They call it Point No Point because if you look at it from one direction it's nothing but a lighthouse perched in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. Swing around to one side and you can see that the lighthouse is perched at the end of a spit of sand that's barely covered by a spatter of water.

Most of the year Point No Point is just another in a long line of marks for skippers to follow as they plot their course up or down the bay. This time of year it's home for the prettiest fish in the bay, the sea trout.

These big bottom fedders make their way in from the ocean to spawn in the spring. They arrived in small numbers a couple of weeks ago and the run is on in earnest now.

Sea trout are just another feature in the changing face of the Chesapeake. Capt. Taft Tippett, who has fished here for more than a half-century, can remember when picking up a trout was a big enough deal that folks came around to the dock to marvel at it. That wasn't so long ago.

Tippett can remember back a lot further - say 20 years ago, when a man who caught a bluefish in the Bay rated headlines in the local newspaper.

Now bluefish are so abundant that on a day trip for sea trout with Tippett we had to play tricks to keep them off our lines.

Tippett pulled his aging "Bay Queen" out of quiet St. Jerome's Creek at 5:30 a.m. Dark thunderheads blocked the sun's first rays and gusty

He set the bow on Point No Point, then swung on by it. Just 15 minutes out of the dock he eased back on the throttle and said, "This is it. Get your lines in."

It took our party of three a little by surprise. We're used to hour and longer runs into the bay to get to the fishing grounds. We started rigging in a hurry.

"What should we use, cap'n?" someone asked.

"I don't ever tell another man how to fish," he said.

"Well, what are they bitting?"

"Seem to like bucktails pretty good," he answered. "You got any bucktails?"

Our little clot of freshwater specialists rattled through tackle boxes and came up with three tiny bucktails, battered from stints on the lakes chasing largemouth bass.

"Maybe I can help yo out," said Tippett, having had his fun. He pulled out an array of bucktails of every size, shape and color and told us to pick one out and rig up for trolling about 20 feet deep.

I snapped a six-ounce sinker on the end of my line, went up about eight feet and tied a 15-foot leader and a white bucktail onto a three-way swivel.

"Look all right?" I asked.

"Yup," he said.

I tossed it overboard and went over to help one of my novice partners rig up. Before knot one was tied Tippett was tapping me on the shoulder. "Something's bothering your line," he said.

Sure was. A seven-pound sea trout, to be exact.

I've caught sea trout before but it's always a thrill to bring one of these big fish to the net. They have broad, dark backs like a stripped bass, but their slabsides are a sparkling pink like trials off to shiny gray and white specles. It's a spectacular visual treat to be enjoyed only briefly. Five minutes after the fish is in the boat the pink fades away and turn to mottled grey.

We hoped that our trolled bucktails would leave marauding schools of blues unmoved. The choppers would be feasting on shiny alewives in a lot of the same territory, while the trout gobbled up worms, small crabs and grass shrimp on the bottom.

It worked reasonably well. We still landed a half dozen blues, and each one took its toll on the fragile deer hair that gives a bucktail jig its name.

But we also landed trout - more than a dozen by the time the sun hit its peak and our half-day charter drew to a close.

"I've seen worse days," said Tippett, who has fished thousands of mornings here, "but I've seen better, too. I'd have to rate it fair."

It seemed fair to me and my partners as we drove home with 40 pounds of spanking clean white fillets in the cooler.

This is the height of the trout run, and there will be a lot of better days when the wind settles down and the trolling isn't so rough. Those who prefer still fishing generally do well by locating a school of trout on the depth finder, anchoring and fishing chunks of peeler crab on the bottom.

Most people consider trout an early summer phenomenon that lasts about four to six weeks. Tippett said the weakfish, as they are known, stay around all summer, though they don't school up quite as well after the spawning run ends. He fishes for them until early fall.

The trout are big. Our largest was 12 pounds, but 13 and 14 pounders are not uncommon.

Sea trout occasionally make brief runs up the Bay to Sharp's Island Light and even further north, but the best fishing is almost always in the lower Bay.