Volume XI, Issue 29 ~ July 17-23, 2003

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

Singing the Blues

Now I don’t have a clue if a bat hanging from the underside of the hardtop of your boat is a good omen or just plain bad Mojo, but I do know it’s a pretty bizarre occurrence. What would this nocturnal flying mammal be doing 35 miles off the beach of Ocean City in the middle of the day? Was it blown off course during its migration? We’ll never know the answer, so I guess we’ll have to chalk it up to some weird natural anomaly.

But I’ll tell you what is bad fishing voodoo: sitting in the bar after a long day trolling with nary a tuna strike to our credit, trying to shake our luck, and hearing Johnny Cash’s standard “Folsom Prison Blues” hacked to pieces thanks to the train wreck that is karaoke.

Don’t get me going on karaoke, a phenomenon long past its novelty that encourages drunk, talentless — albeit usually good-natured — people to pretend they can sing. I took part once: Japan, 1993. A dark day for sure. With my newfound drinking companion, I was accomplice to the strangulation of Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” not once but three times! Mr. Johnny Walker will do that to you.

So back to the fishing story. Two straight days fishing aboard Capt. Karl Roscher’s sportfisher, Hurricane, yielded little more than bluefish. It is odd to complain about catching fish, I know. The bluefish were so thick that we barely had our lines in the water when they’d crash and thrash them with a vengeance. Over two days of fishing in fairly rough seas, ranging from four feet to six feet, we must have caught three dozen, easy.

Many blue-water anglers curse bluefish, but I have to give them credit. They’re head-snapping, snarling brutes that smack your baits with abandon.

We were fortunate to have few tangles as a result of the bluefish but not so lucky in catching tuna, the focus of our energies. On Sunday, late in the afternoon, we were trolling through some good water. Blue sparkles jumped off the surface like jewels and the surface temperature was 73. Good tuna water, but nothing but blues.

After re-rigging and setting out the lures for what seemed like the hundredth time, I laid down on the seat to curse our luck. Well, it worked, as the starboard short rigger went off like a shot.

“Another cursed bluefish,” I whined and trudged down from the bridge to pick up the rod. But when it kept peeling off line, Karl kindly asked me to please pick up the rod.

Twenty minutes later, we had a nice bluefin tuna in the 30-pound class in the fish box, no lay-up for sure since it was just the two of us. Normally, you have a crew of four: captain running the boat, angler with rod, leader man and someone to gaff or tag and release the fish. Roscher did a stand-up job of gaffing that fish.

It was a small victory, for sure, but enough to ease the pain and clean the brain of the twisted version of songs heard the night before still ringing in my head. Or maybe the ringing was from something else.

Fish Are Biting
Anglers have many species to choose from, including some snapper bluefish, spot and hardhead. Chummers are still catching rockfish at the same places: The Hill, Summer Gooses and off West River. Several places off the mouth of the Choptank are productive. DNR’s Marty Gary reports that fishing the edge from Buoy 84A to Buoy 80 works for flounder. He also suggests the False Channel and the edge off Taylor’s Island and Punch Island.

Offshore, it might be that the tuna pick is finally picking up. Yellowfin were caught at the 50-fathom line in Poor Mans and the Washington canyons last week.



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Last updated July 17, 2003 @ 2:03am