Most days 5 a.m. comes pretty early, but today was different. My alarm went off, and I was up with a snap. This morning was the opening of Ocean City’s most prestigious fishing tournament — the “White Marlin Open.” Every year a huge crowd of onlookers gathers along the Inlet sea wall in the predawn darkness. Fishing fans of all ages are present, with people watching, cheering and sending best wishes to their favorite boats and crews as they pass through the Inlet and head out to their chosen fishing grounds. For three days, anglers will be competing for top honors, and a grand prize that could be worth well over $1 million.
We are very lucky in Ocean City to have a thriving tournament schedule for anglers and captains to compete in each year. Starting in late May, our season begins with the “Mako Mania” shark tournament, and the competition continues all summer long with anglers targeting many different species of fish, until the season ending inshore rockfish tournaments in November. There is something special about tournament fishing — with the excitement the competition brings to our local fishing community — not to mention the prestige and sometimes handsome earnings that anglers and crews can win here in Ocean City.
People have been talking about the slow economy, and the smaller number of boats that are taking part in this year’s White Marlin Open. But I can say for certain that the town sure was abuzz this morning. People were out and about, and the Inlet crowd was packed tight against the railing. I enjoy tournament week every year, and I am looking forward (as always) to following the progression of this year’s tournament again this coming week.
Even with the great number of boats heading offshore this week, and with the overwhelming focus on the White Marlin Open, anglers should be sure to not forget about the good fishing that is going on locally here in Ocean City. You don’t need a million dollar yacht (and unfortunately there are no million dollar prizes), but there are still plenty of fish to catch around town. About this time every year, we see an influx of smaller pan fish into the local scene.
Croakers and spot sometimes flood the bay. These fish are generally pretty easy to catch and this action can be a lot of fun for anglers of all ages. Summer flounder are also a lot of fun, and I know I have said it before, but this year’s flounder fishing has been some of the best in the recent past. So if you are in Ocean City this week and you don’t have the means to get offshore and target million dollar sportfish, don’t fret. Hit the bay or beach front this week and do some local inshore fishing, you will surely be rewarded.
With that said, let’s take a look back what happened around town this past week.
Adam at Bahia Marina reports flounder fishing in the bay seems to have slowed down somewhat in the past week. This can most likely be attributed to the water not being as clean as it has in the past few weeks. Though the numbers are not what they were, a few nice fish were weighed in this week. Jeff Foster of Newark Del. caught a 22-inch, 3-pound, 8-ounce flounder in the east channel off 2nd Street. The east channel seems to be producing well on the incoming tide. Live minnows and shiners are catching most of the fish with larger fish being caught on live spot. The Judith M has been doing well since the croakers have showed off the beach. Offshore, some tuna are being caught along with plenty of dolphin. The marlin bite has been fair as well.
At Harbor Tackle, Bev reports we have got the summer doldrums in the surf. Plenty of sharks, skates, rays along with a few croakers, blues, and kingfish. Lots of undersized flounder with a few legal flatties mixed in. The croakers are spreading out almost everywhere in the bay. The Route 50 Bridge and the Inlet fishermen are catching some legal stripers, blues and flounder.
JJ at the Oceanic Pier reports tons of flounder being caught with a decent amount of keepers. Lots of small sea bass and spot, mostly being caught on bloodworms and fish bites, its great action for the kids. At night the blues and shad are getting spotty, some nights they’re here, some nights they’re not. Spec rigs and got-cha plugs are the ticket. The seawall and north jetty night fishing are still productive for stripers, with live eels and rubber shads working the best. Tog fishing has slowed considerably, but the triggerfish bite still continues to be good.
At Sunset Marina, Steve reports a 93 ½-pound white marlin was just weighed in to take the lead in the White Marlin Open tournament, It was caught by the boat “Orion”. It’s the second heaviest white marlin weighed in the tournament history. So far its been a great tournament with lots of whites being caught with lots of excitement at the scales.
Tim at John Henry’s Bait & Tackle reports the coastal bays are still producing monster rocks being caught off the Route 50 Bridge at night. The day time fishing off the bridge is also the best we’ve seen in years with most anglers scoring keeper flatties everyday. In the bays, plenty of flounder and croaker action, mostly in the east channel. In the surf kingfish, sharks and rays.
At Ake Marine, Noah reports at the twin wrecks the flounder fishing and sea bass fishing has been hot this week, with lots of action. Lots of dolphin action at Jack’s spot and the hambone. The tuna fishing has been hit or miss. In the bays the water has been very dirty with lots of seaweed, but anglers are still catching croakers and flounder.
At Captain Mac’s, Captain Bruce reports the bluefin bite has slowed down, but the dolphin and marlin bite is red hot with fish as close as the 20 line. Surf fishing has slowed, but some anglers are scoring big at night on the surf, with large sand tiger sharks. Some as big as 170 pounds and over 9 feet long. Day time fishing in the surf is all about kingfish and spot, fish bites are the hot bait. In the Fenwick Ditch, the flounder and croaker bite is good.
Here at Talbot Street Bait & Tackle, we’ve weighed in several nice flounder this week. The hot spot for day time flounder fishing is the Route 50 bridge with bridge spreader bars working the best. In boats, the hot spots for flounder are the east channel and near the airport in the south bay. The night time striper bite is the seawall and the bridge, with live eels, bucktails, and rubber shads working the best. If you are targeting tog and triggerfish, the north and south jetties are the hot spots.
I did want to write about one of my charters this week, It was the Forrer family from Duncannon, Pa., which just happens to be where I grew up. This was the first time they had ever fished in saltwater, so needless to say the kids were excited about catching their first flounder. We fished in the east channel with good results, both 8-year-old twin boys, Dalton and Colton, caught a flounder within minutes of dropping their lines in. Their sister, Ashleigh, was also quite the fisherman, landing several flounder during the trip. They ended landing over a dozen flatties during the trip, but just couldn’t catch that 18-inch one we needed to put in the box. By the end of the trip, the boys were talking about going again next summer.
I’ve had some great trips this week for stripers and flounder. The striper bite continues to be good around the south jetty. The bait of choice is live spot, you want to rig them with about 2-ounce of lead and always use fluorocarbon leader. Stop by the tackle shop and I’ll show you how to rig it up. I’ve also been doing very well fishing for flounder in the east channel and also in the south bay by the airport. I’ve been using Berkley Gulp and shinners, here at the tackle shop we’re stocked up with all the best colors of Gulp so stop by. I still have some charter dates open so give me a call at 410-430-5436.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Skip’s Charters and Guide Service.)