Fish N’OC

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“Just one more drift…” I kept telling myself. “Why not?” I put my outboards in gear and headed back up current. Before I knew it, we reached the head of our drift, dropped baits in the water and before long two rods were bent over with fish. I looked at my first mate and smiled, we had two happy anglers on board with another pair of flounder headed to the deck. After a couple moments of unhooking and picture taking, we dropped the flatties back in the water and watched them dive down to the depths. The charter probably should have been over, but it was time to head back up current for “just one more drift.”

Sometimes fishing is just so good, that at the end of a hard day, it’s still too much fun to stop — and that is how good fishing has been around Ocean City lately. It’s late July and we are still experiencing a lot of excitement on the water. There are some very nice rockfish around right now and even the big migratory bluefish are still here.

In addition to the stripers and bluefish, this has been one of the best summers for flounder fishing in the recent past. Every week I continue to be amazed at the amount of flounder that seem to be blanketing the bottom of the bay. A lot of people like to complain about the 18-inch size restriction on summer flounder, but I am not one of them. These smaller fish, that we have been catching so many of lately, are eventually going to grow up into big fish. And, in fact, we have been starting to run into a few more of the bigger fish recently. From this point forward, the fishing should only get better for the larger fish as the summer progresses. In the following months start to take a look at the near-shore wrecks for an even better shot at doormat size flounder.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the reports that have come in from around Ocean City this past week.

The first report comes from Tim at John Henry’s Bait & Tackle. The surf fishing has really slowed this week. There are a few kingfish being caught, mostly on bloodworms, some surf anglers are still catching sharks and rays. The coastal bays are still producing some nice flounder, croaker, blues and stripers.

At Sunset Marina, Butch reports a good bite of 140 to 150-pound bluefin at the Hambone. Yellowfin are still few and far between, gaffer dolphin at first lump, 12 miles of the coast. He reports flounder fishing has slowed this week due to the dirty water. Most of the flounder being caught are undersized and the croaker are finally showing up in the back bays.

At Buck’s Place, Shannon reports big sharks from the surf, eight- and nine-foot sand tiger sharks were caught this week on cut baits. Flounder fishing was better towards the end of the week, but most anglers are still catching mostly shorts. Croaker fishing is really starting to take off, but most fish are on the smaller side, bloodworms and fish bites are the best baits. Still some keeper stripers coming from the inlet and Route 50 Bridge.

At the Ocean City Fishing Center, Katie reports the best catch of the week was a bluefin tuna that tipped the scales at 163 pounds. She also had bluefin at 139, 141, and 150 pounds weighed in. All the bluefin are being caught at the Hambone, the yellowfin are all on the small side. Lots of gaffer dolphin hitting the docks with a few king mackerel mixed in. Some boats also caught and released several white marlin this week. She even saw several mako sharks this week. In the bay the croaker are really starting to bite with one boat return with 43 croakers in their cooler. Weighed-in were several nice-sized flounder this week, including a 5- and 7-pounder. And finally the Bay Bee reported catching over 100 flounder throwbacks a day.

Pete at AllTackle.Com reports the Twin Wrecks and the 20 line are producing bluefin and a few yellowfin on the troll. Most anglers have to weed threw the smaller flounder to get a few keepers. The Route 50 Bridge is still producing keeper striper and nice blues at night.

At the Oceanic Pier, JJ reports a good flounder bite going on during the day, the croaker bite continues to improve daily with bloodworms being the ticket. We still have a few anglers fishing for tog, but most are undersized. The bluefish bite is still good when the schools move through, Got-cha plugs work the best along with Spec-Rigs. We are seeing some striper action from the sea wall at night, most fishermen are using live eels.

Beverly at Harbor Tackle reports not much to tell, more sharks at the beach along with a few blues, kings, rays, and skates. The Route 50 Bridge is still producing legal stripers at night, plenty of flounder but not many keepers. She did weigh-in a nice keeper flounder this week, caught by Jere Putt, it was 25 inches and weighed 7.5 pounds and was caught in the east channel on live spot.

Adam at Bahia Marina reports the founder bite remained steady this past week with many throwbacks being caught and a few nice keepers mixed in. A few anglers have been able to find some croakers in the bay so it shouldn’t be too long until they are in here thick. The Judith M continues to catch sea bass and triggerfish. A few trips produced large flounder as well. Some of the flounder tipped the scales in the 5- to 7-pound range. Offshore angler continue to pick at large bluefins. Most of the fish have been in the 120′s. The Ebb Tide returned to the dock with a 66-inch bluefin that weighed 154 pounds. There are also plenty of gaffer dolphin being caught and some yellowfins as well for those who venture further offshore, but the yellowfin bite has definitely slowed down compared to what it was a couple of weeks ago.

Capt. Steve on the Happy Hooker reports fishing in the bay this week slowed considerable due to strong south winds in the early part of the week. There were still fish to be found, it just took a little extra work moving from spot to spot to find them. Monday showed signs of the water cleaning up and a few more fish being caught, with your best bet being in the deeper water.

Capt. Mark Sampson of Fish Finder Charters reports conducting near shore shark trips 10 miles from the coast. It’s a half-day charter for spinner sharks, Atlantic sharp nose, and dusky sharks in the 40- to 60-pound range. This week he also caught three tiger sharks, ranging from 35 to 125 pounds. It’s very unusual for them to be this close to the shore line. We also caught our first black tip shark of the year, it was in the 50-pound range. It was a good week with a nice mixture of shark species. You can call Capt. Mark at 410-726-7946 or visit his web site at www.big sharks.com. It’s a great trip for the young ones.

Captain Victor Bunting on the Ocean Princess reports some ups and downs with the fishing this week. Early in the week things started off pretty good with a steady pick of sea bass and the occasional flounder and triggerfish. By mid-week, fishing had slowed down and we had some pretty slow days of fishing. On a Sunday morning trip, he reports lots of throwback sea bass and some flounders, but the catching was fairly good. Bunting reports if you’re planning on filling up a 100 quart cooler with fish right now, it ain’t gonna happen, but you might pick up a keeper or two.

Here at Talbot Street Bait and Tackle, we saw several nice flounder at the scales, but the biggest was caught by Howard Agnew of Salisbury, who was fishing on the party boat the Angler, when he hooked into a 27 ½-inch, 8.5-pound flounder while jigging with a bucktail. This week it seems that some of the best flounder fishing is coming from the Route 50 Bridge, and the east channel. The hot baits are live spot, Berkley Gulp, shinners and live minnows. If you’re looking for croakers, try the south bay by the commercial harbor, definitely use bloodworms and fish bites. If you’re looking for tog, the south and north jetties are the hot spots. The best bait are sand fleas or green crabs. And finally for stripers both jetties and the Route 50 Bridge are the hot spots. Use live eels, spot, got-cha plugs and rubber shads.

Finally the last report comes from the charter boat Restless Lady, which reports a great week of charters with the highlight of the week being an overnighter. They left Monday at noon and returned at noon Tuesday, catching three yellowfin with one keeper. The big bluefin was a 150 pounder, also caught a 124-pound mako, and a 65-inch white marlin. Not bad for a 24-hour trip.

Well that about does it for this week’s fishing report, remember if you have a report or pictures you would like in the “Coast Dispatch” or on www.oceancityfishing.com shoot me an email at skipstackleshop@aol.com.

Finally a few things about what’s going on here at Talbot Street Bait & Tackle. Our hours are 7 a.m.-7 p.m., seven days a week, and we do have live spot for sale, along with other great baits and tackle. We also are booking bay, Inlet, wreck, inshore, and offshore charters on my three different boats. Plus we have a great half-day “family adventure”, fishing, crabbing, clamming, and sight seeing for only $375. So stop by the Tackle Shop or give me a call at 410-430-5436 cell or 410-289-FISH(3474) and lets talk fishing.

The fishing is better then its been in years, so get out there and fish. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be writing about you next week.

(The writer is the owner and operator of Skips’s Charters and Guide Service.)

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