December 13, 2018

From The Captain……Oyster Season Begins

Message From the Cap’n is a compilation of fishing advice, waterman and weather insights, Chesapeake lore, and ordinary malarkey from the folks who keep their feet wet in the Potomac and St. Mary’s rivers.

“Oyster season in the months with R” used to be the norm, but conservation efforts and disease have dictated some changes to that meme. September was dropped out of the season decades ago.

The oyster season begins each year on Oct. 1. This year’s start of season was impacted by much rainfall. As a result salinity in the lower Potomac is around 8 parts per unit (psu). Our average should  be in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 psu. Check the Interpretive Buoy System for readings. (These readings scare you sometimes.)  We have had no sea nettles this year due to overabundance of rainfall. Water temperature is in the upper 70s.

The season is starting off slow as the oysters are showing no growth up until now. We also will not have any spat set (baby oyster strike) this fall due to low salinity.

The market-size oysters legal for harvest, their meat is fair, due to the amount of fresh water that we have had. Oysters are scarce in the Wicomico River but at least there is little mortality and some closed areas probably will be opened for Thanksgiving orders. That’s when the commercial season really gets going with the holiday market for oysters. Oysters in the St. Mary’s River are small but have decent meats in them.

Conditions will improve as the fall progresses and oysters will grow and fatten up. Oysters are bringing $42 to $45 off the boat this first week.

Here is a video narrated by Buddy Harrison (deceased) explaining how some oystermen work the Chesapeake and its tributaries.

Other water related business:

The crab business is dominated by sooks right now with about five times as many females caught as males. Sooks have a daily quota and are worth about $20 per bushel with the males bringing about $50 per bushel.

Recreational and charter fishermen: sign up for a fishing report from the Tackle Box. Ken Lamb has a good read on fishing in the Lower Chesapeake Bay, and the Potomac and Patuxent rivers. Spanish Mackerel and Striped Bass are plentiful from Point Lookout to Blackistone Island in and under breaking schools of fish.

Watermans’ Guide: Bay water is very cloudy now from fresh water runoff, but will clear as we have some November frosts.

REMEMBER : It’s Our Bay, Let’s Pass  It On.

Till next time,

Capt. Jack

arster694@gmail.com; 240-434-1385

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Comments
2 Responses to “From The Captain……Oyster Season Begins”
  1. Merideth Taylor says:

    Love the photo. Credits?

  2. Bob Lewis says:

    Jack – We DID have a spat set in the St. Mary’s River – I have about 100 photos of them. We found a few spat in our oyster bar surveys (diving) in July although they were difficult to find. Our recruitment survey retrieved 9/29 found many spat varying from 2mm to 45 mm – therefore we know there was an early set in June and sporadic sets through early September. That said, the set this year is the worst that I have ever seen.

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