Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association So. MD Chapter

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Panel Discussion: “Getting Ready For the Spring Rockfish Season” (April 17, 2014)
Martin Duby once again did an excellent job of planning a timely Chapter program and securing effective speakers.  We started off with Dr. Dave Zajano discussing the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative and asking for volunteers who might be willing to help evaluate the effectiveness of the artificial reefs by fishing on selected reefs and other designated comparable areas for an hour each month. This was followed by Captain Bruno Vasta, Captain Bill Bonner, and Tom Kemp giving presentations on how to fish for, catch, and land large stripers in the spring season.  
Captain Bill described how he rigs the 18 rods on his boat.  He fishes with six rods on each side off of planer boards, each typically rigged with two bucktails.  He fishes two roof rods at a couple of hundred feet behind the boat with one being a Tony Accetta spoon and the other a tandem rig.  He then has four more boat rods with umbrella rigs that are fished deep.  Captain Bill strays from tradition by placing his sinkers right at the umbrella rigs.  He uses wind-on leaders similar to deep sea captains with the only swivel right at the umbrella rig.  He points out that the advantage of this system is that he can wind the fish all the way in, the sinker makes a great “handle” to grab the fish, and, most importantly, one does not have a sinker swinging around as the fish is landed.  He doesn’t feel that the sinker being close to the umbrella matters, as the umbrella presents an awful lot of hardware anyway.  Bill has just started chartering on the Widow Maker, and we all wish him the best of luck with his new venture.
Chapter president Captain Bruno discussed trolling patterns on the bay.  He pointed out that one always wants to go from east to west or west to east.  This trolling pattern ensures that one is going across multiple water depths as opposed to a north-to-south path which results in one more or less following the same depth.  Also, when one goes east and west on busy days, he is not forever crossing in front of someone else.   Captain Bruno indicated that he has found the eastern side of the bay to have the most large fish.  Bruno also commented that slower is better, as he trolls at about 2 1/2 knots.
Finally Tom Kemp, our former Chapter president, discussed how to land that trophy once you have it hooked.  Tom started by stating that one wants to plan how fish will be boated before one leaves the dock.  When fishing with four people on board, he divides responsibilities as follows:  one person drives the boat, one winds in the fish, one pulls in the fish when the leader gets to the rod, and the fourth person nets the fish and helps get that trophy on board.  Everyone knows what their job is when the fish is hooked.  Tom spiced up his talk with a demonstration, selecting a crew from the audience and bringing in the big cardboard fish he had created correctly.  Tom pointed out that one wants to get the fish into the net nose first, that the net man should hold the bottom of the netting against the handle as the net is placed in the water, and finally the leader man should continue to hold the leader and lift the fish into the boat as the net man keeps the net around it just in case it throws the hook.  The advantage of that technique is the fish and the hooks are less apt to get tangled in the net because the fish never really was supported by the net.
In all, those present were both entertained and informed and had an engaging conversation about how to catch and land the Big One.

Captain Bill starts off his presentation by showing how he sets up his tandem rigs. Captain Bruno explains his trolling techniques.
Ray Morgan looks on during the presentation as he mans the table selling shads. Dr. Dave Zajano talks about the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) project as Captain Bruno listens.
The crowd looks on as Dr. Dave Zajano talks. Captain Bruno helps leader the cardboard trophy into Tom’s net.
Martin Duby announces Captain Bill Bonner. Tom Kemp shows how to properly ready his huge net for entry into the water.


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