- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

While there is little to brag about concerning local fishing - the exception is downstate Virginia’s Lake Gaston, where bass and crappies are willing - in the lower Chesapeake Bay and the adjacent Atlantic the action is great.

From Ken Neill of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association comes word that rockfish are everywhere. Most of the boaters who live near the lowest parts of the Bay and the Virginia Beach area are fishing for the stripers in oceanfront waters where the season continues to be open.

“Be sure to stay within the three-nautical-mile limit,” Neill said. “Outside of it, targeting striped bass is illegal, and it is being vigorously enforced this season.”

Neill said the biggest stripers are taken by anglers who drift eels along Fisherman’s and Smith islands.

“Rockfish over 60 pounds have been caught,” he added.

But remember that if you fish in the Bay, it is strictly catch-and-release. The fishing has been good, but you simply can’t keep any for the table.

Bottom fishermen looking for tautog or even flounder can connect at the Cape Henry Wreck and the pilings or rock formations that support the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, while offshore wreck fishermen can land large sea bass.

“They are also still holding some triggerfish, and there are plenty of bluefish swimming around them,” Neill said. “Tilefish are available on the bottom along the 50-fathom curve. Some grouper, wreckfish and golden tilefish have been caught at the Norfolk Canyon.”

Bush’s order upsets anglers - The Congressional Sportsmen Foundation and every sportfishing organization in the United States is upset with President George W. Bush’s declaration of three marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean: the Rose Atoll, the Mariana Trench and the Pacific Remote Island Area. Each of these new sea monuments will ban recreational fishing within a 50-mile radius.

“This decision by the outgoing administration is very disappointing,” foundation president Jeff Crane said. “This ruling restricts recreational anglers’ access to these public waters without any scientific evidence to support the restriction and sets a bad precedent for these issues in the future.

“[The] decision is in direct contrast with President Bush’s Executive Order 13474 that was supposed to protect recreational fishing in public areas and also presumes that recreational fishing is harmful to these areas when there is no scientific evidence to that effect.”

Executive Order 13474 states that “recreational fishing shall be managed as a sustainable activity in national wildlife refuges, national parks, national monuments, national marine sanctuaries, marine protected areas or any other relevant conservation or management areas or activities under any federal authority, consistent with applicable law.”

Did the president flip-flop on these new Pacific marine protective areas? I believe he did.

Potomac portions to be closed? - D.C. radio station WTOP’s Web site, wtop.com, said the U.S. Coast Guard wants to shut down boat traffic in parts of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers for 11 days - Jan. 14 through Jan. 25 - until all the presidential inauguration activities have ended.

The Coast Guard said restrictions will “safeguard human life, vessels and waterfront facilities against sabotage or terrorist attacks.” Such closures would apply to all boat traffic from Rosier Bluff, below Wilson Bridge, to the Key Bridge in Georgetown. Any boat that already is anchored or docked in that area before Jan. 14 will be allowed to stay.

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

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