Wild Chesapeake: Cobia Catch Changes & Record Rockfish Tournament

Cobia Season Kicks Off with New Rules

Captain Harry Nield of Kingfish II Charters hoists a keeper. Photo courtesy of Kingfish II Charters

It’s now officially June, and that means the Chesapeake cobia season is now open in Virginia and Maryland waters. But this year’s season comes with some changes.

From June 1 through September 30, sport anglers may keep one cobia per-person per-day with a minimum size limit of 40 inches measured from the snout to the tip of the tail.

There are differences in the rules for each state. In Virginia, to help protect the big breeders, anglers can only keep one cobia that is longer than 50 inches. No such rule applies in Maryland waters. Also, anyone fishing Virginia’s part of the Bay are required to obtain a special (free) cobia permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Virginia has a new cobia reporting requirement requiring anglers to report their landings within 21 days after the September 30 end of the season. Failure to do so means you cannot obtain a cobia permit for one year.

Maryland Coastal Conservation Association Light Tackle, Catch & Release Tournament Hits Record 

Saturday’s 16th annual Kent Narrows Light Tackle & Fly Fishing Tournament hosted by CCA-MD drew a record 159 anglers for what has become the testing event for some of the best light tackle anglers on the Bay. The participants noted the weather was fine but the fishing was tough. A good number of the boats went to fish the Bay Bridge pilings and rocks where a large school of stripers had taken up station in the days preceding the event. Others fished around Eastern Bay and Poplar Island to find a possible winner.

 A record 159 anglers took part in the 16th annual Kent Narrows Light Tackle & Fly Fishing Tournament held on June 1, with the winners pictured here. Photo courtesy of CCA MD.
A record 159 anglers took part in the 16th annual Kent Narrows Light Tackle & Fly Fishing Tournament held on June 1, with the winners pictured here. Photo courtesy of CCA MD.

The crew on Thunder Road—Shawn Kimbro, Jamie Clough, Rich Jenkins and Phil Kerchner—took the team title with the required three rockfish measuring a total of 95.50 inches, all caught among the melee of boats at the bridge. It was their fourth team win in the past seven years. Jason Lavey caught the longest single striper, a 34.75-inch fish reeled in, measured, photographed and released about an hour into the competition.

The fly division winner was Morgan Kupfer with a 24-inch fish caught in Eastern Bay. Alicia Moreira took the ladies’ prizes with a 19.75-inch rockfish. Chuck Chambers caught a 25.50-inch rock to take the kayak division. Winning the youth title was Charlie Foxwell with a 28.25-inch striper while Sherry Miles had the longest white perch at 11.75 inches, and Allen Walker won the non-rock category with a 16.75-inch needlefish.

The tournament uses the iAngler app, which is ideal for catch-photo-release events since it’s easy for anglers to upload their catches, and it tracks in real-time who’s atop the leader board. From a conservation perspective, it is far less impactful on striper stocks since no fish are killed for a weigh-in. Anglers simply snap a photo of the fish on a tournament measuring stick, quickly revive and release their fish, and then log in the catch through the app. Catch data is used by researchers and scientists. I served as a judge, and I found the entire process to be incredibly efficient.

CCA MD’s executive director David Sikorski adds, “Through CCA’s new Releasense.org platform, we’re using tournaments like this to share proper angling techniques and the science of conservation with our members.”

-Capt. Chris Dollar