Josenhans Fly Fishing ~ Breakers!!

31 08 2011

Time for Spanish!

Irene Update: My family, house, vehicles and boat came through unscathed. Thanks to all who called, or sent emails and text messages wishing us well, both before and after the storm. Your thoughts and prayers were most appreciated. I hope  you all came through it safe and sound as well. Crisfield was flooded for a couple of days, but that is a hardy bunch down there and things should be getting back to normal in short order.

Today (Wednesday, August 31) will be my first day fishing since the storm and I hear the breaking rock and blues are just waiting for us. I don’t think the fishing will be affected one bit. I have an evening fly fishing trip so stay tuned for an updated report.

David Pacy showing off his big croaker

While my last two trips for flounder have dropped off a bit – in fact, we came up with a big ‘goose-egg’ on the last trip – I have been overjoyed to see the mid-bay area come alive with breaking rock, blues and spanish mackerel. But, I’ll get to that in a minute. It seems that the flounder have moved well north, into the upper reaches of Tangier Sound, and it took me a couple of trips to realize this. While it could just be a temporary lull – bad tides, lack of wind, too much wind, etc., etc. (guides have plenty of excuses) – I haven’t given up on the lower reaches of the sound just yet. In fact, the flounder fishing down near the mouth of the bay is still going strong, so I expect some great catches yet to come. If I get some interest, I’ll be following the fish north, but there is still plenty to do on the lower portion of Tangier Sound. There are some decent sized blues roaming the flats of Watts Island and these are great fun on light spinning or fly tackle. The speckled trout catches should improve after the shallows settle a bit from the effects of Irene. Rockfish will aggressively attack poppers during early morning hours and as the waters cool, will begin to feed in the shallows all during the day. In short, things are shaping up to look like we are in for a very good fall fishing season.

On a recent trip with Bert Massengale, his son Kyle, and Kyle’s friend David Pacy we tried our best to get some big flounder in the boat. I went to the exact spot where, just a few short days before, we slammed big flatties to 24 inches but we couldn’t draw a strike. The tide was perfect, with little wind but it just wasn’t meant to be. David did manage to perk us up with a very nice croaker. The fish really gave him a fight on his light spin tackle. We moved to another location and after a few drifts Bert managed the first keeper flounder. A short time later Bert pulled in the second flounder, a fish of perhaps 21 inches. That was it for the flounder. It was still a fun four-hours on the water, and Bert took home some beautiful fillets.

Bert Massengale with a brace of flounder

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you my earthquake story. I was waiting at the Madison boat ramp around 2:30 P.M. for my afternoon party when I received a cell call. It was my client, who asked if I had heard about the earthquake south of DC. I had. (I didn’t feel a thing, as I was on the road on my way to Madison for a half-day trip chasing breakers) . To make a long story short, my client was in a bind, as he is in the alarm business and the earthquake had wrecked havoc with his systems – not to mention cell service. Not a problem, we rescheduled for the following week. Being a thinking man, I had the boat, I was at the ramp and I had four hours to kill. I called my wife to give her the scoop, got the okay and off I went to do a little fishing. I never even made it to the False Channel (my intended starting point). Just off the mouth of the Little Choptank the water was whipped to a froth by ravenous schools of rock, blues and mackerel. The macks were a nice surprise. They were feeding on small bay anchovies and the smaller the lure the better. I stayed with the fish for about and hour and left them biting to explore a little. Not seeing much up north, I returned a bit later to find the fish were still on top. Looking at my books from last season, September was terrific for breaking fish off the mouth of the Big and Little Choptank rivers. It looks like this year will provide us with a repeat performance. This is a fly fishers dream, so break-out that long stick and give me a call for some fast-paced action.


Josenhans FF ~ From Fly to Flounder

18 08 2011


Chuck Prahl and Chris Cianci with a brace of rock!

I don’t know exactly when the metamorphosis took place, but it seems as though I have gone from being a 70% fly guide to a 70% flounder guide. Just about everyone wants to get in on the fabulous flounder fishing that we have enjoyed this season – and I don’t blame them one bit. We are having one of the best years that I can remember for this tasty member of the flatfish family. Weather permitting, we have been experiencing limit to near-limit catches of big, beautiful summer flounder ranging from 18 to 26 inches. I also believe that the technique we are using to catch them has as much to do with the increased interest as the taste of the fillets. We have been drift-jigging this aggressive bottom feeder, much as you would a school of rockfish. Armed with light spinning or bait-casting rods, we attach a Li’l Jimy bucktail or a 3/4 to 1-1/2 oz.  jig head-Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet combo to the terminal end of the line. The flounder attack these jigs with a vengeance. There is no nibble-nibble as you often get when drifting the old standby minnow/squid combo. In large part, I believe this is because we are not attracting the smaller flounder. Most everything we bring in the boat is of legal size. It’s just plain fun fishing, and if you have yet to give it a try, you should put it on your to-do list.

On Saturday, August 13 I fished Pocomoke Sound with Jesse Maffuid and David Wilmoth. This was one of my cost-sharing trips, where I help individual anglers hook-up (no pun intended) with other anglers looking to split the cost of a trip. Similar to the walk-on trips utilized by other charters, this allows for a bit more notice for both captain and crew. It has been a very popular program for all involved. But I digress. The plan of action this day was – you guessed it – flounder. While the wind was against us – literally, in our face on the run to the flounder grounds – it was fishable once we arrived at our destination. As this was only a six-hour trip, and with a forty-minute run to the flounder spot, I was kind of under the gun to produce in a hurry. I had two very good fishermen in Jesse and David, so that made things a whole lot easier. We set up a drift, and after watching the track-back lines on my Lowrance HDS-7, I was able to begin a drift-pattern so we would cover the desired area. I have to say, what with a strong 10-15 K southerly wind and strong tide, the drifts were short in duration, but at least we were able to hold bottom. A few keeper flounder up to 21 inches were soon flopping in the cooler. After a while, the wind dropped out and we were able to get a longer drift going. Soon we had a few more flounder coming over the side, including a nice 26 inch fish of at least six-pounds. Before long, Jesse and David had their Virginia limit of four fish each, and I added one extra for the captain.  We ended the day with a total of nine flounder from 18 to 26 inches. Not too shabby for what began as a very breezy day.

Chris Cianci jigged up this nice flounder

Wednesday, August 17 brought us back to our usual summer routine of topwater rockfish early, with a flounder chaser. At 6:00 AM I met Chris Cianci and Chuck Prahl for a six-hour day on Tangier Sound. At 80 years young, Chuck is renowned for his fishing prowess on the Choptank River, but today he was playing an away game. The sound was like glass, ‘slick cam’ as the locals say, and the run to my favorite topwater spot was a breeze.  We made a quick drift, Chris with a popper and Chuck casting a four-inch shad, without even a look. Okay, I was too far out. I moved to make another drift, but this time I inched the boat in about 100 feet closer to the target zone. Same result. “The fish aren’t here,” I told Chris. We moved. Pulling up to my second choice I anchored-up due to the strong tide and limited structure. Almost before the plug hit the water Chris had a huge striper crash his popper and head south. Chris was slowly gaining line on a very nice rock when the hook pulled. As they say, “that’s fishing.” Barely a moment later, Chris had another blow-up and just afterwards Chuck had a strike and line began peeling from his bait-caster. A double hook-up. After a nice battle, both fish were brought to the boat for a quick photo-op and then promptly released. This scene was replayed several times over the next forty-five minutes, until the sun said that topwater fishing was over.

We then headed to the bay for the promised flounder jigging. Neither Chris or Chuck had fished for flounder this way before. It didn’t take long before both men were hooked up to a nice big flatty. The guys had one double where I netted Chris’ fish – a 23 inch beauty – only to run to the bow just in time to slip the net under Chuck’s 24 inch game-changer.  Nice double guys! We wound up with six flounder measuring 18 to 24 inches, with all of the action coming in a one hour spurt. Exciting fishing.

Josenhans FF ~ Doormat Flounder!

14 08 2011

Had a six-hour flounder trip yesterday and we brought home nine 18 to 26 inch flounder, with the biggest topping the scale at six-pounds! I’ll have a complete report in a day or so, and if anyone wants to catch some of the biggest flounder of the year the next couple of weeks should be HOT!!! Call or email soon as dates are going fast!

Josenhans FF ~ Hot Weather Trio

6 08 2011

We’ve been fishing more four and six-hour trips than full-days of late, as the temperature seems to hit 90 degrees by 10:00 a.m. most everyday. That’s not to say that the fishing has been bad. The daybreak top-water rockfish bite has been good at times, albeit short-lived. We’ve been having about an hour of decent surface action in the shallows and then it’s ‘lights out’ (or on as the case may be). Flounder fishing is still holding its own, with limit to near-limit catches of flatties measuring 18 to 23 inches. Drifting 1 to 1-1/2 ounce jig-heads tipped with Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet baits has produced good catches along the channel edges of Pocomoke and Tangier Sound, as well as the main bay west of Tangier and Smith Islands. Here’s a quick run-down on a few of my most recent trips.

Friday, July 22 I fished with Dan Zimmerman and his wife Kate. Conditions were perfect at daybreak as we saddled up to my favorite skinny water topwater spot. Clean water, nice current, etc., etc.. Not hit one. Nada. It took me forty-five minutes before I realized that the rock just weren’t there. This was the exact same spot that we crushed them just a short week ago. We moved to a little deeper water nearby and almost immediately Dan hooked-up on a real drag-screamer, only to have the hook pull. Kate had a monster boil behind her Storm Chug Bug but not a touch. At least the fish were here, for a moment. Dan landed a decent rock or two, and Kate caught several smaller fish on a shad, but that was it. We salvaged the day with a couple of nice twenty-inch flounder while drifting Gulp! baits in thirty feet of water. I attributed the lethargic rockfish action to the heat, as we were all pretty toasty and ready to call it a day after six-hours in the oven.

Mike Baugh with his 26-inch speck caught on a Stillwater Smack-it! popper

I had a change of scenery on Saturday, July 23 as Mike Baugh and his fiancée Sal met me at Madison for a six-hour trip on the Little Choptank. We began the day casting poppers over some nearby submerged logs and after just a few casts Sal hooked up with her first ever top-water striper. The twenty-inch fish exploded on a Storm popper and gave her a good fight in the shallow water. A few more drifts with another blow-up or two and then came the catch of the week. As Mike was retrieving his Stillwater popper a nice fish crashed it right in front of the boat and began to shake its head violently – a dead giveaway. Mike quickly brought the silver-hued fish boatside and I slid the net under a beautiful twenty-six inch speckled trout. The speck pulled the Boga down to 5-1/2 pounds, best of the season, so far.

After a bit, we took a swing out by the False Channel and jigged up a few low-twenties rock, along with a short flounder. The spot-slingers were having a blast with some decent rockfish, but the boats were so thick it was hard to get a good drift. We tried flounder a while without any luck and before long we were back in the shallows. Mike and Sal ended the day catching a couple of schoolie rock on shad tails before we called it a day. I can’t be sure, but with a house right on the Little Choptank, Mike and Sal just might have been back that evening looking for the twin to that pretty speckled trout.

'Bunker Boat' out of Reedville, VA

I fished Monday, July 25 with Bernie and Susan Kemp. We got a bit of a late start due to passing thunderstorms and finally pushed off from the Somers Cove dock at around 8:00 a.m. We still had plenty of cloud cover when we arrived at the shallow water top-water hole so we gave the poppers a try. Before I could get Susan’s popper tied on Bernie’s Stillwater was engulfed in a huge explosion of spray and the drag on his Shimano spinning reel was screaming. This was a very nice fish. Bernie did everything right, but in a replay of last Friday, the hook came free. I think the rock at this spot have seen one too many Stillwater poppers. After a couple of more hits with maybe one or two fish boated, the action died. On to the second spot. More blow-ups at the second location where Bernie and Susan both landed a couple of nice rock on their poppers. Sometimes I believe that when a big striper hits a popper, they push so much water that the hook-set is simply luck. Bernie and Susan still had the thrill of the topwater display, and to me that’s half the fun. Oh, did I forget to mention that the heavens opened up again and we all got thoroughly drenched?  No matter, flounder were next on the agenda. We tried a new flounder location – for Bernie and Susan, anyway – and Susan was immediately rewarded with a nice twenty two-inch flounder she caught on a Gulp! Swimming Mullet. We drifted maybe three hours at two different locations in lower Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds but we just couldn’t fill our limit. I think we ended up with five fat flounder in the 18 to 22 inch size range. Pretty fish none-the-less and a good end to a stormy day. 

Randy started the day off right!

On Wednesday, July 27, I was fortunate to fish with three generations of the Beard family. Gary, his son Randy, along with  Randy’s son Doug. It had been two or three years since this trio has fished together on my boat and I was looking forward to the reunion. Gary had a great trip almost a year ago to the day casting poppers to shallow-water rockfish and his wish was to get Randy and Doug in on the action. As luck would have it, a strong northerly had the water roiled just enough to put most of the rockfish off their feed. Most, but not all. Randy was the first to hook-up as a beautiful mid 20’s striper crashed his popper in the wind-driven chop and he expertly brought the fish boatside. After a quick photo-op the rock was released to fight another day. Randy’s fish was pretty much the highlight of the morning bite as we found murky water at all my favorite shallow water spots. Again, we turned to flounder..

Doug with his very first flounder

As we pulled up to an edge in thirty-five feet of water I smiled inside as the wind hadn’t affected the clarity of the deeper sections of the sound one bit. I don’t think we even had all three lines overboard before Doug was hollering and hanging on for dear-life to a doubled-over pole. The fish initially stayed deep, but after a minute or so Doug was able to bring the fish to the surface as I slid the net under a beautiful twenty-two inch flounder. This was Doug’s first-ever flounder, and what a way to start. Nice catch Doug. The wind was just enough that I decided to throw over the wind-sock to slow our drift a bit. This helped and we were able to land maybe eight colorful flounder, with three of 18 to 22 inches finding their way to the cooler for the ride home. Once again some beautiful Chesapeake Bay flounder salvaged what could have been a blow-out.