Finding a challenge is what keeps
most long time anglers interested
in their sport. I am constantly
looking for a challenge, so when
Captain Dave Compton of Charters
Plus, Inc called and invited me
on a Bay rockfish and bluefish trip,
my first question was: "Can
I bring my fly rod?"
With no hesitation, Compton told
me "absolutely" and we
quickly settled on a mid-June date.
Captain Dave fishes the middle Chesapeake
out of Ingram Bay near Reedville
-- most recently known as a haven
for rockfish hounds. As the rockfish
stocks rebounded after the long
moratorium of the 80's, Compton's
"backyard" became world-famous.
To make sure we were up early and
on his spot before other charter
boats, I spent the night with Compton
at his cottage. I soon learned Capt.
Dave liked to gamble, but was smart
enough to always play the odds --
like going to a spot reputed to
hold big fish and getting there
The alarm was set for 5:30 a.m.
but I was up well before it rang.
We climbed into Dave's truck and
drove to the marina (about 500 feet
away) with our gear and loaded up
his 25-foot Parker -- the Aces Up.
The 225 Johnson Ocean Pro on the
stern fired right up and we headed
out of the breakwater into the wide
mouth of the Great Wicomico River
on a warm, hazy and humid morning.
The only other boats we saw was
a lumbering, and smelly menhaden
Compton's Parker was fast with
the powerful outboard, and we were
soon passing the Great Wicomico
Light and heading for the Northern
Neck Reef using the direction of
Loran. At our destination, Compton
explained, the Virginia Marine Resources
Council had dropped some 1,600 tetrahedron-shaped
concrete fish structures a few years
back. Soon after it was created,
the reef started attracting fish
like lobbyists to a free lunch.
When we arrived after a 20-minute
ride, Compton quickly assessed the
tide, then dropped anchor about
75 yards away from the reef buoy.
We didn't want to be too close he
said, especially when the tide swung
around again around 10 a.m. The
water was a pleasant 77 degrees.
I looked at my watch when our first
line was cast. By 6:20 Compton had
his frozen chum bucket tied off,
his fresh chum line going and three
lines in, plus mine and no other
boats in sight.
It took about 20 minutes before
our first hit and it went to the
gambler. Compton landed a "keeper"
rockfish of 19 inches, but gently
released it, telling me there would
be bigger fish - another gamble.
I stuck with my flyrod and red/white
Clouser minnow until Dave started
getting bites every minute. Then,
watching the bits of fish flesh
drifting out of the thawing chum
bucket and chum line, I realized
it might be tricky to get the fish
to hit a fake offering made of deer
hair, lead and steel. I don't gamble,
so I tipped my fly with a wee bit
of alewive and again turned it loose
into the chum slick.
It didn't take long to hook up.
The rod was nearly ripped from my
grasp with the slashing strike of
a fish, then went slack after my
"Must have been a bluefish,"
Dave said with a smile. "Here,
The Captain handed me a shore wire
leader and a no. 1 hook. I am no
purist, so I took the rig and tied
the Allbright knot Dave had shown
me earlier to connect it to my Berkley
Vanish fluorocarbon leader.
Using that rig and my six weight
HMX Fenwick fly rod and Fenwick
World Class reel I caught a number
of Taylor bluefish and one rockfish
almost 27 inches -- all by 9:30
a.m. Like a good run at the poker
table, all good things come to an
The action slowed by 10 as the
incoming tide slacked. The breeze
died and it grew steamy out in the
open. Looking around, I counted
11 other boats fishing the reef
area, all with very little luck.
Dave and I had to wait about 45
hot, biteless minutes before the
tide began to ebb, once again spreading
our line of chum beyond the boat
and attracting hungry fish. At this
point, Compton said he knew a good
trick -- an ace up his sleeve, so
to speak. We switched to smaller
no. 4 hooks at his urging and started
hooking up again immediately. There
wasn't a five minute span when we
didn't have a fish on. None of the
other boats were doing as well.
The gamber was turning the tables
We took our final 27-inch rockfish
and released many other chunky fish
during the frenzy. I also had the
pleasure of landing a three-pound
bluefish on my flyrod without the
leader, a bit of a gamble, I should
I had to be back at the dock by
noon and by 11:30 Dave had the anchor
stowed and the powerful outboard
pushing the Parker homeward. We
had our four-fish limit of rockfish,
10 bluefish on ice and the satisfaction
of knowing we had definitely "left
the table ahead". This was
a good trip -- short, fun and productive.
While he does hold the standard
Coast Guard charter captain license,
the similarities between Compton
and many other charter services
end there. David specilizes in offering
anglers a complete trip package.
This includes arranging lodging
the night before (if necessary)
food and beverages, fishing equipment,
cleaning the day's catch and more.
With one call, Compton will totally
arrange your trip from tuck-in to
wake-up, first cast to icing them
down. Dave also runs a 17-foot center
console Sea Hunt for marsh and creek
exploration and fly fishing trips
for trout, flounder and puppy drum.
Like most cagey gamblers, Compton
told me he was lucky, but his consistent
success in tournaments proved otherwise.
In the past three years anglers
in Capt. Dave's Aces Up have won
one three times in the Reedville
Bluefish Derby. In 99 Compton had
the third place daily rockfish winner
and also won the rockfish youth
angler award. Now that's a good
day on the water. In 2000, Compton
took the second place primary bluefish
award for the same event. His boat
also won the bluefish youth angler
award for 2000. In 2001, again in
the Reedville tourney, Capt. Dave
won the first day bluefish Calcutta
award and second place youth angler
Editor's Note: To arrange a trip
with Capt. Dave Compton on the middle
Chesapeake call him at 804/730-7877.
He will be fishing for rockfish,
bluefish, spanish mackerel, trout
and croaker the rest of the summer
in Virginia waters. Compton welcomes
and fosters fly fishing on all his