Chesapeake Outdoors
Vol. 9, No. 23
June 7-13, 2001
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Surprised by Rays

The stubborn west wind blew all day and, contrary to weather service reports, maintained its push at better than 20mph late into the evening. Fishing was at best slow, with the South River side of Thomas Point the better bet. I started back north, throwing poppers and soft plastics along the shoreline from Thomas to Tolley Point without so much as a hello from the rockfish. Discouraged, I set out for Hacketts Point to try my luck there. The blow roared down the Severn River, whipping up froth on the surface and occasionally sending a light spray over my boat's railing.

The ebb tide was in full swing, not optimum conditions for in-shore casting, but I was there, and you can't catch fish from the dock. Creeping up to a little patch of water that lay still in the lee, I saw a curious sight, which, had I been on a grass flat in Texas or Louisiana's Gulf Coast, I would know exactly for what they were. Of course, despite my best wishing, these weren't redfish. They were cownose rays, whose wing tips sliced through the shallow water with menacing similarity to a shark's fin.

Despite their penchant for denuding underwater grasses - which already suffer from nutrient and sediment pollution - as they clamor after softshell clams, I do not carry the same disdain for these other-worldly swimmers that I do for mute swans. (And if you haven't noticed yet, my repeated references in this column to the plight of our sea grasses make them the centerpiece of my official must-restore-this-buffer campaign this year.)

In light fading rapidly, there must have been more than 25 "double heads" - so called because of an indentation on the nose that seemingly separates their head into two parts - rooting around in the two-foot water and creating watery silhouettes as they moved slowly through the water one moment then exploded into furious splashing fits the next. The area was so thick with the rays that they literally were swimming under my boat. So even though the fishing was lackluster, I found enough entertainment in the Bay's wild creatures to salvage an otherwise busted trip.

Fish Are Biting

In the Solomons area, Bunky's Charters reports that chummers are catching some legal rockfish near the power plant and the Gooses, although some charter captains are still trolling the western channel edges past Parkers Creek. Plenty of croakers in the area with just a few spot mixed in. Sea trout catches at Punch Island are decent, and flounder are reported in Eastern Bay and off Honga River, but the 17-inch limit is proving a challenge to taking one home for dinner. Phil from Rod 'n' Reel down at Chesapeake Beach says that night fishing on the headboat Lady Hooker and charter boats at the Gooses and Breezy Point has resulted in football-sized croaker. The Choptank has croaker and white perch.

Some anglers are chumming Hacketts Point and Love Point, but from what I have heard neither has turned on yet, and the catching has been spotty. Look for good white perch around the Bay Bridges. A few boats are working the Hill chumming for rockfish.

National Fishing Week, which ends June 10, has events for youngsters at more than 700 locations in all 50 states. Log on to for more information.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly