Put-and-take trout

A put-and-take trout caught by recreational Eric Packard on one of his outings last week in Calvert County. The golden variety of rainbow trout come from a single yellow-mottled female fingerling found in a West Virginia hatchery in 1955.

Last week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met for several days in New Castle, New Hampshire.

The big news out of the annual meeting is that Addendum VI to Amendment 6 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass was approved.

This wasn’t exactly a surprise. Maryland was already floating some ideas for how to reduce the number of fish harvested by 18%. Now the mandate is official.

Recreational fishermen along the Atlantic seaboard should be expecting some big changes for next year.

For starters, the bag limit could be reduced from two fish per day to one fish. For states with an ocean fishery, a slot system could be implemented with only one fish from 28 to 35 inches eligible to be kept. In the Chesapeake Bay, the minimum size recommended for a keeper is 18 inches.

Also new, the addendum requires the mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce the number of discarded fish that later die from being gut hooked by recreational fishermen.

Whether or not states adopt these guidelines verbatim or choose an alternative will be worked out this month. Each individual state has until the end of November to propose an alternative plan, called a conservation equivalency, to achieve the 18% reduction through some other means than the ones recommended by the ASMFC. Any conservation equivalency must be approved by the technical committee.

I’ve already written about Maryland’s proposed changes when they were made public a few weeks ago. You can view the changes at https://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/Pages/regulations/changes.aspx. Click on “Striped Bass—Recreational Fishery.” Comments are open until 11:59 p.m. this Sunday night.

DNR makes latest trout stocking

Last Thursday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources left some much anticipated Halloween treats for anglers looking forward to fall trout fishing.

Each spring and fall, DNR stocks tens of thousands of brown, golden and rainbow trout in local waters called put-and-take areas for local anglers to catch and eat. While most of the trout are in the 10- to 13-inch range, some holdover and trophy fish are out there and those fish can weigh from 2 to 9 pounds.

Anthony Hancock, manager at Gilbert Run Park in Dentsville, told me there have been lots of anglers at the park trying their luck for trout over the past week.

Hancock said the stocked trout have scattered and can be found near certain drop-offs around the lake. On sunny days, look for them in deeper water. On cloudy or overcast days, the trout usually stay closer to the surface and come up into shallower water.

Powerbait remains a perennial favorite, but Hancock said casting small flashy spinners and spoons can often be just as effective. Rooster tails, Mepps spinners and Kastmaster spoons are some of the better producers. Folks with fly rods have been trying their luck with natural-colored streamers and small nymph patterns.

Speaking of fly rodders, recreational fisherman and official Maryland State Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission member Eric Packard grabbed his fly rod as soon as the email notification from DNR hit his inbox.

Packard made it to Calvert Cliffs Pond while they were still dropping fish into the water. He caught six trout last Thursday and nine last Friday, and each day since it’s been fewer and fewer fish.

While the weekend was busy with anglers trying their luck, there are still a few trout lurking in local waters for anglers to catch. Packard favors the challenge of the fly rod, but said he saw other fishermen having success with Powerbait.

Hughesville Pond, Myrtle Grove Pond and Wheatley Lake in Charles County and Calvert Cliffs Pond and Hutchins Pond in Calvert County received trout last week.

For the folks in St. Mary’s County who don’t want to drive out of the county for good fishing, Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park offers this consolation: The crappie bite at St. Mary’s Lake is “on fire” with big crappie in the 12- to 14-inch range gorging on live minnows.

Koller to speak at next SMRFO meeting

Capt. Luke Koller (https://ljkoutdoors.com/) will be the guest speaker at the next Southern Maryland Recreational Fishing Organization meeting. You may have heard of Capt. Koller or perhaps recognize the name of his charter boat, the Rock Star. He’ll be presenting how to locate and catch striped bass this fall.

The meeting will take place at the Solomons Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department at the corner of Route 4 and Dowell Road at 7 p.m. on Nov. 21. Pizza and drinks will be available prior to the meeting at 6:15 p.m. for $1 per slice, and drinks are available at $1 each. The meeting is open to the public, so bring along your fishing buddy.

Also, the annual SMRFO membership drive is currently underway.

Annual membership is $20 per year, or you can become a lifetime member for the one-time donation of $250. Join by Dec. 1 and enjoy a 10% discount for most items at both West Marine in Solomons and Alltackle in Annapolis. For more information, go to www.smrfo.com.