Josenhans Fly Fishing ~ October Specks

5 11 2011

Friday, October 7 – Paul Anderson, his son Matt, along with Paul’s brother Mike joined me for a day chasing rock, blues and specks. At daybreak we had rock to 26″ on poppers,  hard-fighting blues to three-pounds mid-day and ended with a speck apiece ranging from 18″ – 20″ for three Tangier ‘Slams.’ It doesn’t get any better than this!

Paul, Mike and Matt with some Tangier variety

Saturday, October 8 – Chris Cianci, Chuck Prahl and Don Cochran took a break from their home waters on the Choptank River to put Tangier Sound to the test. We began the day with some topwater rockfish action, with many more blow-ups than hook-ups. Sometimes rockfish aren’t very good at eating poppers. The excitement of the strike though is well worth the effort. The surface action was interrupted when Don switched to a 4″ shad and began to hook speck-after-speck. It didn’t take long for the other guys to take the hint and soon all had boated a nice speck or three to 21.” Final tally on the specks was eight. I think we could have done much better were it not for the super pretty day, light winds and an abundance of Saturday boat traffic. A guide’s gotta have some excuse..

Don Cochran had the hot hand on specks

Monday, October 10 – Ed Roach, Doug D. and David Blorstadt enjoyed great daybreak topwater action on stripers up to six-pounds. The shallow-water rockfish really put on a show, smacking the Storm and Stillwater poppers all over the sound. The action died once the sun came up so we turned our attention to blues. While the size of the blues has diminished, there was just enough action to keep the guys entertained. After the blues quieted down, we went speck-hunting. While playing hard-to-get, we did land a few nice specks, with Doug’s 22″ beauty the prize of the day. We picked at school stripers for the remainder of the day while enjoying good weather and conversation.  Three nicer guys you could not fish with.

Dave Blorstadt had some early topwater success

Tuesday, October 11 – Jack McKenna had a day to remember with speckled trout. Overcast skies, calm winds, clear water and plenty of spotted fishes! To top it all off, Jack is a fly fisherman, and an eight-weight was his weapon of choice. Specks jumped all-over Jack’s pink Cactus Striper as he boated 22 trout to four-pounds! To date, a 2011 high for my boat. Great job Jack, and be sure to tell your son in Florida that speckled trout fishing is alive and well here in Maryland..


Jack McKenna with one of many specks on the fly



Another fat speck


The pink Cactus Striper was a speck favorite



Josenhans Fly Fishing ~ Rock, Blues & Specks Like the Old Days!

16 10 2011

Rock have been giving my clients a super top-water show during the early morning hours casting Storm Chug Bug and Stillwater Smack-it! poppers. Bluefish in the two to four pound range seem to be everywhere, and they will chase the same poppers – even with the sun high in the sky. But the fish that has everyone buzzing is speckled trout. We have had some fantastic speck fishing this fall, much like days of old. While most of the specks are running 16″ to 21″ there have been quite a few in the four-pound range, with one tugging the Boga all the way to the eight-pound mark! That big fish was fooled by a Stillwater Smack-it! Jr. popper. Some highlights!

Monday, September 19 – Don Harrison and Drew Clemens had some fun with rock on poppers early casting the skinny water near Tangier Island. A cold front during the weekend had dropped the water temperature at my bluefish honey hole from 80 to 68 degrees. Not good. However, after moving to the bay proper west of Tangier we found warmer water and school after school of hungry two to three-pound blues. Don and Drew had their hands full – and kept the captain busy – for the remainder of the trip.

Wil Goetz with a 29-inch skinny water striper

Tuesday, September 20– Matt LaFleur, Wil Goetz and Alan Fiekin joined up for a trip to the lower end of Tangier Sound. From the first cast it was non-stop blues and rock anyway you wanted to catch them. While Matt and Will battled it out with three to five-pound blues while casting Storm Chug Bugs, Alan kept busy in the back of the boat throwing a popper with his fly rod. At times, the blues would literally become airborne in a head-on charge, before landing choppers-first on top of the fly. Stripers to five-pounds were in the mix as well. I was kept busy netting, releasing and re-tying for a good three hours straight. Who says fishing is a non-aerobic sport! To finish the day, we hit the skinny-water for some fantastic rockfish top-water action.

Matt LaFleur enjoyed non-stop action with rock and blues

Alan Fiekin caught his fish on the fly

Wednesday, September 21 – Jeff Kaplan had a great trip with early morning stripers on top-water, followed by all the blues and rock he could handle out on some underwater humps in the main bay. The rock ran up to 28 inches while the blues averaged two to four-pounds. I was finally able to drag Jeff away from the non-stop action to head to the grass flats for a try a speckled trout. Jeff was not disappointed as he landed six nice specks from 16″ to 23″ during our final hour of the trip! What a way to complete the Tangier ‘Slam!’

Nice speck Jeff!!


Makes getting up early worthwhile!


Jeff with another nice speck


Don Harrison with a nice rock


Drew Clemens caught this fat speck to complete the 'Tangier Slam'


Josenhans FF ~ Tangier Slam is Alive and Well!

24 09 2011

The Tangier Slam – or one version of it – is usually considered catching a rockfish, bluefish and speckled trout on fly during the same day. Well, this is the time of the year to come on down and give it a shot. That is, if I can get you away from the blues once you get here. Yesterday, we had six of the prettiest speckled trout that you ever want to see from 16″ to 20″  that we caught during a quick stop on the way in from a very successful day of watching rock and blues knock our poppers all over the sound. When the weather has cooperated, the fishing of the past two weeks has been phenomenal! Here is a brief summary of some of the highlights.

Sunday, September 11 – I Fished with Gus McKee and his son Mac, along with Gus’ father-in-law Lou Pochettino and nephew Alex Pochettino. We found the mother lode of blues down near Watts Island and all hands had their fill. The 2 – 5 pound bluefish were all young Mac could handle on the light G. Loomis spinning rod, and the fellows sure kept the captain busy with the net! Great to see the younger generation get such a kick out of fishing. I believe Alex and Mac are ‘hooked.’

Alex and Mac with their trophy

Gus, Mac and Alex after a fun day on Tangier Sound

Monday, September 12 Today I had the pleasure to fish with The Frederick News-Post Outdoors Editor Jim Heim. Jim writes the Casts and Shots column for the paper and I was hoping upon hope that the fishing this day would be worthy of a small article. Boy, did the fish ever hold up their end of the bargain. We started the day near Tangier Island casting Storm Chug Bug and Stillwater Smack-it! poppers to ravenous rockfish in four feet of water. Most of the rock were in the 18″ to 24″ range, and they really put on a topwater show in that skinny-water. After two to three hours of nonstop action, we traveled across Tangier Sound to find hungry two to five pound bluefish ready for an encore. Only difference here was that there’s no quit in bluefish. Same lures, same surface explosions, but each fight lasted several minutes longer. I think Jim’s arms were sore at the end of the day. That’s a good thing if you’re a guide… See Jim’s article at the link for Casts and Shots.


Lew completes the 'slam'

Tuesday, September 13– Lew Armistead and Donny McDougall brought their fly rods and were greeted with ‘slick cam’ conditions on Tangier Sound. We started off the day catching a few rockfish on sinking lines, but it didn’t come close to the top-water action that we had enjoyed the day before. With bluefish waiting to please, I pointed the bow east and told the guys to hang on. Upon arrival at a spot near Watts Island the guys were hooked up almost immediately. While Clousers and sinking lines worked well, both Lew and Donny quickly switched to floating lines and Gurglers for some of the most exciting top-water fly action that I have witnessed in a long time. Two to five-pound blues slashed, crashed and dove on top of the popping Gurgler, until both flies needed the occasional field repair. A simple piece of 15# monofilament was all that was required to restore the Gurgler to “nearly new” condition. Lew asked me what type of knot I had used to make the repair and I replied “lots of knots!” There’s no time for perfection during the heat of battle, therefore, I believe it was Lew who coined the name “Triage Knot.” I wonder if I should get a patent?? We even saved an hour at the end of the day to catch four gorgeous specks to 20″ up near Fox Island, thus, both Lew and Donny were able to accomplish the ‘Tangier Slam!’ Nice going guys.

Donny with a nice blue on fly


Not to be outdone - Lew with an average-sized bluefish


Donny 'hooked-up!'

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 ~ Rock & Flounder

26 07 2011

Bob Gray hooked up early

July has brought – for the most part – some very good shallow water, topwater fishing for rockfish, as well as limits of nice-size flounder. While the larger bluefish seem to have departed the lower portion of Tangier Sound, most of my anglers have been more than willing to spend the late-morning hours jigging Li’l Jimy bucktails and Berkley Gulp! tipped lead-heads for flounder that have averaged 18 to 23 inches.

Mike Schmidt with a fat topwater rockfish

On Monday, July 11 I spent the day fishing with Scott Evander and Hovik Taymoorian, D.O., two great guys who last fished with me during a spring flats excursion. Scott and Hovic are great fishing companions, because they have just a super time no matter what the day brings. On this day it brought the wind. Our shallow water striper spot was muddy, so we decided to make an attempt at flounder. As we traveled to the mid-bay flounder hole, the waves were an adventure, but we felt completely safe in my Jones Brothers Cape Fisherman 20. When we arrived, the wind and tide were both heading north, so, in order to keep our jigs on the bottom I had to point the bow of the JB into the wind and use just enough throttle to maintain our position over productive bottom – a ‘power-drift’, if you will. It really worked okay; that is, until a flounder was hooked and then someone had to grab the net. As all hands were busy enough beforehand, this added an additional level of excitement to the entire process. We took turns with the net, and never lost a fish, but this was ‘extreme flounder fishing’ to say the least. While the fishing was by no means hot, we did salvage a breezy day and the guys were able to take home a few nice flounder for the table.

Li’l Jimy fools another flounder


Guy Griffin fooled this rock with a Storm Chug Bug

Friday, July 15 brought Bob Gray and Mike Schmidt to Crisfield for their first try at Tangier Sound shallow water rockfish. The rock did not disappoint. For the better part of an hour, both Bob and Mike enjoyed explosive strikes from stripers up to 28 inches. Both left impressed with the topwater theatrics and drag-screaming runs of a good-sized striper caught in shallow water. The flounder bite was next. The jigging technique that I use was somewhat new to both Bob and Mike, and while the fish made us work a bit, we did manage a limit a piece for both anglers. In all, eleven legal-size flounder were boated; all beautiful fish ranging in size from 18 to 23 inches. Mike even added a twist that left me impressed. His son Mike has developed a fish attractant product called the Fish Bomb. Mike Sr. made a believer out of me as he was top rod for the day, all the while spraying a shot of the juice onto his bucktail jig before lowering it into the water. The flounder really seemed to love it!

Ron Perdue with a nice topwater rockfish

Wednesday, July 20 brought two local boys to my boat in Guy Griffin and Ron Perdue. You know, it hasn’t always been easy attracting native eastern shore folk to my business; since everyone down this way has access to a boat, plus they are all very good fishermen in their own right. Guy and Ron were no exception. The two really put on a show as they turned in one of the best topwater mornings of the  summer. Over twenty rockfish crashed, cart-wheeled and smacked their Storm and Stillwater poppers all over the shallows of lower Tangier Sound. Beautiful, fat stripers to 28 inches helped convince the guys that they need to add a surface popper to their rockfish arsenal. Guy and Ron didn’t miss a beat adapting to the new method. After the morning bite slowed, both were anxious to get at the flounder. Fishing two areas that have been hot of late, Guy and Ron managed a limit a piece of thick-bodied flounder to 22 inches, and they boated nine total over 18 inches. Some nice fillets for the table were their reward for carefully releasing every single rockfish to fight another day.

Ron showing off the beautiful coloration of a Chesapeake flounder


Guy with a hefty flounder of his own

Josenhans FF ~ Topwater Hanging On

13 07 2011

Tyler with his 22" flounder

On Tuesday, July 5 I met Mel(Skip) Bertrand and his grandson Tyler Wheeler at the Somers Cove Marina boat ramp for a six-hour trip for some rockfish and flounder. Conditions for an early topwater bite were good and I was hoping the fish would put on a show, since Skip and Tyler don’t often fish for rock this way. The first fish came out of nowhere and exploded on Skip’s Storm Chug Bug about halfway back to the boat. When a 26-inch striper hit’s a popper in four-feet of water much of the fight is on top, and this fish didn’t stray from the norm. After a game fight Skip landed and promptly released the fat, healthy rockfish. It wasn’t long before an explosion of water caused Tyler’s popper to disappear and Tyler was hanging on for dear life with his G. Loomis IMX rod bent double. Tyler did a super job of keeping the mid-twenties fish out of some nearby structure and boated the striper in short order. Game on! For about thirty minutes blow-ups were coming on a regular basis and then it just quit! 

Though short-lived, the explosive strikes and tough battles more than justified the early wake-up call. Now it was flounder time. I eased the Jones Brothers into position for our first drift and briefly explained the jigging technique to Skip and Tyler. It wasn’t long before the first rod was doubled-over with a heavy fish. Using Li’l Jimy bucktails by Specialized Baits, or simply a plain 3/4 oz. jig-head with a Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet we boated several nice flounder to 22-inches before the action shut down. While we didn’t get our limit this day, it was fun watching Skip and Tyler perfect a new (for them) flounder technique that they can try elsewhere.

Justin with a nice topwater rock

Saturday, July 9 was practically an encore performance of Tuesday’s trip. Only this day it was Justin Matoska and Colin Maxfield who were at the working end of the G. Loomis spinning rods. The rest of the cast was the same. Rockfish from 22″ to 27″ crashed the topwater offerings of Justin and Colin for the better part of an hour until the action subsided. Once again, Storm Rattlin’ Saltwater Chug Bugs were the hot popper. A couple of things that I like about the Chug Bug is they pop easily (and throw a lot of spray in the process), cast like a bullet, and the Perma steel hooks are super-sharp and resist rust. After the topwater bite died, Justin and Colin broke-out the fly outfits and began to cast chartreuse and white Clouser Minnows over some shallow structure. Both are fairly new to saltwater fly fishing but after a few tips Justin and Colin were easily reaching the fifty foot range with their casts.

Colin with a hog on a Storm Chug Bug

The wind was a definite liability this day and the guys did well casting the sink-tips into a stiff 15 K breeze. While the stripers didn’t cooperate, Colin managed his very first saltwater fish on fly, a colorful speckled trout! When the wind let-up enough to drift for flounder we took a short run and fell in line with several other boats already on site. While the catching was less than stellar, Justin and Colin did manage two keepers of 18 and 21 inches. All-in-all, another pleasant day on the bay with, I believe, two new converts to the world of saltwater fly fishing. Keep at it guys!

Colin showing off his first speck


Justin jigged up a nice flounder

Josenhans FF ~ Mid-Bay Rockfish

6 07 2011

Quiz with a 27 inch 'Maryland' rockfish

Sunday, June 26 was a travel day for me – so to speak. So far this season I have been spending most of my time fishing Tangier Sound out of Crisfield, mainly due to the fantastic rock and flounder fishing that we have been experiencing. I had a request for a trip out of Oxford, on the Choptank River, from friend Jim Lee and his buddy from Florida Jim ‘Quiz’ Quisenberry who was in town for a little striper fishing. Seems rockfish are in short supply down in the Sunshine State. After launching at the free public ramp in Cambridge, I pointed the Jones Brothers downriver for the short run to the Oxford Ferry dock. After picking up Jim and Quiz we continued west towards Tilghman Island. Since the forecasted five knot winds were blowing at a brisk 15 to 20 out of the northwest, I decided to head through Knapps Narrows and begin the day fishing in the lee of Poplar Island.

Jim showing off a nice striper

We spent the first hour casting to the rock out-crops on the eastern side if Poplar and Quiz was able to catch his very first striper, a fat 20-inch fish that went in the box for dinner. We drifted around some nearby trollers without success and proceeded to work our way south as the winds slowly subsided. Around mid-morning, as I was cruising an edge a few miles south of Poplar the screen of my Lowrance sonar unit lit-up with good-sized marks. We dropped our jigs and almost immediately hooked up with a nice grade of rockfish. For the next several hours we were able to stay with the school, all-the-while boating fish to 31 inches. Five-inch Bass Assassin Saltwater Shads and six-inch Storm Wildeye Shads were the ticket today. Quiz had a blast, and actually out-fished us Maryland boys on our home waters. The wind dropped off to nothing and gave us a much better ride in than we had coming out.

Quiz having a blast with rockfish - We're not in Florida anymore!

Jim hooked-up again!