'No. 2' captain hooks No. 1 striped bass in Maryland 64.7-pound rockfish catch breaks state record


How can you call a winner "No. 2," especially when he has just brought in the new Maryland record striped bass?

On Wednesday, May 13, Capt. Mike Harris of the charter boat Compensation brought in a new state record rockfish to the Rod 'n' Reel Dock at Chesapeake Beach. The fish was 51 inches long, had a girth of 32 inches and weighed 64.7 pounds. The previous record of 55 pounds had been set in 1973.

Alan Sosslan of Edgewater reeled in the record fish, and Randy Modesitt had booked the charter. The fish was caught trolling a No. 21 silver Tony Accetta Pet spoon with a mirror-back finish. The line was 30-pound-test wire, the trolling weight, 28 ounces.

The first fish of the morning had been a 36 1/2 -inch legal fish reeled in by Modesitt. Harris found this fish just outside the "CR" buoy, southwest of Chesapeake Beach. With a legal fish in the box, the pressure was off, and Harris said he decided to look around. He almost got himself trapped in crab pots near the Goose's Bell Buoy and worked his way to the channel edge. He was in 45 to 50 feet of water when the big fish hit and was brought to the boat.

Harris called state Department of Natural Resources biologist Ben Florence, who happened to be on the water in another charter boat. Ben told him that with the stated length and girth, the fish possibly set a record. And sure enough, once they got it on the scales, it beat the old record by almost 10 pounds.

Harris is a full-time charter boat captain in spring, summer and fall, and a waterfowl guide in the winter. For the last six years, he has run ocean charters up and down the East Coast. Before that, he operated the Compensation in the bay and filled in for the legendary Capt. Mike Sullivan on either Sullivan's Miss Dolly or the Dolly Diesel.

To preclude any confusion between Mike Harris and Mike Sullivan on the marine radio, Capt. Mike Harris picked up the nick-name "No. 2," as in Mike No. 2.

"Hooking the record fish is all luck. It means being at the right place at the right time," Harris said. "Or maybe Sullivan sent it as a present."

Sullivan died two years ago.

And, yes, Harris is still No. 2 to several of us who used to fish with him and with No. 1.


If you fished the Bay Bridge area last weekend, you probably noticed the water looked like old iced tea that has sat in a glass for a day or two. Mike Haire, of the state Department of the Environment, said the brown algae caused the stain.

He said it is a natural spring happening when you get two or three warm, sunny days, followed by two or three cloudy, rainy days.

Maybe so, but he sounded too much like a car salesman or a PR man sugar-coating a bitter pill.

Excessive nutrients in the bay cause these algae blooms. When the sun goes down, the algae die and sink to the bottom. As they deteriorate, they take oxygen from the water. If the bloom is big enough, it can cause fish kills as the fish get trapped in water with little or no oxygen.

Our bay clean-up program is supposed to reduce the nutrient flow into the bay by 40 percent, but where is our bay clean-up program when we need it? Ask the politicians.

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