Chesapeake Outdoors

by C.D. Dollar

Cap'n B Turns the Tables

Perhaps there is a no place Mike Chase feels more at home than at the helm of his 29-foot Robbins workboat, Kandance Lee. Chase (who we affectionately call "Cap'n B") cherishes his time on the water, and when he runs the Bay-built style vessel to a fishing hot spot, it's as if he enters another zone, where he's free of the daily responsibilities of life for a while.

A close friend and colleague of my father's, Mike and I have fostered our own friendship through shared fanaticism about fishing and music. The man hasn't a mean bone in his body and is as good-natured as he is good hearted. But for whatever reason, Mike often is the lightening rod for the friendly barbs of his fishermen friends, and usually my dad leads the hit parade of one liners. Perhaps of any of us he is best suited to bear the gentle slings of good-natured ribbing. Bill Burton, my colleague here at New Bay Times, has for the past several years joined our merry little band on the fall outing, and a good wit himself, chimes in as well on occasion.

Burton, an outdoor writer in Bay Country for over 50 years, has undoubtedly fished with some of the Bay's premiere skippers, but he and my father were conspicuously absent on this most recent trip, so it was my duty to bust Mike's chops. Though Chase knows a thing or two about fishing, we generally find a kink - real or invented - in his fishing game plan to exploit for our own juvenile hilarity. Yet I would have no ammunition on this day. On this day he put us - myself, Steve Smith, and Skip Doda - on more fish than any other trip we've taken together.

Fishing The Diamonds off the Choptank River alongside a sizable fleet of recreation anglers and charter boats from Tilghman Island, Deal, and other areas, we caught our limit of rockfish (including a beautiful 32-incher that Chase landed to start things off right), enough blues to smoke and share with friends, dozens of jumbo spot and even a few big croaker.

And the rub is that Burton and my father missed the fast action of the rock smacking our baits hard in the chum slick when bite finally turned on at flood tide. They missed the hell-bent runs of the bluefish in their furious attempts to spit the hook. They missed the steady bottom fishing for the hard charging spot, just now beginning to show that golden tint mingling with their gray backs, a sure sign the seasons are changing.

Most of all, though, they didn't get the pleasure of fishing with Cap'n. If they're lucky, they'll have other chances. As fate would have it, Mike missed his chance to earn some well deserved redemption, so it's my pleasure to make sure he gets it. This time he really earned it.


Fish Are Biting

With the front that passed through this week came significant changes in temperature. This should bode well for anglers looking for the bite to get hot again. What's more, a couple more fronts should bring the teal down for the early duck season which opens on Saturday, September 12.

Bay naturalist and author John Page Williams told me that he caught five different species over shell bottom above the Bay Bridges, including keeper rockfish and sea trout to 18 inches. He was fishing cut bait. His report that upper Bay fishing is solid was echoed by several other anglers.

DNR reports that the waters from Poole's Island south to Tea Kettle Shoals have been red hot for stripers to 34 inches on drifted eels over oyster and shell bottom. The Bay Bridge pilings have some keeper rockfish as well, and as the water temperature drops, feather jigs and bucktails will be even more effective.

In the mid-Bay, some anglers are trying their luck chumming. Despite the heavy pressure, the Diamonds, The Hill and Buoy #1 off West River have seen modest catches at best. The spot that was literally on fire for several weeks, the LNG Gas Docks, continues to produce legal rockfish, but it's not nearly the feeding frenzy it had been.

Fred Donovan of the Rod 'n' Reel tells me the fishing is holding up well around Chesapeake Beach. Most of his fleet are trolling parachutes and bucktails along the channel edges and coming up with nice rockfish and blues, with some of the rock over 34 inches. The bottom fishing is still good for spot mostly, some sea trout and flounder as well as the occasional bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Great flounder fishing remains on the eastern side near the false channel, Poplar Island Narrows and the drop-offs inside Eastern Bay, where breaking schools of stripers and bluefish are scattered.

Last week, DNR's Martin Gary reported that "the Spanish armada arrived over the past several days." A recent report had them up around Hoopers Island. From Smith Point to the Mud Leads and north to the Middle Grounds, large schools of Spanish macks were making their presence known by making wave-clearing leaps out of the water.

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VolumeVI Number 36
September 10-16, 1998
New Bay Times

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