Fishing Reports

Have you noticed all the creativity in lure making for Chesapeake Bay rockfish lately? The artistry that is going into decorating the lead jig heads that we use while fishing with light tackle is simply amazing. I’m a big fan of the lures these guys and girls are turning out. I was going through some old papers last week when I happened upon the documents I used in 2008 to file for a trademark on the name “Candy Corn Jigs.” It wasn’t a big deal. My thinking was that someday I might want to make and sell lures and it seemed like a cool name for my favorite combination of colors for catching rockfish. That got me thinking about the history of color-contrasting lures and how far we’ve come in the last ten years. In fishing, as with many things, you can get a better understanding of where we’re going when you look back at where we’ve been. Believe it or not, in 2009 you could get a pretty good argument about whether rockfish jigs should even be painted. One light tackle guide from Southern Maryland was fond of saying, “When people ask me what my favorite color is for jig heads, I say lead.” If jigs were painted at all, they were usually only one single color: either red, chartreuse, or white. Fast forward to almost 2018, and we’re seeing all manner of colors and color combinations on the jig heads we use to catch rockfish with light tackle on the Bay. I think we’re all better anglers for it. Read More!

Fishing Reports

By now, you’ve probably noticed that many Chesapeake Bay light tackle anglers are using skirted jig heads when they fish with soft plastic lures. Jigs with silicone skirts are becoming extremely popular in the Mid-Atlantic region and there’s no doubt that they make deadly baits for big striped bass. A skirt on a lead jig head with a soft-plastic bait increases action and creates a wider profile in the water. Skirts also provide color and contrast, two essential big-fish strike triggers.

Skirts on lures aren’t anything new. They got their start in the mid 1920s in Akron, Ohio where Fred Arbogast worked for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He and his fishing buddies experimented with slicing thin rubber sheets into narrow strips and attaching them to their spinning lures. They caught fish. After Arbogast won several fishing competitions, he took out an ad in the June, 1926 edition of The Hunting & Fishing Magazine. His lures caught on quickly so Fred quit his job at Goodyear to form the Arbogast Lure Company. Read More!

Fishing Reports

So far the winter of 2017 has been a mild one. Let’s hope it stays that way. We’re already catching lots of big stripers along with limits of yellow perch in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. While you won’t hear much on the Internet from me about trophy winter striper fishing, (Don’t worry, it’ll come out, just wait!) I’m happy to share information about how to catch the big ones at my upcoming seminars. In addition to the local and regional fishing shows, you can catch up with me at the Baltimore Boat Show‘s Chesapeake Bay Magazine Seminar Series and at Bass Pro Shops Crappie Madness and Spring Fishing Classic.

This year, in addition to a few talks designed to introduce anglers to light tackle fishing, I’ve added a brand new, more advanced presentation called “Amplitudes & Frequencies – New Technologies & Innovative Techniques for Trophy Light Tackle Stripers.” It’s all about choosing the right lures, line, rods, reels, and mastering specific techniques so you can think down the line and catch those finicky big fish that are so hard to come by. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science and anyone can do it. Here’s how John Page Williams quotes the concept in a recent issue of Anglers Journal magazine,

Over time, you start to recognize that, whenever your lure contacts something different like a stump, a log, or even a shell, it changes the frequency that’s transmitted up the line and through your rod. It eventually becomes something of a sixth sense because you’re so tuned in to the expected amplitudes and frequencies of the lure as it contacts the bottom that even the slightest change is registered. In that regard, a strike is very similar to an off note in a song, an out-of tune banjo string, or an epileptic spike in an EEG recording, because it’s a vibration that doesn’t fit the expected sequence.   – Anglers Journal, Fall 2016

I’m also very exited about my presentation on Saturday, February 4th at the Bass Pro Shops at Arundel Mills Mall. This is the only talk I do all year about Maryland panfish –  fishing for crappie, yellow perch, and white perch in the tidal tributaries to the Chesapeake. I’ll even throw in some information about hickory shad since we’re expecting another great run this spring in the Potomac River and on the Eastern Shore. Since I both spin and flycast for shad, I’m really looking forward to this year’s run. There will be give-aways, deep discounts, and even activities for the kids. Last year’s panfish seminar set a record for attendance at this Bass Pro Shops and I’m hoping we can break that record this year!

Coming up in March, I’ll be pulling out my old Martin D-18 guitar for the Northern Virginia CCA’s annual Banquet and Auction. It’s Saturday, March 18. I’ll be picking and grinning along to mostly original songs while throwing in a few fishing tales along the way. This has historically been one of the most enjoyable CCA events in the region, so I hope you’ll mark your calendars and join the fun!

As always, you can keep up with my schedule here, or on my Amazon Author’s Page, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook since that’s where I’m sharing the most information and posting my fishing reports these days. Good luck fishing in 2017. I hope to see you at the shows or on the water!

 

Fishing Reports

“I see birds.”

I could hear the excitement in my fishing partner, Jamie Clough’s voice as he scanned the cloudy Chesapeake horizon with his binoculars.”

“Big birds!”

I slammed my 27′ Judge Center Console into gear and Thunder Road was off to the races. Up ahead, through the misty rain, we could see big herring gulls as they swooped and circled high over the water. As if on cue, a group of six or eight birds plunged toward a swirl on the surface. A savage fight ensued and the victor flew away erratically as the other gulls gave chase. In the lead bird’s beak was a 6-inch long silver fish.

“They’re on big bunker. That’s what we’re looking for,” shouted Jamie.

We bolted toward the spot where the birds were diving with our rods and reels at the ready. Before the boat came to a complete stop, we were both hooked up.

“Fish on!”

How was your fishing this fall? By most accounts, it’s been a great season for light tackle casting on the Chesapeake Bay. One of the reasons why we’re catching more fish than ever this year is that, thanks to recent harvest reductions, there is a lot of bait around, especially menhaden. In the Chesapeake, anglers refer to menhaden as bunker or sometimes (incorrectly) LYs. They’ve famously been called, “the most important fish in the sea.” That’s because menhaden are such a critical link in the Atlantic’s food web. At one time, menhaden made up over 70% of rockfish diets. Now, that number has dwindled to something like 8% because there just isn’t enough menhaden to keep the rockfish fed. In fact, the population of menhaden in the Atlantic Ocean is at less than 10% of historic levels. That’s a big drop and a huge problem, not only for recreational fishermen, but for anyone who makes their living in and around the Bay. Read More!

Fishing Reports

The night was as dark as a tomb and I was wet and cold. I felt lucky to be alive and I couldn’t believe my good fortune in finding a tattered blanket in this rusted ship’s hold. I pulled it higher over my shoulders and dozed.

We shouldn’t have tried to fish today. The weather forecast called for building winds, but we thought we could get out for a few hours to catch some of the big stripers that always migrate into the Chesapeake Bay in late October. The blow arrived soon after we launched into the Honga River from the Hoopersville ramp. By the time we rounded Nancy’s Point into the main stem of the Bay, we were well into the teeth of a full northwestern gale. We decided to call it off, but just as my friend Phil turned his center console back east toward the river, a rogue wave hit us broadside. The boat rolled hard and I went overboard. Read More!

Fishing Reports

I got to fish with Dusty Baker. If the name doesn’t mean anything to you then you must be living with the sea bass underneath the reef balls off Tilghman Island. Dusty Baker is nothing short of baseball royalty. He’s the manager of the Washington Nationals, former manager of both the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, and All Star outfielder for the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. I couldn’t hope to list all his accomplishments but the most important statistic relative to Chesapeake Bay fishing is that he’s caught thousands of striped bass and other species. Dusty has fished all his life, on both U.S. coasts and all over the Caribbean as well as in other parts of the world. He’s a pro with a fly rod, a spinning outfit, and a baitcaster.

We caught a lot of fish while he was staying in St. Michael’s, Maryland over the All-Star break, but my most memorable few minutes came while we were sitting in the back of Chuck Castle’s Whaler and reminiscing about fishing with our fathers. Dusty and I found that we have a lot in common in that both of our dads were very active in fundamentalist Christian congregations (his father a Baptist deacon and mine a Church of Christ minister), and that they both loved to fish. As we swapped stories about our younger days, the conversation eventually came around to our fathers’ favorite fish. “Shellcrackers,” we said at the same time. If you know anything about southern fishing and those hard-fighting redear sunfish, that coincidence won’t surprise you at all. Read More!

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