For three hours there was nothing. Then, as the tide began moving once more, the perch started biting again. The light was fading fast and we were actually stowing some tackle away when my rod arched over and the drag of my reel began yielding line. Minutes later, flashing at the boatside and looking as magnificently medieval as the checkered gold, black and red of Maryland's flag was my New Year's Eve striper. It was of legal size and was boated at precisely 5:08 p.m. I'll swear no other boat was out on the bay. Thus, I hereby lay claim to the capture of the last legal Chesapeake rock. Whether or not I ate him, though, is a matter of conjecture, because somehow the kitchen staff at the Robert Morris Inn made no distinction between him and our iced-down fillets.
In any case, I may have to repeat the feat. Last month, William Gordon, an administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, received a petition signed by a concerned citizen, Mr. James E. Price, asking him to declare the striped bass a threatened species from Maine to North Carolina. Mr. Gordon has 90 days to accept or reject the petition, and Maryland's ban sets a precedent that may be hard to ignore.
We'd better make sure of a good supply of grass shrimp for Dec. 31, 1985.