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Fishing

But when half of all crabs are ­harvested each year, we’ve got to work to keep the population steady

After almost three decades of effort, Maryland’s treasured Chesapeake Bay crustacean, the blue crab, has achieved a major scientific benchmark. The number of spawning females has at last reached the minimum target level for optimum species viability: 215 million sooks.

Our battle against heavy winds, stalled tide and slack current paid off

Small-craft advisories and a forecast of 15- to 20-knot winds made canceling our planned outing a no-brainer. For those who chose to disregard the warnings, however, that day proved to be a placid beauty with five-knot winds, a slight overcast and a red-hot rockfish bite almost all day long off Hackett’s Bar.

Where else can you be when ­nothing goes wrong?

There is nothing like an early June morning on the Chesapeake.     A bit of smoky haze was still rising off of the Eastern Shore in the far distance as we cleared the ramp and eased out of the channel onto  glassy Bay surface.     The quiet burble of our outboard was the only sound, and for a long while neither of us cared to hear anything else. At last, looking around at the rocky piers we were approaching, I took an already rigged light spin outfit and prepared a cast.

While not a beautiful swimmer, the channel catfish provides the sweetest flesh a seafood fanatic can hope for

Pulling on my weather gear, I headed out in the morning gloom to hook up the skiff. The forecast was poor, but I had cabin fever and had to get out on the water.     The white perch were up the trib shallows, I felt sure, and there is no better cure for poor weather than the promise of a good perch fry that evening. Now all I needed was the fish.

In May, it could be full of worms

The second rockfish season opened just days ago to mock my expectations of another great fishing year.     Day one saw me headed to just below the Bay Bridge Western Shore rockpile, where the fishing had been gangbusters on the opener the last two years. Finding a dozen or so boats scattered there did not bother me. That early bite had been no secret, and I saw good marks on my finder throughout the area.

With resident rockfish season, ­fishing becomes catching

Trophy rockfish season ends Monday, May 15. On Tuesday, May 16, the second Chesapeake Bay rockfish season begins. At the change, the size limit changes from one fish of over 35 inches to two fish 20 inches or larger, only one of which may be longer than 28 inches.

This novice was hooked, even though her big fish got away

Her rod was bowed over with strain, the line hissing out against the drag and the muscles of her arms tensed with the force of a good fish running hard. Julie’s face, however, was bright with a smile. She was checking off a significant item on her life list and was enjoying every minute of it.

In his model boats, Norman Gross records maritime history

Watermen name their boats for their wives and girlfriends. There was a time when Norman Gross thought it a romantic gesture. Now, he’s not so sure.     “Why did the men name the boats after their wives? Was it because they loved them? Or was it because they say stuff on the boat they couldn’t say at home?” the 58-year-old Gross wonders.

Middle-schooler’s project reminds us that we owe today’s big stripers to ’80s moratorium

Eighth-grader Brian Zagalsky has been fishing since he was three years old. Now his love of reeling in big fish is paying double dividends.     The Annapolis Middle Schooler’s class project for National History Day grew into a prize-winning exploration of Maryland’s five-year rockfish moratorium launched in 1985.

Catching this rockfish was one great feeling

I hadn’t been set up long. Fishing big chunks of cut fresh alewife on the bottom in 40 feet of water, I saw the rod in its starboard holder quiver, then dip. I reached over and slid the reel’s clicker off so there would be no resistance on the line. The spool started up, then stopped, then started up again … ever so slowly.