- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Whenever a state’s natural resources department promises a chance of winning a million bucks for catching a fish, you can bet your last dime that it’s not intended to compliment your fishing skills. No, it’s meant to help the tourism and business community. And perhaps it’s designed to assist the charter fishing captains who, considering how costly fuel will be in the months to come, won’t be dining on pheasant under glass. Either way, with a few changes, Maryland has decided to have its second annual $1 Million Fishing Challenge from June 3 through Labor Day.

It actually isn’t a tournament, but just a lucky coincidence if you hook specially tagged fish. It will be expanded to include Maryland’s freshwater lakes and streams, in addition to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Department of Natural Resources said it has added more prizes and created guaranteed winners.

Five grand prizes have been donated, including a chance at $1 million cash, a 20-foot center console Sailfish 206CC motorboat and trailer, an 18-foot Tracker Nitro 591 boat and trailer, and two 2006 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 pick-up trucks. In addition, many of those catching the tagged fish will be instant winners of prize packages.

This year’s challenge will also feature something called Diamond Jim. Each week throughout the 13-week event, a striped bass marked with a special yellow tag will be released. Whoever catches that week’s Diamond Jim will win an instant $25,000. During the 2005 Fishing Challenge, 103 fish were caught by 102 anglers and four were selected to vie for the $1 million grand prize. The buzzwords are “vie for.” It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win.

The Fishing Challenge is open to everyone who is legally licensed to fish in Maryland (because of reciprocity, in the case of the Chesapeake Bay that will include those with Virginia saltwater licenses), or fishing in one of Maryland’s license-free fishing areas, or fishing during the state’s three license-free fishing days (June 3, 10 and July 4). Registration is not required for the free tournament. All ages are invited to participate. So go ahead and catch one of hundreds of tagged rockfish, croakers, large- and smallmouth bass, white perch, crappies, sunfish, walleyes, trout and catfish that will be released all around the state,

For more information, go to www.dnr.maryland.gov/fish4cash/.

Crab population said to be stable — Fair news for our area’s crabbers. The Maryland Fisheries Service and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science jointly announced the results of a 2006 winter dredge crab survey of the Chesapeake Bay, saying the combined abundance of crabs declined in 2006 and remained below the 16-year survey average, but recent trends in abundance remain stable. The number of crabs in the first year of life that are less than two inches long declined, but was above the lowest levels observed in 1992 and 2000. In general, the survey indicates that the population remains stable at a low level of abundance. Based on the historic relationship between dredge estimates and eventual catches, Maryland expects the 2006 harvest for the Chesapeake’s crabs to be comparable to last year’s.

Guilty of harassing hunters — As the spring hunting season for wild turkeys gets under way in the Middle Atlantic States, it’s important to remember that anyone who disagrees with recreational hunting is well advised to leave the hunters alone. It’s against the law to interfere with legitimate hunting. For example, the Pennsylvania Game Commission last week sent word that Nancy Lee Lauro, 50, of Hanover in York County, was found guilty of interfering with five lawful hunters during the most recent deer hunting season. A judge ordered her to pay a $500 fine.

The Game Commission said Lauro confronted five hunters and knowingly interfered with their hunt on several occasions during the day. The five hunters were on land where they had permission to hunt, were properly licensed and wore the required amount of fluorescent orange. Under the state’s Game and Wildlife Code, it’s unlawful to interfere with hunting and trapping. That’s not only so in Pennsylvania, it also applies to Maryland and Virginia.


• Trout Unlimited chapter meeting — Today, 7 p.m., at Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center in Silver Spring. The Potomac-Patuxent chapter of Trout Unlimited’s presentation of Alaska’s Upper Kenai River fishing by Rob Provost. Open to public. Information: www.pptu.org.

• Ducks Unlimited dinner and auction — Tomorrow, 6 p.m., at Belle Haven Country Club. Silent and regular auctions of wildlife paintings, wood carvings and sporting gear. Information: Mike Fogarty (703/765-6976) or Jeff DeFord (703/619-9222).

• Carolina surf fishing school — May 18-21, in Nags Head, N.C. Joe Malat’s Outer Banks Surf Fishing School begins at Comfort Inn South, then moves to the fabled beaches of the Outer Banks where you learn how to cast, use baits, lures, tie knots. The $275 fee covers classroom materials, lunch, evening social, door prizes and baits. Information: Joe Malat (252/441-4767) or Mac Currin (919/881-0049). Online: www.joemalat.com.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com



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