- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2008

It is Christmas, the highest holiday of the Christian faith, yet I’ll wager a week’s pay that there will be some wacky, stout-hearted souls who will brave the cold to chase after the Chesapeake Bay’s rockfish because the season closes by the end of the month. When it comes to stripers, nothing can get in the way. Well, almost nothing. Read on.

As fishermen who can’t be dissuaded even in the worst weather, we checked with our friend and frequent fishing reporter Christy Henderson, who with her husband, Mike, runs Buzz’s Marina on St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary’s County. The uninitiated should know that this fairly small waterway is one of the top launching places for boaters looking for fishing action almost any time of year. During summer and fall, flounder, bluefish, croakers and young stripers often are hooked directly at the creek’s junction with the Chesapeake Bay. Even during winter, you can slip a boat into the water and within 20 minutes be in a rockfish-productive area anywhere between the nearby Point No Point and Point Lookout.

All this leads up to what happened when the trophy stripers beckoned.

Christy Henderson recalled how on Tuesday morning her husband left the property, telling her not to worry about the marina and the boat launching ramp because the creek was frozen. Who would be crazy enough to come out on a day like that?

“He wasn’t gone 10 minutes, and the parade began,” Christy said. “Three boaters [tried] launching, although I begged them not to.”

Henderson wouldn’t even take their money, hoping to send a message that attempts to get out onto the creek might be met with an assortment of problems.

“The first guy pulled his motor completely out of the water and was grinding the ice with his prop all the way out,” she said. “I finally convinced the second man to pull his boat back out of the creek and urged him to go home. He stayed for about an hour before he agreed that there was no water.

“The third fellow wouldn’t listen, and he launched,” Christy said and added that he made it to the mouth but broke his steering cable and had to use his hands to steer the boat back.

“The fourth guy didn’t even make it to the mouth before he blew up an alternator - or something that spewed black smoke - as he drifted back to where we could throw him a rope,” she said.

Additional arrivals were talked into not even trying to launch. Christy said, “The first guy is still out there, and I have no idea if he’s still fishing or aground or has broken down.”

The marina owner said for some people there is no more powerful magnet than the almighty rockfish.

Big stripers at mouth of Bay - Ken Neill of the Peninsula Saltwater Sport Fisherman’s Association says this week he fished close to the mouth of the Chesapeake.

“We drifted eels near the Concrete Ships and caught some big rockfish,” he said.

A number of the stripers measured in the 44-inch range, but fellow club member Charles Southall hooked a real whopper.

“Charles’ fish was 52 1/2 inches long, and it weighed 57 pounds,” Neill said. That fish now holds first place in the current Bishop Fishing Supply/PSWSFA Rockfish Tournament that runs through the end of the month.

Shenandoah and Lake Anna - Dick Fox, who lives near the Shenandoah River in Front Royal, said: “I haven’t been on river because it has been high and murky with a lot of dead grass, leaves and debris. However, on Tuesday the river looked much better, and it is now clearing up. I think by the weekend it should be in good shape.”

So instead of fishing the ‘Doah, as the locals sometimes call it, Fox went to Lake Anna, west of Fredericksburg, and caught five bass and one catfish.

“It’s a tough lake sometimes,” Fox said.

A number of occasional visitors to Anna, including me, believe Anna is tough most of the time.

Crappies at Gaston - Plenty of crappies can be caught in Virginia’s Lake Gaston, said resident Marty Magone, who picks certain boat docks, boathouses, known brushy spots and such and then works a small plastic grub or dart under a bobber to attract his prey.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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