Josenhans Fly Fishing Newsletter

30 09 2010

Fall is in full swing and I have been doing a lot of fishing – or attempting to, what with all this wind – and catches have generally been very good. The key is finding clean water. The wind has at times made this a tricky proposition, but when conditions are right the fishing is very good!

Lew with a Watts Island rock on fly

Last week I had the pleasure of fishing two days out of Crisfield with some friends I met through CCA (Coastal Conservation Assoc.), Lew Armistead and Gene Hansen. Monday was a half day evening trip and the wind came along for the ride. Finding clean water was a must and we found very little. A few small specks, school-sized rock and maybe a bluefish or two gave us a slow pick for the evening. Looking for better results and an early start on Tuesday.

Early the next day a slight breeze was still with us and from a different direction, just in case it missed stirring up a few places on Monday. However, having a full day makes a big difference. We traveled to Watts Island where we found clear water and a few eager blues and stripers. You could see underwater stumps along the shoreline and the fish were hugging tight to the structure. The wind was dying out and the day was looking up.

Gene with a colorful speck

A short boat ride over to Tangier Island brought us a change in tide and a few nice rockfish. After a bit, we decided to try the old Davidson wreck – or what’s left of it – and found beautiful water and eager bluefish. While not as big as they were in June, scrappy fighters all the same. With a couple of hours left on the meter we headed for the shallow flats between Tangier and Smith Island. Fishing grass-covered flats and some gorgeous tidal rips we managed stripers and a few speckled trout. Gene had the best speck at maybe 19 inches. A quick stop on an unmarked(and mostly unknown) flat provided a few more rockfish to send us happily on our way. Hard fighters these rockfish, and again hugging the stumps. Looks like if the wind ever lays down it’s going to be a great fall on Tangier.

Mark and John casting to structure

Friday, I was joined by Mark Pohlhaus and John Meyers, two longtime friends. We fished a half day out of Madison on the Little Choptank casting Stillwater Smack-it! poppers to shallow water stripers. John had the hot hand and managed to coax some explosive strikes from the scrappy stripers. Nothing like the sound of a rockfish inhaling a topwater lure. The water was crystal clear – perhaps too much so – but we still managed to land enough stripes to make a good morning of it. Bald Eagles kept us company as we searched the shallows for stripers.

Tony started the day off right!

Jim Smith and friends Tony Dale and David Claghorn joined me on Saturday for a half day on the Little Choptank. While breezy conditions greeted us as we entered the river, the stripers were right where we left them on Friday. David managed several nice rockfish right off the bat and Tony caught a beautiful five pound fish on a Stillwater.

I cranked-up the Yamaha with the intention of fishing upriver a bit but we never made it. Tony was the first to spot the birds and we spent the better part of two hours chasing breaking rock and blues with fly rods. The wind had died down and Tony and David had a blast using the long wands while Jim kept pace with his spinning combo. All-in-all a nice way to end a picture perfect morning on the

David hooked up on fly

Little Choptank. Several times during the day, Jim had fish boiling right around the boat. And this surface activity is just getting started!

Jim staring down boiling rockfish

Yesterday, Scott Evander and Bob Lepczyk met me bright and early at Madison with hope of a repeat of the past weekend’s action. Sorry to say it never happened – it was even better! While the day started off with a fish here and there – enough to keep the guys interested – we took a slack period to go look for the breakers of last Saturday. While we found a few blues and rock on the fly, it was not the explosive action of Saturday.

Bob with a nice fish on topwater

With the wind laying down and the tide getting right we opted to finish the day where we started. Casting Stillwater Smack-it! poppers in the shallows along the eastern side of the bay we watched as rockfish after rockfish smashed, crashed and swatted our offerings. Some even becoming airborne in their attempt to grab the poppers. The action was hot and we left ’em biting as Scott had to get home for his son’s football game. The rain and overcast conditions definitely kept the rock in the shallows long past their usual limit.

Scott and his rockfish

I’ll try to crank out the reports as fast as possible, but I’ll be fishing almost every day during October, so bear with me. Please feel free to email or call for the latest scoop on this fantastic shallow water action.

My best,

Josenhans Fly Fishing Newsletter 9/16/10

16 09 2010
When I started this newsletter, a good friend said he was surprised to hear that I intended to write a report every week, like maybe I was being overly ambitious. Turns out he knew more than I did. Oh well, I’ll do my best to keep them coming as regular as possible.
I took a little time off the past two weeks, for the holidays, and a weekend trip to Williamsburg with the family. I’m going to need the rest because the schedule is fast filling-up for the remainder of the late summer and fall season. If you are at all interested in a trip, please let me know soon so I don’t leave anyone out. I expect some great fall fishing on Tangier Sound over the course of the next two months.
My lone trip of late was a super fun day with Pat Weixel, his wife Judy and their four wonderful children Jimmy, Brendan, Annie and Kate. These kids sure had a blast fishing the creeks and marsh banks of Tangier Sound, within a stones throw of Crisfield. We decided to bait-fish for the most part, to give even the youngest a chance to catch a lot of fish and the tactic paid off. I started out the morning scooping up a dozen and a half rank peelers (down here, rank means ready to shed their shell and become a soft crab in a matter of hours) from the floats of Dryden Seafood. We decided to do the fishing in shifts, as there were six of them, one of me and my 20 foot Jones Brothers. Safety comes first.
The wind was blowing a bit, so for most of the day the routine was to look for a protected spot near a marsh bank, toss the anchor and then fish bits of peeler crab on a standard bottom rig. After a slow start with bait-stealing crabs, and several moves, we finally dialed in to the fish. Everyone caught fish, including speckled trout, rockfish, bluefish, weakfish (gray trout) and spot. I think the total tally for specks was near 50 fish!!  Many were close to 10 …………      inches. In fact, all of the speckled trout were in the 9 to 12 inch range. Sure was great to see these little buggers and hopefully this will bring some great speck fishing next season. They grow fast and will be of legal size next year.  The kids were all great fishermen, casting was for the most part uneventful (I only had to duck a handful of times :-)) and their endurance was better than mine. It truly was one of the best times I have had on the water this season. Here are some photos of the day. Sorry some of them seem smudged, I think that was speckled trout slime on the lens 🙂
Till next week…

Josenhans Fly Fishing Newsletter

3 09 2010
Poppers, Breakers and Perch!
We had quite the variety last week while fishing both the Big and Little Choptank rivers. Evening shallow water trips produced good popper fishing for rockfish near the mouth of the Little Choptank, while during the afternoon we were kept busy with surface feeding bluefish and stripers. One day, we even found some white perch eager to please on ultra light gear while casting beetle spin lures along the shoreline of the Choptank. Speckled trout are making a showing down in Tangier Sound and that is where I’ll be heading next week. The speck fishing should get better as September drags on..
Last Wednesday, Bernie Kemp and his lovely wife Susan fished with me out of Madison with the goal of some skinny-water popper action right before dark. Until then, it was off to Sharps Island flats to chase schools of breaking blues and rockfish. The action was sporadic, but we did find a few schools that held our attention while waiting for the sun to creep lower on the horizon. Around 6:00 P.M. after having our fill of the run-and-gun action with the fickle blues it was off to the shallows. It was just after 7:00 P.M. when, out-of-the-blue, we had the first blow-up. We landed a few stripers here and there until, at the peak of the action, Susan was getting hits on nearly every cast. No monsters came to the boat but both Bernie and Susan managed to land rock to 23 inches, all on Stillwater Smack’it! poppers. Then, like someone flipped a switch, the action stopped abruptly at 7:55. That’s been the story for these shallow water fish of late. You get perhaps an hour of adrenaline pumping action followed by silence. Alas, the nature of summer topwater.
Friday, I had a morning trip in the same area with John Daw and Jim Smith and their two grown sons. It seemed the closer we got to the fishing grounds the harder the wind blew. A nor’easter was kicking up a surf in the shallows that made it a chore to keep the poppers from skipping wave-top to wave-top. It failed to help the water clarity situation as well. As wind and tide were working together with the drift, it made it necessary to repeatedly anchor over previously productive spots. The fishing was sporadic, however the guys did manage to catch a few nice fish, and all told we had maybe ten to twelve blow-ups on poppers. We explored some additional shoreline structure in the immediate area and managed to scare up some schoolie stripers here and there. It was a fun morning and the guys learned a lot about the local area. The wind died to nothing as we ended the trip. Doesn’t it always..
Saturday afternoon I met Ernie Rojas and friends Mo and Dan at the public ramp in Cambridge – the one right behind the hospital. This is a beautiful facility with floating docks and convenient access to the entire Choptank River area. The guys were so excited to go that they started the trip off by catching perch at the ramp while I was busy parking the truck. After a short run down-river, we began drifting a shoreline along the north bank in just four feet of water. Perch hook-ups came almost immediately. Doubles and triples were common, but big fish were not. That said, the guys were having so much fun catching the smallish perch that I don’t think it really mattered.
After about an hour Mo heard me mention there might be some blues in the area and we were off to the bay proper in search of breakers. It didn’t take long, as just past the southern tip of Tilghman Island we saw birds. The schools were mixed rock and blues, not big, but plenty of action. The guys were well suited for this run-and-gun type fishing and the bay was ‘slick cam’, making it easy on the captain. We chased these fish for the better part of two hours with double hook-ups common. Take it from me, Ernie, Mo and Dan have FUN when they are fishing. Enthusiastic doesn’t begin to describe it!
With less than two hours of daylight remaining and a twenty minute run to the shallow water spot, we left fish to find fish, hoping for some popper action. Upon arriving, Ernie struck first with a rockfish that smashed his popper while being retrieved through a maze of limbs and logs. That fish eventually found freedom but it was just the start. Mo and Dan had never done the skinny-water popper thing and they had a blast. Rock of a larger grade made the hearts jump of both Dan and Mo as the blow-up was always unexpected and quite explosive. Everyone landed a few and Dan lost a very nice fish that charged under the boat. There were smiles all around as the sun finally disappeared below the horizon and we called it a day. Really looking forward to having you guys back!
It was a fun summer fishing out of the Little Choptank and while I’ll be back a few times this fall, I’ll probably be spending most of my time in Tangier Sound fishing out of Crisfield. The variety is greater and the shallow water fishing can be fast and furious. The scenery speaks for itself. My October dates are quickly being filled, so let me know soon to get the best of what’s remaining. I should be catching fish out of Crisfield until at least Thanksgiving and then it’s off to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia for some BIG stripers during the month of December. 
My best,