Chris Dollar: Rod and Reef Slam Celebrates the Importance of Oyster Reefs

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The weather has cleared and the rockfish are hungry, just in time for what organizers are calling Chesapeake’s most unique fishing tournament: the Rod and Reef Slam.

Now celebrating its fifth year, this is a fishing tournament with a twist: the anglers who win the prizes are those who catch the most different species of fish on restored oyster reefs.

This year’s tournament kicked off on Saturday and will run until October 16 and includes divisions for powerboats, kayaks and young anglers. Division winners receive prizes including gift cards, coolers, fishing gear, clothing and more.

The after-party takes place from noon to 3 p.m. on October 16 at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters in Annapolis, and includes food, drinks, live music and an awards show.

The CBF, Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, and Chesapeake Oyster Alliance are sponsoring the tournament.

“Oyster reefs play a critical role in supporting fish diversity in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Allison Colden, senior Maryland fisheries scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Oysters build an underwater habitat that naturally attracts bottom-dwelling creatures that game fish like to eat. Restoring oyster reefs is one way to help fish species that rely on this important habitat.

David Sikorski, executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, added his approval, “It’s great to see what oyster restoration is doing for so many recreationally caught species in the Chesapeake Bay. The habitat built by many partners provides new habitats for species such as sheep, black bass, red drum and tautog, while creating life throughout the water column above the reefs.

From small live bottom sites in the upper bay to large-scale restoration reefs in Harris Creek and the Little Choptank River on the east coast, anglers can use the tournament’s interactive map to decide where to fish. Details and registration can be found at cbf.org.

Add two more voices to the growing chorus of Marylanders who strongly oppose plans to build a massive land-based salmon facility on the shores of one of the state’s most idyllic waterways.

In an Oct. 3 letter, the Federalsburg Mayor and City Council asked the Maryland Department of the Environment to deny the discharge permit for the fish farm proposed by Norwegian company AquaCon that, if built, would allow the discharge of 2.3 million gallons per day of “salmon tank blowdown water” into Marshyhope Creek.

A coalition of angling and boating groups, including the Mid-Shore Anglers Club and the Coastal Conservation Association, are also urging MOE to reject AquaCon’s permit application for a land-based facility, citing scientific information inadequate and the absence of a contingency plan should a catastrophic spill occur.

As I wrote earlier in this column, Marshyhope Creek is far too valuable for its ecological richness and the recreational fishing and boating it supports to risk it in favor of an unproven experiment.

A tributary of the Nanticoke River and an important spawning ground for striped bass, including striped bass (rockfish), the Marshyhope also has good numbers of yellow and white perch, largemouth bass and catfish.

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Equally significant is the fact that the creek is home to a growing population of endangered Atlantic Sturgeon, a restoration effort in which the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and its partners have invested significant time and money.

An industrial facility of this magnitude would likely compromise these restoration efforts.

Until October 15: Dove Season, Premier League. Fifteen birds a day.

October 9-17: Rod and Reef Slam Fishing Tournament. Anglers who catch the most different species win gift cards and prizes worth up to $300. The family tournament includes powerboat, kayak and youth divisions. Admission is $25. Register before October 1st and get a free shirt. Sponsored by CBF, Chesapeake Oyster Alliance and Coastal Conservation Association Maryland.

October 27: Celebration of Conservation, hosted by the Annapolis Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at ccamd.org.

November 2: Free State Fly Fishermen. “Inshore Kayak Fishing in the Delmarva Peninsula” by Jim Delle Bovi. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Davidsonville Family Recreation Center. Contact Ryan Harvey at [email protected]

Send calendar listings, news and photos to [email protected].

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