Message From the Cap’n/Oyster Season Begin

By: Jack Russell

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 decades ago. The oyster season now begins each year Oct. 1. This year, with the water temperature in the 70s, the oysters are not as plump as they will be when the water temperature falls.

oyster season

From the Interpretive Buoy System: The Lower Potomac water temperature is about 72 degrees Fahrenheit and the salinity at 16 parts per unit this week.  At last, the salinity is up to average so conditions may start to be conducive for a stabilizing pattern in this area.

After a year of rainfall which dropped salinity levels to around 5-7 PSU, many oysters were killed and reproduction ceased as a direct cause. As the weather goes from one extreme to the other and we have now had about 3 months of drought bringing salinity back up to normal.

Oyster prices this week are around $55 per bushel off the boat, reflecting a scarcity of the product. Prices to the consumer will also rise.

Here are DNR  restrictions for recreational and commercial harvest for the 2019 season.

The Blue Crab business is slowing with most of the catch turning to females. Crabs are in good shape and will continue as the fall progresses. Large males will soon be migrating down our rivers and bays providing many with a chance to fill their “crab tooth” this fall. Soft crab shedding is about done with this cooler weather.

Fishing has been good with many good catches of Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel being reported in the Lower Potomac.

The high tide bushes are now in bloom, drawing many insects especially the Buckeye Butterfly.

Waterman’s tip: Always carry a small can of linseed oil to sprinkle on the water to smooth out the ripples when nippering along the shoreline.

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