Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 27

July 4-10, 2002

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Moon over Pocomoke

It just hung there, like a copper globe weightless in that vast expanse Shelley called “heaven’s ebon vault.” Three days removed from Summer Solstice, the full moon mesmerized us, and the marsh, drunk with light, had its secrets tucked away quietly for the night.

Pocomoke Sound went on endlessly, and southern breezes pushed waves past nameless tumps of wetland. Bundles of eelgrass glided past our boat effortlessly, and with them came a few of my life’s lamentations. But they simply paused, hanging briefly in the midnight skytop as harmless as a familiar face. Moonstruck, perhaps, I saw things previously unnoticed from a different angle and contemplated alternative views. Open salt-sea air has become my religion of sorts: healing, cathartic, and nonjudgmental.

The chaotic and noisy underwater world was not immune to the celestial powers. I have to believe these marine creatures were also moonstruck. Will Smiley and I fished steadily and talked infrequently, and then only in mellow tones appropriate for the luminary cathedral in which we cast lures to creatures unseen.

True to our plan, which was built on the bedrock that we’d fish hard for two straight days sans bait, we tossed artificial plastic fish into the shallows. Efforts to finesse around sunken and dilapidated pilings were only marginally successful, but the occasional snag interrupted our drift only momentarily. The success ratio was poor at best: two fat hardhead that couldn’t let the glowing white flash-flecked Bass Assassin pass without attacking it.

Morning brought promise of better fortunes, fresh breezes and warm air. We headed south to explore Pocomoke Sound deeper, pouring over the chart book to fish out fishy spots where edges were hard and water depth changed markedly.

Fishing with Smiley is easy because he is a consummate fisherman: skillful, determined and curious. But perhaps above all else, he wants to become really good, and his passion for angling, particularly fly-fishing, will no doubt take him there.

Our circuitous route took us around Island Bay in the Pocomoke Sound, Watts Island and then up to the shallows of Smith Island to cast at high water. Though our efforts didn’t yield that elusive speckled trout or redfish we were gunning for, it wasn’t for lack of effort. A decent creel of four species was respectable work, but the real prize was that for most of the 14 hours we cast flies and jigs, we were the only fishermen around.

We shot the bull but mostly tried to figure out where fish might be and explored spots previously unfished by either of us. Sometimes we pulled a striper out of an undercut bank, sometimes not. Catch or not, I couldn’t have picked a prettier place to fish nor a partner more amiable.

Fish Are Biting
Chumming is the main game in town, with all the usual spots hitting on all cylinders. Several guides report that red-hot chumming action can be had in the upper Bay off Love Point, Swan Point and Hodges Bar. Overall the numbers and sizes are better than recent years, with some rockfish measuring out over 36 inches and most in the low to mid 20-inch range.

Special notice from DNR: Commercial and recreational crabbing law and regulations permit recreational crabbing on Wednesday, July 3, due to the holiday.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly