered) or $45 a person/$85 a couple at the door. Each fund-raiser ticket includes a one-year CCA membership (a $25 value). There will be a one-hour open bar social hour, followed by a deluxe buffet dinner and live or silent auctions and raffles. You can bid on a variety of canoes, kayaks, firearms, fishing trips, tackle and much more. To preregister, send a check or money order to CCA-Md., c/o Donald Gardiner, 3675 Fritz Place, Waldorf, Md., 20601.

And so is this one — The Northern Virginia chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will have its annual banquet March 3, starting with a social at 6 p.m. (dinner at 8 p.m.) in the Shriners Kena Temple in Fairfax. The funds go to a children’s fishing trip, expenses for meetings, speakers and contributions to the CCA/Virginia State Office. Among auction items will be a fishing trip to Costa Rica, 10 other guided fishing trips, Orvis fly-fishing equipment, an offshore tuna outing, a canoe and various golf packages. For reservation and cost information, call banquet chairman John Bello, 703/736-2621, or e-mail jbello@hcitech.com.

Keystoners get the bears — The 2006 bear kill totals released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission show hunters shot 3,122 black bears, including 79 during the state’s first archery bear season; 2,569 during a statewide three-day season; and 474 during the extended season (Nov. 27-Dec. 2), which was open in only selected areas.

The 2006 bear season totals rank second only to the 2005 season, which set a record of 4,164 bears. Other recent kill totals were 3,075 in 2000, 3,063 in 2001, 2,686 in 2002, 3,000 in 2003 and 2,972 in 2004.

It doesn’t look like the bears in Pennsylvania are about to become extinct, does it?

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

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