Chesapeake Outdoors

Breaking the Hex
by C.D. Dollar

In the early hours before Marylanders cast their ballots to elect the leaders who would guide us into the next millennium, Chuck Foster and I were preparing to cast into unknown waters as well, at least metaphorically.

Over the last couple of years, we have fished together many times (both commercial hook and line and recreation seasons), almost always with good results. But the last several outings, we have struggled, though separately we had enjoyed good fishing.

It was a vexing problem. Had we insulted the fish gods, or was fate conspiring against us? I got rid of that insidious blue cooler that we agreed exuded evil mojo, but still the exact reason for our subpar performances wasn't clear.

What was clear was that we were determined to cast off the hex, so once again we met at a boat ramp in Eastern Bay and set off to face our unseen tormentor(s).

When Chuck had to run back home, I took his jonboat and cast a recently tied bucktail jig (chartreuse and white with flash material). In about 10 casts, I hooked two just barely undersized rockfish. I was encouraged at this start, but careful not to make a big deal of it.

Once Chuck returned we shoved off to fish in earnest, the cold air a slap in the face. If anyone doesn't believe fall has dug in its heels, get yourself out on the water; Indian summer is long gone. As always, Chuck was armed to the teeth with jig heads and bull minnows, good rockfish baits this time of year. In the first two hours, we did well working the tubes in Kent Narrows. Jokes and laughter returned to our work, and time went quickly. Yet we avoided declaring that the hex was gone.

When the day's first light broke, we moves locations and spent the next several hours canvassing Eastern Bay, working the shoreline and marsh points with success. Bucktails, rattle traps and minnows all scored. It seemed the bad voodoo had lifted, but again we made no pronouncement.

In between casts, I watched flocks of scoters bounce from one spot to another. The water was green and clear and spoke of vitality that is absent in the warm months, partly due to increased algae. We drifted quietly along the shallows, tossing lures into the grass beds that we were sharing with ducks and tundra swans.

We ended our tour where we started, fishing the Narrows for an hour or so until the tide quit. Several more fish, including some fat white perch, made the cut. Whatever the funk had been that clung to us like week-old socks, it was gone. Only then did we briefly acknowledge that we had somehow appeased the fish gods and exorcised the curse. Nothing much was said: we are smart enough not to jinx ourselves again.


Fish Are Biting

The word from several anglers is that some big rockfish are still in the head waters of rivers like the Magothy and Severn and have been hitting plugs and bucktails. Over the next days (and weeks), the majority of these fish will be making their way out to bigger water. Ron from Anglers says feather jigging the Stone Pile at the Bay Bridge can produce some keeper rockfish.

Sea trout are plentiful around drop-offs, shell bottoms and channel edges from Baltimore Light past Thomas Point.

Hard to believe but true, there are reports of good sized croaker being caught in Eastern Bay, the deep water (40 to 50 feet) near the Hill, Holland Point and just inside Patuxent River. White perch are active on hard and shell bottoms throughout mid- and upper Bay.

Kathy Conner from Bunky's Charters in Solomons told me she checked in two 30-plus pound rockfish, including a 47-incher caught trolling by Bunky. A lot of that fleet has been fishing in southern part of the Bay. Fred Donovan at the Rod 'n' Reel at Chesapeake Beach says sea trout fishing is good and that they checked in a seven-pound gray trout this past week. He also says chumming at the Diamonds and the Stone rock has produced limits some days, but not consistently.

If you want big rockfish, The Targets, Smith Point, Middle Grounds and points south are hot; 28 inches and up is the norm in these waters apparently. Lou from Rick's Marina at Point Lookout says they checked in a 50-inch rockfish earlier in the week.

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VolumeVI Number 44
November 5-11 , 1998
New Bay Times

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