- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council recently sent out its table of total allowable landings and limits for summer flounder, scup, black sea bass and bluefish in 2010.

What I often wonder: How do the government scientists and biologists come up with their numbers concerning recreational fishing totals, let alone keep track of what is caught?

I suppose they have a way of counting total poundages of commercial fishing trawlers that work our coastal areas, even the Chesapeake Bay, because there are records to be kept and inspectors come around to keep the watermen honest. But how on earth do they set a limit of recreational bluefish landings next year at 24.29 million pounds?

Get serious. Next year, 24.29 million pounds of bluefish can be caught by sport fishermen. Not 24.30 million pounds, not 23.29 million pounds, not even just plain and simply 25 million pounds. No, it had to be 24.29 million.

The same goes for summer flounder. In 2010, the commercial quota is set at 13.28 million pounds, and the recreational “harvest” at 8.85 million pounds.

It must be that the eggheads in government offices simply know what we sport fishermen have done. How else can they set a quota with any sort of accuracy?

In decades of sport fishing, I have never been asked by anyone what I caught, how much it weighed or what species of fish I had in the boat or laying on a pier. It never happened, and there must be millions of fellow anglers who will echo my story.

What is it that is said about the numbers game? There are lies, more lies and, finally, statistics.

Fish thieves nabbed - The Maryland Natural Resources Police recently responded to an Ocean City area around the Route 50 bridge, investigating a recreational angler’s complaints that he had seen people there keeping just about everything they caught. The officers subsequently issued citations and seized 120 fish that were either undersized or possessed during a closed season.

The confiscated loot included 109 sea bass, four summer flounder, three grunts, one blue fish, one tautog, one croaker and one trigger fish. The fish were donated to the Diakonia homeless shelter in West Ocean City.

Twelve individuals were charged, all of them from the District or suburban towns ranging from Manassas, Va., to Germantown. The fines for the offenses ranged from $100 to $450. A court date of Dec. 4 was set in District Court in Snow Hill, Md. The chances of getting off free in this case are slim.

Rockfish tournament - The annual Colonial Beach Rockfish Tournament will be held Nov. 6-8. If you get your entry form in by Oct. 24, the cost will be $150; after that, it will cost $175.

There will be a captains dinner and meeting at 6 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Wilkerson’s Seafood Restaurant in Colonial Beach, Va. There will be cash prizes up to $5,000 for the winner but also cash for runners-up. Go to www.rockfishtournament.org to download entry forms and the rules. For more information, call Jamie Geddes at 301/461-7635 or e-mail reelantsy@aol.com.

Smallmouth bass club meets - The Potomac River Smallmouth Club meets at 7:15 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Vienna Fire Station on Center Street. The club’s special guest will be charter captain Mike Starrett, one of the few local guides who targets large blue catfish. Come and be amazed at how he does it. Starrett will show how to rig for the big “cats” and display his secret baits. It’s free, and the public is invited. For more information, e-mail ernierojas@verizon.net.

Look for Gene Muellers Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/ sports.