- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

Local bass anglers who do most of their fishing in the tidal Potomac River are advised that two popular creek coves have been closed to recreational and commercial fishing while the Maryland Department of Natural Resources studies the redds of spawning largemouth bass.The first of the coves is known as the Linton Point sector inside the Chicamuxen Creek, and the second off-limits area is the Gum Tree Cove in Burgess Creek, a part of the lower Nanjemoy Creek. Both are in Charles County.The study hopes to discover more about the spawning activities of the tidal water largemouths and learn whether sport fishing, as well as commercial seining for gizzard shad and catfish in those waters, has a detrimental effect on the gamefish’s reproduction. Waters that are continuously open to public use will be compared to the protected coves, which currently are marked by only two “Stay Out” buoys, but there’s hope that additional ones will be placed.The two coves again will be open to the public June 15, then shut down again in 2004 during the spawning period of the bass from March through the middle of June.Newcomers to the Washington area should know that the Charles County tidal water stretch of the Potomac some years ago was a hotbed of bass thievery. Commercial fishermen dragged nets through some of those same waters we mentioned and kept a large number of bass, later to be sold to Chinese restaurants in Ontario. The largemouth bass is a protected gamefish species that cannot be trapped, seined or sold. The scofflaws were caught and later only mildly punished. Many sport anglers thought the watermen who were found guilty should have lost their commercial fishing licenses, putting them out of business. Sadly, the state of Maryland believes it owes even thieves a living.Meanwhile, in Florida, where seven years ago a statewide referendum prohibited commercial gillnetting, it appears the gillnetters are blatantly attempting a comeback. The Coastal Conservation Association’s current issue of Tide Magazine laments that sportfishing violators can be charged with a felony, but commercial lawbreakers stare only a misdemeanor charge in the eye. Talk about a monstrous double standard.Because of the obvious favoritism shown the watermen by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, the commercial netters are trying their hand once again at the outlawed gillnetting. One lawbreaking gillnetter did his thing in broad daylight, in front of the home of a Peace River waterfront resident. And why shouldn’t he? If he were to be arrested — which appears unlikely during the current climate of a government agency that seems to ignore the wishes of a large majority of the state’s referendum voters — the violator would receive only a slap on the wrist anyway.Take care of your hummingbirds — If you’re interested in attracting hummingbirds — they’re all over the Washington area right now — remember that a yard can never have too many red flowers. Hummingbirds like red flowers but also will feed on the nectar of pink, purple, blue and yellow flowers, including begonias, salvia, gladiolus, coral bells, jasmine, or scarlet morning glory and paintbrush. Hanging fuchsias also are effective magnets for the tiny hummers. An e-mail from a Pennsylvania birder and a biologist said hummingbird feeders should be placed in a somewhat shaded area near a flower bed by suspending it with string from a tree branch or a rod-iron stand. Smear petroleum jelly on the string to keep ants from reaching the feeder. If it fails to attract birds, move it or place a few more in the yard.The feeder should be filled with commercial nectar or a solution containing one part granulated sugar and four parts water. Don’t add food coloring to your homemade mixture. The mixture should be boiled and cooled before filling your feeder reservoir. Store any unused feed mixture in the refrigerator until it’s needed. Never use honey in your feeder because it ferments and birds could become ill from consuming it.Feeders should be cleaned at least once every two weeks in cool weather — once a week in hot weather — to make sure they don’t become a breeding ground for fungus that could cause infection in birds. Wash them as you would dishes or silverware. • Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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