Saturday, July 13, 2019

July 5, 12 = Rockfish

Returned to the same island spot as I fished end of June.  The first outing was with my brother, on a breezy but sunny hot Friday afternoon.  The tide was falling for this trip.  Casting where we had caught the fish the week prior was fruitless, so we moved further up the creek into the marsh. The 17 foot deep hole ran up to a 6 ft deep lump and then deep again as we progressed in.  We decided to fish the inside of that lump.  And that's where we caught a ton of rock.  All but one were throwbacks, and the fish were a little on the smaller side, but caught a LOT of fish.  And best of all, no skates or rays.

A week later, July 12, Dan and I fished a calm and hot/humid late afternoon.  Same place.  Tide was opposite (low tide at 430pm), so slack when we first got there, then soon incoming.  As soon as the tide changed and started to run, we started to catch fish.  This was a larger grade of rockfish than the week before, and teh bite was very aggressive- tons of fun.  Water temp was 84F+, but these fish didn't seem to care.  I put 3 in the cooler, Dan 1, and they were 19, 20, 21, and 22".  We also caught some speckled trout, maybe 5 or 6, with one keeper at 15".

So, that's 3 consecutive weeks this spot has produced good fishing.  I'm goign to continue to work it until it lets me down.  Can't wait to try these waters in the fall.  Thanks for reading- #dealislandrandy

Here's a video of my chilling after we limited out:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Hot June Afternoon, and lots of fish

After a 3-week hiatus from fishing to do some vacationing with my wife in Europe, I finally got back after at.  My buddies Mark and Peter joined me on my boat on a hot June 28, 2019 afternoon.  Mark had proposed a name for my boat the month prior, so I had the decals created and I just applied them today.  She is named "THUNDERSTRUCK" as you can see in the following pics.

We took advantage of a very calm sea and motored across Tangier Sound to the spot Mark and I had recently found on the NW side of Smith Island.  A small cut, edged in breaker rocks, drains the wide inner marsh of the Glenn L. Martin Wildlife Sanctuary, and serves as a perfect funnel for bait fish and awaiting rockfish.  We caught the tail end of the outgoing tide, and the first few hours of the incoming.  The action started almost immediately.  We caught a lot of rockfish, estimated 50 or so fish.  I put two legal rock in the main cooler, and we caught a number of heartbreakers in the 16-18" range.  Speckled trout also showed up, I think we caught 4, one of which landed on my line and being the legal minimum of 14 inches.  A few spot rounded out the picture. 

The fish seemed to be stacking up on the North bank (the cut runs East to West) opposing the incoming tide, and we caught 90% of our fish here.  There was never any need to move, as the action was steady.  Now, the part I haven't told yet is just how many skates and cownose rays we caught.  This has become the norm when fishing with softcrab, and we are now eviscerating most that we get to the side of the boat, since they proliferate so profoundly and with no predators.  Until next time,.... #dealislandrandy

Sunday, June 2, 2019

May 31, 2019- quick rockfish update

Not much time to write tonight.  Fished with my new friend Peter.  Launched out of Wenona on a pretty calm afternoon.  Headed to Bloodsworth but unable to locate the spot I wanted, so we motored south to north side of South Marsh Island.  Same creek outlet we've been fishing.  Outgoing tide, lowq tid ewas 630pm.  Using soft crabs in 5 feet of water, we caught 10-12 rock in about 2 hours.  Four keepers in that time, ranging from 19-21". And yes, Peter out-fished me.  Friends, if you want to catch fish, come out with me.  Most everyone fishing on my boat lately has caught more than me.  Nice job Peter, hope we fish again soon.  

And a shout out to my buddy Dan- we launched his new 21 ft Parker center console on Saturday, honored to be part of that maiden voyage and looking forward to catching many fish on your boat!!  

Until next time, this is #dealislandrandy

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend 2019- a big red drum to remember

I had always been told that large red and black drum move into the shallows of Tangier Sound for a brief period right around Memorial Day.  And I've always been told that soft crab was the way to catch them. I've tried in years past to make this drum connection.  Last year I even bought and tried some super large hooks specifically for this purpose.

Saturday May 25, 2019- after a late night, I rendezvoused with my buddy Mark and our new friend Peter.  The plan was to launch out of Wenona on my boat, and try for a few hours to catch some rockfish.  Getting a late start, we launched out of Wenona into about a 10-152 mph SE wind, not too bad but a slightly bumpy ride across Tangier Sound.  The wind was forecasted to quickly increase, so I knew we had a limited window, and I also wanted to get us into an area somewhat protected from the wind.  The archipelago of South Marsh Island served this purpose well, and we anchored of the NW edge of the island.  We were not 5 minutes into fishing before we lost 2 rigs due to snags.  This would continue to plague us for the next several hours.  And when we weren't getting snagged, we were catching skate after skate after skate.  Mixed in were a few small rock and one small speckled trout.  And then Mark's line started to peel drag.  

Mark knew immediately this was something different.  He said that he could feel the fish's tail hit the line.  Mark was using a small spinning reel, 6'6" Ugly Stik, and 30lb braided line, just like I use.  The game was on.  Mark fought this fish for 5 minutes before I thought to pull out my phone and start shooting video.  Here is that video.  The battle lasted another ~7 minutes, during which the fish circled the boat 4 times, all without getting caught in the anchor line (we were sitting among too many pots in shallow water to pull anchor and let the fish pull us.  The fish surfaced early during the video, revealing that Mark had a large red drum on the line.  The next challenge was figuring out how to land the fish without a net, as I tend to not carry one on my 18 ft center console since it takes up valuable real estate.  As you can see toward the end of the video, I grab the fish with my bare hands and swing it up onto the boat.  After measuring it at 42 inches and taking some photos, we quickly released the beautiful fish (slot limit is 18-27").

Not yet finished, about a half hour later Mark caught this beautiful 24" speckled trout.

The next day was just Mark and me on his boat.  Conditions were completely different- it was hot, and there was little wind.  This trip was mostly about Mark showing me some of his spots, and about discovering new ones.  I'll show you one new spot below on the south sid eof Bloodsworth Island that I will return to, since I caught a keeper rock there and tossed a few shorts back.

I'll continue to explore and report on these other spots throughout the summer.  Until next time, this is #dealislandrandy

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

2019- a new year

Oh man, it's been 5+ months since I've updated this blog.  There hasn't been much to write about except unfulfilled outings.  Well, let's start out with turkey hunting.  I did hunt 2 days during the winter turkey season in January. And while it was great to NOT be at work, I should have just stayed home- as I didn't see anything.  Moving on to Spring gobbler season, I got into the woods a few days in April, and this was more productive.  I hunted 4/25 and 4/26, saw turkeys both days.  Both encounters were in the woods, not in the field, which had been freshly plowed.  The first day I had two toms run past me, about 60-70 yards away, and I could not draw them any closer to save my life.  Second day was a closer encounter but a lone hen.   And then on 4/30, my Dad passed away.  Having just turned 85 on the 25th, I knew he would have wanted me to be out in the woods on his birthday in stead of at the nursing home.  I snuck out one more day on May 3 just before we buried Dad on the 4th, with full military honors.  There was a lot of gobbling at sunrise and again at 9:15, but no sighting.  I got one more shot on May 17, but this was a bluebird day and a total bust.  I did take my new hen decoy into the woods on the last day, suspecting I could have drawn in the huge tom using her on 4/25.  So bummed I will have to wait until next year to try again.  I also bought a mouth call, but that isn't going as well as I had hoped.

I finally got my boat in the water on 5/18.  The spring was dominated with never-ending chores, including my work trying to establish electric at the camp, which has been 3 steps forward, 2 steps back all the way.  I have the conduit buried and the pedestal built, now waiting on the electrician.  So, launched from Wenona on the 18th, first time fishing with my buddy Mark, while has become my catfish fillet hook-up.  Blue catfish have dominated the spring catch throughout the bay, as the bay has been inundated with an influx of fresh water.  Things seem to be just starting to return to normal.  Based on some local intel, we decided to try the rock piles lining the NW side of Smith Island, just north of Ewell.  We tried a number of areas along the rock pile casting lures and with soft crab, and nothing.  It was incoming tide and between 10AM-noon.  Next, we found a new spot to which I'll return-a small funnel creek which drains much of the wildlife preserve.  It is a neat little ditch running about 15 feet deep, and I know at the right time and tide must dump baitfish out into the sound.  Mark caught a nice 19-inch rock (using soft crab), while I caught a small one and a turtle at the same time (yay!). 

And then out of nowhere, the calm wind flipped to 20-25mph, so as the captain I decided to take us to Tylerton for lunch.  I've been dreaming about returning to Drum Point Market for quite sometime, as they make one of the best and freshest crabcakes I've ever had.  We had a great lunch, tried a few places on our way back home (out through the east end of the island), and called it a day.  Boat ran great, and I'd finally finished waxing it the day before.  Hoping to get back out onto the water soon.Until next time.  #dealislandrandy

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Deer Hunting wrap-up, 2018

This was a great and memorable deer hunting season for me, just throwing it out there to start.  To re-visit, unlink many of my fellow hunters who begin bow-hunting in early September, I compress my personal deer season down to two partial weeks, both using my personal favorite weapon of high-powered rifle. Week #1 starts in south-central West Virginia, where I am granted the privilege of hunting the 1st two days on the most beautiful private land I've ever had opportunity to hunt.  Following that in the next week is a week of public land hunting on Maryland's beautiful eastern shore, specifically on my beloved Deal Island.

OK, so we open in West Virginia, home of the Mountaineers.  I arrive to my hunting destination Sunday prior to season, but in time to carefully sight in the scope on my Remington 30-06.  Monday morning arrives, and I can't WAIT !!!  After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, we head out on my buddy's 4-wheeler to our hunting spots.  I'm riding "bitch", meaning that I'm sitting behind him on the same 4-wheeler, which I'm really just about getting too old to do but maybe I've got one year left.  I'm the first drop at about 75 yards from my stand, as my buddy Pat plans to roll on to his stand about 1/4 mile away.  Just near my stand Pat realizes that he has lost his back pack, and we must now back-track.  Five minutes back-tracking on steep terrain, we find the pack and resume our journey to our stands.  This has cost us a precious 10 minutes, typically not a big deal but we had cut our timing close this morning and I arrived at the road to my stand at 6:35AM, putting me in my stand at 6:40- dawn was soon breaking over the steep mountains.  After putting my 2nd foot in the 15-ft high stand, I quickly began to organize m self and my gear, including finding mu bullets, loading my clip mounting clip to rifle and then chambering the 1st round.  Last thing I recall is giving one quick grunt using my deer call.  Within 2 minutes of the grunt call, no exaggeration, I hear what I estimate to be a sizable deer crashing though the woods on the mountainside above.  Looking in the yet still dark through the woods uphill, I see a dark silhouette of a deer, and I'm pretty sure topped my a pretty nice set of antlers.  Game ON !!!  I raised my gun to see this deer through the scope, and quickly recognize that I've got at least a 6-8 pt buck crossing down the hill above my, right to left.  With many large trees between me and this buck, I then moved the scope to the left, placed at where I estimated the deer would eventually walk into in short time.  And exactly as predicted, this buck moved into the cross-hairs of my modest 3-10x40 Bushnell scope, and the kill-shot was placed.  This buck dropped instantly, just the way I like.  845AM 1st day of the season, SCORE  8pt!!!

Two hours later almost to the minute, buck #2 comes walking across the hillside above me, also hiding behind the trees.  But I knew this was also a nice buck, so I play the same game, moving scope to the left and waiting for him to walk into the cross-hairs.  And,... POW!!!!, that, he did.  This won was also an 8 pt, but atypical with 5 points on one side and 3 on the other.  So here's the one part of this story so far I haven't told,... I have family about an hour and a half west of here that I never see and have mostly lost touch with, except for one cousin, who I love dearly.  I had prayed (to the Lord) to be able to kill 2 deer my first morning, so that I would have time to visit her with my remaining brief time in the area.  Same scenario unfolded 3 years prior.  And both times, my prayers were answered and I was given a great time of fellowship with my cousin.

OK, fast-forward to the next week, Monday after Thanksgiving.  I've set up camp at my Deal Island camp location.  I've become pretty successful at taking 1-2 smaller deer (by comparison) here each year.  I was warned in advance that not many deer available to shoot.  Scouting the local public land on the preceding Sunday, I concurred as I observed the state had not left any crops in the fields as they usually do.  So as Monday rolled around, I was eager to take the first deer I saw.  The deer down here usually come at shots of great distance, and one of my faults is being able to judge the caliber of deer at long distance (150 yards +).  Monday evening, I roll into the public hunting area in Dames Quarter and proceed to take the Cemetery location, overlooking the SE corner.  At 4:10 a smallish deer emerges from the opposite corner, and I waste no time in placing a bullet right where it belongs.  Upon gathering the deer after retrieving my cart and depositing my weapon, I wished I had halted and waited to see what might have followed.  Yes, at 55, I am still learning,... but deer #3 nonetheless.

Skipping over my non-productive Tuesday and Wednesday morning. both of which were embraced in cold temps (mid-30's) and gale-force winds, I ventured out Wednesday afternoon to the public area on Deal Island. I was the only on hunting, to no surprise as it was brutally cold and windy. In fact, I would have forecasted that no deer would venture into these conditions.  But wouldn't you know it, a hungry small spike buck emerged from the edge of the woods exactly at 4:10PM, and I placed a 30-06 round perfectly in young buck's neck, ending his show right then and there. 

And that is IT!  A couple of final thoughts,... I winterized my center console (maybe prematurely, but it was "time",..) that same week.  The rifle has been cleaned, and I am DONE (for now).  For the next 3-4 months, my beloved wife gets her full-time husband back, an I continue to pray that she will allow me to do it all again next year.  I have a LOT of venison in my freezer, and I will be making jerky as fast as I can.  Contact me of you need some.  I'm loaded up on rockfish, oysters, and softcrabs too. It's going to be a great winter, but I can't WAIT for spring !!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

November crabs, rockfish too 11/3/18

Ever since I was a teenager, we have always crabbed somewhere around the 1st week of November, using the opportunity to catch the season's nicest crabs and also to winterize and shut-down our camp at Deal Island.  Now that I am the sole user, and live nearby (one hour), I don't close up camp until (usually) early December, and even the am able to re-open in about 20 minutes.  Nov 8 is my brother's birthday, and often we would use that as a time to catch the year's last crabs.  In recent years I've become more interested in October/November fishing, and for the last 2 years hat has even eliminated my opportunities to crab.  This year, thanks to extreme wind oddly enough, that rare chance presented itself.

Saturday Nov 3 was forecasted to be an extremely windy day, and it did not disappoint.  Far too windy for me to consider launching my center console into Tangier Sound to fish, I knew from history that even though it would be difficult I would still be able to get my jon boat out into the Dames Quarter marsh to catch some crabs.  My fishing buddy Dan joined me on this trip- he has been on the island 2 years but not yet seen what I was going to show him on this day.  We launched in a steady 25-30 mph wind, restricted to using an electric motor, so it was quite a challenge.  We got down past the first dyke just after 1030 and planted the 14.4 ft jon boat in the center of the creek.  No good, wind blew us off our plant, even with two capable anchors out bow and stern.  Next move was to plant the bow in the marsh, which served to steady us but made it difficult for Dan (sitting in the bow) to have access to any handlines, baited with turkey necks.  We finally got the boat positioned in another spot with the wind at our bow, and we were able to hold.  Using 10 handlines, the crabs slowly started to bite.  I knew right away this was going to be special, as we started netting the biggest, prettiest male crabs I have ever caught.  We were even catching these monster crabs simply swimming by on the surface, as the water was flowing back toward the dyke.  This continued until about 1330, at which point we had 3/4 bushel of gorgeous crabs (definitely enough for us to eat), and I was getting tired.  So, we called it a day, took our crabs back to Dan's, steamed the crabs to perfection, and ate them while we watched WVU beat Texas.  All the cras were 6-8", and most greater than 7".

Sunday 11/4, the winds had laid down enough to fish.  TJ would join me for this.  We launched at 0900 in advance of a 1050 high tide.  People were telling me fish were being caught in the Manokin and in Dames Quarter Creek, but I didn't listen.  I staked my effort on South Marsh and later on Little Deal Island, both of which produced fish casting jigs, but all on the small side.  On the way out to South Marsh, it was blowing 15-20 mph and with and easy 3ft chop.  The birds were swarming in the air, but the baitballs, not visible due to the rough waters, seemed to be moving and breaking up as soon as they formed. We tried dropping metal jigs down into them, but we could never get squared up with an active school of rock feeding on the menhaden.  Hours later and on the way back across the Sound and with far calmer waters, the birds had completely disappeared.  With the remainder of my November mostly tied up with travel and hunting, any remaining chances at big fall rockfish might be over.  In total, we put 4 smaller fish in the cooler.  Until next time, at which I should be detailing some deer hunting, this is #dealislandrandy