Opening Day of Rockfish Season. Caught a big one, but not a keeper.

Unfortunately my boat, Albert C, was not quite ready for launching on opening day of rockfish trophy season; it’s in the final phases of renovation at Smith’s Marina in Crownsville.

Albert C at Smith's Marina
Albert C waiting to be moved into the heated shed at Smith’s Marina
Instead, I ended up fishing on my slip-neighbor’s 24-foot Boston Whaler. Scott is a Navy Academy graduate (1976) and former submarine Captain now retired. We left the dock around 8am joined by my friend Big Mark (6’6″), a former Selby Bay Yacht Club commodore.

We loaded all of my rods, reels, net, tackle, planing boards, etc. onto Scott’s boat ‘Bekilani’ while he joked that this was the first time he ever had fishing gear on his fishing boat.

We began wetting-trolling lines on the eastern edge of the Naval Academy Anchorage area (on the Severn River entrance to the Chesapeake Bay), making our way across the bay and heading toward the antenna tower at Matapeake. Once we had all of our lines in the water we did a slow turn north towards the Bay Bridge, then headed west to the 35’ edge of the Western Shore.

Going south, we threaded through a fleet of chummers anchored between the fishing grounds near the bridge, eventually making our way past Green Can #1 on our way towards Red Buoy #2. We had a huge strike about 200 yards south of #1 in about 35 feet of water, but lost it around 10am (two hours before the end of low tide).

However a half-hour later we got another strike and the reel sang that beautiful song every fisherman loves to hear.  Big Mark was up to the task as he worked to bring in the big fish on a white umbrella rig.

Mark was working the fish, Scott navigated through a USNA sailboat race, while trying to keep the boat pointed as straight as possible for Mark without interfering with the sailboaters tacking maneuvers.

After about 8-10 minutes (yes she spooled off a lot of line), Mark brought the big fish alongside the boat.  The net went under her just as she whipped her head left and right, snapping the 50-pound test line right at the lure.  After a quick measure, weigh and photo, Mark lifted her over the gunnel, made sure she was properly rejuvenated and let her loose. She ‘kicked off’ and dove into the deep.

Chesapeake Bay 2015 rockfish season
“Big Mark” with his trophy rock fish on the first day of the 2015 season
The fish was full of roe and most likely well on her way to Susquehanna Flats to deposit nearly a million or more eggs.  She was 38.5-inches long and weighed in at nearly 27 pounds.

After another 90 minutes of fishing the same area, we called it a day and arrived to our home dock with stories and the knowledge that we did our small part to ensure the striped bass population stays healthy.

Athough we didn’t bring home dinner, we had a great time with Scott on his recently christened ‘fishing boat’. His wife Becky said it was about time his fishing boat became a fishing boat.

About Gary Oster

Gary is an avid sport fisherman out of Annapolis, MD, who loves casting, trolling or jigging for rockfish on the bay, chasing marlin offshore, flats fishing for barracuda in the Florida Keys or pulling in monster Halibut in Alaska.

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