Fish Are Biting

The rock bite has been heating up as our weather has cooled down, and plenty of large fish are being taken by vertical jigging or casting around structure. In the shallows, the top-water bite is in full swing. Trolling has been producing the best bites, with schools of larger rock with the blues in town — but spot gone. Dragging spoons, hoses and bucktails seems the best bet.
Terri and Danny from Breezy Point Marina report that at the Gas Docks, Captain Marty was catching rockfish ranging from 22 inches to 35 inches using bucktails and spoons in about 40 feet of water.

–Michael Ebersberger, sitting in for Dennis Doyle, who is hunting birds in Canada.

My Citation Perch

Back in good graces

My short rod arced hard over the gunwale, and the light casting reel’s drag began bleeding line. I was in 18 feet of water, and the white perch I had on wanted to stay just where it was: deep. Working carefully, I gradually lifted the fish stroke by stroke, then patiently waited when the muscular devil took line right back to the bottom.

This baby felt as tough as any perch I’d tangled with, and I’ve tangled with a few. All of my kids and some of their friends have landed citation-sized white perch (12 inches minimum) from my boat, for some reason that trophy has always eluded me. This fish might finally be the one.

After more long minutes of patient and gentle lifting, I finally persuaded the rowdy individual up off the bottom. However, it remained uncooperative, maddeningly invisible. Even as I drew in nearer, it continued to pull away in heavy surges, taking back line and torturing my light rod. I did not hurry this battle — partly because it almost did not happen.

The morning was originally planned for a 6am solo shallow-water plugging expedition. But I was just too sleepy to get up. The hazy fact that I’ve never done well on the shallows during a full moon made it easy to roll over and close my eyes.

But by 10am, I was up and feeling sheepish about my failure to engage. Examining a tattered fishing conscience, I decided that what I had really wanted to do all along was go white perch fishing. I had not shirked; I had merely shifted priorities.

After a morning chore or two (that I had hoped to avoid by going plugging) I readied my skiff, picked up a bag of bloodworms and was out on the water. This was going to be an old-style trip, bottom fishing for white perch with worms on a calm, sunny day.

Searchin' and Perch’n

The problem was that I hadn’t chased the whities in quite a while and had no idea where the fish might be. Starting out at a productive summertime location resulted in a couple of midgets. Chasing upriver to a couple of other known perch hangouts proved even more futile. An hour or two went by, fishless.

Finally, returning to the spot where I had bagged the little guys, I made one last effort. The specter of a skunk was looming, and I was seriously doubting my angling abilities when I looked up to see boring in on me a white commercial fishing boat with a crab-line roller hanging off its starboard.

I didn’t think I’d been setting up over anyone’s trotline, so I was perplexed. Then I recognized the boat. It was the Downtime, and it belonged to a friend and real wizard at finding fish Frank Tuma, a local rockfishing charter captain (downtimecharters.com).

“Are you getting them?” he asked. “We’ve been slaying big rockfish off of Baltimore Light all morning. All of the boats are back in already, limited out.”

“It’s been horrible for me.” I yelled back. “I can’t even catch white perch.”

“They’ve moved out into deeper water. Nice fish, too.” he said, pointing out farther into the channel, “14 to 16 feet. I was crabbing up the creek and saw you bobbing around out here and thought to see if you wanted to go for some rock tomorrow morning, if it doesn’t blow.”

“Love to,” I replied, “and thanks for the help with the perch. I really wanted to get some for dinner tonight.”

Before Frank’s boat was out of hearing my rod was bent over from a double white perch hookup, both nice fish. My luck had turned.

That evening, as I cheerfully fried up a large platter of thick perch fillets for the family and congratulated myself for the 121⁄2-inch fish I had eventually landed, I counted again my good fortune. Thanks to Captain Frank’s timely tip and some kind-hearted fish gods, I was back in my own good graces.

© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.