“Anyone can get lucky and catch a winning or trophy fish. What separates the men from the boys is consistency.” – Bill Burton
The best anglers I know have a solid grasp of three basic elements. The first is a willingness to learn and change behaviors or techniques when necessary. That means incorporating the latest technologies and staying on top of the best research. It also includes sorting through the folklore to pick out the very best practices and discarding the nonproductive tactics that bog us down. Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you’re not happy with the results you’re getting, it’s time to change. There are not many fishermen who have perfected their skills to the point where they are successful every time. The handful who have could teach us all something. These are the guys who need to write a book. I know I’d buy it. Fishermen with the right stuff are continually seeking opportunities to learn – to step outside of tried-and-proven comfort zones to find what works.
The second element is enthusiasm. Good fishermen eat, drink, smoke, and chew fishing. When they aren’t fishing, they’re thinking about fishing, and they’re probably planning their next fishing trip (or two). They seek out new information and pour over every tidbit of data they can find that might improve their skills. They surround themselves with like-minded people who share their passion for the sport. They also work to conserve the species they enthusiastically pursue. Read More!
You’ve probably heard by now that the bottom is dropping out of striper fishing. The latest Atlantic States Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) stock assessment shows a population in decline. Don’t be fooled by the first few lines of the report when it says, “Stripers are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.” They’ve been saying that for years while fishermen all up and down the Atlantic coast have been warning of a crash. Now we have proof. Using the current fishing mortality threshold, we have been overfishing for striped bass five out of the last eight years. If we keep catching at the rate we are now, the fishery will decline rapidly. Concerned fishermen up and down the Atlantic coast agree that harvest reductions should be implemented quickly. Check out this article from Captain John McMurray in New York.
Since striped bass is a highly-sought-after species with big money involved on both the commercial and recreational sides, any reductions will be controversial. I get the sense that there may be some within the ASMFC who believe that the commercial striped bass fishing industry has already sacrificed enough. If that perception spreads, recreational fishing could take the brunt of the reductions. I won’t flesh out the arguments pro and con here, but suffice it to say that I believe cuts are overdue and necessary and should be equal across both sectors.
Commercial fishing aside, disagreements are sure to follow within the recreational community. They will be especially apparent here in the Chesapeake Bay, where the charter boat industry and some fishing clubs rely heavily on fishing revenues from spawning-class stripers during times of the year when they are easiest to catch. It’s sure to get interesting, and I expect blood letting on all sides. Read More!
Congratulations to Rich Jenkins, 2013 Champion of the Kent Narrows Light Tackle Catch-&-Release Tournament. Rich fished with Jamie Clough, Jon Griffiths and me onboard my 27 Judge CC Thunder Road and won the tournament with a wide-shouldered 34-inch striper caught about 1:00 PM Saturday afternoon. Coming off the win, I thought it might be helpful to post some recommendations for catching bigger striped bass in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay in June.
Topwater – Look around high-current points where there is access to deep water. Submerged rocks and other cover are a plus. Set up downstream and fan-cast into the direction of the current starting closest to shore. Look for the rip, that is a change in the waves around the point and work that area hard. On calm days, use a spook. In rougher water, try a big popper. Heddon Super Spooks, Lonely Angler Zipsters, and Stillwater Smackits are great lures for this time of year. Read More!
By all accounts, 2012 was an unusual year for fishing. For me, it was absolutely strange at times. I jigged up my biggest striper of the year on the first day of the year, a 49-incher that might have pushed 50-pounds. It was the only fish I caught. A few days later I got another 47-incher and another one about that size on the next day. Each time it was only one fish per day. Is one fish worth five hours or more of casting? When they’re that size, I think so! Those were some of my biggest fish of 2012, but I’ve been lucky enough to jig up a few more mid-40s class fish since then including this pretty 45-incher I caught in the snow this week. Warm water discharge (WWD) fishing was good last spring, but we really had to pick our days. Our most successful times were early-morning windy weekdays when it was raining or snowing. The WWD big fish bite is always very specific. I explain how to get the trophies in my book, Chesapeake Light Tackle, An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. Read More!
Eelgrass – it’s not something we’re used to seeing much in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. According to the Maryland DNR website, it’s most likely found in high salinity areas of the Chesapeake Bay, approximately from the Choptank River south to the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Charles and in the smaller coastal bays. Because of poor water quality, bay grasses are at historically low levels, so it’s a little odd that we’re seeing eelgrass farther north than usual this summer. It’s probably a result of high salinity coupled with sustained warmer temperatures – we’ve just come through the warmest twelve consecutive months ever recorded in the United States. On my StructureScan sonar, eelgrass and its cousin wild celery grass, looks like underwater fields of waving amber grain. Baitfish hide in it, and rockfish love it.
This Friday evening, May 4th at 6:00 PM is the Kent Narrows CCA Banquet and Auction. The event will take place at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, Maryland. I will be singing and playing guitar during the dinner hour accompanied by Mr. Joe Evans from Annapolis. Joe is a well-known fisherman and sports writer and a very talented musician. He’ll be playing banjo, mandolin, and guitar. We will perform a 45 minute set of mostly original tunes. Many of the songs are fishing related including a Chesapeake Bay ghost story written by my son Daniel Kimbro called Cape Charles. You may never see nighttime barge lights on the Bay the same way again!
Immediately following my set will be a silent and live auction that includes fishing tackle, a kayak, several trips to interesting parts of the world, a beautiful photo of a spotted eagle ray by Jay Fleming, a full-sized signed and personalized poster by award-winning Chesapeake artist Ramon Matheu, and even some honest-to-goodness Appalachian moonshine (with free tasting). Food, beer and wine is included. The event is open to the public. Tickets are available at the door, or you can reserve your spot and pay in advance here: Kent Narrows Banquet.
Next Wednesday evening, May 9th at 7:00 PM I’ll be speaking to the Upper Bay CCA Chapter at the VFW Hall in Northeast, Maryland. I will elaborate on the topics I’ve covered in the latest four-part Strike Triggers series I posted here, and include the latest information about what lures and techniques are triggering strikes right now in the Chesapeake Bay. I also have some updated photos and video included in the hour long power-point presentation.
Hope you can make it to either or both of these fun events!