Josenhans Fly Fishing ~ Pictorial Essay

29 10 2011

Friday, September 23 – George Lenard (, Dave Gedra and Rob Allen joined me for a trip on Tangier Sound.

George Lenard found Tangier specks loved the Li'l Jimy


Dave Gedra showing-off the specks beautiful spots


Speckled trout canines


Rob Allen with his over-stuffed speck. Final tally for the day was 20 trout!


Dave with a nice rock

Sunday, September 25 – Justin Matoska and Bernie Kemp joined up for one of my cost-sharing trips and we traveled to the Choptank River for some great speck and rock fishing. Great to see the specks that far north again. Final tally for the day was 10 specks from 16″ to 21″, plus numerous rockfish on poppers.

Justin Matoska showing-off a fat Choptank speck


Self-explanatory!! Only on the Eastern Shore!


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 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 ~ 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 ~ 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 ~ Summer Pattern Set

7 07 2011

Joel Davies with a mid-20's striper

Whew! This should finally get me caught-up with the fishing reports. I know that I have been throwing a lot at you of late, but I hope the fishing (and writing) has kept your interest. Each season seems to bring a summer pattern slightly different from the last and this year is no exception. While last summer we had more bluefish to keep us entertained (we did have them earlier) that has been replaced this year with some excellent flounder fishing.

Michael found the flounder still willing

On Wednesday, June 29 Michael Bievenour and Joel Davies joined me for a full-day trip out of Crisfield. The routine was established – shallow water rockfish early and then off to the flounder grounds. I think we accomplished both feats, just maybe in reverse order. Mike and Joel spent the morning catching mostly small rockfish over some eel grass beds, as there was not much tidal movement to speak of.  Since the striper fishing was slow to begin, we decided to try the flounder. Due to windy conditions and a couple of trips to the mid-bay area, it had been a week since we last tried for flounder and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Not long after stopping at my favorite spot we had the first flounder flopping at my feet. For the next couple of hours we had a steady pick of the tasty flatfish, the hook-ups coming just often enough to keep the guys senses on edge. As the wind dropped off and the tide changed we returned to a favorite rockfish hole. The fish were waiting for us. For the next hour or so, Mike and Joel battled stripers up to 25 inches casting plastic shads on 1/2 ounce jig-heads. Lots of fun on the feather-light G. Loomis spinning rods. It was a fitting end to a day with a somewhat slow start. I was always told it’s better to end the day on a high note and today I was fortunate. Good work guys!

David with a nice rock on topwater

Saturday, July 2 brought back Crisfield resident David Wilmoth, along with friends Ron Long and Jim Daniel. David had mentioned  more than once (good-naturedly, of course) that I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, what with all of the flounder photographs on my blog. He was right, of course. I knew one day it would come to and end – but today wasn’t the day. I’ll get to that in a minute. We started off with some early topwater rockfish action and before long we had six nice stripers boated, including a ten-pound fish caught by Ron. While the action was short-lived, the explosive strikes in shallow water made the early departure-time worthwhile.

Now to the real reason David booked this trip – flounder! David told me he has been drooling (well, maybe my word) over my photographs of limits of big flounder, one of his favorite fish. He had me under the gun today and I was hoping the fish wouldn’t disappoint. We got to the flounder grounds a bit earlier than maybe I usually would and I am glad that we did. Being a Saturday, we had to share the spot with others; but aside from a boat or two anchoring in our drift-lane, all went well. And boy were the flounder up to the task. We had steady action, sometimes with double hook-ups, of nice flounder from 17 to 23 inches. In just a couple of hours the guys were able to box their limit of the tasty flatfish. A 3/4 ounce chartreuse bucktail with a 4″ Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet was the hands-down favorite this day. It seems the flounder have returned in force! We ended the day drifting the lower end of Pocomoke Sound feeding leftover Gulp! to small croaker, but no one really cared. The flounder had once again made the day and I hope I never wake up from this dream!

Ron's first time jigging for flounder made him a believer

Daybreak on the Eastern Shore