“There are no more deserts. There are no more islands. Yet there is a need for them. In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion; in order to serve men better, one has to hold them at a distance for a time. But where can one find the solitude necessary to vigor, the deep breath in which the mind collects itself and courage gauges its strength? There remain big cities.”  -ALBERT CAMUS from THE MINOTAUR.

I must apologize for the lack of fishing reports lately.  I’ve required some time to concentrate on other interests, dance for a while to the songs in my head, and step back to reassess some priorities after over-extending a little.  I’m currently writing from a boat off the Florida Keys. I’ve been here for the past ten days or so.  It’s been relaxing, rejuvenating actually, and I’ve enjoyed some successful fishing.  My time for tuning out is about over, so next week I’ll be back working in the big city, and perhaps more importantly, back in the swing of the Chesapeake fishing scene.  On August 20th I’ll speak to the Broadneck/Magothy MSSA chapter about Strike Triggers and Catch & Release techniques. The following night, August 21st, I’ll travel to the Essex/Middle River chapter to present a similar talk.  On August 25th and 26th I’ll have a book-signing table and also give a couple of talks at the 6th Annual Maryland Buck Wild Outdoors Expo.  Look for me all day Saturday and Sunday.

Another fun fishing event is coming up this Wednesday evening at Fishermen’s Inn on Kent Island. Tony Fredrich will present “Fly Fishing Tactics for Fishing the Chesapeake to the Kent Narrows CCA group. There are many anglers who want to add fly-fishing to their bag or tricks and others who have tried without proper advice and given up. This meeting will center on the basics and how to apply knowledge of conventional gear and tactics to fly-fishing. Throwing flies can be an extremely effective and exciting method for catching striped bass, blue fish and other species. I’ve had the pleasure of fly-fishing with Tony, and I can tell you he’s as good at it as they get. I’ll be there, and I hope you’ll come too!

Just because I haven’t written much about the Chesapeake lately doesn’t mean I haven’t been fishing.  As usual in the summer, most of my Bay trips have been late evening affairs, usually leaving the dock after 7:00 PM and returning at dark.  One of the trade-offs to the hot, dry weather we’ve endured is relatively good water quality.  Since we haven’t had much rain, many of the nutrients and sediment that contribute to poor water quality are remaining on the land rather than flushing into local streams. Unfortunately, it’s a temporary respite because many of those nutrients will still find their way to the Bay in the future.  Still, the good water has made for excellent summer fishing in the Upper Chesapeake.

I recently had family and friends visiting from Tennessee. Anna, Samantha, and Daniel work at radio station WDVX in Knoxville, Tennessee.  WDVX just may be the best Americana station anywhere. Since it simulcasts its broadcast on the Internet, it has established dedicated audiences in countries all over the world including a growing Maryland contingent. Whether it’s bluegrass, newgrass, Texas swing, hillbilly blues, classic country or any one of a dozen related roots music genres, there’s always something interesting to listen to in “East Tennessee’s Own” award-winning, publicly funded radio station.  A crown jewel of the WDVX broadcasting schedule is a live lunch-hour music show that takes place daily at the downtown Knoxville Visitor Center called the Blue Plate Special.  Daniel is the sound engineer and a frequent performer on the show.  I’ve performed several times on the Blue Plate, and my sons have done a lot more shows that I have.  In fact, their band Mountain Soul will be featured next week.  Tune in!

Jacob, Daniel and I had a lot of fun fishing with Anna and Samantha, mostly running and gunning over live, hard bottoms chasing blitzing stripers beneath screaming birds.  It isn’t hard to find breaking fish this summer.  There are literally thousands of schools of one-year-old rockfish feeding on tiny minnows all over the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake.  The result of last year’s strong spawn, the little fish are feeding voraciously.  It’s not much of a challenge to catch them, and I highly encourage fishermen to leave them alone and let them grow up.  Let me see if I can say that more clearly – STOP TARGETING BABY ROCKFISH!  The challenge right now is to find schools of bigger stripers.  We had to do some running, but we found them.  We also found some very nice white perch including a 14-inch citation caught by my granddaughter, Miss Ella Kimbro.

That pattern has held for the past month.  Look for bigger fish in water deeper than 16 feet.  Don’t be afraid to drive right by juvenile gray-winged seagulls working over shallow water, it will be little fish. Look for bigger fish schooling over deeper, hard shell bottoms.  If you don’t see working birds, just wait around a little while.  Seagulls will appear seemingly out of nowhere once the fish come up.  At times, there might not be any birds at all.  The trick is to be at the right place (hard bottoms that are deeper than 16′ feet) at the right time (when the current is strong).

I’ve recently found fish in every direction off Kent Island and I’m getting regular reports from my fishing buddies who are still on them this week. Some of my best fishing has been to the North.  I usually don’t start fishing the ledges along Swan Point Bar until later in the year, but clean water has really opened things up in the Upper Bay this summer.  There are also quality fish on the bars at the mouths of the western shore rivers, and on both sides of Poplar Island.  I’ve also found some respectable schools of two- and three-year-old stripers closer to Sharps Island.

The live-lining bite north of Poplar Island is waning a little, but there are still plenty of fish around.  I’m hearing now that some of the charter guys are setting up near the False Channel.  Either that, or they’re anchoring on the up-current side of the Bay Bridge pilings or the Kent Island Sewer Pipe.  There are fish at both places and fishing is best in the early morning or late evening.  A good trick for quality summer fish is to move in on a spot right after the live-liners leave and throw a jig.  There will still be plenty of fish there and they won’t be expecting something different like a hot-rodded soft-plastic jig.

I’ve pitched jigs at the bridge a few times over the past couple of weeks and caught fish on every trip.  I can’t say I’ve had a wide-open bite, but there has been enough keepers to keep things interesting.  Since we are getting more and more bluefish migrating up the Bay, it’s time to start throwing bite-proof new generation soft plastics like Strike King Zulus.  They don’t have as much action and won’t catch as many fish as BKDs, but they’re a lot more durable.  Frankly, this time of year it doesn’t really matter what you throw.  If you find feeding fish, they’ll bite whatever you cast at them.

If you’re inclined to throw top-water plugs at breaking fish (and I hope you are), use the biggest lure you can find.  My suggestion is either Stillwater SmackIts or Lonely Angler Holos.  If you think you need a smaller plug, try replacing the hooks with the biggest trebles you can find on the front, and a single large hook on the back.  Here’s why:  When you’re casting a topwater plug into breakers, the smaller fish are usually the first to investigate.  If you’re using a little plug with little hooks, they’ll hit it and you’ll catch them, but if you’re throwing a great big plug with great big hooks, the little fish might still hit, but their mouths are too small for the hooks to go in.  The bigger fish will come around to investigate what all the commotion is about, and when they hit the lure, they’ll come tight.

Finally, don’t discount the top-water bite around the shoreline just as the sun hits the horizon.  I’ve pulled out several trips lately with nice fish off the rocks right at sunrise or sunset.  Always set your drift so you’re casting to the up-current corner of whatever structure you’re working.  That’s the side the water is pushing against and that’s where your chances are best for bigger fish.

I’m signing off now because there are schools of Spanish mackerel breaking up ahead and Key West light tackle guide Raymond Vasquez is sure to have me tuned in on a good flat for bonefish and permit later this afternoon.  Later, I’ll be chasing peacock bass with some friends near Naples. I’ll be tuned out here in Florida for a few more days, but I’ll stop dancing to the songs in my head and be back in action next week on the Chesapeake, so I hope you’ll tune in then!

Posted Sunday, August 12th, 2012 at 12:57 am
Filed Under Category: Fishing Reports
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Responses to “Tuning Out & Tuning In”

  1. jumbo1 says:

    Glad to see you gettin’ back into the swing ol’ buddy…great looking fish!
    Be seeing you soon…enjoy the rest of your vacation..(like you aren’t going too anyway?)

  2. Doug M says:

    hey Shawn glad to hear all is well, engoy your trip. Can you recommened a low profile bait caster real? please.

  3. Shawn says:

    Yes, REVO by ABU makes some good ones. Check out the Inshore model. SX and Toro are also good. I wouldn’t discount the Bass Pro store models either, they’re all pretty good for the price and you can’t beat the warranty.

  4. Jerry Meyer says:

    It’s very nice to hear from you, Mr. Kimbro. Is that a peacock bass in the last photo? Where are you?

  5. Alissa says:

    I just bought the book and found this website. I have a lot of reading to do.

  6. Gitzit 2 says:

    sounds like you’re having a blast, Shawn.
    It is certainly a well deserved break
    Hope to see you when you get back.

  7. RogerT says:

    Those are some very excellent catches there Shawn,been missing your CLT reports as of late.

    Enjoy your tuning out time..

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