- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007

ANNAPOLIS.

When the Maryland Department of Natural Resources calls the state’s outdoors writers together for a briefing, it rarely passes along any real news blockbusters. However, there are interesting tidbits that might affect Marylanders and even Virginians who visit the state.

Newly reappointed Secretary of Natural Resources John Griffin (he served earlier stints under Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s administration) let it be known that tough days lie ahead for the DNR, which could find getting increased funding difficult during these days of budget shortfalls. Griffin made an interesting remark that concerned climate change.

Maryland is the third most vulnerable state on the East Coast,” he said.

He meant global warming and potentially rising sea levels. It’s a sobering thought.

Meanwhile, Wildlife & Heritage Service assistant director Bob Beyer would not comment on the DNR’s 10-year deer management plan, which will be released Jan. 15, 2008.

When I asked Waterway Improvement director Bob Gaudette what could be done regarding the appalling lack of access points and new launching ramps in the state, the answer, of course, was that land is expensive and that people often object to launch ramps in their waterfront neighborhoods. Gaudette said his department will continue to try to add more launch facilities throughout Maryland.

Gaudette struck me as a person who is serious about helping boaters. When I asked him about Maryland’s apparent disinterest in erecting signs to let boaters and anglers know where public water access areas were — it’s done regularly in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — he said there wasn’t any good reason for his department not to do it, too. Let’s see whether he puts that into effect.

The best part of the meeting came from Fisheries director Howard King, who pointed out that there are more freshwater licenses sold now than Chesapeake Bay (saltwater) fishing licenses and that sportfishing licenses pay for nearly all fishing management programs.

Although the young-of-the-year rockfish survey has not yet been released, King said it was above average.

“Not the best ever but pretty good,” he said.

King pointed out that the top five striped bass spawning areas in the Chesapeake Bay were the upper bay’s Elk, followed by the Potomac, Choptank, Patuxent and Nanticoke rivers. He also mentioned that the 2001 and 2003 rockfish year classes are the ones hooked most often in the bay.

“They make up a large share of all the catches,” he said.

King also said yellow perch had good spawning success in 2007 in the Bush, Severn, Magothy and Wicomico rivers. I asked him whether he was sure it was Charles County’s Wicomico, and he affirmed it. (Another Wicomico River is found on the Eastern Shore.)

In the good news department, King admitted that access to the upper reaches of yellow perch spawning creeks needs improvement. He said he hoped to come up with some answers to solve this problem. King made it clear he wants the state’s recreational anglers to be able to fish for these harbingers of spring when they enter the shallow ends of spawning creeks every February and March.

He also said of all the rockfish hooked in the upper bay during the spring fishery, 95 percent were less than 25 inches long, indicating that a great number of male stripers were present.

Boating safety course — The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a boating course that meets the Maryland Safe Boating Education requirements for all boat operators born after July 1, 1972.

The course begins Oct. 16 at Bowie High School. Registration starts at 6:30 p.m. The class consists of 14 sessions, all of them running from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. For preregistration or more information, call Thornell Jones at 301/332-1864 or e-mail [email protected]

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

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