- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It was akin to a shot across the Maryland DNR’s bow when the executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, Robert Glenn, said, “It has become increasingly obvious to concerned anglers that the Department of Natural Resources’ management of our marine resources is stuck in the practices of the last century and a better balance of priorities is needed to satisfy the growing recreational and environmental interests of our residents and economic benefits for the state.”

That ought to be enough to get somebody’s attention.

With that in mind, on Oct. 3, the CCA MD will sponsor a symposium — Saltwater Fisheries Management for the 21st Century — to promote the evolution of fisheries management in the state. The CCA says the symposium will gather national experts to discuss progressive strategies for the management of Chesapeake Bay fisheries.

Invitations to participate have been sent to elected officials, even the current string of candidates for state office, and of course DNR personnel. The CCA also wants tackle shop owners, charter boat captains and recreational anglers to be a part of it; heck, even commercial fishermen were asked to attend. It’s imaginable that the watermen’s reaction will be to suggestions that current commercial fishing needs to be revamped.

The symposium will begin at 7 p.m. at the Loews Annapolis Hotel, 126 West Street. It is free to the public.

For details about the symposium, including the various speakers’ topics, visit CCA MD’s Web site, ccamd.org, or call the CCA’s Annapolis office at 888/758-6580.

Reefs not always the answer — By now you’ve heard about the huge concrete chunks of the old and demolished Wilson Bridge being sent down the Potomac River to a St. Mary’s County part of the Chesapeake Bay known as Point No Point. The bridge rubble will be used to create a large fishing reef.

The Maryland DNR says the placement of the materials will become good fish habitat, which of course is true and that’s where the trouble lies.

Not every sport angler is a fan of fishing reefs. Think about it. If the Point No Point reef is the only such structure under a broad expanse of Chesapeake water, the result will be that year-round fish species, such as striped bass and white perch, will most likely concentrate in the reef area, as will the summertime croaker and Norfolk spot visitors. The rubble eventually will be covered with marine growth of various types, which in turn attracts minnows, shiners and various shellfish, crabs, etc., and the predator species will be right behind them.

It will be like shooting fish in a barrel, pardon the pun. What I would liked to have seen is an entire series of fishing reefs scattered all over the bay (out of the way of shipping lanes, of course), and the fish could have spread out more easily and not be forced to hang out in only one particular area.

Fishing contest boom or bust? — It all depends on how you look at the just-concluded Maryland $1 Million Fishing Challenge. The state said it ended with a bang; I say it ended with a kind of whimper because once again the $1 million wasn’t won by anyone, so why call it that? However, four lucky anglers received boats and trucks for catching specially tagged fish in the waters of the state.

John Hutchins, of Broad Run, Va., won a 20-foot center console Sailfish 206CC motorboat and trailer from Boater’s World. Roy Haller from Lavale, Md., received an 18-foot 7-inch Tracker Nitro 591 motorboat and trailer from Bass Pro Shops. Baltimore’s Quinton Mitchell and Frank Hendricks, of Monkton, Md., won Toyota Tacoma 4x4 pick-up trucks provided by Toyota Maryland.

Jim Andersen, of Elkton, Md., won the chance to win $1 million, but that’s all he won — a chance. He didn’t win the money.

I believe tourism promotions dollars aimed at bringing anglers into the state would be better served if the money were used to buy public fishing access spots, build more boat ramps and public fishing piers.

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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