Rock Around The Clock
Yes, happy days are here again with another round of rockfish season!!!! It is sort of like Christmas day, but last for three months. Then comes New Years, the ocean season! Jim Baugh Outdoors is going to produce several stories this fall all promoting some old and new ways to catch these swimmers.
|Rockfish Pizza with Sourdough Starter Crust|
In this column I am going to review some of the general ways that we have caught Rockfish for both fresh and salt water. First up works for both the saline and non saline h2o environments and that is trolling.
This may be my all time favorite way for catching rocks. Certainly this technique does not work all the time but I probably enjoy it the most. The reason is simply that the method of setting out the lines and having a nice day on the water is very enjoyable. There is always movement and when the fish are not biting it can make for a nice conversational social gather with angling mates. When you do come across a school of feeding brutes, having six rods ZIIINNNNNNGGGGGG is always a blast!! The trick is with trolling if you want to catch fish, you need to be where the fish are. Case in point during the ocean season you can troll the beach until the cows come home, but if the fish are schooling 10 miles out, all you will catch by the beach is maybe a nice fat tasty 10 pound clump of seaweed.
Before I go trolling local research is usually at hand. I try to get an idea of where the bait fish are, water temperature, and any reports of schooling fish. Listening to the radio and seeing which way the birds are flying is not a bad idea either. Lastly, always fish current. Great minds may never rest idle, but rockfish do if there is no current. Always fish the tide in saline waters. Always.
Bump and Troll
A fun way to pick up a few rocks is to do what I call bump and troll. This is a successful method for always catching rocks however you do need a clean stretch of bridge with little to no boat traffic or else your heading for trouble. Position your vessel up current side about 30 yards and drift back your favorite chartreuse stretch far enough back to where it is just slapping the bridge pilings. Every time I pull off a fish doing this. Very important to remember that rocks aren’t on every piling across the span of the bridge. Trolling this way covers a lot of ground until you find the pilings they are holding.
Two very important tips if you are going to bump and troll.
1) Do NOT do it by yourself. Have a captain at the helm the entire time. Have your crew at hand with the rod to be ready for a quick hook up
2) PICK A SLOW DAY meaning very little boat traffic. If your out on a weekend and boats are lined up at the pilings, forget it. Simply is not worth the hassle.
I know a lot of you folks may think you lose a lot of lures fishing this way, but you really will not. If you keep the boat speed right and position the bait so it is just tapping the front of the pilings, you will not be loosing many lures at all.
Lastly like I always say, if your coming trolling with JB, pack a nice lunch because chances are you will be on the water for a while with plenty of time to dine.
Fly fisherman love it. Bass fisherman live for it. I, well, don’t do that much of it. Same reason I don’t play tennis. It’s not that I don’t look good in shorts or mind sporting colorful tennis ware.
If you like casting try the early morning or evening tide around the islands and pilings. The Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean are pretty big places and provides excellent opportunity for fly casters. Go have at it!!!!! Light weight angling on even a 10 pound rockfish is an absolute blast.
Pulling the Tube
I have written several columns in the past about this highly effective technique. For those that don’t know, pulling the tube does not mean you throw a rope overboard with an attached inner tube and sling your kids around behind your boat doing 60mph.
Pulling the tube means simply to fish the up current side of the underwater tube structure at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Depending on the current, you could be dragging a 16 or 20 ounce weight down to the rocks in order to keep the bait presentation where it should be.
This method always works for me, pretty much guaranteed. But it also works for everyone else and their brother, sister, friends, family, the hole darn shooing match and they are all there at the same time on the weekends doing the same thing. Throw in the charter boats, and you have one big mess. Do yourself a favor, just don’t do it. Fish elsewhere using other methods. If you hit the tunnels when no boats are around, go for it. You will find rocks in your boat pretty quickly.
I know anglers who hate this method for many reasons. Most complaints come from the “gee I don’t want to fish with all that weight on my line”. I can understand this. If you are having a slow day and nothing is happening with the fly rod, on the way in, stop by the tube for some pulling and have a wonderful rockfish dinner. Works every time.
A Remote Freshwater Tactic
This may seem like an odd way to catch fish, but it works and we featuring this on our TV show over 10 years ago. Keep in mind that if your going to catch fish, you have to be where the fish are. The problem is you can always maneuver your boat to get where those big swimmers are.
We had this problem come up fishing at Smith Mountain Lake one summer where the rockfish (stripers) were schooling down by the dam. There is a log boom that of course stops any boat traffic from entering the so called danger area. Our captain pulled out his trust surf rod and then from beneath the floor, A REMOTE BAIT BOAT!!! I had never seen one at the time. This boat allows you to tie your bait to a release clip on the small boat. The release clip and the bait boat are all controlled via a remote control.
So here we go, bait attached and having a ball playing with our toy boat. That sucker was fast to!! Once we got the boat down by the dam we released the bait via our handy remote and within five minutes, FISH ON!!!! I must say the Smith Mountain Stripers do taste delicious!! What a fun day.
So as you can see, there are many ways to catch a rockfish. This should be a great season and I am looking forward to seeing all my rock fishing friends on the water this season. I will have a lot more updates and info as to where we will be filming and when in the next couple of weeks.
In the immortal words of Frank White the Southern Sportsman, "Do yourself a favor and take a kid fishing."
Tight Lines, good reads and good eats!
Author of HOOKED