A birthday gift to remember
Sometimes the weather gods smile upon us. Southern Maryland squeaked by this past holiday weekend with mostly decent skies and temperatures that made for good weather for spending time outdoors.
I know we spent quite a bit of time grilling and picnicking outside on Sunday and Monday, and lots of our friends and neighbors did the same. Even the folks in Florida made out all right against the odds — over the last 11 years no hurricanes have made landfall in that state, a trend I bet most Floridians hope will repeat itself.
On Friday, my family and I had the opportunity to take a charter fishing trip out of Solomons with Capt. Don Layton on his boat Jeanies Catch. I have a birthday coming up, and honestly, I don’t need another bracelet or bottle of perfume or even a new vacuum cleaner. So I asked my husband for the gift of an evening with the family on the beautiful Patuxent River.
In anticipation of this trip, I had been watching the weather all week and prayed that the clouds and wind in the forecast wouldn’t be enough to shut down our fishing trip. My heart was set on this trip happening as a last hurrah before summer’s unofficial end.
I hadn’t been out with Capt. Layton before, but my dad and he had been good friends and enjoyed flounder fishing together a few years ago. We loaded up the Jeanies Catch with our rods and the kids put on their life preservers. We headed out to the mouth of the Patuxent.
Although I had prayed hard, the wind was up, the tide against us, and things began to get choppy. By the time we got close to the Three-Legged Marker the smiles on my kids’ faces had faded as we bounced up and down on the rough water.
So the captain headed us up the river and we stopped north of Point Patience. The water was much calmer and we got our rods baited up right away. Fishbites and bloodworms were on the menu for some bottom-fishing. I tried to keep track of which bait caught more fish, but we were having fun shouting, “Fish on” so often it was hard to keep count. Even my youngest got the hang of hooking the fish and reeling ‘em in. There were smiles all around.
We drifted in that area for almost two hours and there was hardly a minute that went by without someone bringing in a fish, sometimes even two at a time. We filled up the live well with spot and threw back just as many toadfish which liked the Fishbites and bloodworms just fine, too.
A croaker was part of the evening’s catch, perhaps the prettiest fish I had ever seen. It was too small to keep, but I might have thrown it back for good luck anyway because its amber sheen was unlike any
croaker I had seen before.
The fishing was good, and seeing my youngsters enjoying new experiences and growing before my eyes was just the kind of family time I had hoped for. Believe me, watching your sweet daughter cut bloodworms and put them on a hook is a heartwarming experience if you come from a long line of fishermen.
But the best part of the evening was the ride back in. Earlier I had cursed the weather gods, as we were originally supposed to fish the mouth of the Patuxent, but it turns out that I just didn’t know the blessing they were planning on sending my way. The ride back to Solomons filled my heart with all the reasons I love fishing.
The sky was full of layers of fast-moving clouds. Some were billowy white and shining bright in the sky, others dark purple and impenetrable to the last rays of light. As the sun set, the sky turned orange and then a deep pink, a postcard-perfect sunset experience more glorious than any sunset I’ve witnessed from land.
The river glowed, my kids took turns driving the boat, and I sat back and enjoyed it all. Later, when we were walking to our car, my daughter squeezed my hand and said, “That was a great night.” Nature’s bounty was appreciated, and a family grew closer. Who could ask for more?
Capt. Layton of Jeanies Catch Charters specializes in small groups and families. He has decades of experience on the Patuxent and Chesapeake Bay and knows where the fish are and how to catch them, whether trolling, with light tackle or bottom fishing. For more information or to schedule your next fishing trip, call 301-751-9114.
Paddle boarding becoming popular
One of our family’s favorite Sunday afternoon destinations is Stoney’s Kingfisher on Solomons Island. It’s the restaurant we always take out-oftowners to when they want a taste of the best crabcakes in Southern Maryland or some good, old-fashioned oysters on the half shell.
Part of the fun of going to Stoney’s Kingfisher is the great view onto Back Creek. Just this past year, I’ve noticed a big increase in the number of paddle boarders enjoying the river. There have always been kayakers, but paddle boarding is quickly becoming a popular recreational activity on our beautiful water ways.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has started an outreach program called “Paddle Smart from the Start” and has teamed up with Odyssea Watersports to give away a stand-up paddle board. All you have to do to enter is take a short quiz on paddling safety.
The quiz only takes a few minutes, but much more important, it’s a good refresher on water