In Dorchester County, officers caught four men with 35 undersized rockfish. They face $4,000 in fines. Photo: DNR

Rockfish Poaching Crackdown: 74 Undersized Stripers Caught on Md.’s Eastern Shore

As the Atlantic coast operates under tight rockfish limits and some conservationists even call for a moratorium, a total of 11 men were charged with poaching dozens of fish on the Eastern Shore last month.

Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) say in three separate incidents between May 4 and May 25, their officers confiscated undersized fish, for a total of 74 illegal striped bass.

In the first case, four Washington, D.C. men were charged for illegally fishing in Dorchester County, during prohibited hours in a closed spawning area. NRP says an officer saw the men put fish into a large black trash bag in a vehicle. he confiscated35 undersized rockfish. Ramiro Garibay, 39, Rafael Reyes, 40, and Roberto Rodriguez, 46, all received multiple charges and face up to $4,000 in fines. Their fourth companion, Osbaldo Moreno, 36, was also charged with attempting to catch striped bass in a closed spawning area.

Next, officers on surveillance intercepted a recreational boat in the area of Kent Narrows and saw the boaters throwing “numerous striped bass” overboard. Officers gathered up 16 of the floating, undersized fish and escorted the boat back to the Kent Narrows landing. Guillermo Correa, 43, of West Friendship, Jesus Dubon Orellana, 41, David Morales, 36, and Alcides Villanueva-Pineda, 29, of Laurel, are charged with illegal possession of striped bass and fishing without required registration. Correa was hit with additional citations related to boat operating.

Finally, three men were caught fishing around 11:30 p.m. above and beneath the Kent Narrows drawbridge, where signs are posted against trespassing and fishing. Police say the new were catching undersized rockfish and hiding them in a bush. Officers confiscated 23 undersized fish and charged Oswaldo Franco-Lopez, 36, of Baltimore, Gabry Verela-Padilla, 24, of Baltimore, and Cristian Rodriguez-Morales, 25, of Essex with illegal possession, violating time restrictions, and one angler was charged for trespassing.

DNR reminds Marylanders that while all areas in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers are now open to striped bass fishing, the minimum size for striped bass is 19 inches with a limit of one fish per day. 

Meg Walburn Viviano