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A Foul Smelling Cooler, but a Gorgeous Day on the Water, April 29th, 2015

Summary


Today, I returned to the marina with a foul smelling cooler, but I enjoyed a spectacular day on the water. The Fishweather forecast for today was for clear skies and 4-10 mile per hour winds; the forecast was spot on, but unfortunately, I could only muster two missed knockdowns and took a skunk. Based on my firsthand experience today and the chatter on the radio, it was a very tough bite.

With me today, was me, myself, and I. Going on some winter jelly reports, I was underway at 6:30 am, and ran south to between the radar towers and Sharp's Island Light to try and get away from the snots. While I could not boat a fish, I did manage to avoid the jellies for the most part. I started fishing at 7:30, and had my last line pulled and put away at 3:15 pm. I ran an east to west pattern from about 100 feet in the mid-channel, to about 40 feet on the western side. I trolled from 2½ to 3½ miles per hour as indicated by my chart plotter's paddle wheel.

I marked most of the bait and the occasional fish on the western side in shallower water from 40 to 50 feet, and I got both of my strikes fairly early on the western side. Both strikes came on tandem rigs, 60 and 100 feet back. It was a gorgeous day for a boat ride, and I would like to get a couple more cracks at those big and thinning in numbers stripers before they depart for New England for their summer vacation.


Spectacular Day!

Conditions
In short, spectacular. Air temperatures were seasonal; the temperature was about 45° in Bowie before dawn, but the air temperature was in the low 50's when I arrived at the marina. High temperatures were in the low 60's on the water, and in the low to mid 70's inland. Water temperature was 54.6° out front and 56° by mid morning in the south off of the radar towers.

Winds started out of the WNW at 6-8 knots when I arrived. Laid down to 2-6 mid morning, and shifted to out of the south at 10-13 in the early afternoon. Skies were clear and cloudless, and the seas were very forgiving. The waves were anywhere from flat to a 1½ to 2 foot chop.

Low tide at Thomas Point Light was at 8:43 am, and high tide was at 2:56 pm. Low tide at Chesapeake Beach was at 7:49 am, and high tide was at 1:45 pm. Sunrise was at 6:10 am, sunset was at 7:56 pm, and the moon was 75% full and was waxing. Salinity at The Gooses: About 9.5 PSU and fluctuating. Salinity at The Gooses was has been fluctuating from 7-12 PSU over the past 30 days.

The boreal "lion's mane" jellies were not as bad as reported, but lines were checked regularly; the jellies thinned out as the day progressed.


Scratching and Sniffing for Marks

Baits/Spread


All shads were 9-inch.

Port Board Rods: 100', 2 oz white single; 80', 4 oz chartreuse single Spankin' Striper with white shad; 60', 4 oz chartreuse single; 40', 6 oz chartreuse single.

Starboard Board Rods: 100', 2/4 oz white Spankin' Striper with chartreuse shads; 80', 2/4 oz white tandem; 60', 6 oz all-white Alien with silver tinsel with a 9" see-through green glitter shad in tandem with a 2 oz Alien with a purple head and chartreuse hairs with a 9" pearl shad (Skip Special); 40', 6/9 oz chartreuse using "Lucille"

Single Boat Rod: 24 oz Chartreuse Chesapeake Bay Lures paddle tail with 6-arm white umbrella back 50 to 60'. The white version of the same was not deployed.

"Way Way Back": WWB, tandem 11/0 silver crippled alewife on a 30-foot leader with extra Sampos, and a white 3 oz chute on a 9-foot leader was not deployed.



Details of this enjoyable boat ride may be found below.

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Climbing the Walls
I typically target Chesapeake striped bass in the spring starting with the first week after opening day weekend, but the high winds over the past 10 days have kept me off of the water. Suffice it to say, I have been climbing the walls. I finally saw some relief in the winds during a weekday, and took full advantage of it.

After being up a little late Tuesday watching television with Kate, the alarm clock went off at 3:30 am Wednesday morning. Groggy, I got up, made my way to the bathroom, and started preparing for my day. As I was going about my motions, what I was about to undertake was starting to set in, and within minutes, I was totally wired. I quietly made my way downstairs and checked the weather conditions. The favorable weather was holding.



This was my Opening Day
Next, I started a pot of coffee, and went to the basement to load provisions and ice into the cooler; the previous evening, I had loaded most of the gear onto the truck. After breakfast, I went upstairs, and kissed Kate goodbye. She was a little sleepy, but she wished me good luck. Under cover of darkness, I made my way to the marina to find it devoid of activity. "Trophy season, and no one else is going out?" I thought to myself as I hooked up the trailer to the truck.

Before transferring any gear, I backed the vessel onto the ramp, and did a partial launch. I did this in the event of mechanical problems, being as this was my first trip of the season; this was my opening day. I boarded Unfinished Business, primed the engine, and turned the key. The engine fired up as though it was mid season, and I was soon transferring gear as the engine purred like a content kitten.


A Glorious Morning

A Cautious Start

It look a little while to transfer all of the gear, being as I was solo, but I was soon ready for departure. By now, the sun was peeking over the horizon, and numerous cardinals, chickadees, titmice, and other birds were singing. Next, I parked the truck, and left a float plan in plain sight on the truck's dashboard. "I need to be really careful out there, things can go really bad in a hurry" I thought to myself, as I made my way back to the boat.

This has been a really bad year for boreal jellyfish, and the game plan was to run to the south where I had heard that the jellies were not as thick. I was underway by 6:30, and made my way out onto a fairly flat bay. I sliced through a 6-inch chop, and made my way to, and stopped briefly at the #1 can at the Rhode West. The water appeared to be clear of jellies, looked green, but I only marked a little bait and no fish. There were a few widely scattered boats here. From here, I continued my southeast heading and headed towards the south side of Poplar, and then turned due south and paralleled the eastern side of the channel. .



Setting the Lines
I got to about a mile to the east of the C&R buoy, and started setting lines at around 7:30 am. The water temperature here was here was only 53°, one degree cooler than in front of the South River, which was a bit of a surprise. I headed due west towards the radar towers, put the boat on autopilot, and set up the spread. I had the 8 planer rods and a single boat rod set in a little over 20 minutes time, and I passed about ½ mile south of the C&R. I got to the middle of the channel, and in 100 feet of water, I started marking pods of bait. The bait came and went, and I eventually made my way to the western side, where turned back to the east in about 40 feet of water and continued my slow troll.


C&R Buoy

"That's a Fish!"

At about 8:45 in about 45 feet of water, I heard a pop followed by a rattling noise. I turned to see the #3 tandem, the "Skip special" 2/6 set back 60 feet twitching in its rod holder. "What the? That's a fish!" I thought, as I grabbed the rod and started a retrieve. No sooner than I grabbed the rod, the twitching ceased. "Maybe it's running at me" I thought with hope as I continued my retrieval. But alas, the fish did not hold.

Next, I took the opportunity to check the lines after retrieving the struck bait. There was a small amount of jelly on the larger bait on each of the tandems, little or no jelly on the smaller bait of the tandems, and little or no jelly on the singles. I got so focused on checking for snots as my vessel tracked eastward on autopilot, that I failed to turn around and go over the area where the knockdown occurred, which may have cost me another opportunity.

Nonetheless, on the same eastbound pass at 9:15 am, a fish hit a 2/4 white tandem set back 100' in about 70 feet of water. Once again, this fish did not hold, and the lines were re-set after clearing small amounts of jellies off of some of the baits.



Warmer Water and a Thermocline
At about 10:15 am, I saw 56° water temperature, and noticed a constant thermocline 25 feet deep regardless of the water depth; I first noticed the thermocline in about 45 feet of water. As the morning wore on, I heard numerous reports of short strikes over the radio. At about 11:15 am, and with the wind shifting to out of the south and at about 9 knots, I got what I believed to be a nuisance trip on the #1 tandem set back 100 feet. I cannot say for sure that this was not a third strike, but the clip was partially underwater at times, and at the time, the waves were a 1½ foot chop. When I reset and cleaned the lines, I made sure that the #1 tandem was riding above the surface.


Bait, and Thermocline

Giving Way to Afternoon

As the morning progressed, I continued to mark small concentrations of bait in places, mostly on the west side and in 40-70 feet of water. By noon, most of the bait was in the 40-foot mark, and all the while, I marked very few fish. When I did mark fish, they were in ones and twos near the bottom in about 70 feet of water, or just below a pod of bait. I continued my east to west troll, but got no more knockdowns. The fleet gradually moved to the north as morning gave way to afternoon, and pretty soon, the boats were thinning out.

I heard sporadic reports of fish being caught on the radio, but I saw only one fish caught the entire day. I started to head north at about 2 pm, and trolled the 40 to 70 foot line in a zigzag pattern, where I continued to mark the occasional pod of bait in 45-55 feet, sometimes accompanied by 1 or 2 fish identified as a distinct arch. I was now largely to myself, and the closest other vessel was over a mile away.


Fish Hanging Near the Bottom

Melancholy Feeling

At about 2:30 pm, I slowly started to retrieve the spread, one rod at a time, starting with the lone boat rod. I then pulled the singles on the port side, which had not produced all day. It started to feel a little melancholy as I started to pull the tandems. Despite the skunk, I wanted this gorgeous afternoon to linger forever. As I pulled each rod, I washed any jellies off with the raw water washdown, and carefully combed out the hairs of the chutes. With only two remaining rods to go, I still held out hope for a late hookup. But alas, the remaining two tandems were pulled, and I would return the barn with foul, rank smell of skunk in the cooler.


South River Welcoming Committee

Only 2-3 baits had jellies on them, mostly the outside baits, which I had not checked for a couple hours. By and large, I avoided the large concentrations of boreal jellies today, and by 3:15, the entire spread was pulled. The wind was now out of the south at 11 to 14 knots, which made pulling the boards a bit of a challenge. I noticed a nick in the PowerPro on the "Skip special" rod about 100 feet down, and made a note to resolve this before heading out again.

Journey North
I was underway and was heading north at about 3:35 pm, and sliced effortlessly through the mild chop at 40 miles per hour back to the South River with the wind at my back. The ride was short and enjoyable, and I arrived at the marina at about 4:15 pm. By 5:15 pm, the boat was pulled, topped off with 27 gallons of fuel, and returned to her dry storage spot. At about 5:15 pm, I cracked a beer, and lightly rinsed the rods and baits laying in the bed of the truck with a gentle stream of fresh water while trying to avoid the reels. I headed home at about 5:45, vowing to return soon and catch fish. I have some unfinished business to attend to on the bay.


It Breezed Up a Bit by Day's End

I heard of another bite directly in front of Deale in the mid to late morning. Next time, I may start just above Deale and troll the 40 to 70 foot line in a zigzag pattern while heading south. The next day, my back and every muscle was sore, and my hands were shredded.


Marks Were Scarce Today
 

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Why don't you rinse the reels. I fish off Palm Beach and always rinse the rods reels line and hooks, never have a problem with any of my reels. I would feel terrible if I forgot to wash the salt off of everything.
 

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Great report, I agree, I always rinse the reels and guides as I brush clean the parachutes. I wish I had 1/4 the writing ability and attention to details
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Why don't you rinse the reels. I fish off Palm Beach and always rinse the rods reels line and hooks, never have a problem with any of my reels. I would feel terrible if I forgot to wash the salt off of everything.
Great report, I agree, I always rinse the reels and guides as I brush clean the parachutes. I wish I had 1/4 the writing ability and attention to details
I used to hose off my reels, but I ruined a couple of Stradic spinning reels. Plus, my buddy ruined a nice Cabo reel doing this practice. I read somewhere where reels should not be hosed directly. What I have been doing since last summer is doing a gentle spray.

Last Wednesday, as I was hosing off the shads, water was trickling onto the reels. I'm looking to balance minimizing the effects of saltwater with not ruining the innards of a reel by getting water inside of them. I welcome any constructive criticism on the care of my equipment, and I appreciate the feedback.

As for writing a story after a skunk, or writing them in general, I very much enjoy it, because it allows me to re-live the experience. When I am writing, I'm not looking at a screen, I'm watching a movie. It does take a while to do, and I was chipping away at this one for several days. Thanks for the feedback in general everyone.
 

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Norm's 2 cents - I'll jump in to back up Don on the reel rinsing argument. If you "hose off" your reel with a high pressure stream, you can literally "HOSE" your reel...

Shimano's Reel Maintenance Guide states,
 

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Excellent detailed report ( as always ).

Hopefully it gets better in next few days.
 
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