DANERON, Md. – Most anglers are willing to do whatever it takes to catch fish.
Very often, what it takes to catch fish on charter boats is the willingness to spend the day trolling and waiting for one's turn on the rods. There are times when Capt. Phil Langley says that while trolling is the best way to catch the big rockfish – the name given to striped bass in Maryland – whenever possible he likes his clients to experience the thrill of manning their own rod and fishing with live or cut bait.
For 30 years Langley has operated "Fish The Bay Charters" on the Chesapeake Bay, running everything from spring trips for trophy rockfish to winter cast-and-blast trips for rockfish and sea ducks. From now through the end of September he will be targeting the mixed bag of fish that inhabit the Chesapeake.
"I consider any day I'm on the water as a good day, but for the most variety, nothing can equal summer charters," Langley said during a recent trip with some return clients from Pennsylvania. "Of course, we're going to target rockfish, with the size of the fish depending on the time of year, and as we move into July and through August, the blues also start showing up, and they are usually most active on afternoon trips.
"There's also a good morning bite, but that usually means being on the water and ready to fish by 6 a.m., and our afternoon trips usually get underway around 2 o'clock and the bite for rockfish and blues picks up into the afternoon.
"Lately, we've also been seeing red drum show up, but last year we didn't catch anything small enough to keep, as they have a slot between 18-27 inches, and everything we caught was the big breeders between 30-36 inches that are protected. Later, usually not until August, we find that the blues and Spanish mackerel will school together."
In addition to the variety of species available, another aspect that makes a summer trip appealing aboard Langley's 40-foot "Chesapeake Charm" charter boat that can comfortable carry 12 anglers, is he targets the fish on light tackle. While trolling "umbrella rigs" is almost a guaranteed technique of putting fish in the cooler, there is nothing like the feeling of fighting a hearty rockfish or feisty blue on light tackle.
Both live spot and chunked bunker are used as bait for light-tackle fishing with spinning rods and reels. To keep the fish aggressive and feeding, Langley and his mate put out a chum slick as they cruise over the schools.
Langley runs his charters from the private dock at his home on an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay in rural Dameron, Md. This mid-bay location on St. Jerome's Creek between Solomons Island and Point Lookout allows him to reach prime fishing grounds in both the upper and lower Chesapeake in minutes.
In this area of the Chesapeake there is plenty of natural and man-made structure to hold fish. One of the best areas to find fish is near the rock piles that were created during the War of 1812 when British warships dropped their heavy ballast stones in order to sail into the many tributaries to bombard the towns.
Another advantage is that the area has many angler-friendly motels, including the LaQuinta Inns & Suites, located just 20 minutes away from Langley's dock in nearby California, Md.
Not only does the motel offer discounted room rates for anglers who are fishing with a charter captain, but also hosts a Wednesday evening reception for guests to encourage mid-week trips.
"Some days are tougher than others, but I enjoy every day I can spend fishing on the Chesapeake Bay," Langley said. "After all, it's what I grew up doing."
For information about "Fish The Bay Charters," contact Capt. Phil Langley by calling 301-872-4041 or 301-904-0935, or access his website at http://www.mdcharterfishing.com/; for information on special room rates for anglers at LaQuinta Inns & Suites, California, Md., call 301-862-4100.