Sunday, July 22, 2012

Back Creek Croakers.......

Friday June 29th was a day I would like to forget, but it was a day of excessive heat, very few fish caught and confirmation of an area that is not as productive as I would have liked it to be during the summer.  Although the day was primarily just a leisurely day on the water planned, it turned out to be much different.  This outing was slated to take place in Back Creek in the Yorktown area and the Goodwin Islands.  I knew the area was shallow from the navigational charts I had reviewed, but the area showed signs of fish activity right after I launched at 7:30am sparking some renewed interest on my part.

I launched in the midst of a searing heat spell with temperatures already bordering just shy of 90 degrees and the sun hadn't even begun to approach it's zenith for the day.  I proceeded to make my way down the creek on the south western bank and hit every dock piling and pier I could find in hopes of enticing a bite.  No love.  Lots of bait busting the surface but no bites.  I made my way past the commercial fishing docks and worked my way back into some of the finger inlets and creeks.

I spotted some small undersized stripers busting some glass minnows back in the shallows, so I made a cast with my Marsh Works jighead paired to a Gulp mullet and quickly started getting several small hits in rapid succession.  The tell tale signs of a croaker bite.  Not what I was targeting, but they are a blast on light tackle.  So, I took a break from my speck hunt and chased some croaker for a bit.  I landed several in the 8-10" range and sacrificed several Gulp mullets to the croaker army that was apparently entrenched in this area.
I decided to bag the fishing for a bit and do some exploring.  I made a slight course adjustment and headed in an easterly direction out towards the southern channel.  I patrolled the eel grass beds looking for any signs of feeding fish, but I found nothing of any interest save for a couple rat reds - aka juvenile redfish in the 12" class cruising around.  I kept on my easterly track around the southwestern tip of the outermost island and spotted some birds dive bombing this one particular area nonstop.  As any fisherman in his right mind would do, I made my way over as fast as I could and was quite surprised at what I found.

I had come across a net system where fish were trapped and the local osprey population had homed in on the area and basically had an endless food supply until the local fishermen came and emptied the net.  I figured there might be some fish hanging around outside the net as well, so I spent a few minutes trying for anything to no avail.  While I was there, I pedaled up to the net and just took a peek in to see what was so interesting to the ospreys aloft in the air.  I spotted some sea turtles, puffers, juvenile flounder, skates, cow nosed rays, dogfish, spot and croaker.

As I drifted easterly, the fishermen showed up, so I decided to make my way over to the net and watch the harvest.  I was amazed at the efficiency at which these guys cleared their net.  I drifted up next to them and watched as they tossed back all the undesirable species - apparently, these were croaker and spot fishermen who sold their catch to the local seafood company.  I chatted them up a bit and confirmed my earlier observation - this area was loaded with croaker and the occasional spot.   They even advised me that a few specks and stripers were around but mostly as the sun goes down.

With that tidbit of information, I had to take measure of the day so far and quickly made the command decision to call it a day.  The sun was almost at it's zenith for the day, and there was absolutely no wind to be found.  I made my way almost 3 miles back to the launch and found myself physically wiped out.  While I was loading up all my gear and preparing to leave, I noticed my thermostat was reading 105 degrees!!!  Yikes!!I was more than happy to sit in the air conditioned interior while I recovered before heading home.

All in all a successful trip, but I wish I had better luck targeting my preferred species for the day. The lesson learned today was more in line with knowing your body's limitations relative to the summer heat.  Even though I was worn out from the heat and humidity, I stayed hydrated throughout the day having brought 4 different bottles of water.  All too often, we can become soe focused on our fishing efforts, that we ignore our basic human biology needs of staying hydrated on a hot searing summer day like I experienced.

I'll do some more speck hunting as the summer progresses, so keep your eyes peeled for a future report of my next speck hunt.

Until then - tight lines, be safe and always bring more water than you think you will need!!  You never know when your fishing buddy or another person on the water may need it!!


  1. I've tried fishing off the piers at McNasby's in Back Creek without too much luck. Do you have any suggestions?

    I'm pretty new to the area and don't have a boat or kayak. Do you have any tips on the best places to fish from shore around Annapolis?

    1. Hey Luke, for Annapolis the best areas that I know are near the bridge tunnel. I believe you can fish from the shore at Sandy Point State Park. Just make sure you have your VA or MD saltwater fishing license. Either one conveys to the other state and gives you full access to the Chesapeake Bay and all of its tributaries. Other possible areas are on the eastern span of the bridge. Lots of areas around Kent Island, but some of those require launch permits if you do end up getting a kayak. Good luck!