I’ve just spent an extra long, extra fun weekend at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT). Connecting the Delmarva Peninsula with Norfolk and Virginia Beach, the CBBT is 23 miles of high-current structure that is prime habitat for striped bass. Rich Jenkins and I trailered my Judge 27 center console Thunder Road down Rt 13 to Cape Charles late last Friday.  My son Daniel and my brother-in-law Mitch flew into Norfolk to meet us. We had a great time and found some fine fishing.

In Decembers past I’ve stayed at hotels in the Kiptopeke area but this time I decided to look into renting a vacation home for our four night stay.  After calling and emailing several places, I settled on a house in historic Cape Charles called “Southern Comfort on the Bay.”  A recently remodeled Victorian with three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen, game room, washer and dryer and a driveway large enough to park my boat in, it was the perfect base for our five days of fishing.  It’s very nice to come off the water and have a roomy place to kick back, dry our clothes, watch football, play cards, and enjoy good food and drink. Better still was the price.  I’ve paid more for a single hotel room.

Launching out of Kiptopeke State Park, we fished almost all day every day.  It was very windy so we were knocked around some, but we managed to find fish on each trip.  Mitch had to leave Sunday night, so Jamie Clough from Easton, Maryland drove down to join us for our Monday and Tuesday outings.  Fishing with Rich and Jamie on the boat is always an adventure.  Those guys are constantly joking and cracking around on each other.  Daniel and I just stood back and listened because we like to be quiet and respectful on the water. Since we like for everyone on the boat to catch the same amount of fish, we don’t participate in that sort of sarcastic competitive behavior, no sir. It got so bad Monday afternoon that I found it necessary to pull off one fishing spot because Rich was catching fish on every cast and the rest of us were not.  That’s just not fair. After all, it’s part of my job as the captain to keep things equitable, right?

Rich looked dejected when we left his hotspot, but I explained that I was doing it for his own good and we named that area Rich’s corner in hopes of making him feel better.  The rest of the day he kept asking to go back to Rich’s Corner, but in the interest of fairness, we took a vote and kept far, far away.

Tuesday morning, Jamie got hot on another corner of one of the rocky islands.  For a while there all we could hear were his hook sets cutting through the air. Since nobody else could fish with all that racket, and it wasn’t fair for just one person to be catching all the fish again, I hurried up and left that spot too.  Jamie wanted to know if we could name that corner after him, but I told him he was one fish shy of the necessary number.  He seemed a little upset, but I quickly pointed out that I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.  I thought to myself that it sometimes takes tough love to keep those guys from being so competitive. A little later, I took a chance and piloted us back over to Rich’s corner.  He didn’t catch as many this time, so we changed the name to Rich’s Has Been Corner  just to keep things fair and non-competitive.

I wanted everyone to catch the same size fish, but somehow Rich managed to catch the biggest one of the trip.  After a valiant fight, he got the mid-forty-inch-monster up to the side of the boat. Daniel reached down to lip and land it for him but it somehow came off the hook.  I think Rich was sad since he couldn’t get his picture taken with his big fish, but we all laughed and laughed in hopes of making him feel better. It just wouldn’t have been fair for one person to catch a bigger fish than the others. I’m glad we’re not competitive like that.

Our evenings were fun too. We played a couple of non-competitive poker games while we watched Sunday and Monday night football. Since I’m not competitive, I let the other guys win my money. Another great thing about the house we rented in Cape Charles is that it is walking distance from Kelly’s Pub.  Kelly’s is one of my favorite bar/restaurants on the east coast.  We ran into a lot of friends and fellow fishermen there.  Mark Nichols joined us for dinner one evening.  He had a successful day Monday fishing with light tackle guide Mark Galasso.  If you want to learn the best ways to fish the CBBT, I highly recommend going out with a light tackle guide.  Even if you have a boat and know the area it’s still a good idea to save the money you would spend on fuel and tackle and avoid the hassles of long-distance trailering by chartering a guide.

I took a lot of pictures, so I put together a photo montage of the action and attached it to the bottom of this report.   The video features an original song Daniel wrote.  It’s available for download on iTunes and Amazon.com.  Daniel also performs an original tune about Cape Charles, but he hasn’t recorded it yet.

Closer to home, the Mid-Bay trollers are still dragging 20+ rod spreads with broomsticks and planer boards and picking off a fish every once in a while. Light tackle fishing is limited, but there are fish to be caught around the Bay Bridge rockpiles, and a few are starting to show up in the warm water discharges.  There are still some small fish breaking around the mouths of the rivers.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of catch-and-release season in Maryland and the start of my favorite time of the year to fish.

I also need to post a quick note about my book Chesapeake Light Tackle.  We were back-ordered for the last couple of days due to better-than-expected sales, but more books are scheduled for delivery today.  We will be mailing them Thursday and Friday for delivery early next week.  I should also have books in the tackle shops by the end of next week and look for some book signings coming up the week after Christmas.  Thanks for all your help in making our pre-release campaign such a success, and remember – keep it fair out there!

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel – December 2011



Posted Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 12:11 am
Filed Under Category: Fishing Reports
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Responses to “Fair Weekend at the Bridge Tunnel”

  1. jumbo1 says:

    SK…loved the part about “Rich’s has been corner”..so comforting to know that your Capt has the best interest of all anglers on the boat and won’t let another angler “get hot in one spot”..fair is fair..I think I remeber that one corner I was on…6 fish in 6 casts and then the boat started drifting differently..farther away etc..I know “wind and current picked up”…
    I really wanted a corner but rules are rules..

    Great meeting Daniel, you should be proud, he’s a good son..darn good cook too…tequila lime rockfish was mighty tasty..

    I think next trip we should not do the “fairness” thing and just see what happens..would be nice if Rich could bring enough jigheads?
    The house was the perfect setting…thanks for you guys teaching me how to play cards..I put the money I won in a picture frame..

    Thanks again for an awesome weekend…
    BTW it was refreshing to see that your not as competitive as I thought…I mean doesn’t everyone change their pound test on fishing line in the parking lot at stingrays?…invent new lures to look like the other “hot lures” on the boat…

    (Biggest grin of them all)

  2. Gitzit 2 says:

    Great read, Shawn.
    I felt like I was there.
    I imagine the guys were very happy with your “fairness” plan and it shows that you are, indeed, a thoughtful Captain….after all none of you seem to be a bit competitive 😉

    I understand Jamie’s point about trying something different next time but I think the “fairness” rules are the way to go 🙂

    Glad you all had a memorable trip…the CBBT seems to create it’s share of great memories.


  3. Dave Sikorski says:

    Good seeing you down there Shawn. We were way too sleep deprived when you saw us to continue bouncing around in the chop, and we crashed at the Rittenhouse for a nap turned into full nights sleep. My one buddy was rather disappointed in missing the poker game, he claims to be quite skilled. I guess we’ll find out next time.

    Great report and great music.


  4. Rich says:

    It made my weekend when one of the top light tackle fisherman in the area, first said that he didn’t need one of those jigheads and just alittle while later, had his hand out. I also found out that jealousy is a terrible thing out on the water, but good friend are hard too find, so I forgive the two of you. Rich

  5. Joe Fish says:

    Gosh darn, you boys are so nice to play fair like that. My buddies and I have been known to do something deceitful, like turn down the point of a guys hook when he’s not lookin. Next thing after he’s missed a few fish someone’s telling him he needs a better hook-set. I’ll be doggone those fish will hang on for a while even without being hooked but they always let go by the time they get near the boat. But then I’m sure you fellas are too serious about fishing to do something like that.

    Great writing, Shawn. You remind me that there’s A LOT more fun to be had on a fishing trip than just catching fish. Sounds like you had a blast.

  6. Daniel says:

    Since we’re all being fair and honest and non-competitive…it’s fair to say that I honestly got my ass kicked by some non-competitive old farts. But I had fun.

    My shark was bigger.

  7. colin says:

    Great report sounds like a good time. I’m heading down there Sat-Mon, looking for some pullage…

  8. Hillbilly Boater says:

    Shawn, Really enjoyed the read. Almost makes me want to head down there, but the ocean still calls. Think after Chrismas, however, it may happen.

  9. Wen says:

    Great report Shawn,
    Looks like a great trip.
    The way you guys fish and enjoy each other is what it’s all about.!


  10. uncle phill says:

    Fantastc read! I fish with those guys nearly every week, so I know exactly where you’re coming from. 😉

  11. rich says:

    I guess it is better to have been known as a “has been” than a ‘never was”.

  12. RogerT says:

    Great read, Shawn .Sounds like a great time was had by all on board and some nice fish caught too.

    BTW… Congrats on the success of your book-not at all surprised,its a good one!

  13. der Fischadler says:

    The younger version of the Dos Equis guy
    Brad Pitt
    John Holmes

    I heard you are working the door at
    Kelly’s now…

  14. jumbo1 says:

    Kelly’s…Ah what great memories…
    Brad Pitt..Arnold..john Holmes?…what an interesting combination…Yep would be some kind of movie..LOL

  15. Rivercat09 says:

    Good report, good video, and and good tune!


  16. Jeremy G. says:

    I heard through the grapevine some of your crew was using the Bug lure. I’ve seen some other reports of people using them, but it’s hard to know what to believe sometimes. Is that a Bug in your opening picture and in a couple of fish’s mouths in your vedio?

  17. Fischadler says:

    That lure in the picture with the green/yellow skirt looks like some of jigs from der Fischadler CLT collection. They went into the experimental bin at the bottom of the tackle box and were never heard from again.
    Then one individual on the boat started out-catching everyone on a “Bug” jig. Although the “Bug” has a totally different shaped head than the one in the picture, it does have a skirt . And I believe that long forgotten and unappreciated jig was used in an attempt to match/mimic the “Bug” at a time when the “Bug” was either scarce and/or was not being shared as pay back in the name of “Fairness.”

  18. jumbo1 says:

    “I heard through the grapevine some of your crew was using the Bug lure”
    Rumors…vicious rumors…
    The lure in the pic is a Fishchadler CLT collection lure…I think it’s even signed

  19. Fischadler says:

    Mr. Jumbo1;
    I know the difference between a short shank/long shank hook and a multi vs. mono colored skirt.
    I’m glad you are a fan, I have 5 boxes of those with your name on it.
    By the way, when is the Moderator going to get control of this site?
    I guess he’s too busy signing books…

  20. Shawn says:

    Mark is pretty close. Rich got hot on The Bug. Not just hot, but red hot. Jamie and I have fished enough to know that there’s more streak shooting at the CBBT than on the floor of Boston Gardens. Little things matter there, and it’s not unusual for one angler to light up due to very slight variations in their presentation. I thought it had more to do with Rich’s retrieve than anything, but there’s no doubt The Bug is an excellent lure, specifically designed for the exact situation we were fishing.

    The next morning, I rooted around in my console and found one of your heads with a bass skirt attached. Unfortunately, it was on some sort of ugly purple looking blob type of thing and not on the obviously superior candy corn colored triangular shad pattern. So, I took it off and put it on one, then attached a purple glitter BKD hotrodded with orange garlic dye and PRESTO, instant slot fish.

  21. jumbo1 says:

    “obviously superior candy corn colored triangular shad pattern.”…
    See some people could have mis-interpreted that as you giving yourself a pat on the back…

    But it is true it was an instant slot fish..

    Der Mark..I would love to have some your CLT collection skirted jigheads..

  22. mark Galasso says:

    Hey, Thanks for the mention. Fishing has been pretty good when the wind wasn’t howling. We did snag a 46 incher in the pilings yesterday on a 6 inch swim bait. Also lost a few we just couldn’t get out of the pilings. Mostly slot fish where we were.
    Tuna the Tide

  23. Jeremy G. says:

    Thank you for generously supplying this information. It sounds like I need to buy some bugs and some bass skirts. Do you sell the Fishadlere CLT jigs?

  24. Fischadler says:

    “Do you sell the Fishadlere CLT jigs?” That’s Fischadler.
    No, we are in negotiations to continue giving away everything we make.
    You can buy the “Bug” at tackle shops or at “specialized baits.com.”
    I’d be happy to give you some jigs to try out next time we see you out there. You can also make you own skirts with a special tool or buy them from tackle suppliers already made and slip them onto your favorite jig head.
    Chris Walken? More Cowbells…

  25. Rick Long says:

    The new hot lure at the fishing shows this year will be “The Bug” imitators. Can’t wait to see what pops up at the shows.

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