"Fish on!...Another!...Grab that third rod!," shouted Captain Eddie Davis over the rumble of the boat's engines.
Dick Broden tossed a ham and Swiss on rye aside and sprang for one rod, Dick Becker dropped a soda can and lunged for the second rod. I ripped off a last bite of fried chicken and grabbed the third rod. Three blues at once.
Earlier reports of decent bluefishing in the lower portion of
Maryland's Chesapeake Bay demanded an inspection trip last Wednesday. Fishing aboard Davis' 42-foot Edith Rose out of Ridge, near Point Lookout, confirmed all the rumors.
Davis humored me early in the day by tossing chum while my pals and I tried to get into some light tackle action so common to this lower portion of the Bay. Traditionally, these lower Bay captains prefer chumming for blues and striped bass, while from Chesapeake Beach up, the favored method leans harder toward trolling.
"We've been getting into some decent fishing on chum, but the (( last few days out I've been getting better results on these blues by trolling. But, I know you fellows don't like to troll all that much, so we'll mess around with this for a while, then I'll take you fishing," Davis said.
An hour of chumming produced a single, undersized flounder for me, and Davis ordered a change.
We should have listened to the proven expert from the beginning. Inside of two hours of trolling within sight of the Target Ship in the area of the Middle Grounds, we had our limits and were making the run back to Davis' dock on Smith Creek, off the Potomac River.
Throughout this area of the Bay, the fishing really has picked up within the last week. Croaker, speckled trout, spot and the occasional drum have been the menu along with bluefish and striped bass. We fished exclusively for blues on this trip and everything we caught averaged around 3 pounds.
We haven't had a truly great run of blues in the Bay for a few years now, though this year still holds promise. Normally blues begin turning up in the lower areas of the Chesapeake around mid-April, but that schedule was off by a month this year.
Part of the reason for the delay was cold water. When the water temperature steadies around 60 degrees, blues move out of deep water and into the Bay's shallows. That's what we are seeing right now.
Try the shallows around the Patuxent and Honga rivers, off Chesapeake Beach and Tilghman Island, inside the mouth of the Severn and Eastern Bay this week. Hot bluefish action will continue throughout the lower Bay in the area of the mouth of the Potomac, Cornfield Harbor and the Middle Grounds throughout June. Most blues caught will be between 3 and 6 pounds, with an occasional 15-pounder for a nice treat.
Davis is a favorite professional boat jockey of light-tackle anglers.
When a blue hits your medium-action spinning rod, you will think a bolt of lightning has struck your baited hook. This is the most exciting fishing available on the Bay.
The Edith Rose, like all Bay charter boats, carries all the tackle you will need to enjoy this brand of fishing. Out of habit I carry my own light bluefish rods and chances are you have the perfect outfit sitting in the corner of your garage.
A medium-action graphite or fiberglass spinning rod and matching reel loaded with 12- to 15-pound test mono line is about ideal. This same combo makes a decent largemouth bass rig, too.
For current bluefishing conditions in the lower Bay area, or to arrange for a day of some of the hottest fishing action you'll ever experience, contact Davis at (301) 872-5871 or write P.O. Box 477, Ridge, MD 20680.
Fishing for everybody
Children are invited to "Get Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs" by participating in the Governor's Youth Fishing Derby set for Saturday at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds. For complete details, call 1-800-688-FINS.
Adults may fish across the state without a license while observing all other fishing regulations on Saturday, which marks this year's Maryland Free Fishing Day.
A Father's Day Fishing Derby is set from 10 a.m. to noon June 19 at Calvert Cliffs State Park, Lusby. Call (301) 888-1410 or 1-800-784-5380 for reservations.