Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs
Captain Phil Langley has acquired a lifetime of knowledge about the Chesapeake Bay, its ecology, and the practice of charter fishing. Growing up in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, crabbing, oystering, fishing, and hunting went hand in hand with life on the Chesapeake. In his early 20s, Langley acquired his captain’s license and purchased a boat so he could start charter fishing. Today he operates his own family business, Fish the Bay Charters, and participates in the Watermen Heritage Tours program. Whether taking customers on a fishing expedition or leading tourists on heritage trips, Captain Phil provides a unique look at the waterman’s way of life and the abundant natural resources in the Chesapeake Bay that require protection and safekeeping.
From among an assortment of fishing options on the Chesapeake and the surrounding rivers, charter fishing stands out. It combines the occupational maritime traditions of the region with the educational and recreational aspects of heritage tourism, and includes a strong participatory element. This direct experience gives newcomers a deep appreciation for the Chesapeake’s environmental diversity. The fishing season opens in mid-April as large rockfish migrate into the bay. May through October presents varied fishing possibilities—chumming, bottom fishing, and jigging for trout, rockfish, bluefish, croakers and flounder. The season winds to a close in November and December as large fish migrate back down the coast.
A past master artist for the Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Program, Phil Langley continues to operate his charter fishing business while also training a new generation of ships’ captains on the Chesapeake.