On Friday afternoon — 48 hours after catching my first Oregon Chinook and 18 hours after arriving back to Maryland — I fired up the Yamaha outboard and navigated my boat, Albert C, to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for a few hours of jigging. As soon as I arrived at the bridge I noticed diving birds and fish breaking the surface — the water was boiling with prey and predator. This was going to be fun!!
For those of you who haven’t experienced breaking fish, here is what happens.
From the sky, birds can see large masses of bait fish being chased to the water surface by larger fish from below. As the sub-surface feeding frenzy takes, place the birds dive to get into the action in the hope of scoring a menhaden or minnow meal. This fast paced action only lasts for 3-5 minutes and then ‘click’ Mother Nature turns off the switch.
The fish dive deeper and the birds return to floating on the water waiting for them to reappear. A few minutes later it ‘clicks’ again and the fish are back; the birds take to the sky and begin diving into another (or the same) school of fish a hundred yards or so from where they were floating. This process will be repeated over and over again perhaps 30-40 times within a few hours.
So, with rod in hand, I motored slowly into the fracas and joined into the feeding frenzy. A few hours and a hundred or more casts later, I had caught 13 bluefish (all under 12 inches) and 14 rockfish (most of them between 14-18 inches). Like many of the birds on the water that afternoon, I was not getting a meal, it was a catch and release Friday. That said, it was great fun and a fantastic way to start an August weekend on the bay.