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Volume 16, Issue 47 - November 20 - November 26, 2008
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A November Swimmer

Many fish bite if you’ve got good bait

The sun was getting low as my skiff silently approached the point’s long jetty. The flood was about an hour past, and the now-falling tidal current made a noticeable rip line off the end of the old stone structure.

I hoped that rockfish were holding on the down-current side behind the rocks submerged farther out. The predators should be lying there in the dead water, waiting for the disoriented baitfish being swept through in the turbulence of the rip.

I dropped my small stern anchor about 75 feet out and watched the water for a few quiet minutes as I snapped on an olive-and-gold, three-quarter-ounce popper. I had been using this plug with great success the last few weeks, and I felt that if there were any stripers about, they would strike it promptly. I was right — sort of.

My first cast elicited a heavy boil and a thumping heart but no hook-up. I let the bait drift in the current for a long five count, twitched it once, then again. The fish did not return.

Five casts later, I had another strike. This time the rascal ate, and I finally had a battle on my hands. It was a nice striper, just about 23 inches, fat and healthy. I buried it in ice in my cooler and resumed casting. Another boil, but no hookup. Then nothing.

Perhaps the fish had moved on. Perhaps they had become shy. I tried a black plug. Another boil, but no hookup. I went to other colors with no luck.

Fish Are Biting

Big winter rockfish are moving into the mid-Bay. Four fishermen using cut bunker checked into Angler’s Sport Store Nov. 16 with two 36-inch rockfish and tales of two more big fish lost off of the southern Sandy Point jetty — and in the middle of the day. Trollers are starting to hit the bigger fish around the Bridge as well. Stories of lunker white perch and hungry pickerel are being told of the Severn and Magothy. All you need to get in on the action are warm clothes and a reasonably calm day. Don’t miss out.

This had happened on other occasions, but I had become so confident of my top-water lures over the last two months that I had assumed there were either few fish present or that the school had moved on because of the disturbances of hooked fish. Now I wasn’t so sure. In fact, I began to feel a bit foolish. Perhaps they were finally getting wise to poppers.

When fishing in water three feet deep and less, there aren’t many options to surface plugs. Jigs, diving plugs and spoons quickly foul on the bottom. But there is another alternative.

The Alternative

There are really no new fishing lures, just new names and paint jobs for old baits fallen from fashion. But versions of an old shallow-water plug had recently come back into use. The type is called the swimmer, and one particularly interesting model is a realistic jointed plug that runs just beneath the surface of the water with an enticing, undulating action. I just happened to have a couple.

Worth a try, I thought as I tied one on.

The sun was at the horizon by now and, though there was little time left to experiment, there was perhaps, just enough. The breeze had dropped off, leaving a placid surface on the Bay. Perfect for what I hoped to do.

Thumbing the spool on my graceful little Curado, I sent a bronze-colored, five-inch Sebile Magic Swimmer arcing out past the end of the rock jetty. Keeping my rod tip high, I slowly snaked the lure back, leaving a sinuous trail across the glassy surface.

I got about three turns on my reel handle when the water exploded and my rod arced over with a solid hookup. Whoopee! Five minutes later, a 25-inch fish went into the cooler to join its smaller brother.

Another cast, another fish. By now, my hands were shaking with the excitement. A third cast resulted in a brutal hit, run and a cut off — another hazard of fishing the skinny water. I tied on a replacement and had another immediate strike, fight and release.

As full darkness descended and a distinct chill drifted over the water, I called it a night — a successful night. Down to my last swimmer, I planned a trip to the sports store first thing in the morning to expand my swim lure supply — substantially.

I resolved yet again not to fall into inflexible patterns. I also thanked my lucky stars that I finally did fish the right bait — a swimmer in November.

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