Monday was shaping up to be a beautiful day with temps warming up and the sun was shining.   We were meeting for lunch and then on to a boat for the third day of the Rock Fish season on the Chesapeake Bay out of the Solomon Islands.  I had never been trolling for Stripers out of the Chesapeake before and I was excited to go.  I knew four of the other eight fishermen as we are all hunters on a common lease, so I figured it was going to be a good time, and on our trip out to the fishing hole, I quickly found out that I had made four new friends and the jokes were flying.  It didn’t pay to not show up either as we quickly turned to roasting one of the fishermen that couldn’t go.  Sorry Alan.  We also had an auspicious start as the gentleman who arranged the trip gave the captain thumbs up to move out, forgetting that one of our party was not on board…we had to turn around to pick him up.

Fin Finder Charters

The Charter boat was Fin Finder Charters out of the Solomon Islands (http://www.finfinder.com/).  Captain Lee Tippett and First Mate Jason Hiss really know their fishing and as the Captain navigated to where he figured the fish would be, the First Mate busied himself setting up the tackle and both started answering our questions.  The rigging was impressive as they put out about 30 lines.  The fishermen drew cards to see who would fish first.

Lines Out

The first Stripers to hit were in close to the boat and were landed quickly.  It was impressive to watch the Captain and First Mate work to keep the boat headed in the right direction, net the fish, and move other lines out of the way so not to get tangled while the anglers were reeling in a fish.  One other thing that quickly became apparent was that if you were bringing in a fish, it was open season for roasting the fisherman and the jokes were flying (especially among the hunters who seemed to take any shot about a buddy’s abilities).

The Catch

The day went quickly and it didn’t seem to take long to have our limit for the day.  That began Round 2 of the day.  The waves were picking up and the boat was rocking a lot more as the day wore on.  The next day at work someone asked about the small craft advisory on the bay; I told them we had a few good swells hit us, but it didn’t seem that bad to me on the 46 foot boat.

I was on deck when the fisherman in front of me said this is a twirler.  I looked at the captain and asked what a twirler was.  He said the open their mouth and were just spinning all the way in.  The fisherman ahead of me said it was a younger man’s fish and he handed the pole off to me.  I lifted the pole to pull in the fish and I swore I was hooked to a brick wall…maybe it was going to take a younger man…

Mark Fighting a Monster Rock Fish

My arms were burning by time the First Mate was beside me, bringing in the other lines.  Suddenly my line was pulling in easier and what Jason had done was brought in a line that hooked to the front of my line to assist me.  I said, “You can’t let them know you are helping me, I will never live it down.”  He told me it wasn’t a problem, and as the fish neared the boat, he stood up and walked away, telling me it was all mine.  I will admit it now, the help was appreciated.  Thanks Jason.

All in all, everyone had the chance to pull in two fish, with two people passing on their second chance.  We successfully released all the fish over our limit and we caught some beautiful fish.  Back at the dock, the First Mate turned into cameraman as he snapped pictures of the group with their catch and then he and the Captain filleted our catch and bagged them up for our trip home.

The Fishermen

If you are looking for a great trip and a great fishing trip with a great crew, I suggest the Fin Finder Charters.  We had a professional photographer on board with us and I thank Greg Daily for letting me use some of his pictures in this article: http://www.dailysgallery.com/.  I was also impressed at my buddy Ed getting in and taking some pictures with his cell phone and he took some candid shots that came out very good as well.  Thanks to both for the photographs in this story.  I also want to thank Tom for setting up the trip through CCA-NVA and inviting me.

Mark C's Keeper

I will post another update when the filets hit the grill.