- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Joe Love, tidal bass manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said he and Fisheries Service crews will soon begin a study to test the effectiveness of bass spawning sanctuaries in certain tributaries to the tidal Potomac River.

“As part of that study, we’ve radio-tagged largemouth bass and beginning in March will be following adults around to see where they are spawning in the Chicamuxen Creek,” said Love, who added that he needs anglers to be aware of the study because the tags are expensive. “I’d hate for someone to fish up a bass, rip off the tag and toss it into the water.”

Some years ago, several local bass fishing guides and interested anglers suggested that special areas be set aside during the spring bass spawning period. They hoped it would protect the fish during a time when it’s not unusual for bass tournaments to be conducted. During such fishing contests, a spawning female might be removed from her bed and severely stressed, resulting in a loss of newly hatched largemouth bass fry.

Two sanctuaries were established; one is inside Chicamuxen Creek’s Linton Cove, and the other is in the Nanjemoy Creek’s Gum Tree Cove. Both are marked with off-limits-to-fishing buoys during spawning months, but violations of the protective zones are common because the understaffed Natural Resources Police is not always able to patrol these areas.

If the spawning study proves successful, Love said the DNR will be in good position to establish more off-limits fishing zones and protect more males - which guard the fertilized eggs - on their nest during the spawning days.

Oyster thieves - On Dec. 2, the Maryland Natural Resources Police nabbed a 72-year-old man stealing oysters from the Sandy Hill oyster sanctuary in the Choptank River. Just a few days before that, a Crisfield, Md., man was caught snatching the tasty bivalves within an oyster sanctuary in Tangier Sound near the Big Annemessex River. These propagation areas are especially guarded because of great losses in the yearly supply of oysters. It is illegal to remove any of them within the well-marked boundaries.

What I want to know is this: Are you willing to pay a fine just so you can taste a couple of illegal oysters - or perhaps be sentenced to a stay at the local hoosegow if you try to sell them?

21st-century guidebooks - The National Audubon Society has come up with a grand idea that is perfectly suited for those who are into electronic gadgets. Now you can check out several of the Society’s guidebooks with an iPhone and iPod Touch.

The new Audubon Guide app series puts the most authoritative and comprehensive information about our natural world into these mobile units. Audubon said the apps’ geo-location search features allow users to find all manner of species in any zip code, state or region.

A universal dashboard enables navigation between species information, search functions, sightings and more. When loaded onto a user’s iPhone, the apps work independently of cell phone connectivity. Four initial apps are available in Apple’s iTunes Store at a cost of $19.99 for “Birds” and $9.99 each for “Wildflowers,” “Trees” and “Mammals.” You can get more information at AudubonGuides.com/app.

c 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. Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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