Josenhans Newsletter ~ Surface Stripers

30 11 2010
Quick report here with some pics and a special offer for the CBBT!

Jack with his fat eight pound striper on his nine weight

First the report. I was fortunate to fish with long-time client and good friend Jack McKenna twice in the past ten days. Jack is an ardent fly fisherman, and just plain good company. We fished the Little Choptank last week, and just yesterday spent the morning casting to breaking rockfish between Crisfield and Tangier Island. The False Channel held a good grade of stripers for us last Friday, with Jack’s biggest tugging the boga down to near eight pounds. With the wind and tide helping, Jack said that was the hardest fighting striper he had ever landed on his nine-weight! The fish was near as wide as it was long – probably full of bunker.

I was ready with my Shaggy Shad from Specialized Baits.

Yesterday was a very cold morning and I had to clear ice from the boat before we left Somers Cove – and I keep in on a trailer. The seas were fairly calm as we left the Little Annemessex river and headed south towards Tangier.

It wasn’t long before we saw the first of the birds working steadily over feeding rockfish. We chased school after school between Fox Island and Tangier Island, Jack catching on his nine weight with a 350 grain sink-tip, and me dredging the bottom with my Shaggy Shad, sweetened with a 6 inch BKD (Bass Kandy Delight). We enjoyed steady action with 18″ to 22″ stripers until we broke for lunch around noon.

Jack casting to rockfish feeding just below the diving gulls

We ended the day pulling a couple of rock out of a Smith Island creek where the water temperature was holding steady at 49 degrees – perfect for creek rockfish. The wind dropped out to nothing and we had a great ride back on just a beautiful fall day on Tangier Sound. This fast fishing should last another week or two and then I’ll be heading to the CBBT. If anyone wants some fun, fast fishing out of Crisfield, give me a call!

I have a few holes I would like to plug at the CBBT, so I’m going to lower my daily rate to $500 for two people, down from the usual $550. All tackle, ice, drinks, snacks and Virginia license is provided. If you prefer to meet me in Salisbury on the morning of the trip, I’ll even provide the transportation in my comfortable, brand new, 4-door Ford pickup. Call or email me for details. The big rock are down there as I write this and it should only get better. Don’t miss the boat (or truck) on some great fishing!!
Tight Lines,

Josenhans Newsletter ~ Back to Smith Island

27 11 2010
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and was able to get their fill of turkey and all the trimmings. All I did was eat, and watch football – what better way to spend the holiday’s with family.
Back to fishing. Today should get me caught up with reports. I have to be honest here, Of late, I haven’t been including every fishing trip in my reports. This is as much for brevity, as for the simple fact that some days there just isn’t too much to write about. The windy weather of this fall has had a lot to do with this. If you don’t see your trip published, I either didn’t take any fish photographs, or the fishing was less than spectacular (probably both). I think most folks would get tired of reading “it was a windy day, we looked for fish, caught a few, called it early and went home :-(.” Fortunately, this doesn’t happen all that often, but to those of you who have had a trip like that, I’ll do my very best to make it up to you the next time!! To a man, you all have been super sports about the slow days that tend to occur every now and then. As they say, “that’s fishing.”

Bill Dignan was first to score on a fat creek-fed rockfish

Which brings me to one of those days, but with a happy ending. I fished with Norm Bayer and friends two Saturday’s ago, in the creeks of Smith Island (Where else can you hide from the ever-present wind). Norm was my very first G.Loomis rep. many, many years ago. The very first creek we stopped at yielded a few nice fat rockfish. This had me thinking it was going to be a great day in the creeks.

Well, it wasn’t meant to be. I had four hungry guys in the boat looking for their limit of Tangier rock and the stripers were playing hard to get. We fished creek after creek for around three hours with just eight or ten fish to show for our efforts. There was enough action to keep the guys trying, but just barely enough. As this was only a half-day trip, I decided to travel back across the sound and look for birds on our way home. Well, my feathered friends didn’t let me down, only they were much bigger than I anticipated. Pelicans! Lots and lots of pelicans were diving not far off Smith Island and as we approached the fish-finder lit-up! I told the guys to drop their plastic jigs and most everyone hooked-up instantly. Jim Haire had the hot hand out here in the sound, and between the four of them we quickly filled our two fish limit.
That’s late fall fishing in a nutshell. The fish are tightly schooled and constantly on the move. It can be all or nothing, and you just have to keep moving and looking. Thanks guys for being patient.

Jim Haire found a nice striper under diving pelicans

Monday a week ago I had the pleasure of fishing with Bucky Dennig, Bob and Skip. They had never cast artificials on light tackle before and I wanted to show them what it was all about. Unfortunately, this time of the year the fish school out in the sound and bay and much of the fishing is chasing birds or jigging up rockfish off the edges. The shallows, had been slow of late due to falling water temperatures, so we traveled to the main bay just west of Smith Island. The seas were higher than forecast but the guys were okay with it, so we just took our time as I scanned the horizon for birds. We found several groups of gulls right where they were supposed to be and the fish were jam-packed under the birds like I had hoped. 

I breathed a sigh of relief, as I pictured one of those 100 fish days for my newcomers to light tackle jigging. Was I in for a shock. Time-after-time we drifted through thickly packed marks of what were clearly rockfish with barely a tap. Several half-hearted tugs was all we were able to manage. Then it struck me. I noticed the absence of bait in the water and I realized that the fish must be feeding on krill. This small shrimp-like crustacean can be a nuisance this time of the year as the stripers become so keyed-in on gorging themselves with krill that they ignore conventional offerings. Today was one of those days. We tried small dropper flies in hopes of matching the bait to no avail. Accepting defeat – for today at least – I traveled to a few shallow-water stump fields where we ended the day catching some nice stripers casting shad-tailed jigs. The guys had fun and we again ended the day on a high note. I’ll solve this krill mystery yet.
Tight lines to all,

Josenhans Newsletter ~ Gannets!

17 11 2010
North 20 – 25K, North 20 – 25K, North 20 – 25K…..
Man, last week was like the movie Groundhog Day. It blew it’s pants off for seven straight days. And the 20 – 25 knot days were the days I fished! It was worse earlier in the week. The first fish-able (and I use that term loosely) day was Wednesday, when I fished the Choptank River with Jim Lee and Chris Jones. I launched at Cambridge (don’t have a Talbot County permit) and ran the JB down-river, where I met them at the Oxford ferry dock. Nice run in the morning and it gave me a chance to survey the bird activity – not much. There were a few dippers hovering over a small school of feeding rockfish right at the Cambridge bridge, so I logged that away for future reference.

Jim with his "fly caught" striper

After picking up my crew, we headed down-river to look for birds and breaking rockfish. Both Jim and I had heard rumors of large stripers feeding on the surface near the mouth of the river. To make a long story short, I think it was almost two hours before the guys wet a line. It was slow going due to the wind, waves and spray; not to mention being pretty darn cold. We wound up back up-river, looking at the fish finder trying to find that school of stripers I had observed earlier near Cambridge. A small white perch was the first finned critter to come over the side. Oh well, got the skunk out. More perch came aboard, finally a small striper, then another about sixteen inches. Back down-river we went, exploring here and there, where we found a small school of rock and managed to jig up a fat seventeen incher. Around 2:00 P.M. it seemed the wind had moderated somewhat, so I asked the guys if they were game to head back down towards the river’s mouth one more time. We all thought what-the-heck and off we went.


Chris with a limit for the grille

As we left the Choptank I continued to run down the length of the False Channel, where, in the distance, I saw a flock of gannets circling and diving over the increasingly calm waters of the bay. As we pulled up under them the finder lit-up with giant “fish marks” and I told the guys to drop the jigs fast. For the next forty-five minutes, using five-inch Bass Assassins on one-ounce lead heads, we battled rock to 12 pounds. Fresh from the ocean, the hard-fighting stripers were a welcome sight after a long wind-blown day. Several schools of smaller fish popped up, and Jim even managed to snag one or two on a fly. As the sun set to the west, we had a fast, smooth ride back on the suddenly flat-calm waters of the Choptank – go figure. Just goes to show, the fish are out there if you can get to them. 

On Thursday, I fished out of Crisfield with Ed Roach, his son Matt and Jack McHale. The wind forecast was for north winds at 15-20 knots – practically millpond calm. Anyway, the guys agreed to give it a try, since I sort of convinced them we would probably, maybe catch fish. The run across the sound wasn’t too bad and once to the other side we proceeded to fish the relatively calm creeks of Smith Island. The morning was steady, with a rockfish here and one there, but over all it was cold, and rather slow fishing. With just enough fish to keep things interesting, we came to the days halfway mark and I decided to ask the guys if they wanted to continue plugging along or call it a day. To their credit they chose to continue. Almost immediately, the fishing picked up. Instead of one or two, it became three or four, and we ended the day at a small creek mouth where we caught maybe ten to twelve nice rock in the 20′ to 23″ range. I estimated the days total catch at maybe 40 rockfish, not bad for cold, windy conditions. Thanks for sticking it out fellows.
“Till next tide..”

Josenhans Newsletter ~ Fall Migration

16 11 2010
Rockfish on the Move
The fish have been constantly on the move, and what has produced one day has not necessarily been the game winner the next. We have been fishing shallow flats, deep creeks and even deeper channels of the main bay with good to great results, but you have to keep moving and working until you find the daily pattern.

Matt and his 33 inch rock

A case in point was a recent trip with Paul Anderson, his son Matt and brother Mike. We had been having great results with breaking fish, but the wind was blowing so that was out. Up into the creeks we went. It was a fair pick of nice size rockfish from 18″ to 23″ casting Bass Assassins and shad tails in the deeper holes of Smith Islands many tidal creeks. The guys were having fun but I thought the action could be faster given the time of the year. I decided to take a chance and travel to a summer-time haunt near Tangier Island, and was pleasantly surprised to find relatively clear water and manageable winds. We anchored up and almost immediately had a triple hookup! The next three casts brought another triple. Good move. The guys battled beautiful, fat 20″ – 24″ rock for over a half-hour when Matt hooked something that wouldn’t show itself. After a great battle, and some skillful maneuvering by Matt, we finally caught a glimpse of the broad sides of what turned out to be a 33″ rockfish!! Matt’s biggest striper to date! After a photograph or two the fish was revived and released unharmed. Nice job Matt!

Chris with a fat striper

The next day brought Jim Lowell and son Chris to my boat. A half-day, evening trip was planned and I was looking forward to a repeat of Friday afternoon. The wind was strong out of the north when I met Jim and Chris at the dock. The forecast was for a gradual let-up as the afternoon progressed. Right. Anyway, it was safe enough to cross the sound, and the guys wanted to brave it, so we made the trek to Tangier across some two-footers, with a touch (or three) of salt-spray in the face for good measure. Jim enthusiastically said it was all part of the experience. I think he was just trying to make me feel better. The Jones Brothers handled the sea great as always and after a half-hour run we pulled up to the hotspot of the day before. Jim opted for the fly rod and masterfully cast a clouser pattern in the 20k breeze. After just a cast or two he was hooked-up and promptly landed the largest fish of the day – a fat 24″ rock. Chris then got in on the action and boated a nice fish of his own. This back-and-forth went on for maybe an hour, with the guy’s tally approaching ten stripers. They were all fat, feisty and averaged maybe 21 inches. 

The wind soon increased, prompting the water to become cloudy, at which time the bite turned off like a light. We decided to end the day fishing some creeks and were pleased to discover crystal clear water and flat-calm conditions in a sheltered creek near Smith Island. Only problem was, no one was home. But that’s fishing. As the sun approached the horizon, we beat-feet back across Tangier Sound to and ever-increasing northerly. So much for the diminishing winds. The guys were great sports about the weather and had fun in spite of it. Thanks guys!
This last trip was the first of five days of a very strong northerly blow that cost me several trips, but later brought some nice fish into the picture. More on that in the next report..
Till next time,

Josenhans Newsletter ~ Ocean Fish!!

11 11 2010
I hope to get current with these reports today as it looks like I’ll be back to fishing tomorrow for a good stretch. The winds are finally forecast to let up enough to poke the nose of the Jones Brothers out into the bay.

Ted Campbell with a good-sized creek rockfish

Fishing really started to heat up in the shallows last Saturday when Ralph Bones and friend Keith joined me for a day on the water. We hit a couple of creeks around Smith Island and while only one really produced, it provided some no-stop action on mostly 20″ – 23″ rockfish for about an hour. That’s the way the fall has been with the creek fishing. On any given day it has been only one or two creeks that pay off. Good fishing when you find the fish, but deep down it tells me there are less rockfish in the system. I hope the ASMFC doesn’t increase the commercial limit for striped bass like they’re talking about.


Jack McHale

After the creek gave up all it was going to, we traveled south to Tangier Island and had some fast action on nice sized stripers during the ebb tide. Again, many of the fish were in the 20″ to 23 inch size range – the last respectable year class. Hard fighting and healthy. Sorry no pics, the guys were having too much fun.

Jack McHale and Ted Campbell joined me for a full day this past Monday and we were greeted by a strong northerly breeze and a rising tide. At least the book said the tide was rising. After a couple of hours of fruitless casting the creeks, I decided to head to a great flood tide spot on the western bank of Smith Island. Thinking I was just about at the peak of the tide, and not paying near as much attention to the level of water on the banks as I should have been, yes, you guessed it, I proceeded to run the JB up on a mud bank. No harm-no foul, I’ll just get out and push the boat off and we’ll be on our way. Didn’t work out quite as planned, and to make a long (could have been very long) story short, the guys volunteered to jump over in the 51 degree calf-deep water and help push the boat off the bar. I think the alternative of waiting ten hours for the tide to return gave them a little extra incentive. Thanks again Jack and Ted for bailing me out.
After pretty much only getting our legs wet we dried off and continued the days fishing. After a slow morning with only a few creek fish, the wind let up enough to travel to the main bay, where acres of rockfish were chasing bay anchovies on the surface. The guys had a blast for several hours as we chased school after school of hungry stripers. A nice way to end the day after a slow (cold) start.

Werner's 32" rockfish

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of taking fishing a diehard rockfish fan in Werner Gruber. Werner loves to eat rockfish and our goal was to get him a couple for the table. We traveled back to the main bay from Crisfield with a moderate east wind at our backs. Not a bird was sighted until we approached Holland Light, at which time we observed a thick mass of gulls, terns and gannets diving in about twenty eight feet of water. I told Werner that many times the gannets mean there are big fish close by, and sure enough the second tug on our Bass Assassins provided stiff resistance and a drag-screaming run. Werner fought the fish like a pro and soon boated a fat 32″ rockfish that tipped the boga at twelve pounds.

A constant sight Wednesday as Werner looks on

Werner likes the smaller fish for the pan so the twelve pound rockfish was released alive. For the remainder of the day we had non-stop action with a nice grade of stripers in the 20 to 24 inch class. Werner got his dinner and was a happy man on the long ride back to Crisfield. The fish are there for the taking so long as the wind will allow us to go and get them. Hoping for an Indian summer real soon.

Josenhans Newsletter ~ Breaking fish starting!

8 11 2010

Brian Eyler with a shallow water rockfish

Off today – wind day (what else is new!) Will this wind ever stop! I hope you all are finding some protected places to fish, as this has been one of the most blustery falls that I can recall. Crossing Tangier Sound to get to the protected shores of Smith Island has been a fun ride at times, although completely safe and comfortable in my Jones Brothers. I had a fellow tell me the other day – as the spray was pelting him in the face –  that it all adds to the experience. I think he meant that in a good way 🙂


Brian's father-in-law with a nice blue

Anyway, as you know from past e-letters we have been fishing the creeks of Smith Island of late for some nice fat school stripers. In addition, we have had acres of breaking rockfish out in the main bay between Holland Light and the American Mariner target ship – that is if the wind allows us to get out there. Gannets were diving the other day as we arrived and this usually signals big bait and big fish. Sure enough, the second tug on the line produced an over-stuffed 32″ rockfish of around 12 pounds! Baby bunker (peanut bunker to some) were being harassed by a nice grade of rockfish and the schools were moving fast. We had a blast for several hours casting Storm shads and Li’l Jimy’s of The Li’l Jimy’s were the hot ticket, as they matched the size of the bait to a “T.” Nice looking bucktails, like a custom-tied fly but with a lead head. We also ran into a school of 3 – 4 pound bluefish on a recent trip to the SW Middlegrounds. They were tearing up the peanut bunker on the surface making for easy pickings for my group of spin fishermen.


Jigged up a fall visitor. Can you identify?

 Hope to see you on the water!

Josenhans Newsletter ~ Smith Island Creeks

4 11 2010

Maurice Klein with a Smith Island striper

Sorry for the long delay in between newsletters. I have been on the water a lot and when I return in the evening the computer keyboard looks sort of blurry. Fishing has been great if the wind allows us to fish the way we want to, if at all. This has been some fall for wind, blowing 15-20 many days. Several trips have been rescheduled, and rescheduled again.. The guys have been great about putting up with the weather and for the most part we have done well. I’m going to change things up a little this week and simply include a few snapshots from some of our trips.

Gene Jones hooked up on his 7 wt.

Short visit to Tyleton on Smith Island

..for a BIG crabcake at Drum Point Market

Gene with a brace of Smith Island creek rockfish

Josenhans Newsletter ~ Windy days in the creeks

4 11 2010

Russ Stevenson with a fly-caught rockfish

The next couple of trips we were fishing mainly in some secluded creeks of Smith Island. Partly out of necessity due to the wind, but mostly because that is where the fish were. This creek fishing is great fun for those of you who have yet to try it. Be careful though, because the water is very shallow leading to most of these creeks. One wrong move and you might find yourself stuck for quite some time. Here are a few photos of some recent trips to the wind-sheltered creeks.

Peter Moskovitz and his creek rockfish

Bob Lepczyk making use of my "casting platform"

Scott Evander found creek stripers will take a soft-plastic shadtail