Chesapeake Outdoors
Big Mack Attack
by C.D. Dollar

At first glance, the tiny objects flailing through the air were difficult to identify. In the fading evening light that cast long shadows off the Bay Bridge, the objects looked like shards of glass exploding in all directions as if dropped from the Bridge's main span. They weren't glass splinters but panicked baitfish - silversides - using every ounce of energy to escape the marauding herds of rockfish and bluefish that chased them with all the fury of Cossacks on the Steppes.

And if that didn't get our angling adrenaline going, silvery missiles leapt over the airborne bluefish. Holy Spanish mackerel!

After hearing many reports of the sleek fighters, my girlfriend, Mimsy Molter, and I were now right in the middle of a feeding blitz. It was nothing short of choreographed chaos as the frantic baitfish flew every which way to avoid the jaws of death, while their tormentors, in their frenetic gluttony, snapped at air, water and everything else that moved.

We quickly cast into the fray, catching several near-legal rockfish and snapper bluefish in the first 20 minutes. Mimsy cast a chartreuse one-quarter ounce, homemade feather jig into the melee and said she had a big fish on, a real fighter. I wasn't sure about the "big fish" part, but she wasn't exaggerating about the size of the fight. On light tackle (eight-pound test) it was all she could do to break the fish's will.

I admire that intrinsically wild trait of gamefish to fight like mad to survive. And this fish wasn't close to giving up yet. Under the boat it went, only to double back and make a run to the stern. Changing gears almost instantly, it made one last desperate attempt toward open water. But Mimsy played it expertly, forcing the fish to change direction by reversing the angle of her rod.

For most of the fight I was yelling "don't lose it; it's a Spanish mackerel!" And she didn't. In the boat it shimmered like a medallion, a beautiful fish that revealed brilliant iridescent silver hues with faint touches of yellow and green throughout its body.

Spanish mackerel have forked tails similar to their pelagic relative the tuna (mackerel and tuna belong to the family scombridae). At maybe two pounds and measuring 20 inches, it wasn't a giant. But it was a great catch, and I had almost as much fun watching Mimsy catch it as I would have had if I'd been the one hooked up.

Almost as much fun.


Fish are Biting

Reports from up and down the Bay say that bluefish and Spanish mackerel catches have exploded. Bluefish are being caught Baywide, with fish turning up from the Virginia line to Turkey Point at the head of the Bay. DNR says that most blues are snapper bluefish in the one- to three-pound-range, but there have been some in the four- to six-pound class than in the last several seasons. There are even a few larger, rogue blues to eight pounds.

The buzz around the Bay last week was the new Maryland record Spanish mackerel caught by Buddy Fuller of St. Mary's County. The 17-year old angler boated an 8.45 pound, 32.5 inch monster mack while fishing on the charterboat Lisa out of Schieble's Fishing Center near the Target Ship in the Maryland's lower Bay on August 16. Reports are that the Spanish struck a small, gold, Huntington Drone spoon trolled through a breaking schools of blues, rockfish and Spanish mackerel.

Charter fleets report concentrated numbers of mackerel in the middle Bay, as anglers trolling Clark or Cather spoons fast can catch dozens of these sleek and speedy battlers. Bottom fishing for spot, white perch and now better numbers of legal flounder remains outstanding.

Robin Roscher has been slaying large perch in the small tributaries of the South River. Croaker have fallen off in some areas (they are preparing to leave the Bay), but night fishing in Patuxent and Choptank areas as well as lower Bay has been exceptional.

Swan and Love Points has produced keeper rockfish for anglers both chumming and drifting eels, and trollers dragging hoses and spoons have fared well on blues and some rock and mackerel. Last week, Poplar Island Narrows was reportedly holding good numbers of large hardhead, spot and a few sea trout.

| Issue 35 |

Volume VII Number 35
September 2-8, 1999
New Bay Times

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