If you like eating at restaurants, at some point you’re going to have to wait to be seated, especially at the more popular ones. Sometimes the same holds true of crowded fishing spots. That was our situation last Saturday as we approached Thomas Point Lighthouse — there were already half a dozen boats on the hook, live lining for stripers within feet of each other while a few others circled waiting their turn. Nearly rubbing paint is part of the deal when fishing close quarters.
I tagged along with three military veterans — Josh O’Neil of Arnold, a St. Mary’s High School grad now retired from the Army who served seven years, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Vietnam era veterans Jerry Gray and his friend Dennis (no last name given), both of Dover, Delaware — who were part of the “Rock on Warriors” fishing event hosted by Annapolis area volunteers.
When a spot finally opened up, our skipper, Capt. Justin Downs of the charter boat Migrator eased the deadrise along side the eastern side of the Lighthouse, pointing the bow north, into the wind and current, both of which were just beginning to crank up. However, there was only enough room along the port gunwale for two anglers to pitch live spot. The Captain and his mate Jimmy Murray hustled to put the trio on fish despite striper lockjaw and fairly sporty weather conditions. After several strikes, Josh broke the ice, bringing aboard a 22-inch keeper.
The crowd thinned so Capt. Downs reset the operation to the Thomas Point, and although the rock were harassing the baits, more often than not they’d only mouth it, eventually spitting out the live morsel. Persistence paid off, and Jerry finally got one rockfish to inhale completely, but it measured a quarter-inch below the minimum 19-inch requirement, much to all of our disappointment, especially the angler’s. Both the captain and mate showed exemplary patience with fishermen who were not inexperienced with circle hooks.
Then, just when it seemed the bite was about the turn on, the skies opened, rain poured down and wind kicked up something fierce, chasing us into the South River, where we found spot and white perch in more sheltered waters. Bloodworms worked well, as we expected, and a bent rod beats inaction every time.
Afterward, the veterans, their families and friends were treated to a first-class BBQ lunch provided by Adams Grille and Tap House in Edgewater. The group swapped stories of fish caught, and missed, including keeper rockfish, perch, spot, catfish and even a Spanish mackerel or two. All who attended received gifts and several prizes were also awarded.
Brian Stempowski, who led the volunteers, said, “I’d like to thank Warrior Events and the coordinators from the area Vet Centers for helping bring together veterans of all ages for this event. It is a privilege to coordinate this event and to help provide a day of fishing and fun for our veterans and their families.”
He added that the event wouldn’t be “possible without the support of our generous sponsors and volunteers. A special thanks to Anchor Yacht Basin for donating use of their beautiful facility for the day and to Naval Academy graduate Delegate Herb McMillan for being our guest speaker.”
COASTAL COBIA PLAN
Even the most casual observer of social media (Ok, yeah, I mean me) would be hard pressed to have been unimpressed by the photos of the great cobia run Chesapeake fishermen enjoyed this summer. On Thursday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m., they’ll get a chance to hear the latest on the coastal cobia management plan, and chime in with their opinions.
The Potomac River Fisheries Commission and Maryland Department of Natural Resources will host the joint public hearing at the PRFC’s facility at 222 Taylor Street in Colonial Beach, Virginia. If you can’t make it in person, then email your opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject line: Cobia PID). The deadline is 5 p.m. on Oct. 4.
Contacts: Ellen Cosby (PRFC) at (804) 224-7148 and Lynn Fegley (MD DNR) at (410) 260-8285.
Thru Oct. 20: Dove Season, first split. Check DNR website for complete regulations. .
Thru Sept. 25: Early resident Canada goose season, Western Zone. Check DNR website for complete regulations.
Sept. 17-29: September Teal Season. Check DNR website for complete regulations.
Sept. 22: Rod & Reef Slam Fishing Tournament. Benefits oyster restoration and fish habitat. Three Divisions: Youth, Kayak and Powerboat. Party at Lowe’s Wharf Marina & Inn, Sherwood. Register at ianglertournament.com/2018-rod-and-reef-slam-angling-oyster-restoration.
Sept. 28-30: Red-Trout Tournament, hosted by CCAMD at American Legion, Crisfield. Register and more email@example.com.
Oct. 3: Free State Fly Fishers Club, 7 p.m. at Davidsonville Family Recreation Center (Behind Ford Hall), 3789 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville. Guest speaker will be Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper, discussing “Enforcing Clean Water Laws.”
Oct. 12-13: CBKA Charity Kayak Fishing Tournament. Camp Wright on Kent Island. Benefits Heroes on the Water and CCA MD. Registration at chesapeakebaykayakanglers.com.
Oct. 20: Rocktober Cup, hosted by Baltimore Chapter, CCA MD. Details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oct. 27-Nov. 2: Dove Season, second split season. Check DNR website for complete regulations.
Nov. 3: Fish For A Cure. Monies raised in the Paul C. Dettor Captain’s Challenge funds the Survivorship Program at AAMC’s Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute. Details at fishforacure.org.
Dec. 18-Jan. 12, 2019: Dove Season, third split. Check DNR website for complete regulations.