Some Days You Get ’Em And Some Days The Other Guy Does
Cast your lure and roll the dice
We had launched in the dark and when the first glimmer of dawn appeared, Mike and I were already set up and throwing top-water plugs. We were working the first of a series of rock erosion jetties projecting out into the Chesapeake just south of Bodkin Point.
The situation was ideal: a good tide, lots of water on the rocks and only a trace of wind. We had recently gotten nice-sized stripers here under much poorer conditions. Everything pointed to a hot time this morning, and we were ready.
Except nothing happened. Throwing steadily and covering the water thoroughly, we moved on to the next jetty, then the next. The results were the same: zip. “I can’t believe that there are no fish here, I just can’t,” I remarked to my friend.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect situation, yet it was dead except for an occasional small baitfish that leapt unconcerned.
We changed lures to swimmers, sliders and chuggers. We changed colors: white, silver, gold, chartreuse. I have a substantial inventory of plugs and swam almost half of them to no avail.
Then at about 8am as the sun made things more comfortable but did nothing for the fishing, another angler arrived, one that we knew. He closed quietly on the shoreline in his comfortably weathered skiff, cut his engine and drifted into an area that we had carefully worked not 20 minutes earlier.
We waved at him and he waved back. “If he gets a fish on those jetties though, it’s going to be embarrassing,” I added as I resumed casting. A few minutes later Mike looked past me, smiled and announced, “he’s hooked up. Looks like a good one.”
A minute or so later I reluctantly turned around, and in the distance John hefted his net as he brought in an obviously nice fish. He again waved at us and gave us a thumbs up. We waved back and did our best to smile.
Redoubling our efforts we worked every foot of jetty and shoreline, my electric motor silently moving us at a snail’s pace. Both of us threw like banshees, varying our retrieves, trying different lures, different speeds, different tempos, erratic moves, regular moves, everything we could think of, but nothing worked.
Mike stopped casting for a moment to squint over my shoulder. “He’s got another one. I think it‘s his third,” he said. I sulked in silence.
A few minutes later we heard John’s motor start. He slowly moved well out into the Bay, then ran past us about a half-mile to a small point and anchored. “Think he’s got another good spot up there?” Mike asked.
“Either that, or he’s just sparing us further humiliation,” I said, only half in jest.
Finally, as we moved along the shoreline, a good striper took my lure. I played it very cautiously. I had the feeling that we weren’t apt to get many breaks today, and I was relieved when Mike finally scooped up the six-pounder for me.
The skunk was out, but it didn’t turn into a trend. That first fish merely gave us a taste of something we were not going to get again. There were no more hits, not even a swirl, though we meticulously cast to some very promising water along the shoreline all the way to John’s boat.
As we quietly drifted up close to his craft he continued to fish and we exchanged greetings. “Good fishing today, isn’t it?” he commented. “I’ve gotten five or six nice rock here. Whoops, there’s another. Dang, missed him.”
I resisted the urge to throw myself overboard in despair.
I hated to beg information, but I had to know what lure he was using. “Just this here yellow one,” he said, amiably, holding it up for our inspection. I had been using an identical lure during the past hour with no results whatsoever and had switched it out just before catching our only fish. I switched it back.
Generously, John pointed out some good water further along the shore. “You boys should do well just up there,” he offered. “There seem to be a lot of fish around today.” We thanked him, wished him more luck and moved on up the shoreline.
But nothing changed for us still no action. “You know for the last week or so I actually thought we knew something about fishing,” Mike said.
I replied, “Yeah, well today pretty much corrects that mistaken belief.” He nodded solemnly, glanced past me for a long second and added, “John’s hooked up again.”