Chesapeake Outdoors

The Magic of Place
by C.D. Dollar

It was just another day in paradise, warm autumn breezes carrying much-needed sunshine to my face. These days it seems the glow of the computer screen shines more upon my eyes than the sun, a sad fact indeed.

I was in dire need of a shot of the outdoors, so I made the trek down the Bay to Fox Island, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's education center on the eastern side of Tangier Sound just over the line in Virginia. A bunch of us were spending the weekend getting a healthy dose of wildness, guests of Bart Jaeger, Fox Island program manager. Generally, school kids visit Fox for three-day excursions, learning about the estuary and experiencing the raw beauty that happens when the quiet marshes meet the open water of the Sound. Almost always, these experiences impact the kids long after the trip is over. Simply, the place is magical.

A passing cold front that brought cloudy skies and strong north-northwesterly winds the day before had given way to a clear expanse of blueness as I sat with my friends Kurt, Bob and Lisa on the dock outside. We were chattering about nothing in particular when our ramblings were interrupted by a titanic struggle between a small bird and an even smaller moth. The moth's valor was epic as it swerved in and out of pilings trying to elude its tormentor. Out to open water they went, and back toward the lodge, then again over water, repeating this flight pattern several more times.

The dogfight ended in somewhat predictable fashion: the bigger animal won out. The bird, either too fatigued or hungry to care, wolfed its hard-earned meal down within a yard of us, oblivious (or irreverent) to the possibility that we might invoke natural selection upon it. Our best guesses as to the identity of this avian aviator was a bobolink, a species that sometimes uses the marshes as a refueling point on its southern migration route. The speed of the battle, though, made positive identification unreliable.

We discussed the battle briefly: the voracity of the pursuit, and how it'd be a bummer to be the moth. But as brief as the struggle was, so too was our debate. After all there are so many other things to do, or not do, on Fox Island. That's the magic of the place.


Fish Are Biting

I haven't been fishing much so I'll rely on the kindness of others to update us. Overall, most say angling in the upper Bay has been slow.

"All quiet on the western front," according to Jim at Anglers in Annapolis. He does report small rock and breaking bluefish with decent-sized gray trout underneath. Still some spot and good white perch fishing on most of the bars. Paul Willey and his nephew Chris (age 14) chummed Hacketts Point, where Chris landed his first two rockfish, one 19 inches and the other 29 inches.

In the middle Bay, Kim from the Rod 'n' Reel at Chesapeake Beach says that the charter fleet has been catching rockfish from 18 to 26 inches chumming at the Diamonds and Stone Rock, but that they have had to work for their fish. Mike Strandquist from Breezey Point Marina says trollers using red hoses on the bottom have scored bigger rockfish from the Radar Towers down past Parkers Creek. People fishing the Silver Ball have done well for gray trout, though the bottom fishing has fallen off.

Down the Bay, Bart Jaeger and friends caught rockfish (skinny ones, though), gray and speckled trout, and even a puppy drum with crab baits around Cedar Marsh and Fox Island. Department of Natural Resources' Martin Gary reported last week that rockfishing in the lower Bay seems to be more consistent than anywhere else. Point No Point Light, the edge along Buoy #72 and the Eagle's Nest have produced steady catches of striped bass from 20 to 24 inches with a few fish up to 26 inches.

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VolumeVI Number 41
October 15-21, 1998
New Bay Times

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