Friday, January 22, 2010


Above is a dimly lit shot of Milford Haven looking towards the Hole in the Wall and the ice plant. I took this from the public landing on Gwynn's Island.

(Forgive me if it's not the ice plant. Just play along. That's what I've always called it. Mathews Mark will set me straight, no doubt. Before he does, let me just say that whatever it is officially called, my father worked there as a teenager, and ice was involved somehow or another.)

Speaking of the Hole in the Wall, which reminds me of fishing nightmares trips with my father across the bay, I'd like to take a day moment to talk about fishing.

Since Mathews is surrounded by water, most people here have gone subsistence pleasure fishing at some point or another. (Commercial fishing is another topic entirely, but rest assured Chesapeake Bay Woman has some stories about that.)

Some folks are fishing fanatics. Some are unwilling captives held hostage on a boat with their parents. Some have to listen to inane CB radio chatter while breathing in fish fumes. Still others are are lying down in the cabin turning green from yet another bumpy trip across the bay.

My parents used to take the Chesapeake Bay Sisters fishing way too often quite a bit back in the day. We bottom fished. We trolled. We sometimes turned green from bouncing like a cork in the middle of the choppy bay. We sometimes swore we were never going across that bay again.

The nearby Mud Hole, at the mouth of the Piankatank River, was one of my father's favorite spots since it was so close to our creek. I remember catching so many spot there, you could almost put away your fishing gear and watch them jump in the boat. Spot and croaker are so plentiful here I grew to dread the smell of fried fish coming from the kitchen, because that meant a plate full of crust and bones. Spot are small, bony fish. Give me a nice filleted flounder any day. Please.

Anyway, he also took us way down the Piankatank River, where we did some trolling. Funny, but I don't recall ever catching one single fish while trolling. Those lures were sure fun to play with though. Except for those pesky hooks.

In adulthood I haven't done much fishing, but the few times I have gone are quite memorable.

For instance, there was the time I went surf fishing down in Nags Head on one of the windiest days of the year. It was blowing a gale, and the surf was rough.

Did I mention I had never done any fishing in the surf before? Well, that's because we don't do that around here in Mathews. We bottom fish on nice, calm creeks and rivers. Or we troll, which means you don't even have to touch the rod, the boat does all the work.

Anywho, I was with a bunch of folks who knew what they were doing with this whole surf fishing thing. Not wanting to let on that Chesapeake Bay Woman--hailing from Mathews County, the spot and croaker capital of the world--had never cast out into thundering surf, I just took a few moments to observe them.

No problem. They seemed to be doing it with the greatest of ease. Piece of cake!

Actually, it wasn't a piece of cake. It was a piece of back.

As in, Chesapeake Bay Woman waded into the thundering surf, and as she attempted to cast out towards that vast expanse of ocean, she hooked herself in the back.

The End.

Let's hear your fishing stories.


ghostless said...

I would make PETA proud! Although I am in no way an activist nor vegaterian! When Mike and I first met many years ago, I didn't and still don't fish. He took me to Yorktown and we sat on the banks of the york river while he fished...and I fed the fish! Well, eventually nature called him, and he handed me his pole. I told him, if anything jumped on his pole while I held it, he had to turn it loose. He laughed because he hadn't had a bite all day, but agreed and off he went. Well, I am sitting there holding his pole, sitting next to this old man who looked like Hemmingway's the old man and the sea, and my pole starts jumping. I don't want to "hurt" the fish so I am trying to just move with him and not reel him in. The guy is looking at me like I am a nut. Mike comes back, sees the pole, takes it, reels in the fish, looks and me, doesn't say a word, removes the hook, looks at the fish one last time, and throws him back in. After a moment of silence the old man says..."Son, that there was an eating fish!" we just both cracked up laughing. So that has become Mike's fishing slogan!

Anonymous said...

So ultimately were you battered and fried or light sauted in a nice lemon butter sauce?

No fishing stories here as my experience is looking at a menu and deciding what doesn't come with bones for me to pick around.

Amusing as always CBW!

maria from nj said...

Anonymous is me, maria from nj.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Soup eats fish, cooks fish, but does not catch fish. The end.

WV = anacsil, which sounds like a prescription medication for some nasty rash.

Jamie said...

Boy do I have fishing stories.... I love to fish, can't stand to eat it (tuna is slightly palatable- slightly). I once hooked a spot in the stomach as I was reeling in the line because I thought I had a bite. I've also caught the bottom of the boat more than once and grew excited expecting Moby Dick on better yet Chessie to be on the line... those were the days....

Ann Marie said...

I would leave you a nice fishing story.. but I sadly do not have enough tissues to do such a thing...
WV nociar... boy is this thing wrong today cause yes yes ... yes I am a ciar!

Pueblo girl said...

I've been fishing once. I found it excrutiatingly boring, cold and uncomfortable, only made worse by actually catching an undersized fish which on inspection was discovered to have the hook coming out through it's eye. I bet you're glad I shared that.

Deb said...

I live on the other side of the Cheapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. ;-)

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I've done my share of fishing. I wont tell any stories for fear of exaggerating and smelling fishy.
I used to cook fish. But now I only eat fish from Ann Marie's Resturant~"where you can get anything you want". The oysters from there arent bad either!

Mathews Mark said...

CBW, Cricket Hill ice plant ,it will all was be to the locals. back in the day, the watermen would stop there on their way to market to ice down their catch. It is now own by a seafood wholesaler. Cricket Hill in its self is a famous spot some battle took place there CBW maybe you can do a blogg on it. Back in the day (I love back in the day) the men that worked at the ice plant were tough you did not want to mess with them, they shoveled ice for 12 hours with snow shovels, back breaking work! Come to think of it you did not want to mess with the watermen either, but thats another story. OK let me give you a fishing story the problem is I have so many I don't no which one to tell? Back in the day, If you were a guy in Mathews you fished in the summer, you would hunt in the winter, spring you would get ready to fish, in the fall you would get ready to hunt. ( I wonder how we managed to have so many kids?) back in the day we use to fish at a place called yellow bank. During a certain time of the year big yellow belly spot would show up here. They were the kind you wanted to have salted up for the winter. Four of us would set a gill net to catch some of the large spot. One night we had just set the net when blue lights started flashing (game warden)he was checking another boat out and did not see us yet. well the nets permit had run out.You would have to know the boys on the boat we wanted these fish. We need a diversion to draw the law away. Up the river about 600 yards was and old duck blind we motored (in the dark no lights) over to the blind pour some gas on it and lit it on fire! there was a ball of fire you could see for miles!!! when the law headed to the blind we head to the net scooped it up and went back to the dock. we cleaned fish and drank beer and laughed until day break. There is nothing like going home at day break drunk and smelling like fish. Boy your wife or girl friend really love you that day!!!! For the land lover CBW or AM can tell you about a gill net. Ghost story this week end She is mad because my son left. MM

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Mathews Mark,

Once again you do not disappoint with the stories. You set a duck blind on fire to draw attention away from illegal gill nets?

You just can't make this stuff up, folks. The characters and the stories around this place are limitless. This is why I want to do a reality TV show.

Gill nets are another story entirely, and I think I've written something about this previously, but my father used to make me fish his gill nets. Rain, stormy weather, choppy waters, didn't matter. He sat in the back steering the boat (which I was fully capable of doing) while I hauled in fish nets. They are NOT easy to pull in.

I was the son he never had. BTW tomorrow is his birthday.

Thanks, Mark, and we look forward to more, including the ghost stories.

To everyone - Happy FRIDAY and thanks for reading/commenting.

TSannie said...

That made me laugh out loud!

Anonymous said...

The things we would do for a fried or boiled salted spot on a winter day.AAHHH almost heaven! Mathews VA.

Audrey at Barking Mad said...

I do not have a single fishing story. Not a single one! I imagine that will change now that we literally live on a lake and as I sit here and type, there are hundreds of little fishing shacks that line the ice that now coats the waters of this lake.

I'm not insane enough to try ice fishing. But I guess I might be persuaded to try my hand at actually dropping a line, at some point, this spring or summer. Well, I can be persuaded if SOMEONE else will bait my hook!

WV - "chorsel" as in, "it was a very choice morsel of fish." Now the sentence should read,

Daryl said...

OUCH ...

I have never fished .. I am a Jewish Pescitarians.. not to be confused with Presbyterians or people with presbyopia (which I am one so I guess I am actually a Jewish Pescitarian with presbyopia).

And now I have totally let that train go by ... waving to my thoughts ...

WV: hymigma .. I believe the definition is rated R ..

Grandma J said...

I've never fished but I've gone out on commercial fishing boats, does that count? My BIL used to a commercial fisherman. I'm visualizing you hooking yourself! No, I'm not laughing...not really :)

The Good Life in Virginia said...

a most fascinating fish tale. i am chuckling here...really, i am.
have a fab weekend.

Mental P Mama said...

As long as I don't have to put the bait on the hook or take the fish off the hook, I'm a trooper;)

Breezeway said...

Love to fish!LOVE IT,LOVE IT,LOVE IT!!! But absolutely despise Cobia fishing.Apparently a good day Cobia fishing requires it to be at least 100 degrees without a breath of wind, and the sun hovering about a foot from the earth! And it's boring! You just sit there and hope a fish decides your chum slick looks more inviting than the other fifty in the near vicinity.So my last Cobia fishing trip (which has now been YEARS ago!)I, after attempting to stay alert and interested for several hours, and after drinking more than a few adult beverages, AND after slathering on some suntan oil and laying out on the bow of the boat with the other female prisoner, decided to jump overboard to oool off a bit.Sounds like a great plan, right? And it was,until I realized that I had jumped right into the chum slick (which for those of you who don't know, is blood and bone and fish guts and scales all chopped up and floating around the boat)SOOOOO nasty!!!!Then could barely get back into the boat for the greasy suntan oil and laughing and adult beverage buzz.Funny now, SUCKED then!
WV - oldelyo - is that what they do on those mountainsides in the Alps?

Mathews Mark said...

Just a quick note : Country girls comment from 3 thing Thursday and Breezeway's comment from today.WOW ya"ll are my new hero"s will ya'll marry me. LOL LOL LOL

Anonymous said...

laughing out loud with tears coming out of my eyes!!!!

kitty litter

Breezeway said...

Mathews Mark - you never know! LOL! Be careful what you wish for!

WV - ideralin - If I'm not mistaken, I heard this said down in Guinea the other day...not sure, cuz I wasn't making eye contact! (LOL - Really I LOVE Guinea!)

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Oh, how I would love to be part of a match between Mark and a reader.

Country Girl and her Gas are presently spoken for, however maybe a Breezeway/Mathews Mark date is in order?

Just let me know, Breezeway, or e-mail Mathews Mark. (Also, Breezeway, you should attend Blog Fest 2010. Seriously.)

Country Girl said...

Oh, my gosh! You're kidding?!!
My husband fishes in the surf. Once he caught a skate. But I think that was about it . . .

Country Girl said...

I just read Mark's post. I mean comment.
I think it was a great idea to set that sucker on fire and get outa there with your catch.
I'm just sayin'. I would've done the same thing.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

ghostless-Are you sure you aren't a long lost sister to my mother?

Maria - I'll take the battered and fried. Unless we're talking spot, but we're not.

Meg-No doubt you fix a mighty tasty fish based on what I've read of your culinary skills.

Jamie - Oh, how I understand. You have no idea.

AM/Re-I eagerly await your fish stories. At a minimum I want to hear them on our upcoming train ride.

PG-Eyeball? I ball. And twitch and flinch.

Deb/WSM-It's nice to meet another local blogger. I recognize your name from Bossy's website ( for those who have not read the most hilarious woman on the internet). I'm trying to get her to stop here on her book tour. Or rather, her (no) book tour.

NNG-The best fried fish I've had since Taylor's Restaurant had the buffet was at Ann Marie's house. Hands down, no lie. Hush puppies too.

TSA-The comments made me laugh out loud. Esp. Mathews Mark's. And later Breezeway's. They make a good tag team.

Anonymous-Thank you for contributing. The fried spot I overdosed on, but I confess to never having had a boiled salted spot which sounds a bit more palatable to me.

Audrey-You must go ice fishing or at least shadow an ice fisherman. There'd be enough blog fodder for years to come.

Daryl-You're not alone in your pesbyopia, it happens to the best of us. You NEED to go fishing at least once in your life. I'm going to reflect on this and see how we can incorporate a forced fishing experience, however brief, into the next Blog Fest.

GJ-Absolutely it counts. I'll expect to see a post or seven about your commercial fishing experience on your blog very soon. Chop chop!

Good Life-This particular incident is very representative of my entire life. One mishap after another, some major, some minor, but all mishaps.

MPM-Exactly. If someone else baits it, great. Love the suspense of seeing if anything will bite. Love getting a nibble. Scream over getting a bite. Then scream when the thing is hauled into the boat. Then thank goodness someone else has to deal with it and hope that they fling it back overboard.

Mathews Mark and Breezeway - I don't really have more to say except "Mathews Mark and Breezeway" should be in lights on the marquis at Donks for the entertaining stories they tell.

Country Girl - You were the second runner up in the What Mark Loves in a Gal Contest. I have to say you earned high marks in my book, as well, for yesterday's accomplishments. All sixteen of them.

Kitty Litter - This is why we have to get Hollywood involved with Mathews County. There's enough humor here to fill an entire cable channel worth of stuff, 24/7.

Happy Friday - again.

chesapeake bay fishing said...

A fishing story.... Hmmmm....I've got a lot of them considering I fish about 150 times a year. Well, I did have a couple of times, where I was trolling and had 14 lines connect all at once with striped bass. Not once, but twice.

Nice blog!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

CBfishing-Now that is quite the feat - 14 lines? 1 fish? Twice? What are the odds?

Would love to hear more stories, feel free to share them. Thank you for visiting and contributing.