Friday, April 16, 2010

Maryland Striped Bass - Flounder Seasons Open April 17

The spring season for striped bass, locally known as rockfish, opens at 5:00 a.m., Saturday, April 17 2010 in the main stem of Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay south of the mouth of the Patapsco River.

The legal fishing areas include the waters of the main stem of the Bay stretching from the Brewerton Channel at the mouth the Patapsco River south to the Virginia line including Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds. To protect the late-spawning fish, some tributaries to the Bay are closed to striped bass fishing until June 1.

The use of eels as bait is prohibited until May 16. Additionally, DNR fisheries biologists recommend using barbless hooks for the careful release of undersized fish. DNR studies have shown that non-offset circle hooks are less prone to deep hooking fish, particularly when natural bait is used. These same mortality studies show that the use of a de-hooking tool to release the fish at the side of the boat without lifting the fish from the water significantly improves the survival chances of the fish.

“Historically, as much as 90 percent of the entire Atlantic Coast striped bass population returns to Maryland waters to produce the next generation of fish,” says DNR Fisheries Director Tom O’Connell. “This phenomenon provides anglers an excellent opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime measuring 40 to 50 inches or more. Along with this wonderful opportunity is a responsibility we all share to be careful and thoughtful in handling the fish we intend to release and in doing all we can to ensure a sustainable and robust fishery for the future.”

Beginning Saturday, anglers are allowed one rockfish per day of 28 inches or longer measured from the tip of the tail to the snout through May 16. From May 17 through December 15, the limits change to two fish per angler per day measuring 18 inches or more with only one of those fish measuring more than 28 inches. Possession of striped bass onboard between midnight and 5:00 a.m. is illegal all year.

Anglers who want to continue fishing after catching their striper limits and for those who prefer bottom fishing, the summer flounder season also opens on Saturday and runs through November 22. The creel limit is three fish measuring 19 inches or longer in both Bay and coastal waters.

This information is provided as a public service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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