The waves were crashing, the water was splashing and all I could think about was how glad I was that I was wearing my korkers. Oh, and I was still pretty upset about the big striper that I had just lost also.
For those of you who have never heard of korkers, imagine some heavy duty sandals with carbide spikes on the bottom that you strap onto your boots. Some guys just call them “jetty spikes,” since they provide enough traction for anglers to walk out on our slippery rock jetties to fish — and boy was I glad I was wearing mine this past week.
It was two days after the new moon, the tides were large, and there was a pretty heavy swell bringing in sets of imposing looking breakers every few minutes. My good friend Toby from Pennsylvania and his buddy Pete came down to visit and fish for a couple days, which found us visiting some of our old surf fishing haunts — including the now wave-washed jetty at Indian River Inlet where we were hanging on for dear life and simultaneously casting to feeding stripers. Fortunately, we made it back safely at the end of the night (though we were never truly in any serious danger) and we even caught a few decent rockfish as well. Man, I love striper fishing.
As most of you know, this time of year almost always provides us with good numbers of stripers here on Delmarva, and I have to say that this year has been no disappointment. If you are a striper fisherman, there have been plenty of fish around to keep you busy so far this spring. Also if you are looking to book a trip to do some striper fishing, now is the time to do it before our waters warm up for the summer.
Another fish that we used to see often in the springtime is the sea trout. Unfortunately, the past few years have seen their numbers plummet to basically an all-time low. However, we did have a nice trout weighed in at the shop this past week, so it is good to know that there are at least a few of them still swimming out there.
To round out the excellent fishing we have been seeing so far this spring, I have to mention the excellent tuna and shark action that has been going on offshore. I’ve been hearing tons of reports coming in from all around town the past couple of weeks about all of the yellow fin and blue fin tuna that are being caught. In fact, one of our boats, the “Restless Lady”, has landed nearly 100 tuna already this year — some very impressive numbers. Right now, there are lots of sharks offshore also, including some good numbers of mako and threshers with even a few more exotic species like tiger sharks in the mix.
For now, let’s take a look back and recap some of the reports that have come through the tackle shop this past week.
JJ at the Oceanic Pier reports, “anglers are catching flounder, skate, tautog, bluefish, and shad. Anglers are catching four to five keeper flounder every day. One to three keeper stripers were caught per day this past week. Most of them on squid during the daytime. Tog bite at the very end of the pier in the left hand corner. This weekend they bit right at dusk. There were some really nice tautog caught. Good fishing at night on shad, blues and some stripers with spec rigs and Gotcha Plugs. Little sea bass are starting to bite for the little kids.”
At Oyster Bay, Sue reports, “A few stripers and drum were still caught in the surf, more blues and kingfish, croakers, skates and some nice sharks. Good flounder bite this week. Stripers were in the Inlet. Big drum in the Delaware Bay. Sea bass season is open and anglers are catching them offshore along with some tog and some codfish.
I heard a good run of blues were in the surf Monday evening and Tuesday morning. One angler came in to show me his bent metal sand spike and the story of his surf rod being pulled into the surf never to be seen again. Another man came in to Fenwick Tackle to tell me he saw a man’s $200 rod and reel combo being pulled into the surf by some huge fish. It was gone. Keep your eye on your rod and be sure to keep your drag set. Then you may lose your line, but not your whole fishing outfit.”
Captain Jeffrey Grimes of Helbent Charters reports, “I decided to try the Route 90 bridge on the outgoing tide this weekend. With the crowds gone from last weekend and the winds settling down, the water was much cleaner. It made for another great weekend of fishing in OC. The water temp was 74 degrees and there was a nice flounder bite. We never came up with any keepers but we did have a fun with a few throw backs. We found the fish just off the main channel about two sets of the bridge pilings on both sides of the channel. Not a great place to fish in a lot traffic but that was not an issue this weekend. The old standby of frozen shinners and squid strip seemed to be the bait of choice. The bite is improving and I cannot wait to get back out on the water.”
Old Inlet reports, “After a little lull on the down side of the moon, the striper bite in the Inlet has picked up a little over the last few days. It has been a daytime bite on the last few of hours of incoming water. As always, light colored swim shads and red/white bucktails are the hot baits. Look for the bite to continue to build as we approach the full moon on June 17. Our records indicate the full moon in June often provides some of the best fishing of the year. But then again, could anything beat the striper run we had last month? Kingfish hit the beach over the holiday weekend. The surf is offering a mixed bag of kings, blues, the occasional striper and black drum along with plenty of skates. Unconfirmed reports of croakers have been floating around. Flounder fishing in the bay has been decent. The water should be warm enough to make Gulp baits effective for doormat flatties.”
Bill’s Sport Center reports, “Flounder fishing is excellent. Indian River VFW slough, the Lewes Canal, and the Cape Henelopen Pier. They are also started catching spot on the Cape Henelopen Pier. Indian River Inlet has been good on stripers. Lots of sharks out in the ocean. Big thresher sharks were reported at B Buoy. Makos further offshore with a good yellowfin tuna bite as well.
Capt. Monty of the “Morning Star” reports, “Caught more sea bass Wednesday on a regular trip than we did on Tuesday’s long trip. Thursday’s long trip, however, may have been the trip this year. What a wonderful crowd and grade of fish we had. Friday we saw numbers — many good catches despite numerous throwbacks. Saturday we had to work hard just to get some folks into double digits. Sunday we enjoyed a nice catch with numerous cod. Among them was my third tag return this week — our cod aren’t moving yet. They’re growing two inches in three months. Federal size limit is 22 inches for cod — about 1 in 5 is a keeper. We’re tagging a bunch.”
Captain Drew on the Tortuga reports, “With the wind letting up this week helping to provide better water clarity, fishing certainly was more pleasant this week. However, the increase in quality of conditions was not necessarily proportionate to an increase in success rate. Fishing did improve, showing good action on throwbacks and as usual the keepers were scattered about. In one instance this week, we caught two keepers almost simultaneously and then not another to be found on succeeding drifts in the same spot. Sinepuxent Bay was the only area to show any consistency over a few days. Hopefully, things continue to improve, so get out on the water and try your luck.
Captain Chase on the Flounder Pounder reports, “We started our season this past Saturday and it was a slow start for flounder, though we did find a couple 17 inchers and a few schools of bluefish. The bite seemed to be very tide dependent and seemed to favor the outgoing tide both on Saturday and on Sunday, but that is fishing. The action will pick up over the next week or two. This past weekend the water clarity has been either like the Bahamas or has looked like chocolate milk and the clear water has brought good fishing with it. We managed to pick up three keepers in one trip measuring 18.5inches (Sambo Tob) 19inches (Elias Rosato) and 20.5inches (Charles Sweitzer). The next trip we had 23 throw backs ranging from 13inches to 17.5 inches. The fishing continues to pick up which is good to see hopefully water clarity will continue to help fishing.”
Capt Sean on the Restless Lady reports, “On June 3, another great day with a crew of Penn U alumni and some great fishing made a perfect day. Bluefin was the name of the game today. A two-boat trip — Restless Lady released 24 bluefins, one 55-inch weighed 93 pounds brought to the dock, plus 18 bluefish, 10-15 pounds each and the Muffdiver reported 30 bluefin releases, one at 42 inches and 18 bluefish. Congratulations to soon-to-be-married Jeff Evelleth, whose brothers Matt and Brian set up the fishing day.
Captain Dustin on “Over-Board” reports, “Johnny Sipple III caught and released a hammerhead shark while fishing on the charter boat "Over-board" with his grandfather John Sipple and Elijah Whitmore. The crew also released a dusky shark, boated a mako shark and caught some chopper bluefish, while shark fishing in the fingers on whole mackeral for bait.”
We had some really great striper trips this week on our Mako CC on the south jetty. One that I would like to write about was a family from East Berlin, Pa. The Bale’s — John and his wife Vanessa, and sons, Wesley 10, Johnathan 8, and Tyson 4. These little guys could fish, true sportsmen, Dad said they can hunt just as good as they fish. It was the best striper fishing of the season so far, with five nice keepers and three that we lost that were monsters and over 30 released shorts. What a trip, non-stop action the whole four hours. I would like to thank Capt J.W. Powell for filling in behind the wheel, while I ran the deck.
All four of our charter boats here at Skip’s Charter & Guide service are having awesome fishing, with some of the best fishing we’ve seen in years. Inshore and offshore fishing is red hot just like our weather. Pick up that phone and give us a call and book that fishing trip. We still have openings but their filling up fast. We also have our bay boat running with family flounder trips, plus our fishing, clamming, and crabbing combo charter for just $450 for a half day of family fun. We provide all rods and tackle as well as all the bait, so pack some sunscreen and a few drinks and come on out for a memory-making day on the water.
When you step on the boat, you are stepping on a boat that has over 40 years of fishing and boating experience with some of Ocean City’s top captains working for Skip’s Charter and Guide Service this year. Give me a call at the tackle shop at 410-289-Fish (3474) or on my cell 410-430-5436 and let’s talk fishing.
At the tackle shop we are open 6 a.m.-9 p.m., seven days a week, with a great staff that will answer any questions you may have about fishing the Ocean City waters. If you have a report or pictures you would like in The Dispatch or on www.oceancityfishing.com, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The weather is red hot and so is the fishing. So get out there and fish! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be writing about you next week.
(Maguire is an outdoor writer and owner of Skip’s Bait and Tackle and Skip’s Charter and Guide Service in Ocean City.)