- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. recently signed the Maryland Freedom to Fish Act into law, showing his support for the state’s anglers and fishing industries. The law, sponsored primarily by Sen. Roy Dyson and Del. George Owings, establishes important standards that must be met before any of the state’s waters can be closed to fishermen.

“This law recognizes the social and economic importance of recreational fishing and does a lot to help protect the rights of saltwater anglers in Maryland,” said Michael Doebley, Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA).

The Maryland Freedom to Fish initiative is part of the RFA’s response to the radical environmental movement to close off vast areas of our waters by creating no fishing marine protected areas (MPAs), i.e. marine reserves. The RFA teamed up with the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others to produce this positive legislation.

For information about the RFA, 888/564-6732.

Planting seeds in Chesapeake Bay — The Maryland DNR’s Resource Assessment Service recently used a mechanical harvesting boat as an innovative approach to efficiently collect large amounts of eelgrass seeds to support large-scale bay grass restoration.

DNR biologists estimate they will harvest 20million eelgrass seeds this year using this new technique; last year only 500,000 were collected. If 20million seeds are successfully collected, 100 acres of eelgrass could be restored.

Existing methods of collecting eelgrass seeds by hand cannot provide the number of seeds needed to support restoration goals. The new method uses a boat to “mow” the grass beds, taking seeds and reproductive shoots but leaving the roots and rest of the plants in place. Only a small portion of the seeds and reproductive shoots will be removed from each healthy bed, and these will be planted later this year in unvegetated areas.

Bay grasses (also known as submerged aquatic vegetation) are critical to a healthy Chesapeake Bay. They provide important habitats for young fish and crabs, serve as food for waterfowl, help protect shorelines from erosion, help keep water clear, consume excess nutrients, and add oxygen to the water.

Special archery deer limits — In an effort to provide additional opportunities for archery deer hunters to take antlerless deer in Maryland, the DNR says hunters can take an unlimited number of antlerless whitetailed deer this year in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Also, the deer bag limits for the October muzzleloader season in Region B permits the taking of only one buck, but the antlerless limit has been increased to 10. (By the way, all of Washington County has now been incorporated into Region B. Region A is now comprised only of Garrett and Allegany counties.)

It is strongly suggested that you read your hunting regulations booklet when all the hunting seasons have been finalized and the booklet has been printed. There’ll be a lot of changes for you to get acquainted with.

EVENTS

• Meet Lefty at Bass Pro Shop — June19-20, Bass Pro Shop’s Outdoor World, Hanover, Md. The world’s best-known fly fisherman, Lefty Kreh, will talk about fly casting, fishing and photography, 2 to 4p.m. View the Number 8 Bass Pro/Tracker show car, a duplicate of the car driven by NASCAR’s Martin Truex Jr. when he won at Talladega in April. Information: leftykreh.com.

• Surf fishing school — Sept.9-12, Oct.21-24, Outer Banks, Nags Head, N.C. Each session is scheduled to coincide with productive fishing periods. Pro guides Joe Malat and Mac Currin are instructors. Cost: $250. Contact Malat, 252/441-4767; [email protected] Motel reservations, 800/334-3302.

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