- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2001

When a finfish advisory committee meets Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the hearing room of the Colonial Beach, Va., headquarters of the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, you can bet your last dollar that the river's commercial netters most of whom believe that God has deeded all the Earth's water to them only will be on hand by the numbers.
Why? The advisory committee, comprised of private citizens and the industry (read that to mean commercial seafood catchers, sellers and buyers), will discuss a recent presentation on the use of circle hooks. The committee will consider requiring the use of the odd-shaped hooks for certain recreational fishing in the Potomac to reduce the mortality of finfish.
Think about this for a second.
Imagine a committee telling recreational anglers they must use a certain type of hook to reduce accidental mortality of deep-hooked finfish while netters are allowed to kill fish almost at will under the rubric of by-catch.
By-catch means, "Oops, I didn't mean to net that undersized flounder and that sea trout, but since I did and the fish died, I'm allowed to keep them anyway." Law enforcement officers could sit right there and watch a commercial netter do this, but not be allowed to do a thing about it.
The answer: Let's regulate recreational anglers some more. Go figure.
The antiquated commission has been overseeing finfish and shellfish catches in the Potomac River south of Wilson Bridge since the early 1960s because Maryland's commercial fishermen objected sometimes violently to Virginia netters and oystermen taking away their bounty in days when a bounty was to be had. To lower the possibility of conflict, Maryland practically gave away one of its richest rivers, agreeing to the establishment of a bi-state commission that would be headquartered in Colonial Beach. And what has transpired since then? The Potomac occasionally is policed by Virginia water patrols when the Maryland Natural Resources Police ought to be the sole law enforcement on the river.
For shame.
Also on the PRFC committee's slate Sept. 5 will be a proposal to widen the distance between newly licensed commercial pound nets, as well as a number of new eel harvesting laws.
Then we wonder how much time will be spent on a review of a proposal for a new summer and winter small-mesh gill net fishery in the river that would target species other than the striped bass?
While a number of fish-rich states, including Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana, are either halting or curtailing the use of gill nets, the PRFC apparently believes local fish populations to be so plentiful it can expand the use of gill nets.
Has decency taken a holiday?
The PRFC meeting is open to the public. The commission address: PRFC, P.O. Box 9, Colonial Beach, Va. 22443; phone 804/224-7148.
Hite Wins Michigan Bass Tour Event Since winning the 1999 BASS Masters Classic fishing championship, South Carolina's Davy Hite did not have a top-five finish in any event sanctioned by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. That ended in grand style last Saturday when Hite brought five bass to the weigh stand that tipped the scales at 19 pounds, 6 ounces enough to claim victory and $110,000 in the Michigan CITGO Bassmaster Tournament on Lake St. Clair.
Hite's four-day total weight of 68 pounds, 1 ounce gave him a 5-pound, 9-ounce margin over Indiana pro Chip Harrison, who finished second.
Harrison's final tally of 62? pounds earned him $49,000. Arkansas' Scott Rook brought in 61 pounds, 14 ounces of bass to give him a third-place finish and $37,000, followed by Texan Gary Klein, who ended up in the fourth spot with 58 pounds, 11 ounces, good for $36,000. Florida's Peter Thliveros had 57 pounds, 13 ounces for fifth place and a $17,500 check.
Hite relied on two lures a ?-ounce Hawg Caller spinnerbait and a Gambler Jumping Shad, a soft plastic jerkbait for his winning catch.
"The area had patchy grass along a slight drop in about three feet of water," said Hite, who fished on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair. "The spinnerbait worked well for me during the first three days, but the Jumping Shad enabled me to catch all of my bass [on the final day]."
Former world champion Larry Nixon of Arkansas fell to a tie for sixth place after holding the lead going into the last day of competition. He finished with 57 pounds, 9 ounces, tied with the reigning BASS Classic world champion, Michigan's Kevin VanDam.

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