Yesterday, my family went on a fishing trip.
We keep a twenty-one foot, center console fishing boat over on the Eastern Shore just off the Chester River. The Chester feeds the Chesapeake Bay. The mouth of the Chester is about 1 mile north of the Bay Bridge.
There were four of us, my wife and I and our two sons. I bought sandwiches and some chips at the nearby Safeway and we had each had our own water jugs. We brought 10 fishing poles. Four poles are heavy duty and are designed to catch larger fish deeper in the bay (around forty to fifty feet in the main channel). We had our planar boards with us to spread out the lines but we used them only once.
This was October–the stripers had just started running. The stripers (aka Rockfish) become larger by November, but we were out early to see what we could catch. Most of the time we did the following:
- Jet out to the middle of the channel.
- Look for bird flocks on the water.
- Jet the boat to the seagull flock, along with several other fishing boats.
- Fish with individual poles using a variety of lures. My youngest son is an expert fisherman so he knew which lures to use for each situation.
- Try not to hit the other boats.
- Catch fish.
- Release those that were too small.
- Catch seagulls, by accident.
- Untangle the seagulls, unharmed.
- When the seagulls picked up and moved, following the fish, jet to the new spot.
- So we, along with alot of other fisherman, move from flock to flock, jetting around in the water, trying to catch legal sized fish.
That’s it! We did that for half the day.
Our “charter” started late because I was late from a Saturday meeting. We left around 1:30pm on the boat and came back right after sunset, around 6pm. As we returned to the Chester after sunset, we were not paying close attention to driving and almost hit a dock, but that’s another matter that my youngest son can explain one day to his kids when discussing boat safety.
It was wonderful weather, not too cold. Skies were overcast which kept it cooler–good for fishing of course. We had forgotten to fill the oil reservoir so the oil engine light kept coming on. We had plenty of oil, the reservoir was just low that’s all.
After the trip, we came back and had some delicious crab cakes at the house with my wife’s mom. The crabcakes were from the Bay Shore Steam Pot in Centerville. I think they are the best crab cakes on the Eastern Shore and the shop is very close to where we keep our boats.
It was our older son’s eighteenth birthday. He had wanted to go fishing. The night before, we went to a jazz concert with the Anderson twins (sax, clarinet and flute) and Alex Wintz (guitar), known as the Peter and Will Anderson Trio, in Baltimore at the fabulously cool An die Musik. Fabulous concert. All of the chairs were oversized and full of padding; relics from a regal hotel no doubt. Front row seats. The jazz seemed to infuse the next day’s boating trip.
It seemed to me that fishing was about getting things done and working together, like jazz, versus pop music or old style rock and roll both of which have a different type of energy.
Overall, we caught around forty fish but only a few were keepers. Stripers need to be twenty inches to keep, and our largest was seventeen. No matter.
While you can still catch a fish on a simple fishing pole off the dock, the larger fish need to be found. You need the right gear but it’s not excessive. You need to know some techniques to catch alot of fish to find the few keepers. You need to work as a team since steering, fishing and keeping your eyes open for the bird flock is hard for just a single person to do. My wife and I did less fishing than the kids but we helped as much as we could having been relegated to deck hands. My wife took alot of pictures and I sneaked in a few. We were fortunate to grab some pictures below the Bay Bridge with the bridge framing our fishing activities.
As we headed back to the dock for the night, I thought this was the nicest family weekend in a long time. We all worked well together on a small boat and got things done. Everything seemed to come together and it felt good. My youngest son captained the boat and it was my older son’s birthday. In a crazy, fast world, we spent a little slice of time trying to catch a few fish, together. Perhaps the fish were really not the point.
That’s why I like fishing.