Volume XVII, Issue 27 # July 2 - July 8, 2009

Fish Are Biting

The rockfish bite off the mouth of the Chester is still hot but not nearly so reliable as in past weeks. There are also nice fish at Podickery and Hackett’s at the turn of the tide, but neither location has been reliable. Nor has fishing been consistent around the Bay Bridge. Sticking out the tide changes until the fish start biting seems to be the key with chumming, the best producer of good-sized fish — and there are still some big ones being caught.

Croaker are at Hackett’s and blues here and there. If the rains stay away, we should be returning to a much better bite in the near future.

A Sure Cure for Whatever Ails You

Fishing bluegills means catching bluegills

I let my backcast straighten out behind me, high over the flat, calm water, then sent a gentle forward cast toward the shoreline. The little black popper at the end of my leader sat down with just the right impact in just the spot I wanted.

It bobbed lightly in its own wake and I tensed, my rod tip pointing straight at the bug and my fingers inching in the slack of the line.

The strike was not long in coming. A thick, olive-green back surged up through the water as a chunky fish smashed into my bug. I flipped my rod tip high, tightening the line and setting the hook.

My long, light rod arced hard over as the ruffian threw its weight and its broad side into an angling, defiant run away from me. Protecting my flimsy leader and the light wire hook of the popper, I let line pull through my fingers and gave the determined devil its way.

A broad smile broke out on my face, the first in many days, and the warmth spreading out in my body had nothing to do with the summer sun. Bluegills do that to me.

Who Wants Rock, Anyway?

Up to this point, it had been a long and disappointing week. If the rainy weather didn’t frustrate me, my contrarian instincts and wishful thinking did. With a red-hot rockfish bite off the Eastern Shore, I had instead believed that I would find an undiscovered abundance of fish right near home. After a number of long and determined attempts, that had not happened.

Insisting on doing it your own way can have a serious downside, especially when you’re wrong. I was wrong in more ways than one. The final blow to my self-esteem turned out to be even worse than targeting the wrong side of the Chesapeake.

My friend Mike Ebersberger had planned a trip across the Bay to the Chester River with his dad, Charlie, on a delayed Father’s Day trip, and I was invited. Not wanting to intrude on a family adventure, I planned one more solo assault on our western side.

I caught a good supply of small bait perch just after sunup and started the day with lots of optimism. But a thorough search of the waters from the Baltimore Light down to Sandy Point — then all the way south of the Bay Bridge and back — brought me nothing.

Worse, all the while I imagined my friend and his father pulling in giant after giant on that Eastern Shore bite.

Finally, at about 1pm, after one last prolonged and fruitless attempt just north of Sandy Point, with the sun baking my brain and no hope of action, I headed home, hot, tired and defeated.

Later that evening, Mike phoned. His trip on the Eastern Shore with his dad was far worse than I had imagined.

They had gotten a late start, and hearing reports that the Chester bite was extremely slow that morning, they changed their plans. They had then run up just north of Sandy Point, dropped anchor a little after 1pm and, as the tide slowed, they had gotten an avalanche of nice stripers, the nicest a 34-incher. I had missed the bite in that exact spot by 30 minutes.

Whole Again

That’s when I knew I had to acquire a dose of the best medicine for a wounded fishing ego, a day with Mr. Bluegill. The next morning, on my favorite lake and just seconds into my scrap with that first sweetwater rooster, the aching memories of my fruitless and frustrating days on the Bay evaporated. I was whole again. Bluegills will do that to you.

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