Volume 12, Issue 42 ~ October 14-20, 2004
Current Issue
So You’re Ready to Live Aboard?
Letters to the Editor
Submit Letters to Editor Online
Bay Reflections
Burton on the Bay
Dock of The Bay
Earth Journal
Earth Talk
Sky Watch
8 Days a Week

Music Notes

Submit Your Events Online

Curtain Call
Movie Times
Bay Weekly in Your Mailbox
Print Advertising Rates
Distribution Spots
Behind Bay Weekly
Contact Us

Powered by

Search bayweekly.com
Search WWW

Bay Reflections

Bay Symmetry
by Chris Justice

Anglers know the waters they fish are the best of life’s teachers. Whether you’re fishing a remote mountain stream in the Catoctins, a lily-padded cove in Liberty Reservoir or an oyster reef in Chesapeake Bay, you take fundamental truths from each experience.

As I prepare for this fall’s rockfish, I look back on my first two Bay fishing trips and the lessons they taught me about symmetry. Sometimes, this symmetry is found outside; at other times, it is found inside our hearts.

The spring rockfish season began with promise, cherry blossoms, trout and Easter egg hunts.

On a quiet Sunday morning at just that time of year, I met Bernie for my first fishing trip on the Bay. An earth-science professor from the local community college, he owns a small 16-foot runabout, docked at Holiday Hill Marina in Annapolis. We planned to navigate around Bloody Point for rockfish.

We had been planning this trip for weeks, and finally, our schedules opened. The anticipation was contagious as we prepared the boat. As I waited for the motor to start, I noticed a brown water snake skimming across the creek’s surface. As the snake passed, so did the motor.

Bernie cranked, but nothing happened. The motor was shot. “I just had it fixed a month ago,” he said. We simultaneously raised our hands and shoulders in disbelief, then we returned home.

I was disappointed. I had psyched myself for this adventure only to find technology taking a vacation on my precious time. How dare it! But as my frustration waned, I chalked this dark day up to experience.

A few weeks later, we met at the college and drove to the marina. Another colleague, Dave, a retired chemistry professor and the boat’s half-owner, joined us.

Once again, all systems were go, and this time the motor cooperated. We charged out of the marina and onto the headwaters of South River. The ospreys were in full flight, plummeting like kamikaze pilots for dead or wounded fish. Herons stalked the shorelines like sentinels for a prehistoric army. The rush of anticipation filled me again.

We settled on a spot where eight boats had anchored. This was Bloody Point, an ominous name derived from a matrix of legends that read like a who’s-who in Bay history. One account puts its genesis in battles between Virginia and Maryland landowners over Kent Island property rights. Another accuses colonists of massacring Native Americans at the southern lip of Kent Island. Yet another attributes the name to a pirate insurrection with the captain left to rot along the beach. Perhaps the most macabre of these tales finds ruthless slave trade profiteers disposing of sickened slaves by dumping them in the Bay along the island’s southern tip.

Here at Bloody Point, I felt I was at the heart of the Bay. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the deepest section of the Bay, known locally as The Hole, is located directly off Bloody Point.

We dropped our lines and drifted menhaden chunks, steadying our nerves and settling into our spots. I surveyed the water for depth, drift, competition and bottom. Within five minutes, my ultra-light freshwater Ugly Stick slammed down and bowed. I hooked the fish immediately and proudly proclaimed, I got one! I fought the 21-inch rockfish well and landed it with caution. My first official cast in the Chesapeake had produced a rockfish dinner. Not a bad start.

The symmetry was clear. Be patient with me, and I’ll be patient with you. Treat me with care, and I’ll take care of you. This rockfish was the reward for my patience. Call me silly. Call me sentimental. But the Bay has been whispering those words of wisdom ever since.

The fall rockfish season ends with conclusions, fiery leaves, deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

Out on the water this time of year, if the fishing is slow, remember your first rockfish and what helped you catch it. Chances are, that same wisdom will be equally helpful today.

And whatever you do, don’t call me when I’m fishing.

When he’s not fishing, Chris Justice teaches English at The Community College of Baltimore County. This is his first piece for Bay Weekly.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.