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Fishing

For the 32nd straight year, Fowler will lead friends and family into the Patuxent to make a point. For the first time, Betty Fowler won’t be with him.

 

      When 95-year-old Bernie Fowler leads people into the Patuxent River on Sunday, the river in his heart will be one neither you nor I can imagine.      For the chain of followers linked arm in arm with the river champion in the annual test of water clarity, statistics tell the story of the river’s woes or redemption. Can the put-upon river with its D-grade report card achieve its Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan targets for 2025?

Snakeheads and catfish are plentiful

 

     Over Memorial Day weekend, I heard a new, amusing joke.       Question: Why are snakeheads and channel catfish the most numerous fish caught this year?       Answer: Because they’re the only two species Maryland Department of Natural Resources hasn’t tried to help. 

Population highest since 2012

      Callinectes sapidus, our beautiful swimmers, seem to be thriving on moderate winters in a healthier Bay. The Chesapeake is full of more crabs than in any year since 2012, according to winter’s annual whole-Bay census, taken by the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and the Virginia Institute of Marine Biology.

In Europe, invasion of the blue crab

       Breathless news accounts make it sound like something out of Jaws.          “Only a big octopus could win a fight with a blue crab’s deadly pincers,” read an account in The Guardian last week.          The typically reserved British paper is writing not of some fearsome sea creatures but of the crustacean that provides Chesapeake Country tasty lumps of our identity.

Giant Atlantic sturgeon spotting hopeful signs

      A sturgeon is not a pretty fish. It’s long and bony with a sharp, upturned snout and whiskers. A prehistoric fish, they have been around for more than 100 million years. Once, Atlantic sturgeon were common in Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, the biggest fish that swam here in modern times.

Beyond swallowing goldfish

     In the days before iPhones and Netflix, swallowing goldfish was a time-honored, if ridiculous, activity for inebriated young fellows. A guy in Holland carried the game too far.          The current issue of Acta-Oto-Laryngologica Case Reports (we at Bay Weekly love obscure journals) tells about a group of young drunks in the town of Rotterdam who apparently had emptied the aquarium of small species.

What should we do to push back the tide?

      Dozens of islands in Chesapeake Bay were home to human populations, farms, forests, even a few stores and hotels, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Starting in the early 1900s, islanders migrated to the mainland. Now all but two of these offshore islands have disappeared or no longer sustain the communities that once thrived in isolation.

Innovation to make all safer, a few richer

      This year’s accumulating stories of deaths and serious boating accidents on the Bay and our rivers have gotten to me. I no longer leave the dock without donning my inflatable PFD. It was expensive, but it’s comfortable, and I feel safer.

South County joins AACo’s short list of public ramps

       Anne Arundel County doubled its number of public boat ramps this month, opening a new one on Parrish Creek at Discovery Village in Shady Side. The county has 533 miles of coastline but only one other public trailered-boat launch. That’s at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena.       “The second boat ramp opening in just two years demonstrates undeniable progress in bringing our citizens closer to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,” said County Executive Steve Schuh.

Nine-and-a half-incher sets an unofficial record

         The minimum keepable size for Atlantic blue crabs is five to five and one-quarter inches, depending on the season. Crabs that size are ranked as smalls. Mediums range up to six inches, large six and a half and jumbo up to seven. Crabs seven inches and up are ranked as behemoths, also called heavyweights or whales.           So what do you call a blue crab measuring nine and one half inches tip to tip?