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.


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