Launched from Sandy Point at 7:15 am with fellow Tfer Blue Lou. Light rain but predicted to clear up. Only few other trailers in parking lot. Got out to jetty and saw fog but had about 1/2 mile visibility and radar.
Running east along bridge - had to dodge what looked like a faded clam line marker. No idea why it would be right there - bad place for it.
We ran SE towards Mattapeake - watching meter. Slowed in 45 feet on west edge and set a southerly course. Put over port board and ran five lines. One single and four tandems - various colors. Lou put 6th rod 250 feet back off transom - 8/3 tandem.
With lines set - we shook off rain gear as drizzle stopped. Fog stayed though - bay was flat.
We worked near Brick House bar - one of my favorite areas. Radar showed a few other boats but we stayed away from them. Bay was so calm - radar was showing birds sitting in 60 feet so we headed there. Meter showed a few fish down about 40 feet - these usually will not bite. Lou pointed out a Menhaden swimming in a circle on surface - we thought it had been hit by a Rockfish. We circled this area and soon saw many more dead and dying Menhaden.
Not good - talked to others fishing and they reported same thing. Checked lines a few times - and had a close call. Before helping Lou reel in lines - I would move radar out to 2 miles to see if course was clear.
No boats near us other than the anchored ships and two other boats trolling about 2 miles away. We were checking lines when a large boat - " Bella " ran along our starboard side at about 20 knots - maybe 75 feet away. We could clearly see an open array radar unit but it was not spinning. Called them on VHF # 16 - he apologized for running so close.
I did quick math and figured Bella must have been just outside the 2 mile radar range and at roughly 20 knots - covered the distance to us in about 7-8 minutes - exact time I was in cockpit.
Lesson learned - check radar every 2 minutes when pulling lines.
Fog slowly lifted and soon we saw dead Menhaden in larger numbers. The Sea gulls were pecking at them but not eating them. We netted a dead Menhaden - it looked very fresh with no marks. Scary what is killing them.
We trolled all around # 87 - # 88 markers - another favorite area. I could not believe not getting any hits - conditions were good. No waves , no other boats around , 55 -56 * water temp. nice incoming current. We fished until 1:30 and slowly pulled in lines.
The Severn River Rod and Keg club holds a raft up at 2:30 so we ran over to join the party. Seven other boats had fished - no one had caught a Rockfish. Boats fished from just north of bridge to as far south as Bloody Point.
We all discussed lack of Rockfish over a few cold drinks - fun way to end the day. Left the party about 3:30 and ran north to Sandy Point. Running just inside Hacketts can marker - saw a tide line full of dead Menhaden that looked few days old. This went on for over a mile.
Got home and talked to some other fishermen - from Deale all the way to Solomons - no one caught or heard of any Rock caught - other than a few at the CCNPP by guys jigging. One side note - some 2-4 pound Catfish ( Channel and Blue ) caught from Sandy Point beach and jetty.
They say that life's a carousel - spinning fast, you've got to ride it well.
Sad, very sad.
Granted water is still chilly, but you’d think there would be SOME sign of life with those wide ranging reports.
Not good at all.
I had already considered converting my sport fisher to a research boat to try to figure out what is happening. This just about cinches it. Tackle off, instruments on. Get my pullage from perch jerkin’ or going to the Keys. Thanks as always Skip for keeping us informed! Damned few of us left here.
My buddy at Anchor yacht basin relayed to me that one of his friends was out five days last week and did not have one hit.
Thanks for the reports-sad to think we will have another spring like last year. I will still be out there with hopes the bite turns on
Thanks for the report Skip. Very discouraging. Any jellies on the lures?
Great pic of the raft up. Things got pretty loud after you left. Country music blasting on Rod’s boat. Raft up lasted until after 6:30. I suggested we do it again during the summer and maybe the fall too.
Two weeks ago, after a dismal winter of inshore fishing in SE Florida, I towed my Edgewater 158 up North hoping to catch some fish in the Bay. Other than great beach fishing during the Mullet run, we had to contend with Red Tide, Blue-Green Algae, wind, rain, and chilly temps. Sadly, I think it is just the new norm for short money'd fisherman.
Thanks for the very informative narrative. If you (and many very good fishermen) are getting skunked, it speaks volumes as to the state of the fishery. Given the current situation, my plan was to chum this spring, and I was toying with the idea of mixing in some trolling. After reading this, I don't think that I'll even bother with the planer boards and broomsticks. Sad, very sad....
Any theories to all the dead menhaden? It doesn't seem possible that there would be dead zones out there at this time of year. I have never seen that in the spring. Something poisoning them? Or just really early dead zones? Really bad news.