Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Dear MAC Members,

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is considering providing a permit to the Maryland Energy Resources LLC, Indiana, Pa to discharge of an average of 500,000 gallons per day of mine drainage and variable volumes of storm water from the proposed mine. The site is located along Durst Road southwest of Grantsville to the north branch of the Casselman River. This could also effect the Y

Written comments will be accepted until Wednesday, May 26. They can be sent to the Maryland Department of the Environment, Water Management Administration, 1800 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230-1708, Attn: Michael Richardson. For more information, persons may call 800-633-6101.

More information is available on the "Citizens Against the Proposed Casselman Basin Mine Facebook page:

Because we only have 2 days to send comments, Mr. Richardson's email address is m.richardson@mde.state.md.us and his phone number is 410-537-3654.

PLEASE, PLEASE take a few minutes today or tomorrow to stop this travesty!!

John Brognard
VP Conservation
Mid-Atlantic Council - Fesreation of Fly Fishers

Sunday, May 16, 2010

snakehead handling and the law


Snakehead Handling and the Law

05/12/2010  |   Posted by DCOSDEN
Tags: Recreational
  In recent years spring brings a flood of calls and emails from anglers who have caught a snakehead fish in the tidal Potomac River or its tributaries. This year there appears to be some confusion as to what anglers can do legally and what they should do with snakeheads when they catch one.
Maryland DNR Fisheries Service created a regulation in 2009 which allows for the taking of snakehead fish from Maryland waters by any legal bait so long as the snakehead is killed by one of the following methods upon capture. Under (Statewide General Regulations) of the Code of Maryland regulations,
“An individual may capture and possess a snakehead fish using any legal method if the head of the snakehead fish is immediately removed, the body is gutted, the gill arches are removed from both sides of the fish, or the fish is filleted upon capture.”
The regulation states further,
“The capture and possession of snakehead fish is not subject to any season, creel limit, or size limit.”
The bottom line is that we are encouraging anglers to keep and eat snakeheads which are caught in Maryland waters but the fish must be killed upon capture. We do not require that snakeheads be reported. However in order to track expansion of their range we are asking that snakeheads caught outside of the tidal waters of the Potomac and its tributaries be reported to Don Cosden at dcosden@dnr.state.md.us or (410) 260-8287.
We asked our neighbors who share jurisdiction of the Potomac and adjacent waters about their policies and here are the replies.
Federal law prohibits the import of live fish into the U. S. or across state borders without a permit from the USFWS.
District of Columbia – the fish must be dead with the head removed
Virginia - anglers who legally catch a northern snakehead on hook-and-line may keep the fish to mount or eat providing they immediately kill the fish and notify VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fish (best way is hotline 804-367-2925).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A conversation with Mary Groves

Joining us this week to talk about the Potomac River is Mary Groves from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Mary, tell me a little about your background?

I am the Southern Region Inland Fisheries Manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR). Our purpose is to monitor and manage freshwater fish populations in Anne Arundel, Prince Georges, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties. This also includes tidal freshwater such as the areas in the Potomac and Patuxent that still have a tidal fluctuation but the water is fresh or semi-fresh (0-5 ppt salinity).

These areas hold predominantly freshwater species like largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, various sunfish, various catfish and even an occasional trout. In very dry years, blue crab, spot and croaker may also be found. This is because the salt wedge can be driven way upstream during high tide due to the lack of freshwater supplied by rainfall.

Describe the Potomac? What makes it unique?

The Potomac River below Washington DC is unique because of the diversity and abundance of fish that live here. Add to that the miles and miles of fishable tributaries, the beautiful wildlife and the historical wealth of the surrounding area and you can’t go wrong spending a day on the Potomac.

What should anglers know about fishing this river that runs through the capital?

There are several important things that you need to know when fishing the tidal Potomac.

First, there is no reciprocal license agreement between Maryland and Washington DC. You need a fishing license for each area if you plan to fish around Washington DC and are not familiar with the river. There are no markers telling you when you’ve crossed into Maryland or Washington.

The second is you need to be able to identify the fish you keep, or at least have some fish ID guide handy. This is because there are some fish that you are not allowed to keep at all such as shad, stripers (limited season) and herring (Maryland).

How are various fish populations doing including the shad, stripers and of course the snakeheads?

A moratorium is still in effect for both hickory and American shad meaning that it is illegal to possess either species regardless of where you fish. Federal and State agencies have been working for years to restore the shad population in the Potomac and annually stock hatchery raised fish in order to supplement current populations.

A limited fishing season is still in effect for striped bass and can change from year to year so it’s important to check on current regulations if you plan to fish for stripers.

Northern Snakehead continue to expand their range in the tidal freshwater portion of the Potomac River. They can be found in most of the tributaries between Great Falls and Colonial Beach and much of the mainstem between those two points. Over the last two years we’ve received numerous phone calls from people reporting the occurrence of snakeheads in the headwaters of many of the tributaries. As a result, we are currently surveying the upper reaches of some of our streams to determine the extent and usage of these areas by snakeheads.

What are some of the emerging environmental issues that should concern anyone who cares about the Potomac?

There are more than a few environmental issues that involve negative impacts on water quality and living resources in the Potomac River.

One problem that Maryland DNR is really trying hard to focus awareness on is the continued introduction of non-native species (both plant and animal) into our waterways and streams.

The northern snakehead situation highlights the problem these introductions can produce. Rusty crayfish, didymo, whirling disease and zebra mussels are just some of the other invasives that Maryland is currently dealing with.

Undesirable aquarium and pond plants like water hyacinth and water chestnut are also invasives that are commonly released by pond enthusiasts and can spread quickly in our waterways.

Anglers should become familiar with some of the non-native species listed on both the Maryland and Virginia Resource websites and report any sightings to the proper agency. If you are not sure of the identification of the plant or fish that you come across during your outing we can often identify the species from a good digital photograph.


How can someone who is new to fishing learn about the river?

One of the most important steps you need to take when you start fishing the Potomac is invest in a navigational chart (preferably waterproof). There are plenty of shallow areas, submerged obstructions and off-limits areas that are marked on these charts.

All too often we’ve come across someone who was not familiar with the Potomac and they’ve run aground because they thought they had plenty of water under their hull. You should be mindful of the tides too since they can often make a difference on where you want to fish.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are an easy way to access navigational charts and tide tables as well. We’ve been using a small, portable hand-held unit on our boat for years and I wouldn’t take to the water without one.

In addition to a navigational chart, there are various fishing maps that have been produced by individuals and fishing clubs in the area. A quick search on the internet will yield a variety of maps that would be useful.

Booking a trip with a local guide is always a great way to be introduced to the river and anglers can always call our office if they would like some information on fishing for specific species.

What are some of the basics? What do you need to understand about flows, temperatures and tides?

A lot of the rules that apply to inland fishing (flow and temperature) also applies to the tidal Potomac. Most fish will go deep when it’s too cold or too hot. Shallow water fishing is usually great in the spring and fall, especially in the evening.

Catfish often like to collect in deeper water at the mouth of creeks, but they can also be caught in the shallows when they feed in the evenings. Many fish like to feed on a moving tide, it just takes a while to pattern various species.

Since the Potomac is an ever-changing river, anglers need to be flexible and willing to try different techniques, areas and baits/lures.

We’ve seen people fly fishing the Potomac for bluegill, bass, striped bass, carp, shad (catch and release only) and a few adventurous folks have voiced their interest in trying their hand at fly fishing for northern snakehead.

Are there safety issues?

While the tidal Potomac can (and does) flood occasionally, the bigger problem during heavy rains is the turbidity of the water. Silt and sediment that is carried from the mountains and piedmont areas is carried downriver and collects in the relatively calmer tidal portion of the river. This turbidity takes a while to clear.

Often logs and other debris are carried along with the muddy water and can float just below the surface creating a real danger to anyone in a watercraft. It’s always a good idea to keep boat speeds down when these conditions occur.

During warmer months, severe thunderstorms can pop up unexpectantly on the river so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the sky and check the weather before heading out for a fishing trip. Also, be mindful of boat wakes if you’re in a smaller craft such as a canoe or kayak.

Optimist or pessimist about the future health of the Potomac?

The Potomac is a wonderful river that provides a variety of angling opportunities from fly fishing to bow fishing. The future of the river depends on a heightened awareness by both the public and government officials on the vulnerability of the river to stormwater run off, erosion, point and non-point pollution, and the expansion of impervious surfaces.

Solutions to these problems aren’t always easy or clear-cut so it’s important for anyone who is interested in the health of the river to become involved in local conservation groups who work to improve water quality, habitat and access to the Potomac.

Mary thanks again for taking the time to talk with us.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boating Safety

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) urges boaters to be SAFE while enjoying Maryland’s waterways.

Last year, Maryland had 16 fatal accidents, resulting in 17 deaths, up from a 5-year average of 12 fatal accidents. NRP reports that 16 of the 17 victims were not wearing life vests and stresses that wearing a life jacket could be the single most important factor in preventing boating deaths. Alcohol and drugs were a contributing factor in 7 of the fatal boating accidents.

“Boaters should use good judgment, avoid alcohol consumption and take safety precautions before departing,” said NRP Colonel George Johnson.

Boaters can help ensure their safety and the safety of others enjoying Maryland’s waterways by remembering the acronym “SAFE”:

• S – Survey or examine your vessel’s hull, engine and navigational equipment for serviceability. Ensure the hull is sound and free of cracks, holes and defects. Survey your vessel’s engine performance. Take it to a certified mechanic to ensure the engine is operating properly. Survey and examine all navigational lights, communication, radar, GPS and other electronic equipment to ensure that they are functioning properly.
• A – Anticipate the needs of the trip prior to leaving the dock. Ensure fuel, clothing, and medical needs are met during the trip. Plan for unexpected events like foul weather or sudden storms.
• F – File a float plan with a friend or relative. Tell someone where you going, how long you plan to stay, and when to expect you back. This is vital information for rescuers searching for lost or overdue boaters.
• E – Equipment. Ensure that all safety equipment is in good condition and sufficient quantity for the people on board the vessel. Basic equipment includes correct size and quantity of life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals (flares etc), and sound producing device such as a whistle or horn.

NRP responded to 299 boating accidents last year, 202 of which resulted in injuries that required treatment more than first aid and/or had damages to the vessels in excess of $ 2,000. Also, NRP responded to an additional 355 boating assist and search or rescue calls last year. NRP responds to an average 2400 boating incidents a year.
For more information on safe boating in Maryland, visit the DNR website: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/boating/