Volume XI, Issue 46 ~ November 13-19, 2003

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Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

Familiarity Breeds Successful Fishing

I can see how the edict familiarity breeds contempt would ring true in certain situations, particularly if you spend too much time cavorting with over-zealous politicians or money grubbing CEOs. (Can you tell the difference? I can’t.)

Luckily, there’s no chance of either in my case, especially since I’m likely to have a severe allergic reaction, where my ears bloat up and I get nauseous.

But apply that axiom to fishing and the reverse is true. I have no problem whatsoever fishing the same waters until my arm falls off. In fact, familiarity helps me learn such subtle nuances as the best tide to fish and the movement of bait, both key factors that help determine when the bite is on.

Like almost all fishermen, I’m fairly confident I can catch fish on my home waters under most circumstances. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. But ply your rod and reel on less familiar aquatic territory and all bets are off. In these situations, I’d much rather be lucky than good.

Fishing Tangier Island last week was a perfect example. True, the marsh points and drop-offs are always safe bets, and this time of year the waters bordering the state line can teem with stripers. But it’s a big Bay, and we weren’t dialed in to where the action could quickly be found.

Our trio, completed by perennial outdoorsmen Don Jackson and Jeff Corbin — a water-quality expert who knows as much about the Bay’s ills from sewage pollution as any man ought to — picked off a few fish hanging around rips and points.

Then we stumbled on a pod of rockfish busting bait among the eelgrass beds, and the game was on. The fish broke through the surface, sending silversides scurrying into the air. Soft plastics in white sparkle and chartreuse, retrieved at a fast but erratic clip, proved to be the best combination.

When the flurry was over, we each caught a dinner rockfish and released nearly a dozen others. Corbin’s six-pounder, which he played masterfully on 10-pound test, proved to be the best of the bunch.

Like I said, better to be lucky than good. But on this occasion we were both.

Fish Are Biting
The 48-pound rockfish taken almost two weeks ago has given area anglers a taste of what is possible. Trolling is now the best game in town for catching keeper rockfish. If the pattern of recent years plays out this season, we’ll have good numbers of fish better than 20 pounds in nearby waters through Thanksgiving.

Plenty of shallow-water action is still available for fly fishers and spin casters. Chuck from Kent Island and Paul from Annapolis got into rockfish up to six pounds on light tackle off Tangier Island and Cedar Marsh on separate occasions. Closer to home, the Chester and Choptank rivers and Eastern Bay are all good bets for hooking up with rockfish in skinny water.

Birds Are Flying
The second split of the duck season opened with mixed results. I’ve heard a half-dozen reports from the past week ranging from excellent to marginal. Black ducks, mallards, and gadwall are available, and migrant Canada goose season comes in Saturday, Nov. 15.

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Last updated November 13, 2003 @ 2:28am.