Sportsman's Crew enjoys some down time. As you might expect, putting together
this publication takes a lot of work for everyone involved æ work,
work and more work. Itís hard to find or make the time available
to enjoy some good old fishin'. We see the photos, hear the stories, but
seldom get the chance to get out there ourselves. Well, when Jim Baugh
asked me if we would be interested in fishing his tournament, I jumped
on the chance and rounded up a hardy bunch of anglers æ Jerry Aycock,
Teresa Burnett, Lorraine Hoff, Dave Ashley and myself.
We chose to fish with Capt. Chandler Hogg and Mate Tory Firman aboard
ìThe Smokiní Gunî out of Hampton. ìThe Smokiní
Gunî is a custom built 36-foot JC with a 600-horsepower caterpillar
diesel engine; it has the newest electronics on board, a heated cabin
and a stand-up head. Capt. Hogg has over 20 years of experience on the
Bay. He grew up on the James and has past working experience as a commercial
fisherman. Capt. Hogg has his 100-ton Masters near coastal license, which
means he can captain a vessel up to 100 gross tons as far as 100 miles
offshore. He charters the lower Chesapeake Bay and the ocean year round.
Mate Tory also has a background in the commercial fishing industry and
grew up in the Poquoson area. He has been a mate for about a year now.†
Weíve been getting some nice photos from people who have fished
with Capt. Hogg, showing some large rockfish and, of course, he is very
well known for reeling in those tautog. Knowing this, we gave him a call
and made all the arrangements to fish the tournament with him.
As tournament day approached, the weather forecast turned downright ugly.
Predictions for rain, wind and cold weather were not sounding good at
all. The day before the tournament, Jim Baugh called and asked if its
okay to put a camera man on the boat with us to get some footage. Iím
thinking with rain, wind and freezing weather, it's probably not going
to be the most flattering footage, but okay, we will deal with it. As
it turned out, the next day we had a sunny 60 degrees with 25-mile-per-hour
winds blowing northeast.
The winds made for some rough water out in the Bay. Seas were 5 to 6 feet,
which is fishable in a boat the size of ìThe Smokiní Gun.î
But we would take a beating and this was supposed to be a fun trip, so
we decided to stay in the James and try for the first fish of the day
award. With water temperatures around the 60-degree mark, we knew it was
going to be nearly impossible to pull the winning fish out of the James,
where mostly average size rockfish were being boated. The water temperature
needs to be somewhere between 55 and 56 degrees to get the big rockfish
to migrate into the James from the Chesapeake Bay.
Being the last boat to leave that morning (which we will blame on a little
problem with our accommodations, and not tardiness on anyoneís
part, of course), the first fish of the day was going to be a challenge.
Capt. Hogg knew exactly where to go to put us on the fish fast, and sure
enough Dave Ashley had one on within minutes. He reeled in a 23-inch rock,
not a whopper by any means, but maybe a money fish. We headed back to
the Sunset Boating Center where the fish were being weighed in. Five minutes
from the weigh-in we got the call; the first fish had just been weighed
in. Okay, so we didn't get the first fish; now we'd have to get lucky.
We spent the day fishing the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Monitor-Merrimac
Tunnel. Chandler kept us on the fish; one after another we reeled them
in. We wire-lined most of the time, which Tory was very helpful at teaching
us how to do. As with any good fishing story, of course the big one got
away. Our average sizes were 19 to 24 inches and there seemed to be a
never-ending supply of those, but the big ones eluded us. The camera man
got lots of footage for Jimís show, some of which may be quite
entertaining. We ended the day worn out, exhausted and lucky. Although
we did not win or place in the tournament we did get lucky to have enjoyed
such a great day of fishing with Capt. Chandler Hogg and Mate Tory Firman.
New friends were made and time was well spent with co-workers and friends.
We would all like to thank Chandler and Tory for putting up with us and
Jim Baugh for not putting certain photos of us on his Web site.