When Rockfish Season Opens, I Will Be Prepared
by Allen Delaney
April 17 will usher in the opening of rockfish season, and if youre like me, it cant get here soon enough. And if youre like me, youll be preparing your tackle, choosing lures and knocking the rust out of your reels as you speed toward the marina the morning of opening day. Fishing and procrastination: Its a way of life.
On winter weekends we striped-bass hunters gather at our favorite watering holes and rerun tales of the previous season. The rod that barely indicated a nibble in the spring is now bending to almost its breaking point. The 35-inch rockfish that put up a modest fight has turned into a 53-inch arm-breaker. Heads around the bar all nod as if to say, Yep, thats a good one, but I can top it.
The fact is, instead of bending our elbows, we should all be in our garages cleaning reels, sharpening hooks and opening our tackle boxes saying, So thats where I left those peelers.
The only people who are ever, truly ready for opening day are charter boat captains. Theyre prepared because they have help from their mates. When I ask my mate to help ready my gear, she laughs and says that my equipment has been dysfunctional for years.
Dejected, Im left looking at a mass of tackle that has morphed into a giant dangling sphere of hooks, line, half-eaten snack foods and lures protruding outward at dangerous angles. Ill untangle it next week, I think as I go inside to watch another installment of American Idol.
Next week turns into next month, and next month turns into Opening Day. Thats when I find myself screeching to a stop at the marina and hauling the mass of hooks and line onto my boat, where I begin to gingerly search for any lures that dont look like theyve been chewed by rabid gophers.
It was fortunate, since I was preoccupied with rigging lines, that my fishing buddy, Bill, showed up right on time by being an hour late. He had called earlier to tell me that he couldnt find his tackle box, but he knew it was in his house by its distinctive odor. Thats why I take Bill fishing; at times he makes me look organized.
From the tangled mess I managed to yank out several plastic sassy shads that had melted together to form what appeared to be a mutant, multi-colored octopus. As I was rigging the malformed lure, Bill boarded the boat. I found my tackle box. he announced. It was holding up a corner of the bed.
Whats holding the bed up now? I asked.
The toaster, but I wont need that until tomorrow morning.
We wrangled three more lures out of the barbed sphere and rigged a few more rods before heading out.
As we pulled out of the slip with only an hour of Opening Day remaining, I proclaimed, as I have for the past 10 years, that next year I will be prepared.
If you believe that, let me tell you about the 53-inch rockfish I pulled in last spring.
A native Marylander, Delaney fishes and crabs the Patuxent and the Bay as time and money dictate. Otherwise, he works as a computer network analyst in Prince Frederick, where he lives.