Sometimes the Fish Wins
by C.D. Dollar
"Damn damn DAMN!" First uttered as a soft, incredulous whisper, the word rose to a crescendo and finally a full-on expulsion of frustration. Only that isn't the exact phrase that spewed from my mouth after we lost the struggle.
I got out of the blocks slow this trophy rockfish season, and losing a nice trophy rock at boatside in my first attempt wasn't the scenario I envisioned. But I guess one thing that I have learned to accept about fishing is that sometimes the fish wins. Even if you play the fish right. Fishing with Capt. Chuck Foster aboard his custom 20-foot center-console Missing Page, I was again schooled in that lesson, though I didn't like it any better.
On Sunday, we lit out from Matapeake fishing center on Kent Island, and once we cleared the breakwater, we endured unreasonable 15-knot winds that gusted well past 20 knots. It was blowing a stink, but trolling down wind wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. A series of rogue waves, however, pushed water over the transom, quickly reminding me to be alert at all times.
Despite the poor conditions, Chuck effectively fished his full arsenal: spoons and bucktails, umbrella rigs and sassy shad tied on flat lines, trolling lines and dummy lines. Only his planer boards sat idle because of the swells. By daybreak, our lines were wet.
Overhead, two dueling spheres battled it out, one continuing its trek on its natural arc and the other reluctant to yield its spot in the morning sky. Over the VHF radio, Chuck was checking in with a friend who was fishing off Bloody Point, a little south of our position. Suddenly, that sweet sound, an alarm of sorts that rushes adrenaline through that matrix of living tissue in fishermen's bodies, went off. The fish hit a chrome-colored crippled alewife spoon, 11/0, on one of the deeper lines.
Line peeled off the reel and the rod bowed. The fight was on. After a stand-off, I started to earn back line, and I was hoping this fish would tire so that we could net it.
When the terminal tackle hit the top guide, Chuck hauled in the leader by hand. With the fish a couple yards from the boat, I got a quick glance at its beefy shoulders just below the water's surface. Then, suddenly panicked by the prospect of its impending fate, it bolted with such force that Chuck had to let go of the leader. Later, Chuck said it was in 35-inch range and added it was the first rockfish that fought with such tenacity that required him to give up the leader. Coming from him, that ain't no fish story.
A 45-second tussle ensued between me and the fish, but to no avail. I came out the loser.
I will end my fish tale of woe here and will console myself in the fact that I fought a worthy foe with incredible will to survive. At least that's the story I'm sticking to.
Fish Are Biting
In the upper Bay, the traditional spots like channel edges off Kent Island, Love Point and Baltimore Light have all produced. Rob Jepson up at Angler's near Annapolis told me many fishermen are switching to chartreuse sassy shad (six to 10 inches long) for bucktails and parachutes. Rob also said a customer told him last week that he caught a 25-pounder from shore at Sandy Point on cut spot. Since the rockfish was full of roe, he released it. Got to love that attitude.
Fred from Rod 'n' Reel in Chesapeake Beach told me that their annual Pro-Am Fishing tournament was a big success. They checked in 82 fish in the first two days. Despite the winds, many boats are catching decent numbers of rockfish fishing depths of 35 to 38 feet, using chartreuse and white bucktails and parachutes as well as spoons.
Easton's own Bill Goldsborough, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, was fishing off the power plant on the western side of the shipping channel with family friend Capt. Allen Bryan on his boat Lady Peggy out of Tilghman Island. Dragging umbrella rigs with parachutes and nine-inch sassy shad, chartreuse and white, they landed two 34 inchers and a post-spawn 44 incher. Bill says the big fish was on a flat line, which made sense post-spawn.
Kathy from Bunky's Charters in Solomons says croakers are being caught at the mouth of the Patuxent River and again at Point Patience on grass shrimp and bloodworms. Nice rockfish from 35 to 44 inches are being taken at Buoy 74, off Cove Point and even chumming at the gasdDocks.
| Issue 18 |
Volume VII Number 18
May 6-12, 1999
New Bay Times
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