Volume 13, Issue 38 ~ September 22 - September 28, 2005
Burton on The Bay
By Bill Burton

Afishing We Will Go
To fish in troubled waters.
–Matthew Henry: Commentaries, 1708

It’s that time of year again. Once more I extend an invitation to all Bay Weekly readers to join me October 9 in our 10th annual fall rockfish catching junket out of Harrison’s Chesapeake House, Tilghman Island. As in the past decade, once again we will be fishing in troubled waters.

But for that one day, let’s put aside the troubles of our Chesapeake Bay to celebrate its bounty and show appreciation for what it has to offer. In doing so, we’ll be reminded once again why we are involved in the fight to restore the biggest and best estuary on this continent.

This yearly fishing trip, usually on the second Sunday of October, is an anniversary of sorts, our 10th. Among those of us who produce this newspaper and our readers, it began as our way of showing our disapproval of borrowing and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a football stadium in Baltimore. All that money could have been better spent doctoring Chesapeake Bay.

Instead of flocking to the new palatial stadium with its ostentatious skyboxes on a fall Sunday, we would go fishing. The Chesapeake in turn has blessed us with fine catches and good weather. This year, she promises the same, at least for the catches. Like us, she has no control of the weather.

What’s Up?
This is a fun trip, a fishing day of camaraderie. Be you young or old, male or female, experienced or never having wet a hook, you’ll fit in.

We make it easy for you. This is the one day a year that the fleet out of Harrison’s doesn’t leave the docks until 8am because we don’t want to introduce our sport to new fishermen groggy from a night of insufficient sleep due to the drive to Tilghman. Traditionally, charterboats on the Bay sail at 7am or earlier, but on this occasion we like time to enjoy a hearty Eastern Shore buffet breakfast, renewing old friendships, before we challenge the rockfish of the Bay.

An increasing number of our crew come down the night before, but that choice is yours. For the excursion, we worked out a bargain plan with Harrison’s, which we’ll go into in a moment.

We’ll probably be chumming as previously. For those who aren’t familiar with fishing, chumming is tossing bits and pieces of menhaden into the brine to attract fish to an anchored boat, then catching fish attracted to the chum. It’s light-tackle sport, and anyone can do it. If you’re squeamish about putting a clam or piece of oily menhaden on the hook, a mate will do it for you.

A Proverb for Every Fisher
Got you interested? Think of the words of Havilah Babcock who in 1947 wrote: There comes a time in every man’s [women’s, child’s] life when he is either going to go fishing, or do something worse.

Or did John Buchanan put it better when he noted that The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of something that is elusive, but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

If you harbor any qualms about fishing on the Sabbath, refer to the Old Testament, which tells us: And have dominion over the fish of the sea. What more enjoyable way to have “dominion over” than by catching?

If you’re bored these days, consider the words of Izaak Walton: Fishing is employment for idle time.

If you’re in the proverbial rat race, and in need of a little relaxation, Walton also wrote, You will find angling to be like a virtue of humility, which has calmness of the spirit and a world of other blessings.

If you’re concerned about your lack of angling experience, refer again to Izaak, who in the first book ever devoted to fishing wrote: As no man is born an artist, no man is born an angler.

If you’re thinking that other fishermen will snicker at your inexperience, old Izaak can reassure you that, experienced as they might be, they don’t know it all: Angling can be said to be so like mathematics that it can never be fully learnt.

If you’re still concerned, old Willie Shakespeare had some reassuring words about fishing, too. In much Ado About Nothing, he wrote Bait the hook well, this fish will bite.

If you’re worried the fish won’t bite, hark to the words of Robert Traver: There is no substitute for fishing sense, and if a man doesn’t have it, verily he may cast like an angel and still use his creel largely to transport sandwiches and beer.

If you’re turned off by reverent references to royalty and the celebrities of this world, in Hamlet the Bard wrote: A man may fish with a worm that hath eat of a king, and eat the fish that hath fed of that worm.

If you’re fearing you might do something untoward, Russell Chatham said There are many reasons, why and ways to fish as there are people who do it.

If you question whether you’ll like fishing, take heed of James Hershell: The love of angling increases with the lapse of time, for it grows by what it feeds on. Or, how about the confession of the sage Roderick Haig-Brown: I still don’t know why I fish, or why other men fish except that we like it — and it makes us feel good. Maybe go back to Izaak Walton: Doubt not but angling will prove to be so pleasant that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself.

If you think you’re too busy, again turn to Izaak: I have laid aside business, and gone a-fishing. Or Thomas McGuane: Time doesn’t seem to be of the essence and somewhere in the system is what they are looking for.

Okay, that’s my pitch. If you’re interested, the day’s fishing is $100 plus gratuity for the mate. Included is an Eastern Shore buffet when we get back to the docks: crab cakes, fried chicken and so much more. For an additional $5, you get the breakfast buffet. If you want to stay overnight, there is also a reduced rate. You can also have your fish cleaned and iced down for a per-pound charge.

Success depends on one must. You must be at the docks by 8am sharp. Snooze and you lose.

If you plan to stay overnight, call Harrison’s at 1-410-886-2123 and make your reservations for fishing and sleeping. If you’re coming just to fish, e-mail me at [email protected] or fax me at 410-360-2427. No e-mail or fax? Call Harrison’s. For our special price, tell Harrison’s you’re on the Burton trip.

Still undecided? In closing I suggest the words of Sergel Aksakov translated by Arthur Ransome: In the autumn (when we’ll be on the Bay), fishing is coming to an end, and each day you are parting with it — for a long time, for a whole six months.

Hope to wet a hook with you. Enough said.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.