Chesapeake Outdoors

by C.D. Dollar

Sightseeing at the Bay's Gateway

At the mouth of the Bay, the world opens up. It is here that global commerce enters and exits the Chesapeake Bay: huge container ships bound for foreign ports, war ships returning to Hampton Roads for repairs and adventurous sailors setting out for seas beyond the confines of the Bay.

The points between Cape Henry and Cape Charles are the gateway for visitors stopping along the Chesapeake on their summer tours. In spring, scores of animals use the turnstile where the ocean meets the estuarine waters: spawning rockfish and shad heading up the Bay and into its tributaries, croaker coming off the Continental Shelf, and baby crabs drifting with the currents for the Bay's shallows.

As spring yields to summer, the waters warm, bringing still another wave of diversity. It comes above the surface and below, from the ancient to the absurd. Casting lures along the shoreline outside the Lynnhaven Inlet south of the Bay Bridge Tunnel, I was eyed by several brown pelicans as they perched upon the poles of a pound net. What an oddly magnificent bird: massive wing span (up to six feet), short legs, eyes alive with wonder and telltale sack on the throat. No need to refer to the field guide to check this bird.

Pelicans fly low in squadrons, sometimes a dozen or more in V formation only yards above the water. Their acrobatics are amazing as they push their wings forward to halt flight and plunge bill first to catch their fish, which then slides down the chute.

Equally fascinating to Baywatchers are the bottlenose dolphins that make their way up the Bay, sometimes as far north as the Miles and Choptank Rivers. Far less predictable in their movements, they frolic and fish in the lower rivers like the James and York, rising out of water head first, hitting their broad tails against the glassy surface.

These are but two of the wonderful guests that grace our Bay. Unlike many human visitors to our area, they rarely overstay their welcome and are always entertaining.


Fish Are Biting

Viva variety! If you have the time and the means, it seems there is a fish for every angler. Around Bloody Point and the Hill in the upper part of the Bay, chummers are catching some legal rockfish and many undersize rock as well. Hacketts and Love Point are worth a try as is Podickery Point above the Bay Bridge. Eastern Bay has hardhead and Thomas Point has white perch.

Perry from the Rod 'n' Reel said the night fishing for croaker has been outstanding, particularly over near Janes Island. Chummers at the Gooses and the Diamonds are catching lots of undersized rockfish and some keepers. A good dehooker and careful release saves fish and time. He also said they checked in a 74-pound black drum this week.

Joe Bruce from the Fisherman's Edge said flyrodders fishing the tidal flats off Smith and Janes Island are scoring with seatrout, and that the tidal fishing for white perch is expected to produce more consistently.

The word from Jacquie at Bunky's in Solomon's is still plenty of big croaker - some citation fish measuring 18 inches - in the Patuxent River; some flounder and spot as well. Trollers and chummers working Hoopers Island holes have caught rockfish but not anything like previous weeks.

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VolumeVI Number 21
May 28 - June 3, 1998
New Bay Times

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