FISHTACKULAR: Cap’n Larry Jarboe tells all on Yellow Water Blues

  • Used to be that politicians pledged a chicken in every pot. Times are so tight that our Maryland legislators are trying to tax chickens. With all the chickens crossing the road to Virginia to escape O'Malley mania, even the fowl are calling foul. Senator Catfish Larry Jarboe says: Look for the "Catfish in Every Pan" Plan coming from the cooler in my truck.

Fishtackular Fishing Advise by Cap'n Larry Jarboe  THE CHESAPEAKE  “Watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow!” 
Probably most readers of the CHESAPEAKE TODAY do not remember or recognize the immortal lyrics that Frank Zappa released on both the Apostrophe album and a single in 1974.  However, most of us are smart enough to avoid eating any color snow.
Unfortunately, most of the creeks and rivers this past January have been either full of muddy yellow water or covered with a thin crust of snow covered ice.  Either way, the fishing conditions have been pretty terrible in Maryland.
Probably, the best recommendation I can give regarding fishing in nasty muddy yellow rivers or ice covered creeks is to not even put a line in.  Why waste your time?
Mike Henderson and I reaffirmed the foolishness of fishing in super mud during a trip to Mallows Bay in early January.  We got skunked.
A couple years ago in early March, the water was pure yellow in the Chalk Point discharge canal.  Again, skunk was the order of the day.
Bluntly speaking, no true fisherman likes getting skunked.  As a former charter and party boat captain in Florida, I can honestly say I never brought home no fish.  The worst trip I had was a half day run that I extended for an hour and a half with consent from my customers.  That afternoon, our group delivered a porgy and a small Mutton Snapper to the Holiday Inn Docks in Key Largo.
My best trip was probably the night when ten customers caught over 300 Yellowtail Snappers.  We had lots of great night trips.  Unfortunately, there were not many people to witness those super catches when the boat arrived after midnight.
Now, the snapper limit is ten per person which is helping to keep the resource sustainable for another generation of fishing fanatics.
However, there were times even in Florida when the fish developed lockjaw.
I remember when Russ Thomas, a WWII veteran U.S. Army tank operator, and I booked passage on the Ranger in Key West.  The Ranger fleet operated out of Texas and was expanding their range to fish the waters around the Dry Tortugas.
For two days, Russ and I fished as hard as we could to make back the seventy-five dollar fare we had paid to fish sixty miles west of Key West.  Back then, you could sell your fish and usually pay for the trip.  Sometimes, a profit could be had.
The crew on the Ranger was not skilled in snapper fishing as we discovered they did no chumming.  Russ and I settled in for grouper fishing but the fish had developed lockjaw.  After two days of determined meat fishing, I had a single Rock Hind that was less than a pound and Russ had an eight pound Mangrove Snapper which was a fine Mangrove but a lousy two day catch.
Ironically, all the boat crews we talked to had similar experiences over that particular weekend.  The water was not yellow but it was a dark shade of green with a gentle west wind.  That combo in the Keys is almost as fishless as yellow water in Maryland in winter and early spring.
Regardless of where you fish, there are days when, despite our best efforts, the fish will not cooperate.  That is why we call it fishing not catching.
Larry Jarboe –

Jarboe State Senate bumper

Jarboe State Senate bumper

  • The historic buyboat 'Prop Wash'. THE CHESAPEAKE photo

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