Saturday, April 28, 2012

Point Lookout State Park

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My father-in-law was in town from St. Louis, and I wanted to get a nice lunch with fish for him this weekend.  Up until the last minute, I wasn't really sure where I was going to go, or whether I'd fish from a kayak or shore.  After hearing about how strong the wind might be, I decided to keep the kayak in my garage, and I had 2 choices: Point Lookout for croakers, or the Choptank pier for perch and maybe croakers.  I am more familiar with the Choptank, and have caught at least something every time I've gone there.  However, it has been a couple years since I've gone down to Point Lookout, and I figured the long drive and the quiet environment there would be refreshing.  So, I had a quick dinner with my family and my father-in-law, and I made the 2 hour drive down to Point Lookout after work.

The menu for the evening (for the fish) included shrimp for croakers and nightcrawlers for perch.  I picked up some cooked shrimp from the grocery store, and the nightcrawlers were leftovers from the trip to Fletcher's a couple weeks ago.  During the drive I had visions of a cooler full of croakers and perch, and could taste the delicious fish lunch that I would have the next day. 

Unfortunately, things didn't work out the way that I had planned.  As I made my way through the park to the furthest point of the park, I asked everyone I saw how they were doing.  Nobody was catching fish....except for 1 person who was working the right-most end of the fishing pier.  It's pretty common-knowledge that the right side of the end of the pier is the most productive spot.  There were already several people at the end of the pier, and I didn't want to intrude, so I set up camp at the point facing the bay.

The wind started out kind of strong, but it was bearable through the night.  If you ever go to Point Lookout, and are not going to fish from the pier, take a lantern and a headlamp.  Without a full moon, you will need it to see anything.  Since I couldn't see my rods, I figured I'd try to use my sense of hearing to detect the fish.  I used fishfinder rigs with circle hooks, and loosened the drag all the way after I cast it out.  For a little while I tried casting out a small plastic worm and jigged it with little success.  The wind also was making it very difficult to feel anything, so I put my small jigging rod away, and stuck with my 2 surf rods.

There was a picnic table nearby, so I pulled it right next to my rods and took a nap with my head next to my reels.  I was hoping that I'd wake up to the sound of the drag on my reel screaming with a fish.  Well, the entire night there no buzzzzzzzzz came from my reels.  At one point, I reeled in one of my rods and found an eel at the end of my line.  It must have just stuck around after taking the shrimp, because it didn't pull any drag - it also didn't even fight me when I reeled it in.  I thought "Well, an eel counts as a fish.  I avoided a skunk!"

The eel that saved my night from a skunk.

The rest of the night I didn't catch a thing, and I was getting cold around 4AM, so I packed up and headed home.  I cleaned the eel in the morning, and we fried him up for lunch.  I keep hearing about how tasty eel can be, but I haven't yet found the right recipe for cooking them up.  This time, I sprinkled 2-3" pieces of the eel with flour, and marinated it in soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil.  It was okay, but I wouldn't really rave about it.  I get eels pretty often as by-catches, so I'll try something different next time.

I kind of wish I had gone to the Choptank, where I probably would have been able to fill at least half the cooler with perch or catfish.  However, I don't regret going to Point Lookout.  Being so far from any city lights, the night sky is pretty amazing out there.  A night fishing trip at Point Lookout is something that every angler in the Maryland/Virginia area should try at least once.

As a side, I got a Ford Focus hatchback last November, and on this trip I averaged 39 miles per gallon.  That's what the trip meter showed, but I might have gotten something slightly better...because I used only a quarter of a tank of gas on a 200 mile trip.  That was another awesome point from this outing.

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