I received a call from a reader Wednesday who said he usually launched his boat at Sandy Point State Park but lately hadn't had much success trolling for bluefish or bottom-fishing for white perch at Belvidere Shoals.

He hinted that he could use some information on where to go and how to catch some fish.

How do you learn to catch fish in the Chesapeake Bay? There is aneasy answer, but unfortunately, it is costly.

Fishing in the Chesapeake has become terribly technical. The old saying about 10 percentof the water holding 90 percent of the fish is more than true. You must know exactly where to find the fish.

Lately, I have had to hunt specific lumps where I would find bluefish. That's very similar to what we do for white perch. Unfortunately, very few of the same lumpswork for both species. So, we locate and mark another set of fishinglocations.

The equipment to catch fish on a charter boat is not that different than on recreational boats. Trolling tackle have a few subtle differences, because few recreational fishermen use wire line,but the rods and reels are similar. The difference is knowing where to go and how to use your equipment.

How do you learn? The answer is simpler than you might think. Get four or five of your friends, chip in 50 to 60 bucks each and hire a good charter boat captain for the area you want to fish.

It is easy to sit back and enjoy yourself, but you have enrolled in the fishing university and you need to payattention to what the captain does, where he goes, what equipment heuses and above all why.

Ask questions! Don't swamp him, but find out which techniques work best for the type of fishing you will be doing that day. Look at the channel he uses to communicate with his peers. Learn who the other good captains in the area are.

In most instances, this is also the way the charter boat captain learned to fishthese areas. My teachers were Capts. Dick Hougland, Joe Rupp, Bruce Scheible, George Fromm, Doug Carson and Mike Sullivan to name but a few. I learn something on every trip, whether it is my boat or someoneelse's.

The biggest thing we have the least amount of is time. Trying to learn how to fish when you don't know where to fish is frustrating.

Earlier this year the caller had seen the boats bottom-fishing on Belvidere Shoals and joined in to catch white perch. Now he doesn't see the boats so he doesn't know where to go. Here again, charter a good boat for that area.

If you are going in blind and don't know a captain to call, check with a good bait or tackle shop. They should be able to recommend someone.

If you have seen a specific boat doing well and would like to get on that boat, you can call me andI will attempt to give you a telephone number to reach the captain. My number is in the phone book.

Setting up the charter will take alittle finesse. Tell the captain that you would like to do two different types of fishing if possible, and let him pick the activities. Or you could say that you want to catch bluefish on light tackle or trolling and something else. Give him the opportunity to suggest the other type of fishing.

You obviously won't learn it all on the firsttrip, but if you have paid attention and made a few notes you shouldbe much further ahead. Remember, your fishing buddies are suppose tobe doing the same thing. Take along a little notebook and record as much as possible. Compare information.

You won't learn it all overnight, but then, neither did the charter boat captain.

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