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Talking to the Bluefish

by: Dr. Earl R. Smith II

Years ago, I was introducing one of the Shoal N Reef guides to the difference between fishing and catching. Art of the possible Aikin and I found ourselves on my boat and out on the Chesapeake Bay. In those days I kept a 26 Bertram at the Breezy Point Marina on the western shore just south of Chesapeake Beach.

It was a late summer, early evening as I remember it. We left the dock around four in the afternoon and headed south to the mouth of Parker’s Creek. As neared the channel that the creek had dug in the muddy bottom, I noticed a large area of riffled water just south of the channel. As we drifted into it my fathometer began to show solid black from just below the surface right down to the bottom. We had stumbled onto a huge school of bluefish.

The wind was light and onshore so I decided to do a series of drifts from the deep water towards the shore. I circled around and got the boat in position. The bucket of razor clams that I had picked up in Chesapeake Beach looked to be exactly the right bait to use. So I put the bait table on the gunwale and set out a few clams.

Now, I’ve got to say in his defense that this one of the very first fishing trips that Possible had ever been on and, as a senior scientist at NASA, nothing in his professional life had prepared him for what was about to happen.

The routine was simple you baited the hook cast it into the water waited a second or two then reeled in another one they were that think. By the time we starter the first drift, the bluefish were chopping up the surface driving the baitfish up and then charging through the schools. The breeze had dropped to almost nothing and the boat drifted gently towards the shore. The sun was heading towards the western horizon and life was very good. I set to work hauling in my share.

In a break between fish I became aware that Art was muttering something about how inconsiderate that kind of thing was. Darn things at least you could wait! I looked over and noticed that he had not boated a single fish I had half a dozen nice ones in the fish box on my side of the boat. So I decided to watch for a bit and see if I could. This is what I saw:

Art would start with a clean hook - bait it with a nice piece of clam. And then, being a fastidious type, he would place the rod in the holder and turn back to bucket of water I had placed in the middle of the cockpit and wash his hands. By the time he got back to the rod, the bluefish had cleaned the hook and the process started all over again. You see he had enough line out so that the hook was in the water.

I looked down in the water just aft of the transom and saw a bunch of bluefish lined up waiting to be fed!

What was funniest was Possible’s reaction to the discovery of the bare hook. You darn fish could at least wait until I was ready! That is very inconsiderate! I watched this cycle a couple or times. The fish got fed and Art was getting madder and madder at them. Finally I just had to make a suggestion.

Art, when you put your rod in the holder, crank in a little line and keep the bait out of the water until you are ready.

So here he goes baits the hook puts the rod in the holder cranks the reel until it is just above the surface and turns back to wash his hands. As he did we heard this splashing turned to see the bluefish coming out of
the water and a clean hook dangling at the end of the line. We both broke out in a fit of laughing.

Well that was many years ago and Art is now a fine, battle tested fisherman - but, every once in a while, I still remind him about talking to the bluefish.
A Division of Say You, Say Me, Inc.