After reading the bluster about SB948 from the leaders of the commercial gang the last few weeks, I felt compelled to provide some space for a rebuttal from the voiceless Chesapeake Bay bivalve that has endured a horrific history. Disease, overharvesting, and suffocation has left us with one percent of our native oysters. This was their response:

“We surrender. We have surrendered. Please leave us alone. We have never fought back and we’re not going to fight back, but let us rebuild and do the work that needs to be done. Aren’t there other critters that you can eat that will have less impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay? We aren’t going to fight you. We want to do our jobs and live our lives in peace. There’s only one job we can do. Aren’t there other jobs available for you on land?

“Why do you continue to murder us when there’s so few of us left? Are we an embarrassment that needs to go away? Why do your worst continue to harvest us from sanctuaries? Why do your worst harvest us from restricted areas due to pollution and sell us for consumption? We are working hard there. Why would you do that?

“We know we’re special, but that has come at a tremendous cost to ourselves and to the Chesapeake Bay. Please continue your ingenious efforts to grow us through aquaculture and to provide substructure for us to live. Please continue your volunteer efforts to rebuild our families. Or just leave us alone. We’re tough, but we’re not going to fight you.”

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Covid-19 and the DNR

In response to Covid-19, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has implemented some changes in department activities, customer service functions, and scheduled events to try to minimize the spread of the virus.

Gov. Larry Hogan has issued an executive order related to licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations that may be expiring or up for renewal during the state of emergency. The executive order immediately grants a grace period of 30 days after the date of termination of the state of emergency. The purpose of the grace period is to reduce the number of people visiting DNR Licensing Service Centers. An option is to use Maryland’s online Compass portal, which provides 24/7 self-service access to the DNR’s entire line of recreational licenses, permits and stamps, off-road vehicle registrations, etc.

Enhanced cleaning protocols are now in place at state park public facilities, restrooms, ranger stations, nature centers, and other public buildings. Additionally, in accordance with the governor’s executive order, all events and gatherings of groups larger than 250 people have been postponed or cancelled and some park access has been restricted.

Maryland’s Natural Resources Police has suspended traditional, in-person classroom hunting education courses until further notice. Potential hunter education students are encouraged to take the online field of study course, which combined with a field-day workshop will satisfy the hunter education requirement.

Further information is available on the DNR website.

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Fishing Report

It’s a great time to go fishing. The weather is getting warmer. The bugs haven’t arrived in full force yet. The fish are biting and there usually aren’t more than 250 people fishing in one area. The snakeheads are feasting and I continue to be amazed at how many are being caught in the Blackwater area, with seemingly no end in sight as they are highly successful breeders and they love the marshes.

Yellow and white perch, crappie, bass, pickerel, catfish, and bass are biting in our Chesapeake Bay tributaries, although it’s not always easy finding where they’re hiding out this time of year. As I’ve heard from many a veteran angler: that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.

Fishing for blue catfish is good in the Choptank River in the general vicinity of the Dover Bridge. Shore-based anglers have a new fishing access on the east side of the old span. It is a great place to fish for blue and channel catfish as well as white perch. There are six parking spots plus a handicap parking spot and a paved walkway to the old bridge span.

On the Atlantic Coast, the best action in the Ocean City area continues to be for tautog at the offshore wreck and reef sites. When weather conditions are favorable, anglers fishing on the charter and party boats are catching some very large fish.

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Duck blind know-it-all

Tiger salamanders, which are doing better here on the Eastern Shore, can grow to more than a foot long.

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