I don’t know a single fishermen who hasn’t lost the biggest fish of their life. Everyone knows the big one always gets away, right? Nevertheless, anglers are eternal optimists. Most of us aren’t out to catch another fish the same size as the last one.  We expect the next one to be a lot bigger. I don’t know about you, but I’m forever certain the world record is waiting to swallow my lure on my next cast. Since the strike-outs keep us going, I guess we should plan for them. Here are eight sure-fire tips to guarantee that fish-of-a-life-time gets away. I’ve tested each one so I know they work!

Tip #1 – Don’t retie after a big fish.  It’s a waste of time.  Just pat yourself on the back and cast again because it’s a sure bet that your next strike will be from a fish twice as big and there’s nothing more satisfying than standing on the bow with a slack line watching your world record swim off into the sunset.

Tip #2 – Choke up on the rod for better leverage.  That always works.  Just reach up and grab that custom-made G. Loomis blank about halfway up the shaft and give her a good yank.  That snap you hear will echo in your ears for years to come.

Tip #3 – Ignore your drag.  Reels have a mind of their own, see.  And every drag resets itself to where it’s most comfortable.  Hopefully it’ll be so loose that the fish laughs while it spools you, or so tight that your line breaks on the first head shake.

Tip #4 – Don’t check your back-cast area. This is is better for losing friends than fish. It’s just so funny to see your buddy’s cap go sailing through the air, and even more hilarious when it’s a piece of his ear.

Tip #5 – Set the hook like Roland Martin.  When you feel that tell-tale tap-tap, make sure you rare back hard and do your dangdest to bend that rod like a pretzel.  Hopefully someone has a camera so you can be a YouTube star when you fall over backwards out of the boat.

Tip #6 – Use the cheapest hooks you can find.  After all, they only cost .10 cents a piece, right?  A straightened hook is a sure sign there are giants out there, plus you can show it to your buddies and brag.  Just tie on another cheap one and keep on casting!

Tip #7 – Lift a big fish out of the water with the leader.  If you’re using a 50-pound-test leader and it breaks, then you know you had a 50-pound fish, right?

Tip #8 – Lift a big fish with the leader again.  This time maybe the hook will fly free and embed itself in the side of your nose. Good thing you didn’t mash the barb, otherwise you wouldn’t get to spend the next four hours telling the nurse in the emergency room about the world record you almost caught.

Got any tips of your own to add?

Okay, you probably came here for a fishing report, so I have one.  There’s a ton of gannets staging in Eastern Bay, but so far there hasn’t been too many fish under them.  This week I’ve heard of mid-Bay gannet storms over migrating stripers south of Bloody Point, east of Parker’s Creek, and north of James Island.  There should also be some sporadic activity near Sharps Island Light. Migrating fish move fast, so don’t expect them to be at the same place twice.  Locating a pre-spawn school is like finding a needle in a haystack, but when you do, it’s a guaranteed big fish on every cast.

I got out Friday evening with Jamie, Rich, and Danny.  We found some gannets pretty close to home.  As you can see in the opening photo, Jamie managed to get a big one in, but you should have seen the world record I had on that got away! The truth is, it’s catch-and-release season in Maryland, and even though we all want to reel that big fish up to the side of the boat, it’s all about the fun of the fight anyway. Most light tackle fishermen are happy to see the big ones swim away, no matter what time of year. But a picture would’ve been nice!

Trollers are picking off a few nice fish here and there at places like the Gooses Buoy, on the channel edge near Bloody Point, on the long ledge near Matapeake, and near the mouth of the South River. There are even a few big cows showing up beneath the Bay Bridge. Fishermen using herring and circle hooks are catching and releasing some true giants in the Susquehanna River channel at the upper end of the Flats.  The hickory shad run has started at Deer Creek and Fletchers Cove, but it’s still hit & miss.  The cool weather has extended the white perch spawn in the creeks for a few days.

I fished the Bay this weekend with my friends Daphne and Daniel Forster from Rhode Island.  Believe it or not, Daphne caught a five-pound tautog north of the Gas Docks.  Yes, I checked and it’s tog season in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. I’ve never heard of a tog this far north. I wanted to submit it as an entry into the Diamond Jim Fishing Challenge, but they don’t even have a category for tog in the Chesapeake.

I’d say that fish was disoriented except that I happened to be fishing with one of the best anglers on the East Coast, so I guess anything is possible. I’m starting to think that Daphne can walk into any fishing club or bar from Massachusetts to Maryland and somebody will know her for her fishing prowess. In Rhode Island they’d call her a “sharpie.” Around here, we just call her a hell of a fisherman. When she isn’t fishing she’s building rods or testing lure prototypes.  It was a pleasure to watch her in action again this spring. Even more people know her dad, or at least his photography work. Check out the photos on his website. We caught a few healthy “bass” as well. Okay, more than a few, but the highlight was definitely that tautog. (I heard a rumor Angus Phillips had it for dinner.)  Of course, just like on my last half-dozen trips, the biggest fish of the night got away.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Posted Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 at 12:17 am
Filed Under Category: Fishing Reports
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


Responses to “Make Sure the Big One Gets Away”

  1. Jon Griffiths says:

    So how big was Jamie’s fish there? Nice!

  2. Shawn says:

    That little thing? I dunno, seven or eight pounds max. (grin)

  3. Jeremy Gussient says:

    I got one. Don’t check for broken glass in your rod guides because you want your line to break on every hook set.

    That is funny stuff and nice to hear about big fish in the open bay.

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks for the report. I love to see the big fish, it gives me hope. I was out Fri and found a lot of debris in front of the West river and then on sunday I saw about a dozen Gannets between the South and West but did not see any marks.

  5. CURTIS says:


  6. jumbo1 says:

    I actually have the “world record that got away” on video….You violated #1…2…3…5….great write up Shawn…It’s time to get on the water…NO I mean it’s really time to get on the water…..

  7. Joe Yack says:

    I am guilty of not checking leaders after catching a few big fish and it came back to huant me last weekend fishing with a couple of friends. My best friends girl friend lost a 50+” fish a the boat when the leader failed… It was her first Rockfish… man, did I feel bad… Worse than losing it myself.

  8. Togs? There are more of them out here than we know. Check restoration reefs like the Gooses and Cooks Point. The more oyster-encrusted restoration reefs we build, especially with reef balls, the more togs, sheepshead, black sea bass, and spadefish we’re going to see in MD. Big shout-out to the Dorchester MSSA Chapter for all of their work on Cooks Point!

  9. Rogert says:

    Got to love this time of yr.Nice fish !!

  10. Colin Long says:

    Good read…nice surprise with the Tautog. Time to go fishing, I need a 3 day bender!!

  11. RiverCat09 says:

    Its nice to know that the fish are starting to show in spite of the water still being a tad cool and getting cooler (45 degrees, down from 47 about a week ago). Thanks for the write up and the amusing tips!


  12. BigJeff823 says:

    Tog in the bay;salinity must be looking good.If the salinity is still high;theres a good chance that Red Drum,Flounder,and both types(Speckled/Grey)Seatrout will be thick in our area of the bay this Spring;Fingers crossed.

  13. BigJeff823 says:

    That Tog was caught by the Gas Docks off Cove Pt right?

  14. Wayne Young says:

    We put some Reef Balls down at the NW corner of the Tilghman Island State Reef about 10 years ago while I was with MES. A year or so after placing the units, Tom Humbles of MES checked out the site with a video drop camera. A nice big ole Tog came out from behind one of the Reef Balls to check out the camera. Marty Gary once told me that some years ago that he had dived on some of the infamous “cubes” in the Hollicutts Noose (Hooligans Snooze, etc) reef east of Bloody Point and observed a Tog sitting right in the middle! These fish were probably at the extreme end of their range.

Leave a Reply