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Regulars (Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle)

Encounters under the full moon

An angler’s skunk may stink only metaphorically, but it can be every bit as unpleasant as an encounter with the actual Pepe Le Pew. I’m talking about a day spent fishing without catching a fish. 

 

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Saved by an old bait sporting a new name

It was extremely frustrating. There were rockfish working the rip in front of me, but they wouldn’t hit my lures. I could see their occasional feeding boils marking the surface, and it was obvious that they were eating — and at least a few of the feeders were good sized.

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If you’re on the water, the fish may come to you

The sun was getting low in an overcast sky, night was rapidly falling — and still there were no fish. Conditions were perfect off the shallow-water point, the tide was up, there was good current, a chilly wind was lying down nicely — and only one other boat was present. But no fish. 

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Vertical jigging snares many a pair

 

Three weeks of big wind and steady rain got me thinking about a trip this time of month last year. Back then, it was calm and lovely, and we were drifting a bit south of one of the Bay Bridge rock piles in 30 feet of water. I had just lowered my rod tip to let the flashing lure at the end of my line flutter back down to the bottom. 

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If at first you don’t succeed … try something different

Sundown was only a half-hour away as I steered my skiff toward another deserted shoreline. Well out, I switched over to my electric trolling motor and eased into casting range. My target was a rip forming over the nearest of a number of mostly submerged stone jetties jutting sharply out from the shoreline. 

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Despite heavy winds, I landed a largemouth bass, a bluegill and a pickerel

Most folks know that a grand slam is baseball’s term for a home run with the bases loaded. Angling has its own slam. A Chesapeake Bay slam is landing a rockfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel on the same day. The freshwater version is typically a largemouth bass, a pickerel and a bluegill. 

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In the shift to shallow water, tackle makes the difference

Live-lining small Norfolk spot remains the surest bet for a limit of striped bass on the Chesapeake. But light-tackle lure fishing grows more exciting as our waters cools with September’s chillier weather, when striped bass behavior changes.

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Top-water fishing’s all about how you play the lure

The quiet waterscape flowing around us was only dimly illuminated by the first blush of a calm and breaking day as my son and I made our casts. Drifting slowly in our skiff on the fresh start of a gentle ebb, we were moving about 100 feet out and parallel to a long, weathered bulkhead, footed by heavy, barnacled stone piled along its base.

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All our canine companions evolved from the hunter

Watching my German shorthair pointer, Sophie, enter an autumn game field never fails to send a quiver of anticipation through my being. She operates with certainty in an arena where I can only guess at what is about to transpire. A hunting dog is grace, speed, focus and intensity....

To play with them, you need to know the rules

The Chesapeake had at last become quiet. The Bay’s summertime revelers — with their boats, jet skis and water toys — had fled home hours ago. Even the gulls were finally mute, settling into their roosts for the evening. But as deep darkness descended, my fishing partner, Christian, and I sat motionless at anchor in my small skiff positioned about 100 feet from a heavy rock jetty.

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