Articles by Dennis Doyle

Plenty to do until you can get back on the water

     As our new year begins, opening day of trophy rockfish season, April 21, 2018, is a little over 100 days away. That opener is almost a week later this year than last (by regulation the third Saturday in April), meaning a bit of extra protection for the big spawners, which is a good thing....
This time of year, rockfish crave minnows
      “Minnies,” was the only word spoken by my friend Frank Tuma over the phone early that morning.
      A few years ago,  I disovered a great cold-weather bait for stripers on an unusually warm December day prospecting for deep-water perch.
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No matter your gear, you’ve got to be over the fish if you’re going to catch

     After five consecutive skunks over the last 10 days, I shared my grief with friend and neighbor Frank Tuma, a charter boat captain.
     “Yeah, I’ve heard that the middle Bay is empty of rockfish,” he said. “But I’ve found a nice bunch that I’ve been working over the last few trips. Going to take a couple of friends out tomorrow. Want to come?” 
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Follow the birds to find the action

     We were at warp speed approaching Man O’ War Shoals, a large oyster reef that stretches for over two miles some distance southeast of Baltimore’s Key Bridge. Col. Dennis Robinson’s 20-foot Sea Hunt center console was barely touching the water as we covered the distance to the wheeling and diving gulls that had located feeding rockfish there.
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We’re not the only ones that bite at that delicacy

     Flipping my bait over the side, I spooled out line, letting my bait disappear into the shaded depths and off the down-current side of the Bay Bridge pier. The tide had been moving for under an hour; the gentle current was just slow enough to allow my hook to sink to where I hoped the rockfish were holding.
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As daylight and temperatures drop, fish alter their feeding habits

     Fishing, especially for rockfish, is about to get better. Decreasing temperatures mean that baitfish of all types —peanut bunker, silversides, anchovies, spot, yearling white perch and baby croaker — are moving toward deeper water.
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Don’t give up on that missed strike

      I sent the Rat-L-Trap sailing out over the water in the longest cast I could manage. Pausing for a slow four-count to allow the lure to sink near the bottom, five feet down, I began the retrieve with long upward sweeps of my rod, followed by brief pauses to allow the lure to descend back toward the bottom.
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Turns out it’s complicated

     I was casting to a rip-rapped, Bay shoreline laden with the remnants of an aged dock. There were multiple piers, railings and decks, long fallen into total disrepair. Curiously, there were no nearby buildings of any kind that explained the structure’s presence. It was, however, a white perch playground.
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Don’t set your watch by a fisherman

     We had timed our launch to take advantage of the tidal current change. As it usually takes about an hour after the scheduled low for the current to gradually stop, then another hour for the incoming current to become noticeable, we intended to exploit that two-hour period of slower water. That made our launch time about 8am for targeting the Bay Bridge.
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I’ve found an anchor I can depend on

      Running out of options, I had one card left to play.
     Over the last few hours, I had fished a different areas without success. My plan to chum up a pair of fat rockfish for a weekend dinner was coming undone. The wind had freshened and the tide was running stronger than I preferred. But I had still to try one spot that had saved me in the past.
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