Legendary Cap'n Eddie finds the fish

OUTDOORS

June 27, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

A couple of times each year, a few dozen regional outdoor writers get together to wet some lines, miss some birds, trade lies and have a memorable evening around the dinner table.

During the fishing season and along about the soup course someone is duty-bound to ask, "Have you gone out with Cap'n Eddie, yet?"

Cap'n Eddie is Eddie Davis, lifelong waterman and charter captain supreme who has a knack of putting fish on the line when everyone else is coming up empty.

"Eddie Davis will put fish in the boat when nobody else can," said Joe Caplan, who charters Davis' Edith Rose once a month from May through November and has been a customer for "I guess it's been at least 20 years now."

Now I don't want to step on any toes, so let me hasten to add that Davis is one of many fine Chesapeake watermen of equal skill, humor and love of the water. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen or more favorites.

Davis operates out of Ridge, which is a stone's throw from Point Lookout. Or, more precisely, he operates out of his backyard dock, located a mile or so up a picturesque creek off of the Potomac.

His is a family-run operation featuring three 40-foot boats, fish-cleaning facilities, plenty of parking and bushels of fishing lore from a master of his craft.

Here's a sample of Cap'n Eddie as we pulled away from his dock on an oppressively hot, muggy July morning a few years back: "Don't worry, men. I promise you we'll have you a full limit of blues and back in your air-conditioned cars by noon. I tell you we're going to really put you into some fish. You see, there's lots of rocks and stones in these middle grounds that I'm taking you to and tons of baitfish that the fish love. . . . 'Course, I come here nearly every day and feed 'em, too."

That trip turned out to be one of the finest I ever enjoyed, and we called him off an hour early. This, by the way, was a year when fishing from one end of the Chesapeake to the other was slower than syrup.

Last Wednesday, I fished with Davis and the Caplan group. I had fished with most of these fellows during last fall's striped bass season.

In addition to "Poppa Joe" Caplan, the gang included Joe Caplan Jr., both of Glen Burnie, Mount Airy's Sanford Friedman, Ben Ginsburg from Westminster, Bill Bland from Virginia and Nick Ryan of Arbutus. Also, we had Annapolis printer Paul Kelly and Town Creek Elementary's Josh Gibbons along.

"Men, we can hang around the Potomac, and I guarantee we'll catch more big rockfish than you can shake a stick at, plus some decent blues. Or, we can make the long run out to the Target Ship, over near the Eastern Shore and go after those big 15- to 20-pound blues I got into the day before yesterday. What's it to be?" Davis asked as he nosed the Edith Rose into the Potomac and pointed her toward the bay.

We opted for the big blues.

An hour or so later, we dropped anchor and began drifting cut spot into the chumline that Davis favors for most of his fishing tactics. Right off, Ryan's rod bent and the reel's drag sang.

L "I'm not sure if it's a blue, but it's big!" Ryan exclaimed.

"Why, you're hung up on the anchor line!" someone noted with glee.

We fished for a little more than an hour without much success, and Davis said: "Well, it looks like Ole Cap'n Eddie blew it. But I was hoping to get you guys into some really big fish. They were here, but it's anybody's guess where they've gone. How 'bout we go back to the river and catch something for a change?"

On reaching the mouth of the Potomac, we got into nice blues going 8 to 12 pounds. But we couldn't keep the rockfish out of the chumline, and they kept nudging the blues away. I caught and released 55 rock, and not one weighed under 8 pounds.

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