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Maryland Natural Resources Police have charged six charter boat operators with multiple fishing violations following a lengthy investigation into the use of prohibited fishing gear. The investigation began in October 2019 in response to tips received by concerned citizens. 

During the investigation, police discovered several charter boats had violated the size and catch limit for striped bass, failed to use non-offset circle hooks while chumming or live-lining in tidal waters as required in Maryland, and committed other violations.

The Natural Resources Police has been working tirelessly to make sure that those fishing for striped bass are following the law. This investigation is in addition to the more than 800 citations written to recreational fishers this season related to striped bass violations.

“While the vast majority of Maryland’s fishing community is law-abiding and understands the need for our regulations, there unfortunately are those who break the rules,” Maryland Natural Resources Police Col. Adrian Baker said. “Our conservation laws are designed for the protection and sustainability of our resources, and we will stay vigilant to see they are enforced.”

Those charged in the investigation are:

Brian Councell, Chestertown, operator of vessel Sea Dux:

  • Failure to use non-offset circle hooks while live-lining or chumming for striped bass (6 counts)

James Harris, North Beach, operator of vessel Compensation:

  • Possessing croaker less than 9 inches total length.
  • Failure to comply with condition of pilot program permit (two counts)
  • Possessing more than 15 pounds of fish whose size cannot be determined
  • Failure to use non-offset circle hooks while live-lining or chumming for striped bass (6 counts)
  • Failure to retain carcasses of filleted striped bass until arriving dockside
  • Possessing striped bass less than 19 inches total length.
  • Mutilation of striped bass carcass to the extent that the total length or species cannot be determined

John Reynolds Sr., Marydel, operator of vessel Retirement Fun:

  • Possessing striped bass less than 19 inches total length
  • Using more than 2 hooks per line while using active line fishing gear (6 counts)

John Motovidlak Sr., Wittman, operator of vessel Dawn Marie:

  • Possessing more than 15 pounds of fish whose size cannot be determined
  • Exceeding the summer-fall striped bass possession limit
  • Failure to use non-offset circle hooks while live-lining or chumming for striped bass (3 counts)
  • Failure to retain carcasses of filleted striped bass until arriving dockside
  • Mutilation of striped bass carcass to the extent that the total length or species cannot be determined

William Eason, Oxford, operator of vessel Dana-Kat:

  • Failure to use non-offset circle hooks while live-lining or chumming for striped bass (8 counts)

Jesse Bolton, Dunkirk, operator of vessel Wild Goose:

  • Failure to use non-offset circle hooks while live-lining or chumming for striped bass (6 counts)
  • Exchanging a striped bass in possession to possess another striped bass (1 count)

If convicted of these offenses, first-time offenders face a maximum fine of $1,000, and second-time offenders face $2,000. Those charged also face the potential suspension or revocation of fishing privileges and removal from the pilot program. 

The recreational summer-fall striped bass fishing season reopens Sept. 1


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