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Blue Moon - Chesapeake Light Tackle

There’s a blue moon shining
When I am reminded of all we’ve been through
Such a blue moon… shining
Does it ever shine down on you
?  -Nanci Griffith

I guess you could say my wife and I met on a blue moon. ¬†It was at least a rare occasion, one that I’ll never regret because, among other great things,¬†it ultimately led me to the Chesapeake Bay. There’s some discussion about what makes a moon blue these days. ¬†The modern interpretation is that the blue moon is the second full moon in any given month, but there’s an older interpretation I like better. ¬†There are normally three full moons in each season whether spring, summer, fall, or winter, but sometimes, rarely, there is an extra full moon. Farmers and fishermen who plan their lives by the seasons refer to the usual full moon cycles in a three-name seasonal sequence – for example the¬†early summer moon, mid summer moon, or late summer moon. ¬†The late moon is always the last of the season, so when that rarely occurring extra full moon comes along, it is left without a name. ¬†We call it the blue moon. That makes tonight, Sunday November 21st the blue moon of fall 2010. ¬† You can read more about it in this Space.com article. Since the phases of the moon drastically influence the tidal currents in the Chesapeake Bay, I pay very close attention.

We are currently seeing our biggest fish of the Fall season. Nice stripers are turning up all over the Chesapeake. ¬†I haven’t seen the need to travel very far so I’ve been fishing both the northern and southern tips of Kent Island. As usual, my time has been limited to only a few hours in the early morning or late evening, so I’ve had to plan efficient trips. ¬†Strong blue moon currents at sunrise and sunset have helped with my surgical strikes.

Mark joined me for a short early Friday morning trip to kick off the weekend. We launched at nautical twilight out of one of the lower Kent Island ramps and headed away from the light toward some steep drop-offs near the edge of the main channel. It was a bit dicier than I anticipated so it took us a little longer than expected to get to where I wanted the fish to be. We arrived just after sunrise finding a few very big birds sitting and a couple of gannets flying high over an underwater ledge.

I usually start with smaller lures then bump up when I find bigger fish, so I grabbed my lightest baitcaster rigged with yellow 10-pound-test PowerPro and started jigging a 6″ chartreuse BKD hotrodded with orange garlic dye on a one ounce jig head. I felt a light tap and set the hook into something solid. Deep rod dips told me I had on a big striper. I looked over at Mark and grinned as the fish peeled line against my November drag. Maybe it was the pull against the wind, or light line on a skinny rod, or just a very strong pointy-headed ocean rockfish but this 30 pound 40+ incher gave me my best fight of the fall so far.

After a quick photo and boat-side release, we repositioned over the ledge and this time Mark hooked up. Since that big fish nicked my mono leader, I was retying while he quickly wrestled in and released a 28 incher. Before I could count eight braid wraps on a double-uni he made a quick second cast and popped another nice fish on the lure drop. This one was in the mid thirty inch category and fat as a pig.

I don’t know if we lost current or the light got too bright or what happened, but that was it. We stayed out for twenty more minutes without another bite. My time was up so I headed back north to the ramp. I wish I could’ve looked around longer, but I’ll take 90 minutes on the water in late fall even if it only means three fish. For some reason my coffee tasted sweeter than usual Friday morning. I’ll chalk it up to thirty pounders before breakfast.

Saturday was also a work day this week, but I got back out in the late afternoon. The evening bite I’ve been working for a few weeks has slowed a little, but is still hanging in there. Rich and Brian joined me for a two and half hour trip. We found a half dozen birds right off the bat, and had a less-than-five-minute-limit since everyone hooked up on their first and second casts. We released them all though. After those fish moved away we ran around looking for more birds but couldn’t find any, so I just set us up over a ledge and killed the engine. We drifted on and off the ledge only marking a fish or two hear and there on the bottom, but if we could get a lure in front of them, they bit. We had a few over 30s but most were in the mid to high 20s. We finished the night by moving up on the shallower secondary ledge. I got a very skinny high 30s fish well after the blue moon had risen over the Eastern Shore.

Tonight, Phil, Jon, Rich and I launched when the tide changed to incoming. We had to wait a few minutes on Jon so we decided to fish some bridge pilings near the ramp. Rich made the most of his time by landing a thirteen inch white perch on a 6 inch bass assassin. ¬†Not only a once-in-a-blue-moon fish, but big enough to be a Maryland citation and a qualifier for the 2011 Diamond Jim Fishing Challenge. ¬†We headed out to the Bay near the same place we fished Saturday, but didn’t see any birds. Once again, we just set up a drift and started catching a few nice fish even though there weren’t many marks on the FF. I thought there might be better action elsewhere, so we ran some more but ended up coming back to the same spot. This time the birds came to us and we kept fish under the boat for a good long while.

Most of the fish we caught were on 6 or 7″ jigs with three quarter ounce heads. (I was using a 6″ pink BKD hotrodded with chartreuse). We only had one or two over 30s. Saw several friends on the water this weekend and it looked like everyone was catching. Water temperatures are nearing 50 degrees and I’m feeling a change in the pattern so I’m switching over to looking at deeper water on my next trip. I think we have a couple more weeks of good fishing in the open Bay. ¬†After that, we’ll start looking for warmer water and places where the fish congregate over the cold winter months.¬†¬† We still have another full moon this fall.¬† Here’s to hoping it’s as productive as this one!

Posted Sunday, November 21st, 2010 at 11:55 pm
Filed Under Category: Fishing Reports
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Responses to “Blue Moon”

  1. uncle phill says:

    Thanks for another great read!

  2. Bill Montgomery says:

    Mighty fine fish! Good article. Cool pics.
    None of those are “once in a blue moon” for you. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Doug M says:

    wow what it must be like to catch quality fish like that and release them to be caught another day!! great article thanks.

  4. Colin Crozier says:

    Very nice report and thanks for sharing it.

  5. Alan J. says:

    That short before work trip is a little like calling a half court jump shot and hitting it. I admit that I’m looking at rockfish a little differently now that I see the sporting potential. Thanks for another interesting report.

  6. Chris Duffy says:

    First opportunity I’ve had to check out your website. Very good. Very professional. Very informative. Thanx.

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