On the road… again!

Afghanistan to Zambia

Chronicles of a Footloose Forester

By Dick Pellek


When The Fish Are Running


By now, the prospects for harvesting clams from Chincoteague Bay in Virginia are fairly certain.  Warm weather, low tide, a favorable wind direction, and a calm ocean surface all make for ideal conditions.  And by now, we know something about where the best clam beds are; and how to harvest them.  The same cannot be said about fishing.

Fishes of various sizes and species abound in the waters of Chincoteague Bay, to be sure.  But what is not so sure is what to expect and when to expect them.  Croakers, for example, swim in schools during some vaguely defined seasons; yet some days we come home without a single fish in the bucket.  Wet or stormy weather may contribute to the paucity of the catch; or they don’t seem to care for the baits offered during one outing or the next.  It is enough to give one pause.  On some occasions we catch only a few small ones; then later on we catch large ones by the dozens.  On more than one occasion our fishing party of three anglers divvied up 60-80 croakers before we called it a day. Fortunately, there is no bag limit on croakers, but most people don’t get excited about them until the big ones start to run.


Part of a almost daily catch of croakers, most 12-14 inches long

There is no calendar marking the croaker run, nor evening news giving fresh breaking reports.  The same goes for the other fishes much prized by local anglers.  People come from hundreds of miles away to fish for flounders, one of the preferred species.  But the minimum size limit of 16 ½ inches per fish for flounders is a real reservation to likely anglers.  Other fishes like the black drum and red drum that are high up on the list of deliciousness also have minimum size limits and even possession limits.  Red drum have to be a minimum of 18 inches to be keepers; and then you can possess only three per person, per day.  Black drum, the most delicious fish of all, in the opinion of the Footloose Forester, have to be at least 16 inches—and you can only keep one.  So, everyone's prospects are much slimmer. 


The red drum usually arrive in autumn. This is Sunday's catch.


And, on the following day....flounder and drum

Bluefish are also running these days; and when we are lucky enough to deduce schooling activity, we can expect blues that weigh a pound or more.  We also can take home 10 blues per person, per day.  Providentially, the Bengal Tiger shown in the photo below is a master angler, all self-taught, of course.  Our freezer was recently emptied of a few hundred clams after the in-laws left with their cooler full; and Thu is busy filling it back up with fresh fish.  On the other hand, when she gets skunked she usually sets her sights on the crabs that share the same fishing grounds.  She comes prepared with a proper net and uses the necessary baiting techniques to haul in a few of those famous Chesapeake Bay blue crabs.  Right now there are about a dozen in the freezer, not counting the ones she cooked up within hours of returning home.



Three keepers!  The Footloose Forester prefers the one in the middle.