Wild Chesapeake: What New Rockfish Limits Could Look Like

Chesapeake outdoor sportsman Captain Chris Dollar brings the latest wildlife news to the Bay Bulletin.

Striped bass are faring worse on the Bay than previously thought, according to a stock assessment that’s expected to be released soon. That means fishery managers will likely have to tamp down rockfish catch limits this year. But what, specifically, might those limit changes look like?

Last week, Wild Chesapeake reported Virginia is likely to act soon to reduce its recreational striper catch. Now, we know which options the state is considering to reduce pressure on the striper population. The Virginia Finfish Management Advisory Committee will discuss the following possibilities at its meeting on Monday, March 25:

1) One trophy-sized fish 36-inches or longer for the year.

2) Requiring non-offset circle hooks for natural bait.

3) Maximum of three keepers per vessel.

4) Maximum of four keepers per vessel.

5) A one-fish possession limit December 10-31 (down from the current two-fish limit).

6) No Bay and coastal trophy seasons and a 28-inch Chesapeake Bay size limit through December 15. From December 16 to 31, only one of the two-fish limit can be over 28 inches.

7) November through December, a Chesapeake Bay no-take slot limit of 28- to 34-inches with one fish of 34 inches or longer.

8) No Bay or coastal seasons and establish a 28-inch Chesapeake Bay size limit through November. In December, one of two fish could be over 28 inches.

9) One fish per vessel could be over 28 inches during the Chesapeake Bay season.

10) No Bay or coastal trophy seasons. (Status quo is 36 inches or longer during the trophy season.)

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at VMRC’s headquarters, Building 96, 380 Fenwick Road, Ft. Monroe, VA 23651. You can follow the discussion by attending the meeting or following up with the post-meeting report online by clicking here.

 The Bay rivers are teeming with fish, from yellow and white perch to river herring and rockfish. This is Max Hart from Texas. (Photo credit Capt. Chris D. Dollar/CD Outdoors)
The Bay rivers are teeming with fish, from yellow and white perch to river herring and rockfish. This is Max Hart from Texas. (Photo credit Capt. Chris D. Dollar/CD Outdoors)

The news is better for fishing opportunities this week. Spring has definitely sprung on the Chesapeake: yellow and white perch are spawning in the Bay’s numerous tributaries. From the Choptank and Chester to the Magothy and Patuxent, good reports are coming in. Sunday the Bush and Gunpowder rivers were on, and the upper Nanticoke has fat catfish and white perch. Bloodworms, grass shrimp and minnows work, with double-rigged jigs or shad darts also catching. I checked in with Mike Bailey of Friends of Fletcher’s Cove on the Potomac. He tells me there are “many, many” herring in the river. Soon the hickory and American shad runs begin. Fletcher’s Cove opens this Saturday, March 23.

Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Leaders Honored

If you’ve ever taken a trophy deer or waterfowl, enjoyed an unspoiled wildlife area, or learned something new about animals in Maryland’s natural world, thank Karina Stonesifer and Paul Peditto, long-time employees of the Maryland’s Wildlife & Heritage Service, the part of the  Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that manages wild game hunting opportunities and shares educational material on the terrestrial animals and those that fly in the state. Both recently received well-deserved recognition for their decades of service.

 Karina Stonesifer
Karina Stonesifer

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recognized Karina Stonesifer, an Associate Director at DNR’s Wildlife & Heritage Service. She began her career working for the Maryland Park Service in 1993 before moving over to the Wildlife and Heritage Service where, since 2001, she’s helped educate thousands of people new to hunting and Maryland’s diverse wildlife. She is a key coordinator of Maryland’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, which provides casual, non-threatening workshops and excursions. She also led a team effort to substantially increase the size of the state’s Wildlife Management Area system.

In 2001, Paul Peditto was promoted to the Wildlife & Heritage director’s position, which makes him the longest serving wildlife director in the country. He credits the entire W&H staff for his successful tenure. Collectively, thousands of Marylanders and visitors have benefited from the pair’s knowledge and commitment.