|The Fellowship of Fishing
It's always a lot of fun to watch other people have fun catching fish, particularly when they are new to the sport. It's even more gratifying if they catch fish under tough conditions. Over the weekend, I guided Kathy and Sally, childhood friends now living at either end of the country, for a weekend of fun and fishing here in the area. It was Kathy's first time fishing our Chesapeake Bay waters on the fly - and only her second outing overall.
The major obstacle was the stiff wind, which was a moderate challenge to skilled casters and a major pain for novices. But conditions were definitely fishable, and after all, fishing in saltwater often exposes you directly to such weather, so I assured them it would be good practice. We found some lee shoreline around Kent Island where the wind blew less briskly, and we started casting deep-diving Clousers attached to sinking fly line over several lumps that had held fish earlier in the week.
After a few drifts, Kathy hooked up with her first striper, a fat, healthy fish just barely under legal. Sally hooked into several smaller rockfish before we went on the prowl for breaking fish. It took me several gentle corrections to convince them that not only were striped bass and rockfish the same fish, but that around these parts we call them simply rock.
We found a small skittish pod of 14- to 17-inch rockfish and sea trout that seemed to sound at every other cast. The fish scope lit up with marks, but the bite was less than frantic. I changed their flies to a larger Clouser, this one olive over white with much more flash tied in, with a little better success rate. Before it was time to head back to the dock, the women managed to catch a couple decent trout, several schoolie rockfish and to have a good deal of fun while rekindling their friendship through the fellowship of angling.
The Bay has that effect on you.
Fish are Biting
The Halloween season seems to have made some pods of breaking fish in some areas spooky, at least for this fisherman. While small rockfish oblige on light tackle and flies, sea trout seem to be a bit more picky lately; here's hoping their natural urge to fatten up will get them to open their mouths a bit more. I've had good to moderate success (and sometimes poor) with feather jigs and metal jigs, each dressed with some chartreuse and flash.
If you can handle the crowds, chumming still remains the preferred method for the many hordes of Chesapeake anglers anchoring at the Hill, Stone Rock and Swan and Love points. But many good-sized rockfish are still holding in the rivers and creeks, such as the Choptank, Severn, Patapsco and Chester. Evening hours seem the better time, and surface plugs at first or last light. Otherwise soft plastics or rattletraps may work.
Your Chance to Speak for the Crabs
By now, many people are aware of the problems facing the Chesapeake's blue crab stocks. The Bi-State Blue Crab Advisory Commission will hold several hearings to present to the public the draft recommendations the commission's Advisory Committee developed during a two-year study of blue crab management in the Bay. The first meeting is 7pm Thursday, October 26, at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, with another on Wednesday, November 1, at the Mechanicsville Fire Hall. Visit the Chesapeake Bay Commission's web site at www.chesbay.state.va.us/crabforums for a complete schedule.