Burton on the Bay

Vol. 8, No. 35
Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2000
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Let’s Go Fishing

Bait the hook well: this fish will bite.
-Much Ado About Nothing: William Shakespeare, 1591

That much we can virtually guarantee you. Bait the hook well, and you will catch fish on the fifth annual Bay Weekly Fishing Trip. And the fish you catch will probably be a rockfish, though there are other possibilities: sea trout, flounder, bluefish and white perch among them.

If it's rockfish you catch, we've got an unusual recipe to round out your day on the Bay. What's better than a fresh fish caught by you? You know how fresh it is, and there's the satisfaction of catching your own.

Our fishing date is October 8, same old location: Capt. Buddy Harrison's Chesapeake House at Tilghman Island. Also, same old fishing, chumming, a fun way to catch fish. It's a light tackle sport, no experience necessary.

Everyone is invited - including the fish, though at that time of year they undoubtedly will already be in waters of the Chesapeake off Tilghman Island. Rockfish will be schooling up nicely, bluefish will be fattening up before heading out of the Chesapeake later that month, and sea trout numbers and size should be the best of the year.

In this year of curious weather - all the rain and unseasonably cool temperatures - crabbing has been a bust. But fishing has been quite good, especially for rockfish. Also, in September, the larger rockfish are more active - and hungrier. Like blues and all other species, they want to fill out their frames to prepare for winter.

This year, we chose a date a couple weeks later than usual. My angling journal shows the second weekend in October has been the best for catching in the mid-Chesapeake for the past several years. And we want Bay Weekly readers to have the best angling possible.

In September of '99, there was a dramatic invasion of larger rockfish in much of the Chesapeake, the best I can recall - and I've been fishing the Bay since I first arrived here in '56. Despite opposite weather conditions - last year it was hot 'n' dry - the angling pattern in the Bay is pretty much the same. Don't ask how come. In fishing, contradictory and curious things happen.
Come Chumming, Chum

Last year, we loaded up on rockfish, almost all of them via chumming, a technique easy to master, even for beginners. It's a simple way to fish. The boat scouts the Bay, looking for schools of rockfish on sophisticated electronics. When fish are located, the anchor is dropped.

Ground-up menhaden is tossed overboard to create a chum line. Fish commence feeding, sometimes coming almost to the boat as they feast on the chum. Meanwhile, baited hooks are dropped into the chum line.

Fishermen will use light tackle, which makes the catching not only more sporting but also allows anglers to feel every maneuver the fish makes once hooked. Things can get exciting when a rockfish of 28 inches or more takes the bait - and we've had stripers bigger than that reeled in by readers the past several years.

If you're a novice, no problem. The mate or other fishermen on board will bait the hook for you. All you have to do is drop it back into the chum line and allow the tide to carry it to the fish.

You will know when you get a strike, for a fish feeding in a chum line takes the bait with gusto - and usually hooks itself. All you have to do is reel it in, and if it's big, the mate or captain will net it for you. Doesn't that sound easy? Anybody can catch fish, especially on a charterboat. The professional skipper works the Bay daily and knows where the fish are.

Come Early, Stay Late

Boats will leave the docks at 8am, but if the boat you're assigned is filled earlier it can leave before then. Skippers prefer a 7am start, but we've set departure back an hour to accommodate those who have a long drive.

Some of us will gather Saturday night, and we hope you'll join us. If you prefer to spend the night before on Tilghman Island at Harrison's, a limited number of rooms are available. Call ahead and make your own reservations.

Bay Weekly will make all the reservations for fishing, the day's food and partying. The plan covers a fisherman's buffet breakfast, box lunch, the day's fishing and the Harrison's special dinner buffet that includes crabcakes, fried chicken and much more. That's when we'll also present the prizes - to the angler with the biggest fish as well as many others, too.

Following our return at about 3pm, your fish will be cleaned and iced for the trip home. The tab for the day on the Bay is $125. Sorry it's a bit more, but fuel costs to take the boats to the fishing grounds is much more than in past years.

Barbecued Striped Bass Southern Style
So, you take your fish home, what’s next? Try something different. How about Barbecued Striped Bass from the L.L. Bean Game & Fish Cookbook by Angus Cameron and Judith Jones, which incidentally at $25.95 is one of the best buys you can make in cookbooks. It covers in its 475 pages just about any species of fish and game you might come across. It’s available in bookstores and directly from L.L Bean.

This recipe adds a bit of the South to our northern rockfish. If you catch a sea trout or flounder, this recipe would be appropriate. It might also be for bluefish, though I haven’t tried that approach.

  • 3- to 4-pound rockfish
  • 1&Mac218;2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions (I double that, but I am an onion freak)
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup tomato catsup
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1&Mac218;3 cup lemon juice
  • 1&Mac218;2 teaspoon prepared mustard

Place fish in greased shallow pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly brown onions in lard (lard, though not good for the heart and arteries, can make a difference, so make an exception). Add remaining ingredients. Simmer 5 minutes, then pour over fish. Bake in 425 degree oven 35 to 40 minutes. Baste fish with sauce while cooking.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly