Well folks……I’ve been a bit lazy on the updating front here! Guilty as charged! I’ve been fishing quite a bit….not the kind of fishing I love though. I fished hard late april thru mid-june in the eastern shore islands for Specks, Stripers, Reds and whatever else might bite. Striper fishing was good until the water temp in the shallows stroked 80. At that temp I’ve experienced a tough bite on Stripers over 18″. The speckled sea trout bite just never seemed to happen. From May-mid June I only caught 15 Specks with only a few of them keepers. So……difficult at best on Specks. Red Drum never made a showing. Not a shocker to me. The Reds we had so many of 2 years ago and the decent numbers last year of 22-27″ Reds are not “pups” this year. They’ve changed what they do and where they go. So…….we just don’t have Reds in any numbers. There is a chance for a late summer/ fall showing of Reds.
What I’ve been doing since mid-june is fishing out of Deale and Solomons for mainly stripers. The main slug of Stripers in Chesapeake Bay is from Poplar Island and north. Certainly Stripers can be caught in other places but numbers and any size is hard to come by other than Poplar Island/Eastern Bay/Bay Bridge and a bit north. The game I like on the bay is remote running of shallow structure hunting for skinny water species. A good chance exists that bite is picking up a bit. Recently I did 2 days in a row of guiding out of Buzz’s Marina in Ridge, MD near Point Lookout. I had some great crews and we really covered some ground hunting down any gamefish that would bite. We found quite a bit! Had Stripers up to 22″ in shallow grass beds, Bluefish in the main stem of the bay up to 23″ and several Speckled Sea trout up to 23″. Overall some pretty good stuff and exciting fishing.
My “Official Stance On Commercial Fishing For Stripers/Rockfish”
Shortly after my military retirement in 2004 I aquired a license to commercially fish for Stripers. My technique for this commercial catch is “hook and line”. This means I’m catching stripers on rod and reel and I can keep up to the amount the state says that I can keep on a particular day/week. Back in 2005 Stripers in the bay out of Solomons Island was quite plentiful…..no obvious issues yet with Rockfish numbers. My intention with this license was to augment my guiding…..at that point I didn’t know how many trips I’d be getting and thought obtaining this license would be a good way to help me “make it” fishing without getting a “real” job. From 2005-2010 I did commercial fish about 2 days a week and guided 3-5 trips a week from June-November. So….between commercial fishing and guiding I was able to make ends meet. Without getting into details……no human in Maryland will ever get rich from being a fishing guide and a part time hook and line fisherman. However, when you love being on the water and catching fish on light tackle…..this living is a dream come true. From 2011-2013 I barely hook and line fished at all because the majority of Stripers in Chesapeake Bay are far north in the Summer months from where I was fishing. I was lucky enough to be fishing for Speckled Sea trout and Reds along with some stripers in the Islands of the eastern shore. I had virtually no commercial catch for 3 years. However, because of the commercial fishing cheating going on the state changed to an Individual quota based on a license holders catch records up to 2010. Because I commercial fished a fair amount from 2005-2010 I was given a quota of 6000 pounds give or take a little.
Jump to this year……….Speckled Sea Trout had a major kill off over the winter in North Carolina and Virginia. The Specks we see in our waters starting in late April/may and stay through Sep/October aren’t here because they died! So……instead of taking people fishing for fish that aren’t there I’m fishing up north where all the Stripers seem to be. I don’t particurlarly care for guiding on the Stripers up north because they are in a crowd of folks all live-lining and that just isn’t my guiding style………So…..in leu of guiding up there I’m using my commercial license and doing some hook and line fishing in the crowd of charter boats/private boats and other hook and line fisherman. I”d rather guide down south if there is anything to catch…….
Recently I took a public fishing forum “hit” because I was “commercial” fishing and I publicly state I don’t want commercial fishing. I spend many days on the water per year….have been for over 10 years full time now. I know based on my time on the water the population of Stripers is in trouble. So…..some folks out there are confused as to why I would promote getting rid of commercial fishing but still commercial fish myself. The little issue on the public forum recieved around 16,000 views in a couple days…..most folks I think understand what and why I do what I do…….some don’t. So….I’ll try to explain it here.
I purchased this commercial license with Striped Bass Allocation in 2005 for a significant amount of money. I purchased it with supporting my family in mind and backing up my guide business…..it has served the purpose to this point. Some folks don’t understand why I just don’t quit using it if I don’t want commercial fishing and if I think the Stripers are in trouble. Here is the deal…….If I don’t catch my quota (6000) pounds in 2014 I will lose what I don’t catch in future years and what I don’t catch will get turned over to other licenses for other commercial techniques. My (6000) pounds will get caught by someone else. I would jump up and cheer tomorrow if the state announced a commercial shut-down of Stripers…..I would rather guide than commercial fish. I think with a price on the head of a striper it is going to get over exploited and cheating will happen and being the state is short on funds to enforce laws effectively commercial fishing needs to be altered or abolished big time. I am tired of what I think is over exploitation of the resource the “system” allows. Political roots are way deep in commercial exploitation of Striped Bass…very difficult to change or end. I will stand up and cheer if and hopefully when it ends…..however, I’m not giving my quota up to another commercial entity, period! I’ll happily give it to the state and it’s licensed recreational anglers when they take all others……..hope you understand!
Take care and good luck fish’in!!!!!