If the success of a fishing trip were simply measured by how many fish one puts in the box, then our trip would not merit much mention. But a closer examination reveals the whole story, and the fundamental question of success and failure comes into proper perspective.
October on the Bay is prime-time for topwater action on the fly and on light tackle, but many of the rock are sublegal, and the blues are all snapper-sized. Still, as one guide told me last week, the fishing doesnt get any better than this for anglers using light gear. My client Dave Nyberg and his guest, who traveled from Cumberland to chase bluefish and small rockfish, discovered that out in spades last week.
South winds greeted us as I eased the boat out of Sandy Point, and the slight chop slapped the hull rhythmically until I throttled the boat up on a plane. The sun crept up over Rock Hall, casting shards of brilliant magentas, purples and reds. It was hard to imagine a prettier scene, and the only thing missing was the fish.
But it wasnt long before we saw what we came for: boiling water from harried baitfish being corralled by hungry rocks and blues. The strong ebb tide butting up against the southern fetch created confused seas, but the two fly-rodders, normally used to the tranquil trout streams that feed the Potomac River, held their own and cast effectively enough to land scores of small but feisty fish.
Soon the crowd, comprised of some fishermen who lacked courtesy and etiquette, overwhelmed the area, so we booked northward to stumble upon a large school of breaking fish. For the next several hours, it was much of the same: Olive or chartreuse over white Clousers and sinking lines were the ticket to hooking fish. I saw large marks on the meter, indicating trout and legal rockfish below the fray. However, no matter how hard we tried, the flies never had a chance to get much below 10 feet before one of the youngsters snatched it up.
When the tide gave out and the fish turned off, we hit a spot in Eastern Bay to catch the incoming tide and were rewarded for our travels with yet another school of breaking fish. These were a school of bigger fish, but still just shy of legal for rockfish, although the bluefish were plenty big enough. Despite their diminutive size, they were all robust and healthy. The rockfish, with their silvery flanks and black stripes, chased the other rock that had mistaken our flies for anchovies. The blues were also colorful and fatter than Ive seen in the past few years.
On the run back to the dock, both men were rubbing their casting arms, which had taken some abuse from chucking flies all day. But when I asked them if it was worth it, they said theyd gladly take the minor aches for a day like they had, when aggressive fish literally blanket parts of the Bay.
Fish Are Biting
My friend went chumming on a charter trip two weeks ago and told me that in a half-day they caught lots of fish but no keepers. Scanning the upper Bays traditional spots of Love Point, Podickory Point and the Hill, there is no lack of effort. Perry from Rod n Reel says chummers at Stone Rock, the Gooses and lesser-known honey holes are taking limits of rockfish. If you are going to chum, please use circle hooks. White perch are fat and active. I found a nice jig-friendly pod between the Miles and Wye rivers. The mouths of the Magothy, South and West rivers all have perch. Trout action has picked up, but still not gangbusters, as wed normally expect this time of year. In some spots the crowds are prohibitive, which is a good enough reason to strike out and find your own school.