Josenhans Fly Fishing Newsletter

14 10 2010
I’m sitting here listening to the rain and wind that canceled today’s trip, wondering when the next day will come that I can get out to fish. Quite a blow is forecast for the next few days. I have been on the water a lot the past two weeks, from the Little Choptank river down to  the CBBT at the mouth of the bay. Here are some photo’s and notes from some of these adventures.

A nice foul weather rockfish

October 3rd dawned with a moderate NE wind that seemed to gain strength as the morning wore on. Don Harrison and daughter Amy were eager to fish so we braved the elements and gave it our best shot. Fishing the lee of the islands was the game plan, unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the other team to show up. Stripers were few and far between for the day as the relentless wind clouded the water, making for difficult fishing conditions. Both Don and Amy still managed to coax a few rockfish from the marshy points of Tangier and their enthusiasm never waned. A good time was had by both as they enjoyed the sights and sounds of the undeveloped islands of Tangier Sound.

Jack trying out my stripping basin

 My good friend Jack McKenna fished with me last Wednesday as we tried our best to solve the Tangier Sound speckled trout mystery. Stopping at several of my favorite speck holes, Jack threw nearly every fly in the box at some of the prettiest grass flats on Tangier. The only takers were school stripers. Taking the hint, we turned our complete attention to rockfish and the action heated up. A wise sage once told me to save the best for last. Seems folks tend to remember the great fishing more if it happens toward the end of the trip. Pulling up to one of my favorite striper haunts, I eased the anchor over the side, hoping the rockfish had gotten the memo. Did they ever. Jack began to catch stripers with abandon. The stronger the tide ran the more frequent the strikes, until Jack was hooked-up on nearly every cast. With tired arms and a smile on his face (and the guides face) we headed for home after a great day of Tangier Sound flats fishing.

A nice fly caught striper

Last weekend I had a two day trip to the CBBT and Fisherman’s Island flats near the mouth of the bay. This is simply one of the most beautiful places to fish on the entire Chesapeake. My good friend, Harvey Conard helped me explore the area a bit on Friday in anticipation of running trips next spring for giant red drum. Starting around mid-April, reds from 30 – 50 pounds will swarm the flats and shoals of Fisherman’s and Smith Islands on their annual spring migration. While most of the fishing is done with crab baits; cast spoons, lead-head jigs and even flies take fish every year. Give me a call if interested in this world class fishery. But I digress. Back to the fishing, we ended the day casting to speckled trout on the flats of Fisherman’s Island and landing maybe forty specks from 10 – 13 3/4 inches. Every one came right to the top and gave the classic head-shake speckled trout are famous for. Boy I hope these fish survive the winter because next season looks to be a great year for specks!


Chris Sr. with a pretty spot tail

Saturday was a repeat of Friday, but with clients and good friends Chris Karwacki Sr. and Jr. Departing from the Wise Point ramp we were greeted to a spectacular sunrise and small rafts of ducks and shorebirds. Returning to the speck spot of the evening before we caught maybe 15 small specks before the the tide changed and the action slowed. A full day of exploring the back bays, casting to big red drum (no one home), watching porpoise feed in the shallows and generally taking in the sights and sounds of the lower bay brought us to the pilings of the third island of the CBBT.

Chris Jr. with his spot tail

After some trial and error with technique (mine – not my clients) Chris and Chris were able to hook-up with some gorgeous redfish in the eighteen inch range. Bluefish to twenty inches added to the excitement as we continuously jockeyed for position among boats and pilings. As on Friday, we ended the day catching and watching small specks feed on very shallow flats at the north end of Fisherman’s Island. Thanks Chris and Chris for a very enjoyable trip.

I have been fortunate to enjoy the company of more fly fishermen of late, and this past Sunday was no exception. Peter Gray joined me for a full day trip on the flats of Tangier, and his only weapon was my G.Loomis 8 wt. CrossCurrent GLX. This is a great all around rod for fishing the shallows of the bay. We started the morning in a favorite creek to see if we could pick up any of the larger marsh fish that have been feeding hungrily all summer long

Peter with a finicky marsh striper

on the small crabs and killie’s that inhabit the marsh’s tidal creeks. The tide was just right and the water was only slightly stained. I could tell from the first cast the Peter knew how to handle the long wand. After perhaps thirty minutes without success, I saw what I was looking for as inverted V-shaped marks appeared on the fish-finder. Peter was able to coax a fat four pounder from the bottom but it was slow fishing. There were more fish showing than he was catching. After several different patterns and stripping techniques, Peter found what they wanted in an exaggerated strip/pause retrieve that seemed to excite the fish into eating. Talk about picky rockfish. A few very nice, fat stripers came to boat side. Lefty’s cactus striper fly comes through again!

All the marsh fish were fat and healthy

For the remainder of the day it was a fish here, a fish there until we hit pay dirt at my last spot. Practically a repeat of the other day, the harder the tide ran the more frequent the strikes came. Peter had a blast catching these hard-fighting stripers as they used the full force of the moving tide in an attempt to avoid the boat. All fish were released to fight another day.

My next trip was with three good friends Ed, Doug and Jack in search of some early morning topwater action out of Crisfield. My first stop at a favorite honey-hole produced a big goose egg. Several moves later were met with similar results, and with the sun creeping higher in the sky I decided a quick change of scenery couldn’t hurt. Before I could say “cast that way,” Jack was hooked up on a Stillwater Smack-it! After a very fast drift and a couple of aborted attempts to anchor the boat we were finally able to get anchored in the right position and fishing turned red hot! Jack had the hot hand on topwater and Ed was trying to keep up with a shad tail. Ed caught a fat six pounder on the shad but the excitement of the explosive strikes that Jack was enticing was too much for Ed and he switched to a Stillwater as well. Doug was valiantly trying to coax a topwater strike on a large fly rod popper without success. The rock wanted a big bait. Doug finally switched to a large clouser deep minnow and began to hook-up on a regular basis. With three guys fighting fish, and me running bow to stern netting fish I forgot to snap a single photo. I’m glad the morning bite made the trip because for the remainder of the day it was a fish here and there, with nothing quite comparing to the morning’s heated action.
Dick Franyo and friend Ben, a federal judge from Baltimore, joined me for a breezy day on the Little Choptank. The wind was forecast to be NE at 15, dying to near nothing after lunch. Well, with a little more north than northeast in her, she was blowing pretty good for most of the morning. This stirred up the shallows out near the mouth of the river so we chose to cast to the protected shorelines in the Little Choptank proper. The good thing about October is you can usually catch rockfish along most any shoreline. Casting pearl shad-tails we were able to land twenty-five stripers just poking around the banks of the river with light spinning gear. With the cool breeze of fall in the air, thoughts of football crept into my head, especially since Dick and Ben were keeping score. I believe the final tally was 15 – 10 with Ben pulling out the victory. Great fun fishing with you guys!
Weather permitting, I’m scheduled to be on the water most every day next week, so I hope to have some big fish tales in my next newsletter.  I’ve got a brief break on Wednesday, as I travel to Silver Spring to give a talk on fly fishing the bay to the Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Till next time,



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