- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Imagine seeing a shoreline property along an ecologically valuable tributary stream to the Potomac River that might one day be threatened by developers. With the help of a grant and your own hard-earned money, you buy it for the sole purpose of providing a public fishing spot that during the spring, especially, can be fabulously productive.

Sound unbelievable?

It happened in Charles County when 12 recreational fishermen, all of them members of the Southern Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) formed a syndicate called the Mason Springs Conservancy. Then for $16,000, the conservancy bought 3.4 acres of what often looked more like a refuse dump than a recreational fishing area.

The fellows also asked for and received a $3,500 grant from the FishAmerica Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust to assist in the clean-up and stream restoration of the Mattawoman Creek’s Route 225 sector in Mason Springs.

Now, when anglers come to this part of the Mattawoman they’re greeted by an unlocked gate, a more orderly parking area and a sign that says, “Welcome to Mason Springs.” It also reminds fishermen of their status as a guest on private property owned by the Mason Springs Conservancy.

As someone who’s fished here for herring, shad, perch, crappies and pickerel in spring and winter, I’ve seen the careless disregard by some people as they dumped every imaginable junk around the Route 225 bridge. I can only hope the people of Charles County will have much pride in and will care for a priceless body of water that these members of the CCA have provided for their neighbors.

Good show, CCA; good show, Mason Springs Conservancy.

Crabbing regulations to change — Maryland and Virginia, along with the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, are looking at various ways to reduce and conserve the Chesapeake’s blue crabs.

Among them is a prohibition on the harvesting of female crabs, perhaps a minimum size of 6½ inches for the commercial harvest, and no possession of female crabs (other than soft crabs) by recreational handliners and trotliners.

Recreational crabbers may also see a catch limit of five to six dozen crabs; also a catch limit for the entire boat would be 10 to 12 dozen if two or more licensed crabbers are on board.

I’ll bet anything that when all is said and done, the commercial crabbers will pretty much still be able to do as they please, and the recreational crabber will be asked to carry the load of conservation measures.

Bay Bridge Boat Show coming — The Bay Bridge Boat Show comes to the Bay Bridge Marina in Stevensville, Md., (Kent Island, Eastern Shore) April 24-27. It will feature more than 500 new and brokerage boats, along with 150 equipment and accessory vendors.

Admission is $12, children 7-12 pay $6 and it’s free for children younger than 6. Visit usboat.com for more information.

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

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