- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is insisting on more management measures for the 2007 Atlantic bluefish fishery, including commercial quotas for various states and recreational harvest and possession limits if none are in place now.

“The intent of these measures is to establish the allowable 2007 harvest levels and possession limits to attain the target fishing mortality rate, consistent with the stock rebuilding program for Atlantic bluefish,” NOAA announced. “Although the Mid-Atlantic Council’s recommendation was based on the best information available at the time, more recent information has been used to develop a new landings projection for the 2007 fishing year.”

There’s no word yet whether Maryland anglers will see a reduction in the 10 bluefish a day limit, but based on data provided by the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey program, recreational landings in 2006 were believed to have reached 18,823,384 pounds. These are estimates, mind you, so how could they possibly come up with 18,823,384 pounds?

All the same, if NOAA uses that amount as a proxy for expected landings this year, it already has said this would exceed the amount allowable under the regulations. NOAA says this final rule reduces the amount of the transfer from the recreational to the commercial sector by 810,780 pounds to account for the increase in projected recreational landings.

Lake Gaston bass possible — Our favorite Lake Gaston, Va., reporter, Marty Magone, wrote, “Call us nuts, but with the air temp at 15 [degrees] and water temperature standing at 39 degrees, we ventured out a few mornings ago.”

Magone and a friend saw ice forming inside the fishing rods’ guides. In the first three hours they caught one catfish, one bass and one yellow perch. All of the fish hung out in 20 feet of water, and all of them fell for plastic jigs.

“We quit around 9 a.m. and went back out at noon with the air temperature a balmy 40 degrees,” Magone continued. “We tossed deep-running crankbaits around docks and caught six bass, with the last one weighing 61/4 pounds.”

Magone added that there was some icing in the creeks, but what open water they found also delivered the bass.

Tagging program sets records — Claude Bain, the director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, says anglers who volunteered for the Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program set participation records in 2006, including most fish tagged and most fish recaptured in a year.

Bain says 16,509 fish were tagged, 1,904 tagged fish were recaptured and 4,124 red drum, 1,909 speckled trout and 2,070 tautogs were tagged. The 4,124 red drum tagged last year comprised 29 percent of all red drum tagged since the program began in 1995, and the 1,909 speckled trout tagged represented 21 percent of all trout ever tagged.

In addition to having a record number of volunteers, the breadth of their participation was outstanding.

“Not only did we have 87 anglers earn conservation awards for tagging 25 fish or more last year, but 37 of them tagged more than 100 fish,” Bain said.

The Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program is a cooperative program of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s sea grant program and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Funding is provided by Virginia saltwater license revenues. For details, contact Bain by calling 757/491-5160 or e-mail mrcswt@visi.net.

Trout fishing show reminder — The National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited (NCC-TU) will have its 32nd annual angling show Feb. 24 at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Besides all the vendors, show specials and other activities for people young and old, you will have a chance to meet one of the greatest fly fishermen ever, the renowned Lefty Kreh. Kreh will lead an outstanding team of speakers and instructors to present the latest information about regional, national and international fishing destinations, as well as effective fishing tips, techniques and tactics. There will be fly-casting and fly-tying clinics for all experience levels. For additional information, visit the Web site at www.ncc-tu.org.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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