Monday, May 28, 2012

New Pants

My buddy Mikey from Boston always wears these long fishing pants and claims that "these things catch fish". I noticed that most of the guides in Florida wore the same pants. They said it was to keep the sun out. So today, my 51st birthday, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a pair from my baby girl Grace. I fished for a hour or 2 this am, but the sun was too high and the fish absent. I had a great day of burgers on the grill with family, while watching the "Crab Bowl" lacrosse championship between Loyola and Maryland.

I headed out tonight around seven. The boat traffic was still heavy, but most seemed to be heading in.  By 8 pm, I basically had the bay to myself. There was a strong incoming tide and a 10 knot SE wind. It was choppy, but workable. I stayed primarily with Papa Dogg. If I kept the rod tip up, the plug was able to walk across the water without nose diving. I had picked up several dinks and one barely legal 18, when Dabney called at 8:45 to see how things were going. I told him one more cast and then I would be heading in. As fate would have it, my last cast turned out to be the best of night as a nice 22 sucked the plug under and took quite a bit of drag as I fought against the tide. Great end to a perfect birthday.

The new pants.

Birthday Sunset

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Our youngest daughter Grace joined me tonight to work on her senior project. She has been taking a photography (film) class and her task is to capture the essence of Maryland. So. following in her fathers footsteps, we set out to get a few pictures of the "land of pleasant living". We left the dock at around 6:45 to sunny skies and a light breeze, despite a forecast of thunderstorms. Mild Bill was already anchored up at the spot, so we pulled up along side of him and set the anchor at little after 7. It was a perfect topwater night, with the bay like a mirror, due to a slack tide. Bill picked up the first fish of the night around 7:30 and that was it until the sun had set. In the meantime, we counted a total of six boats that motored up and gave it s shot. One by one they bugged out and by 8:15 we were all alone. We had planned on hitting the Thomas Point lighthouse for a quick pic, but Grace agreed to forego that exercise since I assured her that things were about the break loose since the boat had finally begun to swing around indicating the changing tide. The last boat was still within sight when I had my first blowup and brought aboard a 16 inch fish. Just like clockwork, all hell broke loose. Grace had a huge blowup and went down to her knees to keep from flying over the bow rails. I looked up and knew instantly it was a beauty. After a fight that made this dad proud, I netted a very fat and healthy 25 inch fish. It was non stop action for the next half hour, with at least 10 fish boated. We even had a father/daughter double. So I was able to pass on a few lessons to one future "plugger".

1. The weatherman is always wrong
2. Be quiet when approaching a shallow water spot. Every one of the six boats came in with their loud smelly 2 stroke engines a blaring.
3. Be patient. We just had to wait out the tide.
4. Listen to your elders.

Double Header

Grace's big one
Nice wrist snap

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A little river action

One of the guides I fished with in Florida was John Ochs. Big John, as he is know to his friends, is one of the top Redfish fisherman in the country. Here is a video of the trip we put together. Its not hard to pick out Big John: When we were forced into the backcountry the second day, he took some time to show me how to properly "walk the dog".  To achieve the proper cadence you have to keep slack in the line, rapidly pump the rod tip with the right hand, and slowly turn the rod handle with the left hand. This requires movements akin to making a circle on your stomach while tapping your head, something I have never been able to train my mind to do. Since it was very breezy tonight, I decided to stay close to home and put in some practice. John had suggested a faster action rod, so I tied "Papa Dogg"onto my medium action St. Croix. The wind was blowing from the NE, so I positioned the boat upriver and drifted the southern side of the Broad Creek point. It felt like I was finally getting it down when I had a nice blowup that missed. I continued practicing and soon had another blowup and this time it was "fish on". After a very nice fight, I boated a healthy looking 23 inch fish. It's nice to know the fish are up in the river. Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come,

Bloody mess!!

Southern side of point at sunset

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Boca Grande 2012

I returned late last night from my annual Tarpon fishing trip to Boca Grande Florida. We had eight guys, which included 2 new rookie "tarpon virgins" fishing with four different guides. Day one was very frustrating, with lots of fish showing , but just not biting. Day two was rainy and very windy, so we were forced to fish the backcountry where we landed Trout, Snook, and even a nice Flounder. After two days,  our tally was one Tarpon and 8 serious hangovers. Fortunately day three the weather cleared and we headed out at the crack of dawn to sunny skies and light winds. I was fishing with Glyn Austin, who was a new guide to our group this year. Glyn is from eastern Florida, and unlike our normal guides, included plugs in his arsenal for fishing Tarpon.  Within seconds of stepping on the boat I grabbed a pole rigged with a beautiful purple MirrOlure plug. As we came thru the pass to the Gulf we immediately spotted a small pod of fish on the move. I had been conditioned to believe that plugs are ineffective against the granite like mouths of the Silver Kings, so my expectations were low when the plug landed a few yards ahead of the pod. On my first twitch of the plug a poon exploded and I was tight. When the fish made its first jump, I was certain he would throw the plug, but to my surprise it held. Nine incredible jumps later the fish neared the boat. On his final jump he smacked his head on the side of the boat. When blood spattered my shoes, I knew the fish was dead. With a heavy heart, we removed the plug and watched him slide to the bottom of the Gulf to be eaten by one of the many hammerheads that lurk below. We ended the day with 9 boated fish and two very happy rookies who landed their first Silver Kings.

Sunset over Thomas Point
Tonight was a perfect topwater night here in Naptown, so I headed out to the shoal at 6.30. It was non stop action from my first cast. The fish were tiny compared to the 100 pound Tarpon from yesterday, but still made my heart jump on every blowup, I boated at least twenty fish in the 16 to 20 inch range, and was reminded just how much I love living here.
Plug in corner of mouth

Purple Plug
Next to last jump

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Magical Night

Nice 20 that appeared to have just spawned
Tonight was magical and it had nothing to do with fishing. I had planned on meeting my buddy James at the boat at 6 pm, but he got hung up and was not sure he could make it. I told him it was no big deal and that we could meet up at 6.30. The O's were embroiled in an extra innings game with the Sox, so I settled in and waited. With the score tied at 6, the game had evolved into a battle of the bull pens. When James called to say he could not make it, the game had moved into the bottom of the 13th inning. By the time I anchored up at the shoal the score was still tied at 6. My first cast I had a nice blow-up that missed. My second cast to the same spot resulted in a mirror image of the first blow-up. Finally on my 3rd cast I picked up a fat 20 that put up a great fight. By now the game had moved to the top of the 15th with the game still tied at 6. I continued to grind it out with quite a few swirls and blow-up, but like the game, nothing to show for it. For three straight innings the O's first batter was able to reach first base, but hit into a double play to end the inning in all 3 cases. With their entire bullpen depleted, the O's were forced to turn to their DH, Chris Davis to pitch the bottom of the 16th. I could not believe my ears when he struck out the first batter and proceeded to set down the side in order. As the top of the 17th got under way, I picked up my second fish of the night, a smallish 16. In the top of 17th Adam Jones hit a 3 run home run off Boston's center fielder,Darnell McDonald. I was amazed when Davis struck out Adrian Gonzalez, arguably one of the best in league, on 3 pitches. The game ended with the Sox hitting into a double play for one of the most magical wins since I was a young boy. This is shaping up to be a magical summer.

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