Switch it up to counter fishing downturn

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My last two fishing outings, I’ve struggled.

My last two fishing outings, I’ve struggled. Clearly, my insignificant little drama is galactically far from a real problem, given back-to-back hurricanes — I’m sending positive energy to my friends, their families and fishing buddies as they ride out that hellacious meteorological monster — a mega-earthquake and serious issues confronting the country and world at large. Yet vexing, nonetheless.

Had I insulted the fish gods, somehow? Did some unknown cast a voodoo curse upon me, jamming up my mojo? The exact reason for my subpar performances wasn’t exactly clear, especially after a good run of success. The explanation is most likely more concrete, like moon phase, barometric factors, fishing pressure, et al. Oh, and lest I forget, fish do have fins. But where’s the fun in those plausible explanation? Whatever the cause, this funkiness clung to me like leaky, damp waders…that aren’t mine. So I was determined to cast off this pesky hex.

But let me pause here for a sec: I’ve seen this movie before, perhaps more times that I care to admit. Check that — while not happy about it, I’ll wear the skunks just as I do the joyous piscine highlights. It can’t always be puppies and popcorn, after all. Anyway, of the many confounding lulls three come to mind: casting to the mini-rockpiles inside Tolleys; sunken pilings and stumps off Hacketts; and, the rips at the eastern Stone Pile. That last one was where I witnessed a grown man melt down like a toddler, a truly startling tantrum in which he smashed his rod and reel into an unrecognizable heap. I’m still not sure what that was all about, but surmise it had something to do with me finally catching and him not. Or maybe a girl. Either way, it was funny.

Irregardless, the thing that connects that odd little yarn with the two previous examples — and my recent dry spell — is that on each occasion rockfish had lockjaw, even though the bite was good the previous tide cycle or three. The hot lure was yesterday’s news.

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We take a second look at your catch, submitted and featured in the Capital Gazette's Outdoor's Column this year.

I may not know much but I’ve learned that whenever I encounter such a downturn it’s time to switch it up. Which I did those aforementioned times, as well as most recently, turning to the venerable Rat-L-Trap to get out of the slump. I’d say I cast a chrome/blue-back shad of 3/4 ounces at least 50 percent or more of those times, though occasionally I’ll tinker with chrome/black-back, or if feeling a bit adventurous Ghost Shad or Sexy Summer Shad.

I’m confident you have your own “jinx breaker.” If not, remedy that but quick. Or perhaps you’re just that good and don’t need one. I also don’t claim the rattling plug I prefer is the Holy Grail. There’s more pretty girls than one (apologies to Doc and Merle), after all, and that damn sure holds true for fishing lures.

RED TROUT TOURNAMENT: Fall bay tournaments usually focus on big rockfish, but the 5th annual Huk Performance Red Trout Tournament takes a different tact. Hosted by Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland and based out of Crisfield, it’s a catch, photo, and release tournament scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct.1 that focuses on red drum, speckled trout, rockfish, bluefish, or even flounder if you can hook one.

It’s a fun but competitive event drawing fishermen from all over the Chesapeake Bay region, many whom make the three-plus hour trek from the Baltimore/Annapolis area to cast lines in the fish-rich waters of Tangier Sound and its barrier islands. Anglers can enter a three-fish stringer for each day, of any combo of the fish mentioned above. The Crisfield American Legion will host the Captains’ Meeting (Sept. 29), Awards presentations and after-party. You can register at ccamd.org.

While it may not yet hold the winning fish, it’s worth noting there’s a new artificial reef in Tangier Sound, located just southwest of the Little Annemessex River. Built from almost 400 tons of concrete pipe, the reef is a joint project undertaken by the Building Conservation Trust, the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, Rinker Materials, and Engel Coolers.

Email outdoors news, photos and calendar listings to cdollar@cdollaroutdoors.com.

OUTDOORS CALENDAR

Sept. 11: Pasadena Sportfishing Group, meeting begins 7:30 p.m. Capt. Brady Bounds on “Fall Jigging Techniques.” Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Hwy (Route 2), Severna Park. Info at pasadenasportfishing.com.

Sept. 16-17: MSSA Mid-Atlantic Flounder Tournament, Ocean City. Register at mssa.net.

Sept. 16: Wish-A-Fish Family Day, Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Contact Skip Zinck (410) 913-9043 to register.

Sept. 18: MSSA Broadneck/Magothy #10 Chapter Meeting, American Legion Post #175, 832 Manhattan Beach Rd, Severna Park. Meeting begins 7:30 p.m. Contact Skip Zinck, skipzinck@comcast.net.

Sept. 18: Menhaden Public Hearing, hosted by Maryland DNR. 6 p.m. at Anne Arundel Community College, Cade Center for the Fine Arts, Room 219. 101 College Parkway, Arnold. Contact Lynn Fegley at (410) 260-8285.

Sept. 23: National Hunting and Fishing Day, hosted by Maryland DNR at Clear Spring, MD.

Sept. 30-Oct.1: CCA-Maryland “Red Trout Catch-and-Release Tournament.” Crisfield, Md. Register at ccamd.org.

Oct. 4: Free State Fly Fishers meeting. Capt. Chris Karwacki presents “Fly and Light Tackle Fishing the Flats of Tangier Sound.” 7:30 p.m. at Davidsonville Family Center, 3727 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville.

Oct. 5-9: US Sailboat Show, Annapolis Harbor. Details on annapolisboatshows.com.

Oct. 7: Potomac River Rockfish Tournament, hosted by Aqualand Marina and Campground, Newburg, Md. To register, call (301) 259-2222.

Oct. 5-7: Mid-Atlantic Surf Fishing Tournament, Ocean City. Details on oceancitysurfanglersmd.com.

Oct. 6-7: Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers Rocktober Tourney. Camp Wright, Kent Island, MD. Benefits Make-A-Wish® Mid-Atlantic and CCA MD.

Oct. 7: “Rod & Reef Slam,” Anglers for Oyster Restoration, sponsored by CBF, CCA-MD, Maryland DNR. More information & registration at cbf.org/slam.

Oct. 12-15: US Powerboat Show, Annapolis Harbor. Details on annapolisboatshows.com.

Oct. 21: Little Havana “Rocktober Cup.”

Oct. 7: Chesapeake Bay Kayak Association’s “Rocktoberfest” Tournament. Camp Wright, Kent Island. Benefits Make-A-Wish® Mid-Atlantic and CCA-MD.

Nov. 1: Free State Fly Fishers meeting. Jesse L. Iliff, the South River RiverKeeper, will discuss the South River’s “Score Card.” 7:30 p.m. at Davidsonville Family Center, 3727 Queen Anne Bridge Road, Davidsonville.

Nov. 4: Fish For a Cure, Eastport Yacht Club, Annapolis. Money raised supports cancer programs at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Register at fishforacure.org.

Nov. 11: Rocksgiving Tournament, sponsored by Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Register at rocksgiving.com.

Nov. 17-19: MSSA “Fall Classic” rockfish tournament. Register at mssa.net.

Email outdoors news, photos and calendar listings to cdollar@cdollaroutdoors.com.

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