Trolling with dreams on the line


While trolling for rockfish below the Bay Bridge a couple of evenings earlier this week, the action was dreadfully slow -- both in terms of catch ratio and boat speed.

But while the parachute-and-shads and chartreuse and white spoons throbbed 15 feet below the surface, taking an occasional 2-pound bluefish and an even less frequent rockfish that came even close to the 18-inch minimum, there was a passing show to watch.

Early in the week, after the U.S. Sailboat Show ended its Columbus Day weekend run at the city docks in Annapolis, the fleet dispersed -- all still spit and polish and quick through the water.

At midweek, the spic-and-span fleet for the United States Powerboat Show started moving into Annapolis.

As the boats passed on their way toward Annapolis or on their way out to wherever, they could be seen as boats should be seen, in motion into a breeze with at least a small sea running.

And it helps to be watching when you are a bit wet and cold and tired of trying to keep all the pieces of that old clunker of a boat you are fishing from working for a few more weeks before putting it up for the winter -- and starting all over again in the spring.

There were a few minutes Tuesday evening, as the sun was setting, an orange ball settling beyond Greenbury Point, when the old clunker easily could have gone into the classified ads:

FREE TO GOOD HOME. 20' Shamrock. Runs great. Well equipped. Fuel gauge broken again. Tired of fixing.

Probably the frustration of the moment was not caused so much by the aggravation of the on-again, off-again fuel gauge as it was by the envy of a parade of cockpit and fishing yachts heading toward Annapolis.

Throttled up. Trimmed out. Full canvas. Flying bridges. Color video fish-finders. Heat and pressure hot-and-cold water. Wet bars and multiple cabins.

Room enough for the old clunker to be winched onto the foredeck as a dinghy.

No-fault fuel gauges and tanks big enough that one needn't even look at them for a day or two at least.

But as the parade passed, a crowd of gulls and terns could be seen beyond them, hovering over a school of fish feeding in the shallows. Lines in. Throttle forward, the clunker was up and running smooth at 40 knots -- and within a few minutes and a handful of casts a striper was on the line.

Maybe the clunker is worth nursing through another year or two after all.

Besides, it's awfully tough to cast to breaking fish from inside a full enclosure.

But a couple of years down the line, it will be time for another boat and the Annapolis show offers a great opportunity to shop )) around and inspect the latest models.

Interest rates are still favorable, although there have been recent indications they are about to rise, and boat manufacturers are having their best production and sales years in half a decade.

The number of boats on display in the water this weekend should be up almost 20 percent over last year, and many builders bring their complete line of boats to the Annapolis show.

Viking, for example has nine models from 38 feet to 65 feet. Hatteras Yachts will have a five-boat display ranging from a 39-foot convertible to another cruising or fishing yacht of 65 feet.

The largest section of the show, however, is devoted to fishing boats and Albemarle Boston Whaler, Grady-White, Luhrs, Penn Yan, Robalo and Wahoo all will be represented.

The powerboat show opens to the public tomorrow at 10 a.m., and whether fishing, cruising or skiing is your choice of water sport, there will be something for everyone -- from a 76-foot sport yacht worth $2.6 million to a new fuel gauge sending unit for under $30.


What: 23rd annual United States Powerboat Show, the largest fall in-the-water show in the world. Hundreds of boats on display afloat and ashore, from large motor yachts to inflatable dinghies. Also nautical equipment, accessories and services, including financing, insurance, commissioning and outfitting.

Where: City dock and harbor, Annapolis.

When: General admission days are tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Show opens at 10 a.m. each day.

Admission: $9 for adults, $4 for children 12 and under.

Information: Call (410) 268-8828

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