Chesapeake Outdoors
On and Off On Fall Waters
By C.D. Dollar

Like a faucet, fishing turns on and off quickly. The same fishing hole can be hot as Hades one day, then cold as Mr. Freeze's living room a few days later. It happened to us this week when Chuck Foster and I enjoyed excellent success at the Narrows but had to work hard to catch legal fish only a few days later.

On the banner day, fat healthy rockfish struck on nearly every drift, particularly for Chuck. There was one stretch where he was in the zone, Zen-like in his angling proficiency. In 10 minutes, he must have caught at least 10 legal fish. Even though I was fishing the same rig the same way, I managed only one keeper. Albino and green-tinted four-inch bass assassins fished on very light line were the ticket.

At home, I examined the fishes' stomach contents and discovered several three- to five-inch menhaden packed in. One fish, around 20 inches long, had five bunkers bloating its belly. Talk about stoking the fire for the winter.

Over the weekend, Paul Willey joined us to get in on the action, but there was little to be found fishing-wise. Our early morning jaunt yielded only a couple of keepers, and though many undersized rockfish were hooked, the pace was not nearly as frenetic as last week's. The working theory as to why the fishing was so slow was pressure: Earlier in the week, few anglers worked the Narrows. By the weekend, the hordes had invaded.

This crush of humanity and fiberglass had another down side in addition to driving out the fish. We were fishing from Chuck's small jonboat, anchored up on the Chester River side of the Narrows. A few other small boats were in similar positions, and a couple boats, including a 25-foot center console, were trolling.

This particular boat had made several passes very close to our anchor line and finally snagged a lure on it. Drifting with the ebb tide to free the lure, the captain (and I use the term loosely here) lost control of the vessel and slid over our anchor line, tangling the rope in the outdrive of his motor. Taking no evasive action, his boat continued drifting right into Chuck's boat. There we floated, a tangled mess.

As Paul and Chuck fended off, I reached down to work the line free of the lower unit, with the running tide making the task challenging. Luckily the air and water temperatures weren't that bad because I was soaked to the shoulders.

When we were clear, the offending skipper offered no apologies but took a defensive position, as if our lack of skill rather than his own had caused the problems. Luckily, no property was damaged and no one was hurt.

Accidents happen, and I am sure he didn't intentionally ram us. But the operator's refusal to admit responsibility and his arrogance were mind boggling. The freedom of the open water doesn't come at the expense of other boaters' equipment or of common courtesy.


Fish are Biting

With only a week remaining in the rockfish season, it's red hot. Charter captains, DNR and anglers have reported big rockfish, and if the weather cooperates, it looks like rockfish for Thanksgiving and after.

"What a way to end the season," said an ebullient Fred Donovan of Rod 'n' Reel. Donovan wrote five citations (fish bigger than 28 inches) for anglers aboard Backdraft Sunday. Rockfish in the 30- to 40-inch range have been taken in less than 30 feet of water in front of the Radar Towers trolling, which has also produced rockfish at the mouth of the Magothy and Chester rivers. Chumming at Love Point, the Diamonds, and the Hill can produce keepers, but generally fish are small.

DNR biologist Marty Gary reported that the Targets, HS Buoy and the west side of the channel across from Point Lookout produced excellent catches of exceptionally big rockfish. Chumming at the Middle Grounds has produced 18- to 23-inch rockfish. DNR also reports sea trout at the mouth of the Choptank River and the channel edges from the Clay Banks south to Drum Point.

| Issue 47 |

Volume VII Number 47
November 24-December 1, 1999
New Bay Times

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