Autumn on Tangier Sound

3 12 2017

Sorry I haven’t posted much but I’ve been on the water a lot, and by the time I get home the computer screen is just a blur. I often take the easy way out and simply post photos on my Facebook @JosenhansFlyFishing and Instagram @KevinJosenhans accounts. Please check out all my social media sites for current fishing reports. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

We’ve enjoyed a fantastic fall, fishing for stripers and speckled trout out of Crisfield. Shallow water action was great around Smith and Tangier Islands casting DOA CAL Shad Tails in Pearl or chartreuse colors. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love the DOA 4-inch Shad tail, especially for larger stripers. The action is extremely lifelike at slow or higher retrieve speeds. Attach to a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce DOA Premium Jig Head and you have my go-to rockfish bait. Check it out at

Enjoy some of my favorite shots of Autumn on Tangier Sound, with a few bonus pics out of Madison on the Little Choptank.


Josenhans FF ~ Tangier Slam!!

4 09 2012

Tangier Slam – In the world of flats fishing, a ‘slam’ is oftentimes considered three, maybe four different species of fish, caught by a single angler, with a specific type of gear during a given day. Well, how about six species! That’s just what has occured several times during the past couple of week’s on board my Jones Brothers while fishing here on Tangier Sound. In fact, five species seems to be the norm rather than the exception.  Stripers, bluefish, speckled trout, flounder, redfish and croaker are common catches while casting artificial lures on light spinning tackle or fly gear. On a recent outing with Don Harrison, his friend Doug Portner and Doug’s son Connor, while we didn’t quite reach six-species, sheer numbers made up for the species count. We began the day casting to breaking bluefish in the 12 to 17-inch range, enjoying action in which triple hook-ups were common for perhaps ninety minutes. We switched gears to look for specks, managing close to a dozen for the day up to 21-inches. Mixed-in with the trout were perhaps fifteen nice rockfish to 24-inches. The day ended on a hot note as the guys simply tore-up the puppy drum, landing maybe 50 in the 12  to 17-inch range, with a couple just shy of the legal 18-inch limit. All told, over one-hundred fish were boated giving the three anglers a day to remember. And to make his “slam” something really special, young Connor also accomplished several “firsts.” As is first striper, first bluefish, first speckled trout and first redfish! Way to break-out on the saltwater scene Connor!! Tangier Sound has always held a nice variety of game fish during the summer months and six or more species in a days fishing is not unusual. I look for this fantastic shallow water angling to continue right through the fall months.

Speckled trout continue to grab most of the attention here on the sound. Daily catches averaging ten-specks-per-angler have been the norm rather than the exception. Now that September is here, I look for the speckled trout top-water bite to really take-off! Last season, our top fish was an eight-pound beauty that exploded on a Stillwater Smack-it! popper.

Share a Trip  – Once again, I am in need of several anglers to share the cost of a guided trip. The details are as follows:

Trip 1 – I need a fly fishing angler to share a full day (8 hour) trip with another fly angler. Cost per angler will be $225, all-inclusive.

Trip 2 – I need two spining anglers to share a full day (8 hour) or 3/4 day (6 hour) trip with a third spin fisherman. Cost will be $150 each for the full day, or $135 each for the 3/4 day trip. There is a catch (no pun intended) – My first available date is October 20. Speckled trout should still be around, along with stripers, bluefish, flounder and redfish. In addition to the 20th, I have open October 22, 23, 25, 27, 30 and 31. If interested, please email, or call me at your earliest convenience. My contact info is or 443-783-3271. Thanks and good fishing!!

Nick Weber drove a long way to catch a speckled trout, and succeeded

Nick’s son Matt with a nice flounder

Not to be outdone by Matt, John Crowley bags a big flounder of his own

Matt LaFleur with an over-stuffed speck

Jerry Price adds a puppy drum (redfish)

Toby Godwin with a pretty speck

Darren Short found this big speck at the end of his line

Chris Mitchell surprised us with a 26-inch striper

Tom Phillips got in on the speck action

Chris adds a nice speck to his rockfish catch

Andrew Lepczyk caught this fine striper under working birds near Sharps Island

Pete Rolph has been trying to make this speck trip for two years – it paid-off!

Mike Johnson has his arms full with this hefty spotted trout

Elliott Pochettino can barely hold up his big speck

Owen Pochettino shows off his big fly-caught speckled trout

Don Harrison with a speck on his way to a Tangier Slam

..Likewise for Doug Portner..

..and Doug’s son Connor!

Doug boats a nice rockfish

Connor adds his own big striper

Connor with one of his many redfish

Terry Tubman with a fine Tangier Sound speck

Keith McGuire ran his boat over from the western shore to catch specks

Scott McGuire shows-off a specks canines

Scott with a nice spot tail

Josenhans Fly Fishing ~ Specks and Blues!!

18 09 2011

James David with his colorful Choptank speck

Since the double-whammy of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee have muddied mid-bay waters I have been spending most of my time fishing out of Crisfield, MD. Speckled trout have been available, though finicky at times, as well as stripers and blues. While the specks are fun, it’s been bluefish that has everyone talking. Averaging 2 to 5 pounds, we have been enjoying some fantastic fly and light tackle fishing for these scrappers, that seem to be endowed with an endless supply of energy. An added bonus is the aerobatic display put on by many, as they often jump like baby tarpon. What a blast this has been! Casting in the clear waters of lower Tangier Sound (no adverse affect from the tropical weather here) my anglers have usually given-up before the blues. While I’m not sure what effect the recent cold front will do to this action, I expect they will be around for at least another couple of weeks. VA striped bass season returns on October 4th, so I can stop worrying about which side of the line I am on should someone wish to take home a couple of rockfish fillets. Here is a rundown of some of the action from the past two weeks.

James and dad Andrew with a topwater rock

On Thursday, September 1, I fished with Andrew David and his son James out of Madison. As we skimmed across the glass-like waters of the Little Choptank we kept an eye out for diving gulls; second only to “bent-rod sonar” as a means of locating feeding schools of fish.  We were soon rewarded with a patch of surface feeding stripers and blues, just off the False Channel, near the mouth of the Choptank River. Andrew was able to land a nice bluefish and a small rock before the school sounded. As luck would have it, the flat-calm conditions were soon replaced by a strong chop from the south, so we took our cue and slipped into the protected waters of the Big Choptank. While the guys were busy feeding Bass Assassin shad tails to six-inch bluefish, James let out a holler and shortly thereafter I slid the new under a beautiful twenty-inch speckled trout. A nice surprise on a breezy afternoon. We tried a few more points and as the wind died out we traveled south for some evening topwater with shallow-water rockfish. After a slow start the rock came alive just as it was getting too dark to see. As the routine went, we heard a splash and the guys felt a tug as their popper was inhaled by a scrappy rock in the 22 to 24 inch range. This lasted perhaps an hour before the darkness enveloped us for good. It was a great way to finish the evening.

Jake Leatherbury with a light tackle rockfish

On Saturday, September 10, Jake Leatherbury and his dad Rob met me near Saxis, VA for what started out as a speckled trout trip. This was a new experience for me as I trailered the Jones Brothers to an obscure ramp on Messongo Creek, just outside of Saxis. The tide was low, and the gnats hungry, but I managed to get the JB in the water okay and we pointed the bow west in search of some specks. It was not meant to be. The stronger than anticipated westerly breeze and low tide combination had roiled the shallows just enough to put the specks off their feed, so we resorted to Plan B. I was soon fishing more familiar waters over near Tangier Island. After a slow start, the tide picked up and so did the fishing. For the next couple of hours, Jake and Rob had good action on rockfish in the 17 to 23 inch range, great fun on the light-action G. Loomis Pro Green Series rods that I have really grown to like.  As the rock fishing slowed, I asked Jake if he would like to see if the blues were hungry, since we had to travel right past my bluefish honey-hole on the ride home. He and Rob were more than willing to give it a try. Well, to say we finished-off the day on a high note was an understatement. Bluefish from 2 to 4 pounds attacked our offerings with abandon and, quite simply, put the weaker fighting stripers to shame. There’s simply no quit in a bluefish. We left ’em biting, which is always a good thing when you’re a guide. No specks today but I don’t think the guys had a complaint. Enjoyed the trip guys! Stay tuned for more bluefish and speckled trout action in future reports!!

Jake and dad Rob doubled-up on rock


Rob Leatherbury showing off a light tackle bluefish


Jake after a hard-fought battle

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 ~ 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.

Josenhans FF ~ Fun with Bluefish

15 06 2011

Kyle with one of his many blues

Bluefish continue to bail me out when the mid-day striper bite slows, but I’m not complaining. I’ll take a 20 inch blue anytime over a 20 inch rockfish. The guys and gals are having a great time with this hard-fighting summer gamefish.

Saturday, June 4 – Today I enjoyed the company of Bert Massengale, his 13-year-old son Kyle and Bert’s mother Joann. It was Bert’s first trip with me, and while talking on the way to the fishing grounds I had mentioned to him that it is always good to start and end the day on a high note. Well, as luck would have it.. Pulling up to the first spot we caught some nice stripers right off the bat. It quickly became apparent that this was to be Kyle’s day. A number of nice rockfish were brought boatside with Kyle doing much of the catching. Bert got in on the action as well, and for an hour or so we had rock to 24 inches coming in the boat. Things cooled off just as fast as they started, and for a couple of hours it was slow fishing. I decided to make a run across the sound to a favorite bluefish hangout and the fish didn’t disappoint. For the remainder of the day, the entire Massengale family enjoyed some fantastic light tackle action with blues averaging 18 to 20 inches. “My new favorite fish” said Bert, as none of the family had ever before caught a blue. The feather-light G.Loomis Pro-Green rods were a perfect match for the hard-fighting blues. What a great way to break-in the family on Tangier Sound fishing.

Kyle was top dog with the stripers

Joann Massengale with a nice bluefish

Bert's "new favorite fish"

Storm Rattlin' Chug Bug

Monday, June 6 – Norm Bayer, Bob Hedrick and Joe Lundin joined me today for a six-hour trip on the lower portion of Tangier Sound. We had “slick cam” conditions, as the locals say, so we were able to quickly make the long trip from Crisfield to the lower end of Tangier Sound. We were hoping for some big rock on poppers at first light. It started off with a bang as two 26 inch rock inhaled our offerings and put up a great fight in the shallow water. Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bugs were the ticket this morning. The Rattlin’ Chug Bug is a great popper for this type of fishing as it pops and splashes effortlessly, rarely tangles, and the best part is the hooks don’t rust. The stripers love ’em! Unfortunately, with the sun rising fast to the east the bite suddenly turned off. Searching here and there we picked up another small striper, or three, but unlike the weather the action was anything but hot. Thinking of Saturday, I again traveled across the sound to the bluefish hole and, like Saturday, the blues were ready and waiting. In almost a carbon copy of the previous trip we had three hours of non-stop action with the blues. Norm’s Rapala Trigger X was like candy to the blues, and surprisingly long-lasting considering the blues razor-sharp teeth. No tail bite-offs with the Trigger X. This is Rapala’s answer to the Berkley Gulp! and I was impressed. Bob was doing his best to keep up with the fly rod and the blues were more than willing to oblige. Another day saved by the bluefish.

Tuesday, June 7 – Joe DeMeo and friends Joe and Chen fished with me on the Little Choptank out of Madison hoping for a mixed bag of croaker and rockfish. With a good supply of fresh peeler crab we headed to some hard bottom to try to put some croaker in the box. To make a long story short, it was not meant to be. A couple of croaker and the same number of large cow nose rays were all we had to show for our efforts. The evening shallow water striper bite wasn’t much better. The shallows were murky at best, due in part to a strong southerly breeze that had kicked up, and I think we are still a bit early for the good topwater rockfish bite that we experienced last summer. We’ll get ’em next time guys, thanks for the gallant effort!

JFF ~ Topwater Stripers and Blues – Part 1

3 06 2011

The early morning striper top water bite is just beginning to take-off, and if conditions are favorable the action can be hot & heavy during periods of low-light. Sunrise is currently around 5:40 a.m. so you need to get up pretty early for the best action, and the bigger fish. After the surface bite slows we have been traveling to the main bay for some pretty good bluefish action on light spinning and fly rods. The blues have been averaging 18 to 22 inches and are a blast on this light tackle. Speckled trout are reportedly increasing in numbers, but we have opted for the hard-fighting blues, of late. Here is a brief rundown of some recent trips.

Last Monday, Tom Decker and Tushar Irani joined me for a morning topwater excursion on the Little Choptank River out of Madison. The water condition was not the best due to a strong southerly breeze and the ever-present cow nose rays. Not three casts into the day and Tushar hooked and landed a nice 24 inch rockfish on a Stillwater  popper. Another hour of battling the wind produced little so we retreated into the river proper where we worked the points and rips to no avail. If the tide had been more favorable I think we would have had cleaner water and different results – wind or no wind. Once the dirty water clears this area should become a hotspot for topwater rockfish.

On Wednesday morning, Jack McKenna met me at Somers Cove in Crisfield with fly rod in hand. It was to be all fly fishing today and I was hoping to get Jack into some of the bluefish that we have been catching out on the lumps of the main bay. The blues did not disappoint.  After a slow morning with rock in the shallows (full of May worms) we made the trek to the bay and immediately found the blues schooled-up and hungry. For the next two hours Jack caught blue after blue from 18 to 20 inches on a 7 wt. At one point Jack handed me the rod and said “catch a few, I’m taking a break!” There’s no quit in these hard-fighting gamefish. Our day ended with the blues biting – always a good sign as a guide – and Jack had a tired and happy expression that I won’t soon forget.

Saturday, it was back to the Little Choptank where, once again, we were met with a breeze and cloudy water. I believe we still have some remnants of the spring rains clinging to this area, and the unsettled weather of late hasn’t helped things. Mike Schenking and his friend John gave it their all at a few favorite topwater spots with just one blow-up to show for their efforts. It was a very nice fish that in short order cut John off on a barnacle-encrusted stump. John did everything right, but where we were fishing the striper had a definite home field advantage. After a brief jaunt to the False Channel in an attempt to jig up a few stripers, the wind let us know this was a bad idea and we returned to the shallows of the Little C. We plugged along for the remainder of the day casting soft plastics to favorite stretches of shoreline while picking up the occasional small striper. Nice to see the smaller fish are somewhat plentiful after the reported poor spawns of the previous three years. On another bright note, John received a text from a buddy that the morning crabbing was very good. There are some very nice fish in this area and I’m going to keep at it until everything clicks. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.