Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 42

October 17-23, 2002

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Hickory Shad Sing with the Blues

One of the things I like best about fishing with folks with limited angling experience is the infectious enthusiasm they bring aboard. Take the Peterson family —mother Terry, son Eric and daughter Lauren&Mac226; who, along with their friends Mitch Sanders and Kara Stablein, braved a windy and chilly day recently to chuck lures at breaking schools of snapper bluefish. Once the tide started to run out of the Bay, predator bluefish chasing frantic pods created boils that elicited shouts of approval from our gang.

With the exception of Mitch, none of the group had done much fishing. But you wouldn’t have known it by the way they caught fish. For the next two hours, they took to the exercise like a duck — or duckling on some casts — to water. At the end of the day, Mitch proved to have the hot hand, landing several chunky snappers, weighing in at around two or three pounds, that were destined for the table.

A couple of unexpected guests showed up at the end of the mêlée: Two hickory shad, reaching nearly 20 inches, hit KastMaster spoons offered by Mitch and Eric. A pretty fish with metallic sides and similar in appearance to herring, hickories historically haven’t been abundant in the Bay. Also called hickory jacks or tailor shad, they have jutting lower jaws to distinguish them from their cousins, the white shad.

Our group welcomed them just the same.

Fish Are Biting
Each week I hear better reports of folks catching legal (18-inch or greater) redfish in our part of the Bay, most recently in the Chester River. On separate trips in different parts of the river using different techniques, Captains Big Tow Jaeger and Chuck ‘Nightrider’ Foster each landed red drum. Capt. Jaeger also landed several nice rockfish in a protected tributary of the Chester. Several other light-tackle fanatic friends are telling of larger stripers in the shallows pounding top water plugs, such as Chug Bugs and Atom.

The water temperatures are still in the upper 60s, but cooler nights should make the fish school up in tighter packs and bust the surface with reckless abandon, especially bluefish as they stock up to head out first. The sea trout should also settle into more reliable patterns. If you can tolerate the crowds, live-lining spot and chumming bunker has produced legal stripers at the Gas Dock. On the Eastern Shore side, The Hill also has been holding rockfish. Charter boats have also been fishing clams at the Stone Rock and Gooses.

On October 2, Department of Natural Resources biologist Angel Bolinger verified 70-year-old George Hemelt’s state record Spanish mackerel, which tipped the scales at 10.99 pounds, measured 32.5 inches in length and had a girth of 16 inches. The Bel Air resident was fishing out of Deale aboard Loosen Up with Captain Frank Carver. The mackerel hit a spoon attached to 80-pound test line. The previous Maryland record was caught almost three years ago to the day (October 10, 1999) and weighed nine pounds 6.25 ounces.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly