It has been a different rockfish season. If you just look at big fish, you would think that it is the best season ever. The numbers of fish over 50 and even 60 pounds has been amazing. If you look at the overall numbers of fish, it has not been as good as previous years. The ocean bite has been anemic. Fish are being caught but nothing like previous years. The Cape Charles fishery has been producing some very impressive fish but last season, it was not unusual to go over there and catch 25 big rockfish in a day of eeling. This season, you may just catch 2 to 4 fish in a day but they may all be over 40 pounds. The high rise bite has been pretty good again with some really big fish caught. I still think that it is going to get better as the winter progresses, both for the ocean fishery and for catch-and-release fishing in the bay.
I fished some each of the last 3 days of the bay season. I took Tricia over to the Concrete Ships late in the day on the 29th. One drift, one bite, and she caught and released a fish a bit over 44 inches. Boats on either side of us each boated fish right much larger than hers.
I was not going to fish the next day but when I woke up, it did not look too bad so I ran back over for a few drifts before coming back home to watch the football games. I had 3 bites and caught none. Capt. Herb Gordon was drifting right beside me. I mean right beside me so I had a real good view. He has caught many large rockfish, mostly by trolling in the ocean. This was his first time drifting eels. His party also had 3 bites. They broke one off. The two that they caught had a combined weight of over 100 pounds! One weighed in at 60 lbs 2 oz and the other weighed 41 lbs 8 oz. Heck of a start at eeling. Herb is going to send me some photos of his catch but I don’t have them yet. We were both fishing a little spot that Capt. Max King put us on. He had caught a 55-pound fish there the day before.
New Year’s Eve looked like a club meeting of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association over there. The weather was gorgeous, calm and warm. Fishing was slow. Pretty much everyone I talked to had 1-3 fish and had one about 40 pounds. That is per boat not per angler. We did about the same. We caught 3 fish and Charles Southall caught our 40 pounder. It was a nice way to spend New Year’s Eve.
I fished Sunday for my first attempt at eeling. I started out near 18 with a lot of other boats but after several drifts had not had any luck. I moved south and set up near you for the rest of the trip but didn't have a bite there either. If I hadn't of been freezing (it was blowing and raining) I may have been able to put enough time in to catch one. I will have to try it again sometime.