Wow, what a tough week to be a soft plastic shad – or a live spot for that matter. Every time I went fishing this past week my bait and plastic lure supply got smaller and smaller. Tons of plastic shads chomped in half, right behind the hook, and the poor spot, honestly, I sometimes feel bad for them. They seem so content when I set them loose to find me a trophy rockfish — only to come back in horror, like they have just been to a terrifying picture show.
On the flip side, this past week was a great week to catch bluefish. The gotcha plugs were flying from the bridge at night, and anglers were pulling the ravenous, yellow-eyed demons up over the rail at the Inlet. One of the great things about fishing for bluefish is the fast action. When a school moves in, and the fish are feeding, sometimes you can catch one on every cast. If the fish are decent sized, like they were this past week, anglers can have a lot of fun. Just be careful of your fingers.
I should not say this past week was all about bluefish because it wasn’t. The past couple of days have seen better action for the larger rockfish as well. I think a new school of decent-sized fish has moved into the Inlet. We had a tough time finding keepers for a couple days last week, but now they seem to have some more size to them again. It’s just the way things go when you are dealing with migratory fish — they come and go as they please, with no regards to our schedule. It’s one of the things that I love about saltwater fishing. We can keep log books, record all sorts of data, and spend tons of money on high-tech equipment, but we never know for sure what that next tide will bring into the Inlet. It can be boom or bust, or just slow and steady. Saltwater fishing is a lot like life in general, really.
Okay, I will move down off my soap box for now. Let’s talk some more about what happened in Ocean City fishing this past week. I’m going to start with the charters. As most of you know, most of the charters I have been doing lately are for stripers. This week was no exception, all five were striper trips, but we did mix in some flounder fishing with it with great results.
The first charter was a mother-and-son team, Ritz and Sherry Burgee from the Baltimore area. Ritz loves to fish, actually he lives and breaths it, and this was his first south jetty striper experience, and he was like a little kid in a candy store. We ended up boating between 40 to 50 stripers on the trip with three keepers. We also did a little flounder fishing with lots of action, but just fell short of that 18-inch minimum size. After the charter, Ritz had such a great time he talked his mom into booking another charter with me just a few days later with even better action than on the first trip. I think by the end of the second charter Ritz had caught a good case of what I call “striper fever”.
Another trip worth writing about was a nice group of guys from Harrisonburg, Va. Jim Mason and his two son in-laws, Rusty Showalter and Seth Caldwell. This also was a South Jetty striper trip. This was the first time these guys fished with me, so they had no idea what they were in for. Well, it was another awesome trip with double and triple hook ups on every drift with non stop action. By the time we hit the dock, these guys had boated well over 50 stripers with three nice keepers, one measuring 39 inches, and Rusty even caught a 21-inch flounder. All the fish were caught drifting live spot.
The other charters I had this past week weren’t any different then the two I wrote about. So if you’re a fisherman that likes lots of lite tackle action, this is the trip for you, the bite hasn’t slowed and has even picked up this past week with nicer size stripers moving in. Give me a call at 410-430-5436 and book a trip while the fishing is still red hot.
I still have lots of reports from local tackle shops, and charter boats so lets get right to them. Our first report comes from Chris at the Ocean City Fishing Center, where they are seeing lots of yellowfin tuna this week at the docks. The bluefin bite has slowed down with only a few anglers catching them. We did see more dolphin this week than in weeks past. The flounder fishing is still red hot, with most fishermen having non-stop action, but most fish are on the smaller side. Captain Mark is still catching lots of sharks on the “Fish Finder”.
At Buck’s Place on Route 611, Travis reports the surf fishing has slowed down this week, but he did hear reports of skates, blues and the occasional sand shark being caught. The bait of choice this week is fresh bunker or mullet.
At Sunset Marina, Haddarty reports there’s still lots of makos being caught at the Hambone and Hotdog. Offshore fishermen are reporting the makos are feeding on the football-size yellowfin in that area. The Bass Grounds are giving anglers lots of sea bass and flounder action, with one sea bass weighing over 6 pounds. Most anglers are scoring with cut squid and minnow combos. The bay flounder fishing is fast paced but most fish are not meeting the 18-inch minimum.
At Oyster Bay, Tom reports the spot have showed up in big numbers from the Inlet to 94th Street with the best baits proving to be blood worms or squid. Croakers finally made their appearance in the Inlet, and the flounder bite continues to be good, but most flatties are short. And finally, the surf is producing sharks, skates and spot.
Steve at Alltackle.com reports yellowfin at the Washington and big bluefish on the Chicken Bone. Still lots of makos being caught at the Fingers mostly on mackerel.
At John Henry’s Bait & Tackle, Tim reports the surf fishing has slowed down, but in the coastal bays anglers are catching flounder, stripers, tog, and triggerfish.
Beverly at Harbor Tackle reports not much happening on the beach this week – only small blues, some kingfish, lots of skates and a few sharks. Flounder fishing seemed to be a bit better this week. The percentage of legal flounder to undersized was about 25 percent. Last Friday, Bill Snyder of Ocean Pines hooked up with a 25-inch, 5.9-pound flounder at the 4th Street bulk head using live spot for bait.
Teddy at the Oceanic Pier reports flounder fishing is picking up with more keepers being caught. Still lots of tog being caught but they are starting to be on the smaller side with the weather getting warmer. He is also seeing triggerfish being caught by the sea wall and off the north jetty mostly on sand fleas. Teddy also said there are croakers finally starting to bite in the Inlet, but most are on the smaller side. The bait of choice is bloodworms, and finally the night fishing still continues to be good for blues, shad and a occasional short stripper.
Here at Talbot Street Bait & Tackle, we saw some nice fish at the scales this week. The first to come in was a unusual catch coming from the bay, it was a 32-inch cobia caught by Ray Delfera, from Brookheaven Pa. Ray caught it at the 2nd to 4th Street bulk head on shinners. We also saw some nice flounder from the Route 50 bridge, which has been smoking hot lately for day time flounder fishing.
First to come the scales was long-time customer, Les Luco of Catonsville, Md., bringing in an 18 ½-incher caught on live minnows on a bridge spreader bar. The next day his son Scott Luco, also from Catonsville, came in with a nice 19-inch flattie, also caught on a bridge spreader bar rig with shinners as bait.
I’m going to take a minute here to talk about these bridge spreader bars, if you happen to drive across the Rt.50 bridge you will see a lot of fishermen using a long bright colored bobber with a long wire rig attached about two feet below it. This is a bridge spreader bar, which is the most effective rig to use when targeting flounder from the bridge. If you are serious about flounder fishing from the bridge, this is the rig to use. Les tells me he has had over 25 flatties per trip this week from the bridge. If you need help setting up a rig for the bridge, stop by the tackle shop.
The last few reports come from a few charter boats here in O.C. The first is from Captain Steve on The Happy Hooker, a bay flounder party boat. He reports the flounder bite was excellent this week. He carried over 250 customers and all but three caught flounder. The only down side is there are few keepers to be found. Over the last few days, there has also been several people that have reported good numbers of croakers by both the Route 90 Bridge and also the Verrazano Bridge. That’s almost a month earlier than last year and hopefully a sign of things to come.
The next report is from Captain Victor from the Ocean Princess. He reports pretty good fishing over the past week. Some trips are better than others, but we have been pulling in a fair amount of sea bass along with a few triggerfish and flounder. Most of our sea bass have fallen short of the 12 ½-inch size limit set this year, but we have had a few decent size keepers come over the rail. Triggerfish have been coming on steady, and its not uncommon to come home with more keeper triggerfish than sea bass.
The final report comes from the Restless Lady charter boat. Captain Todd reports fishing at the Poormans and landing 30 yellowfin tuna, six were keepers up to 35 pounds. He reports a mako bite that threw the hook after two jumps. He said the best catch of the week was a 183-pound bigeye tuna, the largest of the year landed in O.C.
Well that about does it for this week’s fishing report, remember if you have a report or pictures you would like in The Dispatch or on www.oceancityfishing.com, shoot me an email at [email protected].
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.
Get out there and fish. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be writing about you next week.
(The writer is the owner and operator of Skip’s Charters and Guide Service.)