Sarah Burton, Fisheries Intern
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Posted on July 6, 2012 | Permalink
Tidal Bass and Maryland Fishing Challenge
Last Wednesday I joined Tidal Bass Manager, Joe Love on a visit to Unicorn Lake Fish Hatchery, the only warm water hatchery on the Eastern Shore. Joe had come out the day before to tag some of the bass that the hatchery was raising and we returned to seine the pond and count the number of recaptured fish. Joe instructed the managers of Unicorn Lake to repeat the process and record their results in order to monitor the population. Afterwards, we drove to Smallwood State Park to collect largemouth bass aboard the electrofishing boat. In the past, I've gone electrofishing in small creeks with waders and small battery-driven anodes, but this was much different. We climbed aboard the boat and proceeded to set up what I perceived to be extremely large anodes, or shockers, which hung from the front of the boat. Armed with long nets, Biologist Branson Williams and I stood on the bow and stepped on buttons which would turn on the electric shock and to stun the fish and bring them to the surface momentarily. We netted around 50 largemouth bass, which we kept in an aerated livewell in the center of the boat. When we finished electrofishing, we checked each fish for tags, which were either clips or holes on their fins. Then, I was able to tag each of our fish by punching a hole in the soft dorsal fins before we released them. The purpose of this is to study the distribution of largemouth bass and contribute to surveys on Maryland's rivers dating back to the 1980's. The mission of the Tidal Bass Program is to monitor and make efforts to protect the largemouth bass populations on the tidal rivers around Maryland. To learn more about this process, you can watch a survey, explained by Joe Love: http://youtu.be/vPHS_GaLiis
On Thursday, I departed from Deale with DNR Biologist Eric Durell, retired Biologist Rudy Lukacovic, and interns Hayden Cook and Rachel Bowers, on a charter boat called Wild Goose. Capt. Dale Kirkendall first took us fishing for spot to use as bait for live lining. I originally thought that we would just be trolling and waiting for a bite, so I was enthusiastic about a more active day. At first, I caught an unproportional amount of croakers, but finally caught my share of spot as well. After we had a sufficient amount, we headed further out on the Bay and fished for striped bass, which brings me to our mission of the day. We went out fishing to tag and release striped bass for Diamond Jim, a component of the 2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge, distributing $500 prizes for the catch of these tagged bass. There is also a grand prize of $20,000 for the catch of the striped bass tagged as the Diamond Jim in July and $25,000 for it's capture in August. The purpose of this fishing challenge is to raise interest in Maryland's recreational fishing and encourage the use of fishing licenses. I had a wonderful day on the Wild Goose. We caught over 60 striped bass between about ten anglers. We tagged a total of 34 striped bass for Diamond Jim and I was proud to have contributed to a tournament encouraging the public to enjoy what Maryland and the Bay have to offer.