About this time every year, I start looking forward to fall. In fact, these past few days have got me down right excited. Air temperatures have dropped into the low 60s the past couple of nights, and the early morning air has had a nice crisp chill to it. It won’t be long till I’m donning my thermal underwear, sporting my Helly Hansen’s, and heading out to the south jetty in chase of some serious rockfish. Fall is almost here — I love this time of year.
In spite of the storms and the relatively high surf conditions, this past week has provided some great fishing around Ocean City. Flounder fishermen did especially well this week. Late summer and early fall is often the best time for anglers to get into the largest flounder of the season, and this year has proven to be no exception. Summer flounder are very aggressive predators and are happy to pounce on just about any type of local baitfish that crosses their path. Lucky for them, there has been a ton of baitfish around lately. In fact, all I have had to do for my charters is throw my cast net from the dock near my boat slip. My bait well has been full with little peanut bunker and finger mullet within minutes.
Flounder are not the only game in town, however. This has also been a great year for bluefish. We seem to have good years and bad years for bluefish here in Ocean City. Fortunately for us, this has been one of those good years. The Route 50 Bridge often sees some of the most consistent bluefish action in town. An outgoing tide, either at night or during the day, will often see schools of bluefish setting up downstream of the pilings, picking off disoriented baitfish that get swept under the bridge by the strong current. Any time of the day can be productive, but nighttime can be especially good for the largest blues. The cover of darkness can also provide a better opportunity at catching one of Ocean City’s resident stripers, which seem to get a little bit more active this time of year.
With fall upon us, and the seasons beginning to merge, there has been a lot going on in our local fishing scene this past week. I have had a lot of reports coming in, so let’s take a look at some of them now.
At AllTackle, Bob reports in the bay still seeing lots of flounder and croaker. The flounder are getting bigger, most are being caught on live spot or peanut bunker. The hot spots are the east channel and by Hooper’s. The offshore reef and wreck fishing for flounder is still hot, but it has been hard for boats to get out with all the storms and wind. The white marlin bite is off the hook, the dolphin and wahoo bite is scattered, and there are no tuna to be found.
Mrs. Mufford at Oyster Bay Bait & Tackle reports there’s lots of bluefish starting to show up in the surf finally. She is seeing a lot of nice flounder this week, the biggest of the week was caught by Pete Balandiak, from Pennsylvania. It weighed in at 8 pounds, 10 ounces. It was caught at the Oceanic Pier on shiners. In the east channel, anglers are still seeing lots of flounder, with a good ratio of keepers to throw backs.
At the Ocean City Fishing Center, Charlotte reports lots of flounder in the bay, the east channel has been the hot sot. Here at the Fishing Center, the high winds have kept the offshore fleet in. She has heard reports of nice size blues being caught off the Route 50 Bridge along with lots of short stripers.
At Ake’s, Noah reports lots of flounder in the bay, the size of the flounder is definitely the biggest we’ve seen all season. There’s still croaker around, blood worms and fish bites are the best baits. Lots of nice size blues coming off the Route 50 Bridge, mostly on Got-Cha plugs. The white marlin bite offshore has been red hot.
At Captain Mack’s, Paul reports the marlin bite is the best he has seen in years with reports of boats catching eight to 10 per trip. The flounder fishing is getting better by the day, with the east channel being the hot spot. The best baits to use are peanut bunker and live spot. There’s lots of blues starting to show up in the surf, with finger mullet and cut baits working the best.
Chris at the Oceanic Pier reports lots of flounder and croaker during the day, the flounder are the biggest so far this season. Some anglers are starting to fish for tog again, but most fish are under sized. At night time, mostly blues and croakers are making their presence known with a few flounder being caught, too.
At Buck’s Place, Cindy reports the fishing has been slow this week because of the high winds. But the reports that did come in are that the blues are starting to show up in numbers in the surf.
At Harbor Bait and Tackle, Bev reports West Ocean City looks almost like a ghost town. There are not many people stirring around and that is a shame now that fishing is getting better. In the surf, there are more small blues, kingfish and up to 16-inch croakers being caught. More legal sized flounder are showing up. The flounder bite is good in the East Channel coming in close to 2nd and 4th streets and in front of Hooper’s. Croakers are still making a showing in the back bays. Small blues and some stripers are in the Inlet and the Route 50 Bridge.
Here at Talbot Street Bait and Tackle, Rick reports there’s been lots of nice-sized flounder being caught in the east channel, mostly on live peanut bunker. The Route 50 bridge is producing nice-sized blue fish during and day and night. The best plug to use is a two-ounce Got-Cha plug. There are still under-sized stripers being caught also. The south and north jetties are producing some tog now with the best baits being sand fleas and green crabs. If you are lucky, you may even hook into a nice-sized sheepshead. The bulk head at 2nd to 4th streets is still producing keeper flounder and also some tog. The 9th Street dock is still good for croaker and flounder, along with small sea bass and spot which are lots of fun for the kids to catch.
On my charters this past week, its been all about flounder. I’ve caught keeper flounder on every trip with lots of action. I’ve been fishing the east channel and also south of the Route 50 bridge in the channel. The bait I’ve been using is live peanut bunker, all I do is throw a cast net a few times before I leave the marina and I’m good to go. I also have done some striper fishing at the south jetty with good results too. The stripers are all under sized, but they all fight like keepers.
It won’t be too long before the fall migration starts for stripers, usually sometime in late October if not sooner. I will be booking striper trips for October, November and December here in Ocean City. Then in January and February I will be doing striper charters at the Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia. If you are interested in booking a striper trip with me during those months, give me a call on my cell at 410-430-5436. I’m also booking all the fall season striper tournaments here in Ocean City, so if you are interested in fishing any of those tournaments please give me a call for prices and availability. Flounder season closes on Sept. 13 so your time is running out on the best flounder fishing I’ve seen in years. If you are interested in a flounder charter, now is the time to book. I still have some dates open.
Well, this will be the last Fish’n O.C. article of the season in The Dispatch. I would like to thank all my readers, and customers who shopped in the tackle shop this year after being closed for two years. Just to let everybody know we had a great season here at Talbot Street Bait & Tackle and will be open 7 a.m. to 7: p.m., seven days a week till right before Christmas. We will open up for the 2010 season some time in late March or early April depending on the weather. We carry all the baits and tackle you’ll need for this fall tog and striper seasons. We will be selling live eels, spot, sand fleas, and green crabs all fall. I also will still post reports on my web site at www.oceancityfishing.com, so if you have any reports or pictures you would like to share please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or the link that’s on the web site.
I hope everybody has a great fall and winter fishing season, and till the next time … Tight Lines!
(The writer is the owner and operator of Skip’s Charters and Guide Service.)