Photo: Maryland Natural Resources Police/Facebook

Md. Targets Charter Boats for Rockfish Violations

Maryland’s striped bass recreational fishing season has just reopened after a two-week closure, allowing anglers and charter operations to target the Bay’s most popular fish once again.

But Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) are sending a clear signal that fishing violations won’t go unchecked, announcing charges for six charter boat operators on the same day that the season resumed.

NRP says the charges came as a result of a nearly year-long investigation, beginning in October 2019 in response to tips from concerned citizens. Police say several charter boats violated size and catch limits for striped bass, failed to use the required non-offset circle hooks while chumming or live-lining in tidal waters to protect rockfish from catch-and-release mortality, and mutilated/filleted fish so their size or species couldn’t be determined upon return to the dock.

NRP identified the charter operators charged in the investigation as:

Brian Councell from Chestertown, operator of Sea Dux; James Harris on Compensation out of North Beach; John Reynolds Sr. from Marydel, of Retirement Fun; John Motovidlak Sr. from Wittman, operator of Dawn Marie, William Eason from Oxford, operator of Dana-Kat, and Jesse Bolton of Dunkirk, operator of Wild Goose.

If they’re convicted, offenders face up to $1,000 in fines for the first offense, $2,000 for the second offense. They can be suspended or removed from the state’s pilot program or have their fishing priveleges revoked.

NRP has also issued more than 800 citations to recreational anglers this season for striped bass violations.

“While the vast majority of Maryland’s fishing community is law-abiding and understands the need for our regulations, there unfortunately are those who break the rules,” Maryland Natural Resources Police Col. Adrian Baker said. “Our conservation laws are designed for the protection and sustainability of our resources, and we will stay vigilant to see they are enforced.”

The recreational summer-fall striped bass fishing season is back open until Dec. 10.

-Meg Walburn Viviano