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Fishing heats up as water cools
By Bob Lassahn

The assignment seemed simple enough. Produce an article that talks about the fall fishing season and provides some tips to the novice. A problem quickly surfaced with the realization that no one on staff had sufficient knowledge about fishing to deliver the article. Fortunately The Courier staff has a long reach and Editorial Assistant Elaine Sobota suggested her hubby Frank as a potential source.

Frank Sobota is among the rare breed that actually bring fish home without having to stop at a market. Apparently he has never had to lay the old story on Elaine, “There was this guy at the dock who filleted your fish, breaded it, flash froze it and packed it into these neat boxes with an old fisherman on the front.”

Being an avid fisherman, Frank cannot understand why anyone would consider putting away their boat and hanging up their fishing rod around the Labor Day holiday. He says that August is normally a slow month for fishing since the water is too warm and the fish a little sluggish. Not that everybody gets skunked but the action would not rise to the level of a feeding frenzy. Things will get better.

Frank says starting in the early weeks of September the water begins to cool  (60 degrees is optimal) and the fish become more active. Many species are preparing for their annual migration and according to his thinking fall is the best time to fish. That includes virtually any kind of fishing from freshwater ponds to the bays, in the surf and even head boats or deep-sea charters. The “season” can run well into December and, for those hardiest of souls, continue through the entire winter.

As for which fish might be biting, Frank rattled off a list that includes blues, croaker, flounder and sea trout around the Ocean City Inlet; large rockfish taken from head boats and maybe even some red drum in the surf. Freshwater, such as the Pocomoke River around Shads Landing might yield crappie, bluegill and even large pickerel around 30 inches or better.

When queried on how to go about catching these seemingly elusive fish, Frank knows a lot about rigs, bait, presentation and what part of the tide yields the best results, taking one beyond the simple tactic of impale worm, dunk and wait. Frank is among the gifted few that ties his own flies and uses them with great success, evidenced by the fact that other fishermen quickly buy them up at a buck each when they witness him catching rainbow trout. He is something of a walking “fishing encyclopedia” and there is a limit on both time and space to put everything down in print here.

The information really gets down to specifics like what species you might be fishing for (in direct contrast to the “fishing impaired” who consider anything caught implies success) and whether you are fishing from a pier, boat, bridge or in the surf. The proper rod and reel combination spooled with appropriate line; the way the hook is rigged; the proper sinker and the right bait (natural or artificial choices here) all factor in. Technique is also important so be sure to explore whether it is best to drift, troll, bounce the bait along the bottom, cast and retrieve, etc.

Suffice to say that if you are a novice it might serve best to chat with an experienced (read here “successful”) fisherman or the proprietor of a local tackle shop for some handy tips on gear and the right kind of bait. Tackle shops have a vested interest since any successful fisherman represents a potential repeat customer. They can also advise if a license is required for the type of fishing as well as size and creel (number of fish) limit for a particular species.

Warning! For those who are thoroughly confused and have visions of fishing with explosives in the manner of Crocodile Dundee, the authorities do not take kindly to such behavior.

According to our expert, Frank, the approach of fall need not signal the end of the fishing season. In fact, it represents a time when the action actually gets better. Combine the enhanced opportunity to catch fish, the diminished number of boaters (the tourists are less plentiful) with the moderated temperatures normally prevalent in the fall and there are plenty of reasons to keep the fishing tackle handy.

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Uploaded: 9/1/2005