Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rockfish In the House!

I mentioned in my Mother's Day post that we were planning to do some family fishing on Sunday. Well, my husband and I slipped out on Friday for a scouting run to see what we could hook up. We knew the wind was going to pick up in the afternoon, so we instructed the kids to close up behind us and NOT MISS THE BUS as we headed out for the dock. It was a cool morning, but we bundled up and took coffee along to sip on the slow ride out of Deep Creek.

Heading Out of Deep Creek
Part of Our Arsenal
Resident of Deep Creek Green 3
Neighbor at Green 1

For those of you who are avid fishermen, you are painfully aware that it has been a VERY slow trophy season. When it hasn't been windy, it has been raining, and that has the Bay water stirred up as muddy as we've seen it. The deep shipping lane looks fairly normal blue/green, but the water color changes dramatically and suddenly to mocha as soon as you hit the edge of the channel where the depth decreases. Of course, that is where rockfish like to hang out - along that dropoff - and the theory is that the water is so murky, they just aren't seeing the lures. There's also the possibility that the population has taken a hit from all the illegal gill nets set by poachers that have recently been recovered with thousands of dead rockfish ensnared. The chatter on the VHF radio Friday made several references to what parts of those poachers' bodies should be used to string them up (trophy season VHF conversations are entertaining but not family listening material...).

Not to be deterred, we put out our full spread of 14 poles, affectionately called "the porcupine". In order to pull 14, we use two planer boards with four or five fishing lines each. Planer boards are a testament to the determination of fishermen to optimize their chances for a catch. I won't go into the details or physics of planer boards, but they effectively extend the beam of your boat by 10 yards in both directions allowing you to troll with more fishing poles. I would like to meet the person who came up with the idea for these makeshift/poor-man's outriggers. It's the kind of thing Ben Franklin would have invented if he were a waterman. Our boards are decorated with logos from each of our alma maters - one Virginia Tech and one Duke. We keep a tally each season of the number of catches on each set of boards.

Hokie Planer Board

After trolling just across the Bay from Annapolis for an hour or so, we managed to stumble across a nice rockfish who took a fancy to one of our lures and hung on for the ride. He was a nice fat 33 inch fellow (could have been a lady, I suppose) who ended up being our one fish for the day (caught on the Duke planer board, I might add, 1-0 Duke). We did not complain. We heard many reports over the radio of boats heading in empty handed. One lady came on to announce that she just put a 46-incher in the box - her Mother's Day present. She received hearty but somewhat begrudging congratulations from the other fishermen. One guy answered that he had a 50-incher that got off the hook at the boat. Yeah, right...

Our Catch

We trolled for another hour or two, but by 1 PM, the wind that we knew was coming was upon us, and it was time to bring in the lines. My husband was hungry for a second fish, but I knew the one we had would feed us for two or three meals. We don't like to freeze fresh rockfish. If it's been frozen, what's the point of going out to catch it? We bundled up for the bumpy ride home and handed the Bay over to the blow boaters who thought the change in conditions was just fine.

Sailboat With His Main Reefed
Surely Named for Cape St. Claire

As it happens, we did not get out again on Mother's Day. We enjoyed our lazy Sunday morning too much and instead, hit Sports Authority to outfit the four of us in trail runners/hiking tennis shoes for our Grand Canyon trip coming up when school is out. I've been eager to get them so we can break them in. We grabbed Mother's Day lunch at a sushi place in Bowie, and headed home to get ready for the obligatory Mother's Day soccer game.

We ended up with three good rockfish meals courtesy of our 33-inch haul on Friday. We enjoyed our first on Saturday for lunch - Rockfish Benedict. It's traditional Eggs Benedict but instead of Canadian Bacon, we substitute Maryland Rockfish, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed in a little olive oil.  Heavenly!

Rockfish Benedict

OK, that's not our Rockfish Benedict. We ate ours too fast to get a picture! But it looked very similar. The dead giveaways are the pretty sprinkling of parsley and orange garnish - not happening in this house. Saturday night, it was grilled rockfish marinated in lime, cilantro and olive oil along with mint juleps for the Kentucky Derby. And finally, tonight, the kids' favorite - rocko tacos. Rockfish until we bust (or start exhibiting signs of mercury poisoning).

What kind of luck have you all had this trophy season? Send me pictures of your best catches ( or post on the Cape Blogger Facebook page. What are your favorite ways to prepare rockfish? I'd love to hear your best recipes. Hope you all had a nice Mother's Day.  To close out this mother of a day, here is my family's favorite Mommy Power song that the kids serenaded me with on the drive home from lunch today - Shaggy's Strength of a Woman. They know it's my favorite:

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