Volume XI, Issue 18 ~ May 1-7, 2003

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Burton on the Bay | Chesapeake Outdoors | Sky Watch | Tidelog
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Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

Clipped at the Wire

When the bite is slow, trolling can be as tedious as folding laundry. Try as you might, nothing can relieve the boredom — except a fish. You even start recycling your best stories, and Chuck Foster and I have fished together long enough and often enough to have almost run through our reservoir of tall tales.

It had been about a year since our last tournament, which we’ll never mention again. This one — The Boatyard Bar & Grill’s Spring Rockfish Tournament — started in similar fashion: saturated with tedium. During these spells of near catatonia, all your hopes for a hook-up rest with a lure switch or a tide change to bring better fortunes.

I ran the boat while Chuck messed with his rig. Trust me, for all I know about trolling it was best that we stuck to this setup. A man must know his limitations.

At this point, all we wanted was one knock down, a troller’s term describing when a fish hits the bait but doesn’t get hooked. Well, we got that but nothing else until our lone fish of the day hit a white bucktail trailed behind an umbrella rig.

It measured 383&Mac218;16 inches, an agonizing fish scale-width (about 1&Mac218;16 of an inch) behind third place finisher John Chew Jr.’s 381&Mac218;4-inch rockfish and out of the money. But Team Voodoo made a strong showing at the party, and I’m fairly sure we recouped some of our investment via the free beer and food provided by the sponsors.

Aside from winning, we had other reasons to fish the tournament: supporting the beneficiaries of the event — the Annapolis Police Department Youth Fishing Camp, Coastal Conservation Association and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (our employer, always a good idea). Overall, 38 boats fished and 22 boats checked in fish. The tournament raised $5,000, which will be distributed among the three organizations.

Congratulations to Annapolis’s Joe Evans, who won the whole thing, with a rockfish measuring 40 inches, and runner-up T. Allen Mott with a 387&Mac218;8-inch fish.

Fish Are Biting
Once that low-pressure system moved out of the Bay area Saturday night, the bite picked up significantly in the days that followed. Fair seas and sunshine for the first part of the week replaced Saturday’s rain and intermittent fog.

Hot areas include below Thomas Point to Deale in 30 to 45 feet of water. Karl and Robin Roscher got a pair of keeper rockfish Sunday, measuring in the 30- to 34-inch range. I called down to Stephanie from Rod ’n’ Reel, who reports that most charter boats are getting limits the last several days trolling in front of Radar Towers in 35 to 50 feet of water. Most fish average 30 to 35 inches, but a few have been checked that are better than 40 inches.

The guys at Anglers report that the largest striper checked in as of Monday afternoon measured 43 inches. Some anglers have even started to chum for rockfish, but I can’t imagine that will result in too many fish 28 inches or better, the minimum size for keepers.

Hardheads are being caught in several places, including the Patuxent River area and mouths of South and Severn rivers on oyster reefs. The croakers are in the 13-to-18-inch range.



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Last updated May 1, 2003 @ 2:57am