Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Camping, Fishing and Good Friends

Sometimes it's nice to just get away.  This time, my good friends Rusty and Donna invited our mutual friend Terry and I for a camping/fishing trip a few weekends ago to fish the mighty Chesapeake Bay.  Our fishing goal was to target the last few remaining jumbo striped bass but the main goal was to fish, hang out and have fun together.

Now this isn't the type of camping that I spent most of my life doing.  Throughout my younger years, I sought more primitive and remote camping experiences.  Even sleeping under a tent was considered a bit wimpy among my peer group.  Sleeping under the stars in a sleeping bag under certain conditions was wonderful experience as long as conditions were right.  That was when my youthful body could take sleeping on the hard ground and other things nature threw at us.  Now-a-days, I can fully appreciate the full comforts of home especially after a tough day on the water.

This wasn't the type of camping that I grew up doing, but let me tell you, it's comfortable, relaxing, a lot less painful,  and a heck of a lot of fun!  Here's Terry checking out the campsite.
No, this camping was much more luxurious, more like staying than camping.  But, man, let me tell you, my old aching bones really enjoyed it.  Rusty's daughter, Crystal, was kind enough to let Terry and I occupy their spacious beautiful trailer with all the comforts of home, including a big screen TV, sofas, easy chairs, a kitchen, you name it.  Rusty and Donna's trailer was even more luxurious.  There is something to be said about staying in comfort, especially after a rough day on the water when you still have wobbly sea legs and muscle aches from muscles that aren't used to choppy water.

The bay was a bit rough when we took to the water in Rusty's boat, but we tossed out tandem bucktail rigs with varying weights so that you could cover different depths.  We put out four rigged rods and set them in his standard rod holders.  He didn't have outriggers or planer boards that allow you to get out the maximum number of rods and cover more water, but we had enough tempting lures out there to nail a big rockfish (as they're known in the Bay area) if one passed by them.

After about an hour of trolling around, a couple naval vessels approached us and asked us to leave the area so that they could conduct target practice.  I've fished with friends in this area for years and this is only the second time that we've been run out of the good fishing hole.  Their target area covers nearly all of the good spots along the eastern channel.  So, we had to make the most of a tough situation.

After trolling through less than productive areas, and with the wind picking up leaving the Bay choppier than Captain Rusty likes to fish in, we pulled in our rigs and headed back in.  But we couldn't get skunked, so when we moved into more protected waters, we tossed some jigs and found some willing smaller stripers to get some fish under our belt.  We tried crankbaits and jigs, and this time, jigs were the ticket.
Here's Terry after catching a small but feisty rockfish.  They're a lot of fun jigging for them on light tackle .
Let me say right now that Rusty's wonderful wife, Donna, is quite the fisher.  She ties up rigs, baits hooks, and captains the boat like a pro.  It's almost like being on a charter boat!  She likes to catch fish also, and is very good at it, but she seems to enjoy making sure everyone else has a good time equally as well.  Not only that, she also cooked several breakfast and lunch meals for us, spoiling us every step of the way!  Kind, considerate, putting others before's just the way that she is.  With friends like Rusty and Donna hosting you, how could you not have a good time?
Terry boats another striper while Donna controls the boat with Rusty jigging in the background.  
But this time for lunch, since the Bay was a bit rough, we headed off the water to a stuff ourselves with all you can eat crab legs at Captain Pat's Seafood restaurant in Lexington Park.  What a meal!  After that, we "camped" while watching an NBA playoff game on their big screen TV.  Now, that's camping!!!

The next day, the wind died down and we put in more fishing time, this time jigging for stripers around a couple inshore points.  The bite was pretty good for the most part, and we caught a couple "keepers" but released them to fight another day.  Most of the rockfish that we caught were undersized, but are feisty on light tackle and are a ton of fun.

At one spot, you couldn't really jig the bottom, otherwise you'd snag a cow nosed stingray and man, did they put a strain on your tackle.  We tried to net one and when it saw the net, it took off for the open ocean with my drag screaming, and actually broke my old bass jigging rod!  It was OK though, that old Cabela's rod served me well for over 25 years and caught many fish.  I replaced it that night at our next trip to town.  At that spot though, you had to work the middle of the water column to the top to catch the stripers.  From that point on, if we snagged a ray, then we just broke it off.  After all, jigs are cheaper than rods!

We put in several hours on the water and caught good numbers of fish, but thunderstorms were moving in so we headed back to camp.  No problem, because after a brief nap, we all headed out to the Tiki Bar at Solomon's Island for some relaxation.  Grill Sergeant BBQ is right next door, and they combine to provide music, good food, drinks and relaxation.  The only problem was that it was outdoors and a thunderstorm moved through.  We were protected from the rain, but the lightning made it a bit spooky, albeit beautiful.  As the storm passed, we enjoyed a nice sunset mixed with light rain and lightning in the background.
We had a relaxing evening at the Tiki Bar while eating BBQ and watching the thunderstorm pass, completed by a beautiful sunset of Solomon's Island.
The next day, we had planned to fish all day but a front moved through and the Bay was very rough due to high winds.  So, we packed it up after Donna's delicious breakfast and we headed home.  Thanks to Donna and Rusty for being such gracious hosts, and for Crystal and Christian for allowing us to stay their beautiful trailer.  We had a wonderful time.

So, it's not always about fishing, sometimes, it's the overall experience that brings joy into our lives.  This trip had all of that!

No comments: