- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

TILGHMAN ISLAND, Md.

It’s not often that a charter fishing boat’s mate delivers a pre-outing pep talk to the customers, but Edie Goudeau had no problem doing it. She even changed the usual lingo demanded aboard a seagoing vessel and used landlubbers’ language.

“The bathroom is down there,” she said, “and please don’t put anything into the toilet that you didn’t first drink or eat.” There was no mention of a head, or going below. She made it easy for newcomers.

Goudeau soon worked as hard as any two men would, preparing rods and reels, checking drag mechanisms, lines, knots, lures — nothing escaped her trained eye. Then she looked up at her boss, legendary charter boat captain and restaurant/hotel entrepreneur Buddy Harrison, who nodded at her. Over the din of two 660 hp Caterpillar diesel engines, she shouted, “Be sure to hold onto something when Captain Buddy reaches open water because he’s going to open her up!”

Harrison was at the helm of a spanking new 62-footer that bears his name, “Capt. Buddy.” He slowly moved through Knapps Narrows, reached open water and with 1,320 horses raring to go, pushed down the accelerators. The huge boat jumped on plane, leveled out, and before you could spell Tilghman Island he was off and running, aiming the bow of the massive craft toward the mouth of the Choptank River near the CR buoy.

All along, Goudeau readied 16 trolling rods and reels. Count ‘em: 16.

We were after striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay during the current trophy season that ends next Sunday. Not only that, this was a day for a very informal Buddy Harrison Invitational Fishing Tournament that drew a happy mix of writers, business executives and professional people.

Harrison and Buddy Jr. arranged to have some 10 charter boats on their docks to accommodate teams of anglers. Our boat, the star of the fishing fleet, had aboard two Baltimore area physicians, a lawyer and several business executives from Pennsylvania, plus Paul E. Schurick, director of communications for Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

As soon as we reached 35 to 40 feet of water and Captain Buddy slowed down his namesake in a moderate chop, Goudeau released lines from rods that bore single, large parachute bucktails or groups of rubbery Sassy Shad lures attached to spider-shaped rigs known as umbrellas. She expertly kept the lines from tangling by releasing the lines on two planer boards that ran far to the port and starboard sides of the charter vessel.

Goudeau clipped some of the trolling lines to small rings and inserted them into the planers’ holding ropes fastened to the sides of the boat. Soon each of the outriggers held three trolling rigs. Should a fish strike, the line would pop through the ring, be free of any obstruction, and the angler could take the fight to the fish.

Horst Schirmer, recently of the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s surgery ward but now happily retired, was the first to strike scaled silver. A wonderfully marked rockfish of well more than 20 pounds attacked one of the pulsating parachute bucktails, and Schirmer pumped, reeled, huffed and puffed — and soon brought the fighting striper to the net.

After Schirmer caught the fish, happy pandemonium erupted. Shouts of “Fish on over there!” and “There’s another hit on the left stern rod!” and “Quick, somebody grab that rod on the right — it’s down!” became the order of the morning.

Captain Buddy beamed, knowing he’d find his charges a large school of adult stripers that now were in the Chesapeake to spawn. It wasn’t long before everybody had a legal 28-inch-and-over rockfish. Only one of the trophy fish would be allowed for each angler aboard the charter boat. State law demanded it and no one complained, not even the governor’s man, Schurick — who, after losing two striped beauties, eventually landed a fine rockfish to take home.

The biggest striped bass of the morning belonged to Sam Lumpkin, an ear, nose and throat specialist who, like Schirmer, came from a Baltimore suburb.

We had a magnificent outing, and on the way back to Captain Buddy’s restaurant/hotel/marina complex we munched on Harrison’s Chesapeake House fried chicken, sipped sodas and made new friends.

Not one earthly thing was wrong with our world.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washington-times.com.

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