- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Among the people who belong to the Southern Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association, none has worked harder and spent more time on a yellow perch restoration program than Ken Hastings. With the help of his chapter friends, Hastings has worried nonstop about raising the golden-hued fish and returning them to local waters, including a small St. Mary’s County creek — McIntosh Run — that, until the CCA became interested, was devoid of this species.

Now check out what chapter president Dennis Fleming observed during a recent visit to McIntosh Run. It’ll do your heart good to see what determination, hard work and the stocking of perch fry can accomplish.

Mind you, after stocking the tiny fry over time to create a genetic imprint on them and hoping they would return to their “home” waters, the CCA members anxiously hoped to eventually find them, perhaps even having grown to 8 or 9 inches.

Said Fleming: “I witnessed an incredible event at McIntosh. No sooner had I put my waders on and walked over the bank, I immediately saw egg strands. Then I saw schools of fish with dark green bands, yellow flashes and bright orange fins, everywhere. I was in awe. I saw the females being courted by dozens of males. I counted 50 egg masses in 100 yards, by no means the most I have seen on a Southern Maryland stream but an amazing sight in McIntosh Run.”

When the perch roe is incubated by the sun and baby perch flit about in their new home waters, they eventually will leave the creek. But those who don’t die of disease or fall prey to larger fish and birds inexorably return upon reaching adulthood.

Fleming said he met a fisherman who said he came to the creek after watching people cast flies in a place that you wouldn’t think of as fly fishing territory: Leonardtown.

“All the fish that I caught [and released] were between 8 and 9 inches long, just as Ken [Hastings] said they would be,” added Fleming, who hopes the state will put regulations into effect to protect the new arrivals. Fleming isn’t worried about sport anglers having fun. He’s concerned a commercial netter will get busy and quickly undo what the men and women of the CCA/Southern Maryland have accomplished.

Fishermen oppose gas plant — After company officials who want to build a liquefied natural gas plant at Sparrows Point in Baltimore briefed the board of directors of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association (MSSA), the board voted unanimously to oppose the plan. It cited national security and public safety risks, not to mention conflicts with recreational anglers and boaters.

Representatives of the Virginia-based AES Corporation gave MSSA leaders an hour-long presentation on a $400 million proposal to build a gas terminal on the former shipyard site, which would receive tanker shipments of the liquefied gas and then transfer it via pipeline to Pennsylvania.

Said MSSA executive director Rich Novotny: “Tens of thousands of recreational anglers and boaters, as well as scores of commercial vessels, use the upper Chesapeake and the Patapsco River. Several times a week massive tankers could steam up the Chesapeake. It’s simply unrealistic to think these ships and accompanying vessels can navigate through the upper bay without causing major disruptions to fishermen and other boaters.”

It wasn’t a big mistake, but … — Reader Ed Pike caught it, the mentioning of the latest Maryland freshwater record yellow perch and a little mistake about an old record. The record perch was caught by a Pennsylvania visitor in Harford County nearly two weeks ago. It weighed a whopping 3 pounds, 5 ounces, eclipsing the mark of 2 pounds 6-3/4 ounces set at Deep Creek Lake in 2003.

Last week we reported that the old record had been caught in 1983. It is obvious that our readers are watching us, and Pike said he read about the old record in The Washington Times when it occurred.

EVENTS

Trout Unlimited fishing show — Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Landon School in Bethesda. The National Capital Chapter of TU invites the public to come and meet its featured guest, Gary Borger, and there also will be other experts speaking about every type of fly fishing. More information and directions: www.ncc-tu.com.

Fishing fair — April 1-2, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Solomons, Md., firehouse. More than 65 display tables of fishing tackle and electronics, new and used boats, food and drink. Admission: $2. Information: www.mssasmc.com.

Wilderness first aid — April 1-2, in Alexandria, an 18-hour class in wilderness first aid. The course includes classroom study, hands-on practice, and results in a two-year certification. The cost is $160. Registration is on a first-come basis. Information: 703/836-8905 or wfa.net.

Trout Unlimited chapter meeting — April 6, 7:30 p.m., at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, Center and Cherry streets, Vienna. The Northern Virginia chapter of Trout Unlimited invites the public to a program entitled, “Saving Virginia’s Native Trout.” Larry Mohn, fisheries biologist with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will review state efforts to improve habitats for native brook trout. The main program will be preceded by a fly tying session at 6:45 p.m. Information: www.nvatu.org.

Decoy buy-sell-swap meet — April 7-8, rain or shine, St. Michael’s Best Western motor inn, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The East Coast Decoy Collectors group will have an open-door, room-to-room event in which collectors exchange a variety of regional decoys using cash or the barter system. Information: John Clayton, 410/745-2955 (Johnnjdecoys.com) or Jim Trimble, 703/768-7264 (Potomacduckcox.net).

Bay Country Boat Show — April 8-9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Dept. complex on Route 235 in St. Mary’s County. Sponsored by the Hollywood Optimist Club, this show has typical Southern Maryland flavor: lots of fishing boats, vendors who’ll sell everything from nautical wood carvings to Southern Maryland stuffed ham, fried oysters and other foods. Admission is $3 per adult. Exhibitors who want outside space, call Russ Millar, 301/373-5468; for indoor exhibit space call Tom Kemp, 301/373-3071. General information: tjkempmd.metrocast.net.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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