September Smorgasbord

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Brian Flannery with this huge big blue Catfish caught in Mattawoman Creek, in Charles County.

Finally, the cooler weather is causing fish to school and feed hard to fatten up for the coming winter.  Capt. Greg Buckner on the Miss Susie in Solomons is trolling to catch mixed bags of bluefish, rockfish, and Spanish mackerel from the Bay.  September and October are two of my favorite months to fish.  Almost any technique will produce fish.  Trolling, bottom fishing, live lining, and casting to breaking fish will all put fish in the cooler.
Last September, I had a most memorable evening of fishing in late September with my campaign manager Jackie Miller and her husband Terry.  Jackie and Terry volunteer to manage the Re-Use Barn in Hughesville which is a recycling activity sponsored by the Southern Maryland Isaac Walton League.  On a few Sunday afternoons, they escape to join me on the Pax River to discuss campaign strategy but we mostly crank in fish.
That particular evening, the first anchor drop produced very few bites at the edge of my favorite fishing hole.  So, I made a few drifts across Buzzard Island Bar to get a feel for the wind and tide interplay.  Still, few bites.  So, we pulled up lines and headed north to the power plant at Chalk Point.

I reached over the starboard side to check the water temperature at the mouth of the discharge canal.  The water must have been 95 degrees, too hot for fishing.  I moved out into the river and anchored just beyond the warm water just to see if there might be catfish hanging nearby.
After ten minutes without a bite, I fired up the inboard engine and slowly moved downriver.  Only a few seconds later, I realized that I had not drifted the last spot but anchored.  As I quickly threw the shift lever into neutral, a clank came through the boat from the propeller.
“What happened?” exclaimed Jackie.
I calmly said, “I wrapped my line and anchor around the propeller shaft.  Never done that before, duh.”
“What are we going to do?” she said.
“Well, I don’t know what we are going to do, but I am going under the boat to unwrap the anchor line.” I said as I kicked off my shoes and eased off the stern dive platform.
Fortunately, the boat had drifted back into that nice warm water.  Although it took a few trips underwater to unwrap the line, the task was a more like a dip in the hot tub.  As many times as I have been in hot water over the years, this was likely the most pleasant.
With the line unwrapped, we headed back downriver.  While the sun was setting, we anchored up at our first spot.  The tide was moving better.
For the next hour, twilight turned to pitch darkness.  We caught more species of fish that swim in the Patuxent River than I have ever caught during a single trip.  That September evening, we loaded the cooler with croaker, white perch, channel catfish, white catfish, bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and spot.  Crabs and toadfish were thrown back.  Of course, the flashlight went dead. 

Under the dim anchor light, it was hard to see what monster Jackie had caught till I netted the really big eel and swung it into the boat. What a mess!   Now, I keep a separate cooler with a thick layer of salt on the bottom just for eels.

That trip was a fine learning experience about persistence and patience as well as remembering to pull the anchor and charge the sealed beam flashlight.  The outcome was a September smorgasbord of seafood for myself, friends, and neighbors.
This November, please make sure to enjoy your fishing adventures but put your casting pole aside for a few minutes and cast your important vote at the polls on November 3rd  in the General Elections.  Thank you.

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