Search Google

Fish Are Biting

Big ocean rockfish are moving in as far north as the Bay Bridge, but the solid bite is still to the south. From Bloody Point on the eastern side to Chesapeake Beach in the west, fish that easily best 36 inches have been encountered by slow trollers using big bucktails and parachutes with a nine-inch soft shad added. Big spoons and surgical hose are working almost as well. The fish are often as deep as 40 to 60 feet. Hurry! In the Bay and its tributaries, rockfish season closes December 15.

Big winter perch are being caught in the mid-Bay bottom-jigging, and the bite is just a little better with some bloodworm or other added sweetener on the lures. The Bridge Tunnel at the mouth of the Chesapeake is beginning to get hot, and just about everywhere in the Tidewater the winter bite is in full bloom. White perch season remains open year-round.

The chain pickerel season is open until March 15. In fresh water, crappie remains in season year-round.

Current Issue \\ This Week's Features \\ Calendar \\ Music Calendar
Classifieds \\ Movie Times \\ Movie Reviews \\ Play Reviews \\ Archives \\ Advertising

Volume 15, Issue 49 ~ December 6 - December 12, 2007

Cold-Water Characters

In the water and on it, we’re hearty breeds

My breath was creating small, frosty clouds in the mid-day December air as my skiff quietly drifted along an edge on the upper Magothy. I flicked a Mepps spinner close to the rickety remains of an aged dock. Though it obviously hadn’t been used for its intended purpose in many years, I hoped the structure proved of use for at least one of the river’s denizens.

As I retrieved the pulsing, gold lure past the last tilted piling, a chain pickerel lurking there in ambush launched an attack. The fish’s long body glowed briefly in winter clear water as it slammed the spinner, broached and, with the prize held firmly in its toothy jaws, headed back toward the tangle of old lumber.

I immediately regretted my choice of tackle. My ultra-light spinning reel surrendered its line to the escaping fish, the drag humming pleasantly as disaster approached. I reached down and, thumbing the base of the rapidly turning spool, added resistance, hoping to turn the pickerel before it was too late. I could hear the small, crisp pops of stressed cork as my light rod curved deeply into the butt.

If I hadn’t replaced my line the day before, I would have lost the tussle. But my fresh six-pound mono took the strain, and the rowdy jackfish, in the end, reversed and decided deeper water might be better. This time I let it run.

In open water, the fish poured on scalding bursts of speed, first one way then another, as it sought out distant refuge. Finally after a last close call with some drifting debris, I netted the spirited creature and brought it into the boat. Using my battered fish pliers, I gingerly removed the now scarred spinner from its wicked smile.

After admiring the fish for a moment and regretting that it was too bony for my table, I eased it back into its element.

My fingers twitched with the shock of cold water, and with that chill I suddenly felt oddly out of place. It seemed just a short time ago I was in this same river, sweating in shorts and a T-shirt. Now it was an entirely different season with a new cast of players, rules and temperatures.

Cold-Water Characters

Hungry pickerel have emerged from their summer hideouts and are actively prowling the newly frigid shallows. Ocean-run rockfish, big, thick and heavily muscled, have been steadily moving up into their favorite Bay wintering grounds. Large gatherings of white perch are in transition to new, deeper winter territories. Higher up in the fresh waters, crappie gather in tight ravenous schools at secret, brushy locations.

Our Chesapeake has completely changed. It is no longer the languorous summer playground; all that is gone. Everything is colder, tougher, crisper, more vibrant — and a little more dangerous. The new season brings other unique aspects as well: crystal-clear water; vigorous, healthy fish; solitude; and the exceptional comfort challenges only a few anglers can appreciate.

Shivering once again as the frigid wind gusted, I tried to dry my almost numb hands on a soft towel that now felt oddly abrasive. At that moment it also occurred to me that this breed (and I am usually included in their number) sometimes scores rather low on the old sanity meter.

Current Issue \\ Archives \\ Subscriptions \\ Clasified Advertising \\ Display Advertising
Distribution Spots \\ Behind Bay Weekly \\ Contact Us \\ Submit Letters to Editor \\ Submit Your Events

© COPYRIGHT 2007 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.