Volume XI, Issue 40 ~ October 2-8, 2003

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Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar Bouncing Back from Isabel

The din of the engine was barely audible buzzing through the gray-cloaked air like one of those ultra-light planes. You’ve seen those flying conceptions, which look like they’re constructed of papier-mâché and assembled by fifth graders at recess. (For the record, even if the earth were splitting in two under my feet, I’d think long and hard about climbing into one of those flying death traps.)

Sound echoes more pronouncedly off the water, especially when shrouded in fog. The whine got closer, closer still, until a blur — running full out — emerged from the fog. The operator quickly looked up, confused, saw me, banked to port, then, realizing his navigational error, swerved hard to starboard to avoid my boat and the marsh bank. He missed me by 150 yards, easily, but the refracted horizon caused by the heavy haze made it seem like inches.

It was no ultra-light but a boat, and his wash crashed into the shoreline. My boat bobbed like a cork. Any chance of luring a lurking rockfish from the sunken stump field was gone as the chicken-necker, decked out in cut-off blue jeans no doubt, buzzed on his merry way, oblivious as the day he was born. Thanks for the gumball, joker!

For the second time since Isabel tore through the region, I’d gone out to plug the shoreline for rockfish and bluefish. And for the second time, I was rewarded. I have to admit that I thought it’d take longer for the bite to turn back on, but I was wrong. Rockfish are still around and still hungry.

The encounter with Magellan forced me across the Chester River to fish another rip off a point. Here I found a small gang of bluefish, the bikers of the Bay. They tore up my Crease fly, so I tied on a modified Half’n’Half, which I coated with five-minute epoxy at the eyes to give it some added durability.

It didn’t matter. A little blue was giving chase, so I paused the retrieve only to see the small fish give way to a bruiser (by today’s Bay standards five pounds or so) that slashed the fly to ribbons. My strip strike was too strong, and I missed a nice fish by mere inches. It was that kind of morning.

Fish Are Biting
Overall, the fall pattern for rockfish is pretty much full-blown. From Point Lookout to Love Point, there are scores of schools of breaking fish, chiefly blues and rockfish, marauding anchovies and silversides.

Billy Hook, who has family ties to Sherwood Forest on the Severn River, came up to the Chesapeake from his North Carolina home to go rockfishing with friends. In two days of fishing, he estimates that they caught nearly 50 rockfish (only a couple keepers, however), a stack of bluefish and a few trout. They were jigging the Bay Bridge pilings with Stingers, throwing spoons and soft plastics into the tide rip or casting to breaking schools of blues and rock.

Stephanie from Rod ’n’ Reel says that fishing has rebounded quite nicely for the charter fleet. Trolling bucktails and hoses, captains are catching good-sized rockfish (some better than 30 inches) and some blues off Breezey Point. Those anglers and charter captains chumming at places like Stone Rock and Podickory Point above Sandy Point are sorting through many undersized fish for the two keepers allowed.

The croakers are all but gone, spot are spotty and nary a sighting of Spanish mackerel. Crabbing has also picked up, and trotliners and people using collapsible traps are catching fat crabs.



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Last updated October 2, 2003 @ 2:37am