Search Search Google
Volume 16, Issue 45 - November 6 - November 12, 2008
Home \\ This Week's Features \\ Classifieds \\ Dining Guide \\ Home & Garden Guide \\ Editorial \\ Letters to the Editor \\ Archives \\ Distribution Locations

If a Window Opens, Jump Through

Otherwise, you’ll never know what you might have missed

Looking out of my front door, I noticed the distinct lack of tree movement. I couldn’t remember the last time the trees hadn’t been thrashing the skyline. Now they were motionless. They weren’t supposed to be. The last weather report I’d seen, and I check them constantly, had forecast stiff winds and dangerous seas for at least another 48 hours. But the trees were still.

It was 4:30 in the afternoon. Still, it just might be possible to get an evening in on the shallows — my first in well over a week of breezy weather.

I ran to the family computer and checked the Thomas Point weather site. It confirmed my observations: The winds had unexpectedly abated. The latest marine forecast now called for a resumption of the air storm and small craft warnings later in the night, but a window of calm weather had opened. I hurried to slip through it.

My tackle is in a side room just inside the front door, arranged in rod racks and stacked gear bags. Grabbing a lure satchel, two of my favorite plugging rods, the boat bag and a bottle of water, I hustled out the door.

My skiff sat on its trailer in my driveway, gassed, the battery charged and ready to go. A fighter plane scramble couldn’t have been more efficient. I didn’t dare to hope for great fishing, for the high winds and constant shifts in weather had undoubtedly scattered both the baitfish schools and the stripers ambushing them. But an outside chance for one hookup was enough.

I splashed the boat within 20 minutes and headed out on an unusually placid Chesapeake. Arriving at my intended destination and working my lures over a long, deserted shoreline, I ignored a large group of seabirds that wheeled, feeding, about a half mile offshore. I wasn’t interested in blues. I wanted a rockfish.

Fish Are Biting

When it’s not too windy, many anglers are scoring on bluefish and rockfish. Trolling is becoming more popular as it is by far the most reliable method of boating the season’s larger class of fish. Surgical hose and spoons are the lures doing the job.

Many white perch anglers are ecstatic as black-backs are finally making a presence. A cooler full of 10-inch and larger perch has been an elusive dream the whole of the summer, but now it’s coming true. Fish deep over shell bottom, and use bloodworms to score on these previously scarce rascals.

But my casts went untouched. As the sun dropped lower in the sky, I began working a route back to the ramp. Pleased that I had at least got out on the water, I resolved not to make the outing a desperate attempt lasting into the night.

I would throw my plugs at two or three more locations and be home well in time for dinner. It would be civilized, and I would be thankful for just a pleasant evening. I really shouldn’t expect to catch fish every time I venture out.

As I rounded a point, my last stop before heading to the ramp, I couldn’t help but reflect on the beautiful evening. The sun was shining in its last period of brightness and illuminating the autumn foliage with glowing backlight. Migrating waterfowl had begun to fill the sky, calling to each other as they searched out resting places for the night. What could be prettier?

What I Might Have Missed

As if in answer, a striper smashed my first cast. It was a good fish, strong and determined. I played it gently, knowing it would probably be the only one. I almost knocked it off with the net two or three times in a final moment of clumsiness, but eventually I got it into the cooler. Now things were perfect.

One more cast and I would head home; it was getting late.

Bang! Another good fish, this one heavier and even livelier than the first. A limit in the cooler: How great was that?

Another cast won’t hurt, I thought, and then home. A sudden surge of water, and I was hooked up yet again. This one made one short, strong run and cut me off on a submerged rock. Afterwards it made a great show of shaking out my lure as it crashed on down the shoreline. That was okay, too. You shouldn’t win them all.

I knotted on another lure in reparation and made one more cast. Bingo! The biggest fish of the night. The light failed as I slipped the bright and brawny ruffian back over the side.

Now it was time to go. I put my rod down, pulled the small anchor and drifted away from shore with the running tide. My old outboard fired up and I headed home.

I don’t know what I had done to deserve such an evening. An hour after I got home, it started to blow again.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.