Friday, March 4, 2011

Fishing with John John

In August my father and I had the pleasure to sneak out with some friends for some striper fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.  The event was actually a bachelor party for a good friend of the family and fellow Kachung adventurer.

Our party chartered a half day trip with the Hooked Up II docked out of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland.  All in all it was a great day in the sun.  We caught some fish, told a lot of dirty jokes and drank a few hundred beers.    For those in the DC area, fishing out of Chesapeake Beach is a must-do on the bucket list.  Its located about 45 minutes outside of the city and is a great way to see the Bay and enjoy some sport fishing for a wide variety of fish.  If you can find 6 friends a half day trip can be quite affordable.  The crew is top notch and very professional (shout out to the first mate John-John who has some of the best dirty jokes ever!).  All of the fishing tackle, bait and cooler ice is provided.  You just have to bring lunch, drinks & snacks and any medicine/ sun screen items.  Even if you plan on drinking minimal amounts of alcohol it pays to bring plenty of water and gatorade.  It gets really hot on the water and you in the sun all day - trust me, a little hydration goes a long way!  It also helps with motion sickness if you are prone to getting it.  Make sure not to bring a banana on board ANY fishing boat.  All mariners and fisherman are superstitious by nature and its widely believed that bananas are very bad juju on a boat.  Don't believe me just google it!

For our jaunt we spent the first few hours trying to "make bait."  This entails using very tiny spinning rods with multiple single barb hooks and cut bloodworms.  The goal is to stock up on small baitfish that you use later in the day to catch 'lunker' striped bass (aka "striper" or "rocks") or blue fish on a live-line rig.  Catching the small baitfish is in-itself more pretty fun and with several guys on a small fishing boat - you know some betting ensued.

After an hour and a half of making bait, we pulled up anchor and motored out to some hotspots in the middle of the bay to target migrating striper.  Once you locate a pod of fish you lay up on them quick, drop anchor and throw over your live bait which is hooked in the nose or the back via treble hook.  This allows the bait fish to swim freely and entice the big boys.  Unfortunately this part of the trip proved to be a wash for us.  Predicting where striper will migrate and feed in the bay is one part science and two parts blind luck.  If you're lucky enough to discover a feeding school of fish you'll be surrounded by a bunch of other boats all jockeying for position.  After a couple of instances of this our captain decided to motor further south and try trolling with artificials.

This decision proved to be the right move.  We used a 6 rod spread with two down rigger planes with a variety of colored spoons.  We caught a handful of nice striper and some lunker blue fish.  We didn't break any records due to the heat and time of year but we had a great time.  If you're interested in finding out more information on the Hooked Up II or other charters take a look at the Chesapeake Beach Marina and Spa.  Even if fishing is not your thing the town of Chesapeake Beach is worth a visit for the number of shops, spas, bars and restaurants.

Motoring out to the trolling grounds.  Nothing like a cold one at 9am!
Bait fish busting on the surface.  This means that there are Blues and Rockfish tearing up the bait ball underneath.
This is the type of Spoon we used.  Very effective - mimics a wounded bait fish when trolled behind the boat.
FISH ON!
Multiple hook ups.  Above is a view of one of the down-rigger plane boards used on the outer rods to get the spoons deeper in the water column.
Once we started trolling the action picked up and didn't let up all day.
My shirt says it all.
The Mad Texan reeling in a lunker off the starboard gunwale.
A break in the action.
Back in the fight.
The day is done - back to the marina.
Great day, great crew and great friends!

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