by C.D. Dollar
Forget Football - Go Fishing
I crossed the bridge and made the trek to Harrison's Chesapeake House on Tilghman Island solo, a bit fatigued from a wedding reception the previous night. But fishing is fishing, and there are few legitimate excuses to bag out.
Most of the NBT staff and friends were already assembled for the Third Annual New Bay Times-Bill Burton Forget Football - Go Fishing Trip. Burton hatched the fishing gala in protest of the outrageous money spent to build a monstrous football stadium in Baltimore (when is the last time you saw a raven in Baltimore? How about the Ospreys!), while one of the greatest entertainment arenas in the world continues to suffer from neglect.
I was grouped with five other anglers - Rich Walsh; the father-son team of and Ken and Jonathan Lawrence; and NBT's own Alex Knoll and his wife, Lisa Edler, who would later bury her spouse in their head-to-head fishing competition. Capt. Jeff Shores, a native shoreman, proudly welcomed us aboard Hard Ball, a 42-foot Jones barely a year old. Hard Ball is a Bay fishing machine, outfitted with state of the art navigational equipment, a fast Cummins 450 diesel engine, well-appointed cabin and spacious fishing room aft.
The tone of the NBT-Burton trip fits very well with a Harrison-style fishing trip: big, clean boats that are perfect for anglers who like to eat, drink and socialize, yet still catch fish. Truth be told, I prefer smaller boats, more remote locations and different techniques than chumming and trolling. But this trip was about having fun, meeting new people - some of whom were new to fishing - and celebrating the wondrous Bay.
We joined much of the party (seven boats in all) at the Eastern Bay hotspot known as the Diamonds, where at least three dozen other boats were anchored up and saturating the Choptank River with liquefied bunker. Some of the boats were literally on each other's anchor line. I was kind of stunned when Capt. Shores said that more than 100 boats were clustered over the Diamonds the previous day. Talk about pressure on fish.
Over the course of three hours, we caught nearly a limit of rock, a couple of bluefish, one of which won me a small wager from Knoll (who was catching fish but came up short when he needed to score.) Then the tide dropped out and with it the fish.
The fluttering ring of the cell phone and a muted conversation brought Shores out of the cabin announcing it was time to move. A circuitous route (captains have secretive ways) brought us to the Stone Rock, where we took the anchor line of another captain who had done well, a somewhat common cooperation between skippers.
Most charter captains measure their success by the number of fish in the box, and Shore was determined to get our legal limit of stripers, which we did in quick order. Then off to the flats of Sharps Island, where we trolled red, black and beige surgical hose in less than 15 feet of water. Soon Jonathan had the next bluefish, a nice five pounder. He would also win the plaque for the day's longest rockfish: 28 inches.
When everyone had a shot at the blues (Alex had two because he whiffed on his first fish), we agreed we had enough fish to eat and called it a memorable day on the Bay, with nary a raven in sight.
Fish are Biting
Cooler nights have brought good-sized stripers into the shallows, delighting shore anglers who have done well on poppers and Rattle Traps along rivers and Bay. But overall in the upper Bay, the action for legal rock has been spotty. Love Point and the mouth of the Magothy area may offer rock and bluefish. Before work last week, John Page Williams, Chuck Foster and I caught many breaking fish at the Stone Pile at the Bay Bridge, and though all were undersized, with more time we might have caught a legal fish beneath the fray.
The Crab Creek Fishing Team, featuring the sister act of Robin and Edie Roscher, have been slaying fat white perch with bloodworms and night crawlers in the creeks of the South River. Shell bottom areas have good numbers of perch.
In the middle Bay, Fred Donovan of the Rod 'N' Reel says that the bottom fishing for perch and spot is still good, but they're not as easy to find them as earlier. For the rockfish, it's much of the same as in other parts of the Bay.
To the east, chummers and trollers are trying the Diamonds and the Hill. Sea trout and flounder are still available in good numbers. In the lower Bay, DNR reports excellent blue fishing, some up to 10 pounds and mostly caught trolling. Point No Point Light and along the eastern edge from Buoy #72 south to the Target Ship has rockfish, but the bite has been erratic. DNR's Martin Gary, however, is predicting a spectacular season finale down south.
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VolumeVI Number 39
October 1-7, 1998
New Bay Times
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