Friday, July 31, 2009

Fishing on the Chesapeake!!!!

Some of the BUGS students had the unique opportunity to go fishing on Thursday, 7/30. We arrived at the Frederick Douglass/Isaac Meyers Maritime Park in Fells Point to be on our way.
With our lunches and water bottles in tow, we boarded the boat of Captain Ken and his crew, Sellfish Charters. The kids were able to get themselves acclimated to the boat very quickly. Luckily, for them, they have been on many boat trips in the Inner Harbor and tend to be old fogies at sailing.
It was going to take an hour and a half to get to our destination, Swan Point. As we sailed to the destination, April, one of the crew members, pointed out to the kids the different kinds of ships and historical places along the route. They saw a hospital ship for emergencies out at sea, the roll out ships that transport cars and other bulky vehicles across the waterways, and the fire ship. Just before we passed under the Key Bridge, there was a red, white, and blue buoy. This was an indicator to let people know where Francis Scott Key's boat sank. As we passed under the Key Bridge, one of the students pointed out these two big apparatuses that had black bumpers which sat on either side of the one of two main legs of the bridge. April stated that they were used for ships that may be heading to the main legs and would divert them from hitting the legs. Seeing the perplexed look on the student's face, I stated, "They're bumpers for the bridge! Who knew bridges needed bumpers, too!"
Continuing onward the kids got to meet Drew. Drew is the son of Captain Ken. Drew was cutting a fish, preparing it as bait for the Rockfish we had to catch. There are so many amazing aspects to Drew. Drew is 9 yrs old. The same age as many of our students. He knew how to gut a fish, cut it up for bait, and, most amazingly, drive a 25 foot boat. Not bad for a 9 yr old!!
We were part of a program to help develop interest in fishing. We had to tag Rockfish. If you were able to catch a Rockfish and tag it, you would win a prize and then have your name entered into a lottery for a large cash prize. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong!! The Rockfish had to be 18 inches or bigger. We sat bobbing on the water, initially, getting all of the bait eaten off of the hook but then we all got the hang of it. The fish starting biting!! But they were all two small. Jerwon was able to come the closest with a 16 inch Rockfish. Many of the kids caught small Rockfish. All of the students were excited when they were able to catch something and bring it in. Once the fish were caught and didn't meet the legal size, it was tossed back into the Chesapeake Bay along with any other fish we caught.
In between catching Rockfish, we caught Blue Fish. This fish had teeth that could bite through a finger. When the first one was caught, you could hear, "Don't touch it!" Captain Ken explained why and then showed all of us the teeth.
He tossed it into the cooler. The Blue Fish was the only fish we kept. It was later cut up into filets and given to the kids. Along with Blue Fish, we caught Toad fish that you could actually hear croak.
The one thing that gave us a real tug of war was the Cownose ray. Three of the kids caught these rays. Jeremiah was the first to get a ray. Later on, William caught two that were actually mating. Lastly, Quante was able to catch one. His came the closest to the boat.
This ray gave Quante a real workout. The ray would swim away then Quante would reel him back in. Quante did this a few times until he was able to get the ray close to the boat. All the kids and I wanted Captain Ken to get the ray in the boat but that didn't happen. Safety first!!! After the final tug of war with the ray, Quante stated, "That ray gave my arms a real workout!" The other fishers teased him about all of the sweat he had dripping from his forehead from his duel with the Cownose ray. We then headed back to the dock.

As we headed back, the kids talked and reminisced about the good time they had while a couple of other students went off to sleep on the long ride back to the dock.

We arrived back at the dock!! Happy to have had a great time together!!

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