Where Has the Etiquette Gone?
I expect to be treated rudely by motorists babbling incessantly on their cell phones as they roar past, giving me dirty looks, when I try to claim part of the narrow shoulder as I bike to work. These must be some interesting people who can talk for 24 straight hours.
But when I take to the water to fish or crab, I used to be reasonably sure that good will and good manners would be the norm. Until recently.
Crabbing in the Magothy, we got an early start to set the trotline. Only a couple of watermen beat us to the spot, so we went a little farther to find an open area. Wed laid out about half the line, when a small center-console as white as snow and fresh from the winters boat show came roaring up our stern. Even in the weak light, I could tell that he was laying collapsible traps on top of our line.
We finished paying out our line and cut the motor to wait for the 5:30am legal crabbing hour. The phantom crabber slid up to us out the half-light and said we had to be 100 feet from his traps. Well, I tried to explain, our marker was in the waterway before he even got to the spot - and he knew it.
Not satisfied, he asked if we were commercial.
No was our reply, to which he responded, Well, I am.
Incredulous, I asked, not half sarcastically, In that boat? Using collapsible traps?
He showed us his license numbers, which were set in the wrong place on his boat. Then he zoomed off. Over the next two hours, we caught some beautiful crabs while this new breed of waterman (I now doubt he was legitimate) worked his traps in futility. I hate to be vindictive, but it served him right. I hope he got chicken neck all over his shiny new boat.
Fish Are Biting...
Perhaps the biggest fishing news in the state, at least for freshwater anglers, comes from the North Branch of the Potomac River near Barnum, where a new state record brown trout was landed last Friday. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Gary Fuhn of Elk Garden, Maryland, took 40 to 45 minutes to reel in the mammoth 18-pound-three-ounce monster. The fish measured 33 inches with a nearly unbelievable 19-inch girth, beating the previous state mark by almost five pounds.
In the saltwater above the Bay Bridge, chummers are scoring keeper rockfish, while run-and-gun anglers can have lots of fun with breaking bluefish and smaller rockfish. I havent picked up any trout in this area, but they are sure to move up this way in the coming weeks.
Down toward the Patuxent River, anglers have the opportunity to catch at least five different species - bluefish, rockfish, spot, croaker and sea trout - in a single outing. At the Middle grounds, rocket Spanish mackerel are tearing along the surface, taking gold and silver spoons.
The White Marlin Open is running this entire week at Harbor Island Marina in Ocean City, where 369 boats are battling it out for the approximately $1.7 million payoff. Anglers may fish three out of five days, and most boats head to the Canyons to fish the Gulf Stream.
At press time after the first day of the tournament, Randy Vosback of Ashburn, Virginia, was in the lead with the biggest white marlin landed, a 69 pounder caught at Poormans Canyon on Lightning III. Numerous releases were reported over the weekend.
Weigh-ins - Monday through Friday from 4pm to 9pm - are open to the public. Follow the action on their web cam at www.marlin.beachin.net.