There’s no cabin on this boat, much less any air conditioning beyond the natural Chesapeake breeze. The seats are plain benches. The boat’s performance is on par with a small barge. It’s painted yellow and green, and is outfitted with gold, purple, blue, and orange spin-cast rods. Yet riding along on the Sea Dragon with Family Fishing Adventures is utterly amazing.
When I arrive, there are 10 eight- to 12-year-old kids sitting on those plain bench seats, getting plastered with nautical name tags. First Mate Bradley writes them out for Rockfish Riley, Salmon Sarah, Blowfish Billy, and Mackerel Mary, among others. I become Lizardfish Lenny. Then comes a safety briefing from Captain Chris before the lines are cast off. On the way out of the slip the landing net is employed to dip a soda bottle and a plastic bag out of the water — where the Sea Dragon passes by no waterborne garbage goes un-scooped.
After setting anchor in the Severn River, Bradley and Chris begin cutting bloodworms and baiting bottom rigs. In all of five minutes they have the entire crew of kids baited up and fishing. Soon white perch, spot, and croaker come swinging over the rails. From the first bite onward, a sort of adolescent angling music rings out: gasps and giggles, outright belly laughs, and high-pitched pleas for another bite sing across the boat. These kids are having a ball.
The Sea Dragon crew bounces around the boat like a pair of ping-pong balls, unhooking fish and rebaiting bloodworms with such speed that I’m utterly dumbfounded. Several times I put down my camera and notebook to pitch in and help, but these guys are so on top of their game that they usually beat me to the cutting board.
Every fish is gingerly un-hooked and released, until Captain Chris declares it’s time for a different sort of adventure. Bradley pretends to snack on bloodworms as we putt our way back into Spa Creek, then the kids take turns pulling up the Sea Dragon’s string of crab traps. A feisty Jimmy comes over the rail and gets an intense 20-eyeball inspection before being set free. We head back to the dock, and 10 happy kids bounce out of the boat and into their parent’s arms.
If there’s a better charter fishing boat on the water from Alaska to Key West, I haven’t seen it.
Full disclosure: Family Fishing Adventures has a small ad in FishTalk — that’s how I learned about them in the first place. But honest to goodness folks, theirs is a story that deserves telling no matter what. This outfit is making kids grin from ear to ear while they insert little tidbits of fishing knowledge and Chesapeake Bay lore. They’re minting anglers. They’re doing more for the fishing community in one summer than even the most dedicated anglers among us will manage to accomplish in a lifetime. Thank you, guys, and for gosh sakes please keep doing what you’re doing.
Family Fishing Adventures is available for birthday trips, Scout outings, and field trips, and can accommodate up to 18 youthful anglers. Visit the Family Fishing Adventures website or call (410) 279-8325 for more information.