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Chesapeake Bay Fishing and Lighthouse Tours PDF Print E-mail
Written by Carol Martino   
Friday, 16 April 2010 09:57

Pursuing the Elusive Rockfish

"Trophy fish coming aboard!” Those words are sweet music to anglers who dream of catching a once-in-a-lifetime prize rockfish, also known as striped bass. For anglers aboard Net Profits, that music played daily as they reeled in trophies while Virginia Beach fishing during the winter rockfish season.

ToNet Profits leaving the dock at Rudee Inletm Perry, a life-long saltwater angler from Pasadena, MD, still gets excited when reliving his 52-pound catch. “I’ve always caught my limit with Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing, but I had never experienced anything like that,” he said recalling the excursion he took on Net Profits.  Captain Steve Dunn was at the helm and Captain Rich Schott, who owns the fishing charter business, was rigging the baits as anglers reeled in the silver-sided striped giants. “Rockfish are one of the most exciting game fish you can catch on the Chesapeake Bay and will test the mettle of the best anglers,” Capt. Rich said praising the staying power of both fish and fishermen.

Serious anglers who have fished on a Chesapeake Bay fishing charter, either Net Profits or Jessie Girl, commend its seasoned captains for bringing first-class charters to the bay. There’s nothing like muscling in a mighty striper but first you have to find them. The captains know all the hot spots, according to Tom. "They’re great fishermen and skilled seamen. They’ve seen it all, done it all. They’re familiar with cutting-edge tactics and can manipulate the proper lures,” Tom said. Not surprising since Rich, Steve and Lee Buckel, who captains Jessie Girl, cut their teeth at the end of a rod and reel. They have a combined 80 plus years of fishing experience, mostly catching rockfish, and are eager to share their knowledge with anglers.

Captain Rich launched the fishing charter business, Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing, in 2006 with Jessie Girl, a 52-foot Chesapeake Custom. Net Profits was added to the fleet in July 2009. The custom-built cruiser is equipped with top-line electronics, navigation system, safety equipment, sound system, and fishing gear. The luxury cruiser, also a 52-foot Chesapeake, features a massive deck and fly bridge. “It’s the Cadillac of the Chesapeake Bay,” he said. Both are US Coast Guard certified for 47 passengers.

The boats sport Cove Regional Series rods with 330 Penn reels and custom-made lures. But nature is often the best tackle, according to the master navigators who fix their eyes on the sky for seabirds. “If a mass of birds is circling around and diving into the water, it’s a good sign there’s a school of baitfish below with predatory game fish in hot pursuit,” Captain Rich said.

When Net Profits was docked at Virginia Beach’s Rudee Inlet December through March, Tom boarded the celebrated cruiser with other anglers seeking world-class stripers. He recalled trolling a few miles out when great flocks of Gannets were spotted plunge-diving at high speed into the water. “There must have been tons of bunkers and other baitfish in the water and a massive school of rockfish was feeding on them. The seabirds were diving into the water like torpedoes and feasting on fragments of flesh left behind; little flakes of scales glittered in the water. We set our lines with lures that mimic the baitfish, gave them a nice presentation, and ran right through them. The birds got their prize and we got ours," he said.

Anglers were catching stripers that averaged 20-50 pounds one after another. Most of them were at the higher end. Tom said it sometimes takes 20 minutes or more to pull one in, "cranking and winding down on the rod, pulling back, winding down while it’s thrashing around. Sometimes your arms wear out but the excitement never does.”

The captains and crew of the 52-foot beauty returned home to the Chesapeake Bay for the spring rockfish season which opens in April. Serious anglers are lured to the Chesapeake Bay each year armed with record-breaking dreams. Both Net Profits and Jessie Girl offer morning and afternoon daily charters. “The bay is good fishing year-round, but spring is the most predictable time for a shot at a trophy-size rockfish. They’re a migratory species and return to the Chesapeake Bay to spawn. As the water warms, they head north. Come fall, as water temperatures drop, they move south again to winter along the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina,” Captain Rich said.

Added Captain Steve, “With the weather conditions predicted for this spring, we think the striped bass season is going to be one of the most abundant yet. We’re hoping to catch our limit every day.” He’s excited about Net Profits, one of the biggest charter boats around. "It’s a real luxury to be on a brand new boat. People like having the space. There’s plenty of room to stretch out, and the padded seats are so comfortable that some passengers nap a while on the fly bridge. And the views are excellent for those who want to just want to soak in the tranquility and beauty,” he said.

Thomas Point ShoalMaryland Lighthouses on the Chesapeake Bay

Passengers are often curious about the lighthouses still standing on the Chesapeake Bay, so the captains often throw in a history lesson. Picturesque Thomas Point Shoal, a screwpile lighthouse built in 1875, graces the mouth of the South River and is the most photographed, according to Capt. Steve. Bloody Point BarThese screwpile structures, which stand on threaded pilings and are screwed into sandy or muddy bottoms, proliferated the bay in the 19th century. Thomas Point, with its one and a half story cottage, dormers and a cupolo is a Chesapeake Bay icon. It's the only remaining lighthouse at its original location in the United States and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999. Captain Steve said that rockfishing is typically good around the shallow waters near Thomas Point where the currents and tides are strong.

Passengers are also fascinated with the rustic Bloody Point Bar, a caisson-style lighthouse at the southern tip of Kent Island. It was built in 1882 when caisson platforms, thought to be more stable during winter ice flows, began to replace screwpile lighthouses. According to legend, Bloody Point Bar withstood more than harsh winters. Some say its name comes from a bloody past that includes pirates and picaroons and also ambitious colonists who slaughtered the natives. Other popular casisson lighthouses seen during Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing excursions include: the 1858 Sandy Point Shoal, a bright red sructure with a white roof that sits at the southern mouth of the Magothy River and is visble from the Bay Bridge; and the 1908 Baltimore Harbor Light, the last lighthouse built on the Chesapeake Bay. Located north of the mouth of the Magothy River, the two-story octagonal white brick tower once guided ships to the Port of Baltimore. 

Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing caters to all types of charters, which provide a perfect get-away for both avid and casual fishermen. Business owners find that corporate outings are productive and entertaining while developing camaraderie. Private excursions are popular for family reunions and bachelor parties or birthday and retirement celebrations.  Capt. Steve noted that all fishing gear and licenses are provided, and food and drinks can be catered. "We do all the work. All they have to do is have fun. We’ll even clean their catch at the end of the day.”chesapeake bay fishing captains

The captains have established a reputation for making their charters memorable so they often get repeat clients. “Our charters are very lighthearted. We take time to get to know everyone. It seems there’s always a common thread, whether it’s through family, work, or hometown. Everybody kids around, and of course we have to give a hard time to whoever makes the first catch,” Captain Steve said adding that "fishing is optional, but laughter is mandatory."

Captain Lee, who takes Jessie Girl out most days during fishing season, said, “A lot of people are from out of the area, maybe on a business trip or visiting family. They take an afternoon off to go fishing. They may never get to the Chesapeake Bay again, so we try to make the trip a memorable one for them. Sometimes we fill the boat with fish, other times it’s tougher. It’s always exciting to see their eyes light up when they catch the big ones, especially the kids who have only been exposed to a fishing pond,” he said.Jake reels in a rockfish

The fact that customers keep coming back says a lot for the captains, according to Tom. “Their vast fishing knowledge is a big draw, but it’s more than that. Fishermen are interested in what the captains and mates are doing and how they’re working the bait. They take time to answer all of our questions. They’re professional, courteous, have a sense of humor, and they sure know how to have a good time. Once you spend time on one of their boats you leave as their friend.”

Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing adventures are available every day April through December from the Queen Anne Marina on Kent Island which is within minutes of Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington D.C. Custom pick-up and drop-off points can be arranged anywhere on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Also, the captains offer fishing out of Rudee Inlet, Virginia Beach, December through March. To experience the excitement of a rockfish quest, call Captain Rich at (410) 703-2760 or visit Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing.


 Chesapeake Bay Fishing



Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 05:39

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