In Maryland’s Somerset County, a “grand slam” might not have anything to do with baseball. Rather, it could entail catching fish, four different ways, all in one weekend!
You don’t need to be a master angler to enjoy Somerset County’s grand slam. You don’t need to own a boat or even a fishing rod. Somerset has all the required elements for an array of fishing adventures to excite anglers of all tastes and abilities.
The county’s accessible venues, guides, charter fleets, support services and diversity of species ensure a wide choice of fishing types and opportunities. Bait casting, bottom fishing, fly fishing, trolling, light tackle or even crabbing or oystering in season can challenge even the most dedicated angler.
Begin the grand slam with a half-day of traditional bait casting, working some of Somerset’s 600-plus miles of shoreline. Ample public access is available, and fishing and crabbing is permitted at county-maintained boat ramps and bridges. In addition, try the Crisfield City Dock or the bulkhead along the canal at nearby Janes Island State Park. A number of beach parks — Wellington, Deal Island Harbor, and Raccoon Point — also offer public fishing and crabbing, as do County Wildlife Management Areas. Tackle shops in Crisfield, Deal Island, Eden and Princess Anne can supply gear and local information.
A different kind of casting
After a half-day of bottom fishing, casting a fly rod is a completely different experience and can make for a memorable afternoon. A basic saltwater fly fishing outfit is an 8- or 9-weight rod that can cast an intermediate or sinking fly line into the wind. The reel is less important, but should be salt water anodized or bar stock aluminum. A large arbor can be useful for inshore fishing, and shooting baskets offer a definite advantage.
Somerset’s tidal creeks, inlets and wetlands hold some excellent fly fishing. Fly casters can wade the flats and sandbars, throwing baitfish patterns, sand fleas or the ubiquitous Clouser streamers along any structures and the sides of channels and drop offs. A kayak or canoe are ideal crafts to help reach the shallow but productive creeks and “gunk holes.” Crisfield and Deal Island have rental boats.
Working with a professional fly fishing guide can be the best way to approach a new venue. Captain Dan Harrison, of The Salty Fly, goes out of Crisfield’s Somers Cove Marina, after rockfish, trout, croakers, blues and Spanish mackerel. His 20-foot C-Hawk boat navigates Somerset’s shallow waters to find some of the best fishing for the Chesapeake’s signature rockfish.
Boating on day two
Begin the second grand slam day with a half-day fishing cruise on a “headboat,” a large, primarily open boat capable of carrying dozens of anglers. The Barbara Ann II, captained by Joe Asanovich, leaves Somers Cove Marina and prowls the reaches of Pocomoke and Tangier Sound and beyond. Removed from the pollution and crowds of more populated waters, the southern portions of the Chesapeake are rich with fish and other aquatic life. Captain Joe knows where the fish are and will take passengers to prime locations.
Most headboats supply appropriate tackle and bait, and the atmosphere is usually very social. A diverse crowd shares space on the rail, fishing deep as the boat drifts with the wind and current. The boat’s mate is available to bait the hooks and help remove the catch. Families and friends fish together, and kids can enjoy learning the sport.
Round out the grand slam with a half day aboard a charter fishing boat. Charter boats from Somers Cove, Deal Island and Wenona stalk the lower bay for trophy rockfish and a roster of other marine species that changes with the seasons. Not as large as a headboat or carrying as many anglers, a charter can usually accommodate more specific interests and abilities. Along with fishing, many charters also offer bird watching, Chesapeake heritage or ecology cruises.
Deal Island’s charter boats often run across Tangier Sound and around Smith Island chasing big rockfish. If you bring your own boat, you can launch from any of the county-maintained boat ramps and marinas, free of charge. Regardless of the vessel, the Grand Slam is an ideal way to experience the breadth of angling possibilities in one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most unspoiled marine habitats.
For More Information:
Somerset County Tourism, 410-651-2968, visitsomerset.com
Rentals and Charters, somersetmd.us
Reed Hellman is a professional writer living in Alberton, Md. Email your questions and comments to RHWay2Go@yahoo.com.