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chesapeake bay retriever - Chesapeake Light Tackle

chesapeake bay retriever

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My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am. – The Bellamy Brothers

It’s easy to love a dog. On our worst days our dog still thinks we’re great. It doesn’t matter how badly we screw up, or how many catastrophes we’ve caused, in our dog’s eyes, we’re amazing. Most of the fishermen I know love dogs. Some of us take them fishing with us.  Most dogs don’t care if we catch a fish or not, they’re just glad to be out on the water with us.

Crockett Lee wasn’t that kind of dog.  Oh, he loved me unconditionally, but if I took him fishing and he didn’t see fish coming over the rail, he’d get mad.  Real mad.  I never wanted to take a skunk when Crockett was on the boat.  If we got back to the dock without at least a white perch to show for our efforts, I could surely expect  a severe bark-lashing.  He made sure I knew I’d let him down.  I think he finally got tired of my failures and took it upon himself to make me a better fisherman.

It started like this, when I moved from the Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, my first fishing boat was a 25-foot long Sea Ray express cruiser.  That boat wasn’t really designed for fishing, but I made a few angler-friendly modifications before naming her after my new Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy and striking out to learn how to fish the Bay.  Crockett grew up on Crockett’s Reel and always felt right at home there.  When I got my center console a few years ago, Crockett would have none of it.  He did not like Thunder Road.  Gone were the comfortable carpeted floors that provided traction in rough water, and gone was the cushy upholstered seat that allowed him to sit up high and see over the rails.   Read More!

Bark bark bark, bark bark, bark bark bark.


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This is the time of year I like to walk along Tuckahoe Creek near Queen Anne, Maryland casting for perch and chain pickerel.  For the past couple of years I’ve only caught white perch on the Tuckahoe.  I’ve missed the earlier yellow perch spawn because it frequently coincides with the first wave of pre-spawn rockfish. I thought I might miss it again this year, but today’s rainy windy weather kept me off the Bay.  My four-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever Crockett and I left Kent Island about noon and took the long way around before parking the truck and hiking in to my favorite perch holes.  The rain poured and the fish bit.  It wasn’t hot and heavy like I’ve been hearing about in the Western Shore creeks, but I finished up with six keepers out of a couple dozen  perch, and released a nice pickerel.  My lure was a chartreuse one-thirty-second ounce feather fly tied by my Severn River Rod & Keg Club brother Woody of Maryland Tackle.  I jigged it under a tiny green top float.  A feather fly coupled with a buoyant, lively float is a combination my dad taught me.  My brother Creig has been wearing out the crappie in the TVA lakes using it.  It’s a very specific technique because any old float won’t work. I think I’ll keep the brand name to myself for now, but you might be able to figure it out from the video.  It was great to get out and stream fish for a while.  I’ll visit the Tuckahoe again once the white perch run begins.  As you can tell, Crockett is in his element in the rainy woods.  Read More!

PB020006Outdoorsmen are known to brag about their dogs.  Growing up in Tennessee, I heard lots of  stories about super hunting dogs.  Most were told with tongue squarely in-cheek and every tall tale ended with some magnificently exaggerated conquest by the narrator’s most accomplished canine. That tradition of boasting is also part of the fabric of the Bay.  In the novel Chesapeake, James Michener spins a yarn about a strong duck dog who rescues his unconscious master after he is knocked into the water by the recoil of an over-sized punt gun.   On the other hand, stories about extraordinary fishing dogs are less frequently heard.  ♣  With only 90 minutes to spare before dark, there wasn’t much chance of finding a human fishing partner this evening, but my faithful Chesapeake Bay Retriever Crockett had no problems with the abbreviated trip.  He eagerly bounded from the dock into his usual position on the seat cushion over the engine as we launched off Kent Island in the boat named after him. Tonight our plan was to look for rockfish, but in a different area of the Bay than where we’ve been finding them recently.  There are surely fish where we left them last night, we just needed a change of scenery. Read More!