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Volume XVII, Issue 3 - January 15 - January 21, 2009
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Blue Crab Alert

Proposed 2009 regulation changes for trying to get the blue crab crisis under control have been issued by Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Apparently the commercial take last year was greater than anticipated, and further efforts are being made to get the harvest down to the target level of 46 percent of the legal-sized population.

That particular figure is troubling to me. The margin of error in estimating harvest data is certainly greater than four percent. Why doesn’t DNR admit that, despite the crisis, they’re going to allow half the legal-sized population of crabs to be caught?

It’s difficult to believe that with the currently horrible water conditions, the blue crab can withstand losing half its numbers year after year and still remain viable.

To comment on the proposed regulations (see them on the DNR Fisheries Website) e-mail fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us.

Discuss the regulations at a public meeting at 6pm January 27 at the Queen Anne’s County Library, Kent Island Branch, Stevensville.

The Agony of Organization

If I’m to acquire new lures, others have to go

January is the month when I traditionally attempt to get organized for the fishing seasons ahead. Given my proclivity for acquiring tackle, this is not easy. Just opening the door of my primary storage unit (a large, walnut armoire that deserves a more elegant use) can be risky. There are multi-hooked lures everywhere.

Many are baits that looked good in the store but either didn’t cut the mustard on the water or never got a chance before I discovered better variations. Almost all were purchased during the colder months, as I thought about what was needed for the coming year. I made a lot of hasty decisions last winter. I usually do.

One shelf holds at least a dozen and a half Heddon Zara Spooks. The Spook is an excellent lure; however, two or three colors in each of two sizes are enough to cover almost all of the situations where these lures perform best.

Sorting out a half dozen core-model Spooks, I put aside the rest in a couple of plastic baggies with the intention of recycling them to fellow anglers or putting them up on e-Bay.

Moving on to the shelf of Lucky 13s and Bass Orenos, bought in a frenzy of nostalgia (the patterns are older than I am) one cold and gloomy day, I make another cut. They are still excellent lures, but they don’t quite perform as well for me as more modern variations. They go to the recycle bin. As much as I admire them, I just don’t have the room.

All lure manufacturers agree on one thing: A lure has to catch the angler before it can catch a fish. With me, that is not a problem. If it looks like a baitfish and is more realistic than another lure that I use, I cannot resist buying it. If it doesn’t look like a baitfish, I can’t resist either. Realism is not the sole criteria of a good lure.

Have you ever seen a spinner bait? It looks like a giant safety pin with a flashing spinner or two on the top end and a rubber-skirted jig head on the bottom. What it resembles in nature I haven’t the foggiest, but it catches largemouth bass, pickerel, yellow and white perch and stripers like crazy. The big parachute baits used for trolling don’t look like any fish I’ve ever seen on this planet. One skipper I know calls them Martian Crickets, and it fits.

Color-wise it gets even wilder. I’ve never seen a chartreuse fish of any kind in the Chesapeake. But it’s a killer lure color on the Bay, and the only one with its own waterman‘s rhyme: If it ain’t chartreuse, it ain’t no use.

Fire-engine red and stark white has been around as long as fishermen have. It catches constantly. The Virginia State Record was recently shattered by a man named Fred Barnes trolling a red-and-white Mann’s Stretch 30. Have you ever seen a red-and-white baitfish? You can see my predicament. Any true angler knows that logic is over rated.

Now you can imagine the challenges I face in the month ahead. If I’m going to acquire new lures, others in my collection have to go. Sometimes it’s painful, but it has to be done.

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