Super Spooks

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No, this isn’t an entry about breakfast cereal.  It’s about skinny-water fishing on the Chesapeake Bay where conditions are perfect for the snap, crackle, and pop of topwater lures.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that muddy water has all but eliminated fishing in the main stem of the Bay.  The tributary rivers are clearing, but water in the main channel remains deeply stained.  Satellite photos show a sediment plume stretching all the way down to the mouth of the Patuxent River.  It’s too trashy to troll, too muddy to catch bait, and too dirty to bottom fish.  Thank goodness for the versatility of light tackle!  While many anglers are sitting on their hands lamenting the impossible conditions, light tackle fishermen are enjoying a banner fall.  Since the shallow-water bite is tasty, I thought it might be interesting to look at three basics premises of topwater casting –  let’s call ’em snap, crackle, and pop. Read More!

Radios blaring, airplanes buzzing, stereos thumping, outboards droning, helicopters whirring, sirens wailing – Wow!  I spent a lot of my time on the water this weekend just listening. Boat shows, trolling tournaments, and sailing regattas made the main stem of the Chesapeake very noisy.  The Bay is fully awake from her winter slumber and the crowds are back in force.  While we each enjoy the water in our preferred ways, to my thinking fishing should include elements of solitude and stealth.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather pick up aluminum cans at rush hour along I-95 than try to pick off rockfish in the main channel on a busy weekend.  I prefer to look off the beaten path for places where I can tune-in to something a little more pleasing than the clamorous dissonance of the masses.  At this busy time of the year, I want to listen for the sounds of laughter. 

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Since I’ve been reporting bigger migratory fish on my recent trips, I’ve been overwhelmed with questions about where the fish are.  My apologies if  I’ve yet to return a call or answer an email, but the absolute truth is  – I don’t know. These big fish are moving around very quickly and they haven’t been at the same place twice.  I think we sometimes put too much emphasis on locations, and not enough on patterns.  Tell someone where to go to catch a fish and you may help them for a day, but teach them how to identify specific patterns of how fish behave, and you’ve helped them for a lifetime. Ask any good fisherman the secret to repeated success and he’ll tell you it’s the ability to distinguish specific feeding habits.  I believe that you can drop a good fisherman into any body of water in the world and he’ll catch fish as long as you give him enough time to establish a prevailing pattern.  It’s especially important on the Chesapeake where conditions change quickly and a rapid thirty degree temperature drop in October is not unusual.  I think fishing conditions change faster and more often here than anywhere I’ve fished before.  Fortunately, fish are usually creatures of habit and there are distinct patterns we can identify in the way they behave. Read More!

Ouch!  Sunday night, my fishing partner Rich got a little too close to the top-water lure he’d left hanging on his rod in the console rod holder. The heavy duty treble hook went clean through. Even though he had mashed the barbs, it didn’t want to back out cleanly on those heavy duty saltwater hooks. More on that later….. If you’ve heard about big migratory fish with sea lice in the Bay, you heard right.  I don’t know why they’re here, but I don’t see any reason to ask questions.  They’re here so let’s enjoy them.  I’ve fished three times since returning from my freshwater bass retreat to Tennessee.  Each time we had big fish in shallow water.  I’m fishing very close to home near Kent Island, sometimes within site of my house.  I spent most of Saturday winterizing my boat and fishing gear. In my world, winterizing means preparing for big fish and rough water. I worked most of the day on the emergency gear in my boat but took the evening to upgrade the hooks and hardware on my top-water plugs. I also made sure I had plenty of good line on my reels, loaded my tackle bag with 10″ BKDs, and generally got things prepared for bigger fish. Saturdays are tough on the Bay, I think the fish hide on weekends, but on Sunday evening, sometimes they peek their heads out to see what’s going on. Read More!