by C.D. Dollar
You Can Go Wrong, Fishing with a Captain Named Fish
Like many people, I have an aversion to paying someone good money to do something I can do myself. Mainly it's an economic decision, but partly pride. When it comes to fishing, that aversion increases exponentially. On rare occasions, however, I'll lax my rule and go out with a charter captain, usually when I fish unfamiliar waters.
Last week, I amended my guidelines further when I went fishing with my Dad and our friends Steve Smith and Mike Chase, out of Tilghman Island with Capt. Bill Fish aboard the Nancy Ellen. (Really, his name was Fish, I saw it on his Coast Guard license.) I was glad I did because not only did I have fun, I learned a good deal as well.
Seems Capt. Fish and Steve knocked around together decades ago growing up in Severna Park, chasing yellow perch in the Severn River. In the interim, Fish landed in McDaniel, a tiny town just before Knapps Narrows, and worked the water clamming, crabbing, whatever it took, and for the last dozen years or so, running fishing parties.
As we boarded Fish's immaculate Bay-built, the saying "you can tell a lot about a captain by the way they keep their boat" would prove itself true. You could do open heart surgery in the head, it was that clean.
Fish headed out of the Narrows, ran south to his honey hole and dropped the anchor with the aid of a windlass. Without a mate, the pricey hardware made a lot of sense, particularly on a day like this: west wind at 15-20 and steady three-foot waves with the occasional four-footer just to keep you honest.
Over shell bottom the chum slick was laid, and we dropped our lines, waiting for a legal rockfish to take the slab of bunker. Fish uses all-around hooks, not quite the fish-saver circle hooks (which almost always lip-hook fish) are, but a fair bit better than standard hooks that often gut-hook fish. Steve put the first rock in the box, a gorgeous 31-incher. When the flood ended, the predictable lull followed.
Capt. Bill moved to the edge of a lump less than 500 yards from our first spot. The move worked beautifully, as my father fought and landed a 33-inch beauty that took line whenever it wanted. Later, when the ebb tide began to run, big fat hardheads (most in the 14- to 16-inch range, with the biggest more than two pounds) were brought on board. Curiously, the ebb seemed to stall, and that combined with the winds to make less than ideal chumming conditions.
In all, we had our limit of rockfish, caught and released scores more and had several maniac-sized croakers to show for Fish's expertise and experience. We all had a ball, catching fish, berating angling deficiencies, being out on the water. It goes to show you can't go wrong fishing with a captain named Fish.
Fish Are Biting
Rob Jepson from Anglers says fishermen in the northern part of the Bay are finally enjoying some consistent rockfish success off the mouth of the Chester River, Love Point and the Baltimore Light area. White perch can be caught around the Bay Bridge pilings, and some hardhead are over shell bottoms. Thomas Point has white perch as well.
A little farther south, the Hill is crowded on weekends but can produce, and so can the West River area. Fred Donovan from Rod 'n' Reel tells me there is a "good variety" of fish being taken by charter boats and private boats from Chesapeake Beach. Black drum, as always hit and miss, are being taken near Stone Rock and are presumably heading north. Some keeper rockfish at the Gooses, off Breezy Point, and False Channel.
Kathy Connor down at Bunky's Charters in Solomons says fat croakers, spot and nice seatrout can be caught at the mouth of the Patuxent River and near the bridge pilings inside the river. The HR Buoy and Cove Point have produced keeper stripers, mostly chumming, with a few blue fish mixed in.
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VolumeVI Number 23
June 11-17, 1998
New Bay Times
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