What’s Biting

I don’t know about you guys, but all I can think about right now is how nice it is to finally be back fishing again in Ocean City. This past winter was a long one. We had more cold weather and snow here than I can remember from way back. Seriously, this winter was rough and it wasn’t just the cold and snow that was so bothersome, it was all the time stuck indoors. By mid-February, I was in serious need of a break, and the only place I wanted to be was on my boat — wearing shorts, flip flops, and catching stripers.

Every year I get pumped up thinking about catching my first stripers of the season. This spring was a little bit different than the last couple of years, in that it took a little bit longer for the fish to finally show up. However, now that they are here, fishing has been nothing short of phenomenal. It was worth the wait.

I have had nothing but great reports coming in from all over Delmarva the past couple of weeks. Both boat and shore anglers have been catching a lot of fish, and they have been big this year (the fish not the fishermen). We have had a lot of nice fish coming on my charters lately also, with fish up to and over 40 inches being taken from the Ocean City Inlet. In addition, I’ve heard of numerous reports of 30 pounders being caught on bait and lures from other places like the Route 50 Bridge and Assateague Island, including a rumor of at least one 40-pound plus fish that ate a lure at the Indian River Inlet last week on a night tide.

I’ve said for years that spring is the best opportunity to land a trophy striper here in Delmarva. With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, you can bet that there will be a lot of folks around town trying their hand at the season’s best rock fishing. So if you get the chance why not come down and join in the fun this spring season.

As you can see, the fishing has gotten off to a fast-paced start here in 2011. So let’s take a look back at some of the reports that have come in from around town the past few weeks.

At Sunset Marina, Dave reports, the offshore boats are already getting the bluefin tuna with a few yellowfins mixed in. Most tuna are being caught at the Baltimore and Poorman’s canyons. Lots of nice size Bluefish are also being caught offshore on the troll, Dave thinks the mako sharks will be showing up any day now and will let us know when the bite heats up.

John at Bethany Marine Supply reports, “The last week has been like nothing we have ever seen at the Indian River Inlet. Monster stripers in epic proportions, hundreds of jetty fishermen and hundreds of boats just catching stripers on every cast. The hot lures were bucktails with white worms, storm lures, and Calcutta swim shads. The bite has slowed down some, but some anglers are still catching 40-inch to 50-inch class stripers.” 

At Captain Mac’s on Route 54 in West Fenwick, Paul reports, “Indian River Inlet has been on fire. Large stripers being caught on the incoming tide, White bucktails with white twister tails are the hot ticket. We also heard the Route 50 Bridge is producing stripers on live spot and bluefish on spoons and gotcha-plugs.”


E.T. at John Henry’s Bait & Tackle on Route 611 in West Ocean City reports, Lots of nice stripers being caught at Assateague on the surf on fresh bunker. The Red and Black Drum also continue to bite on clam. E.T. also said some surf casters are scoring with nice sized bluefish casting spoons and Got-cha plugs. E.T. wants me tell everybody that they have fresh Bunker delivered every day and that they open early at 5 a.m.

At the Oceanic Pier, Teddy reports, “We got some legal flounder this week up to 21 inches and lots of flounder in the 15- to 18-inch range. The best bait seems to be live minnows and Berkley Gulp. Anglers are still catching lots of Tog but most are under sized, the best baits are green crabs and sand fleas. At night under the lights, the bluefish and shad still are hammering the spec rigs and got-cha plugs on the incoming tide. The nicest fish of the week was a 40-inch, 24-pound striper that was caught at night on got-cha plug. The Pier is now open 24 hour a day, 7 days a week.”

John at AllTackle reports, “Lots of blues from the Route 50 Bridge and Inlet, the hot lure is the got-cha plug. Large stripers being caught in the surf at Assateague on fresh bunker. Stripers from the Route 50 Bridge and Inlet, best baits are live spot and eels. The flounder bite continues to improve with shiners, live minnows, and white Berkley Gulp.” 

Mickey at Rattle & Reel in Long Neck, Del. Reports, “We had a unbelievable striper run at Indian River Inlet this past week with hundreds if not thousands of 30-pound-plus fish being caught. The hottest lure was bucktails with white worms. On the surf, stripers are being caught on clams. Cape Henlopen Pier and Lewes Canal are the hot spots for nice flounder with white Berkley Gulp and bunker strips being the best baits.”

Sue Foster at Oyster Bay Bait & Tackle reports, “We saw an outstanding striper bite from the surf on Friday. Stripers were biting from the Route 50 Bridge along with blues, shad, flounder, and tautog. Indian River saw some of the best striper action since the 1970’s. Big drum in the Delaware Bay. Sea bass season is open and anglers are catching them offshore. Assateague surf has been "hot" for some. So-so for others. Just got to be there when the fish are biting. Anglers are picking up keeper stripers and the black drum are still running down there (clam, sand fleas, and fish bites). There’s also some bluefish, sharks, flounder and, of course, rays.”

Captain Drew reports the "Tortuga" has sailed “our 8 a.m. and noon trips the last three weekends. So far we have had a few keepers and many throwbacks. Our best trip on keepers we returned with five flounder. We also have had a few trips where the action was slow, but that’s part of the territory in the game of fishing. We will begin our full three-trip schedule on Saturday, May 28, adding a 4 p.m. trip to the 8 a.m. and noon trips. Come see us and try your luck on the bay at Bahia Marina/Fish Tales.” 

Captain Victor of The Ocean Princess reports, “If you weren’t there, you missed out on some great fishing over the weekend. We finished up our spring taug fishing on Saturday and had a nice trip. Lots of small taug to weed through, but plenty of keepers mixed in. Our largest tog, caught by Kelly Flaherty of Tunkhannock, Pa., on Saturday came in at just under 11 pounds. Sea bass finally opened on Sunday and we kicked the season off with a 12-hour trip. Fishing on the 12-hour trip was excellent. Not that it was easy, lots of running and plenty of fuel burned, but in the end it was well worth it. Most everyone had numbers in the high teens and quite a few folks had their limit of sea bass. Some sea bass were up to almost 5 pounds with many being above 3 pounds. We had very few fish that had to be measured. We also got into a number of codfish, I’d say we caught about 45 codfish and landed 15. For reservations call 410-289-6226.”

Here at Skip’s Bait and Tackle Shop we weighed in some nice fish this past week. The first angler to show up was local John Foreman, who was out flounder and tog fishing in his boat. He ended up with two nice flounder — 19  and 20 inches that he caught on cut bait at the thorofare. He also had a nice tog he caught by 6th Street on green crabs.

The next group of anglers to come in were some local youngsters. Brothers Ethan and Bryce Kalchthaler and their friend Aidan Asbury. They were fishing on their dad’s boat when they got into a school of blues and it was game on with over 20 fish boated. They released most of them but kept a few for a picture at the tackle shop. Locals Bobby Hayes and Bobby Jr. showed up several times this week with nice catches of bluefish from the Route 50 Bridge, (their second home) These guys fish everyday off the bridge. They caught all their blues on white bucktails.

Finally another local Bob Spetzler came by with three nice flatties, two measuring 19 inches and another at 20 inches. He caught them from the bulk head on live minnows. If you have a nice catch, bring it by the tackle shop to get weighed-in.

I had a lot of striper charters this week with some nice fish caught and a lot of rod bending action. Here is just a few of the highlights.

One of my good friends Captain Devon Fernandez from “Icy Bay Lodge” in southeast Alaska came to Ocean City for a visit. We got out fishing even though the water was rough. Capt. Devon ended up with two nice keeper stripers from the north jetty, one measured 46 inches and weighed 30 pounds.

Another charter that was exciting with lots of action was with Dr. David Skoner and his wife Janet and son Jonathan from Pittsburgh, Pa. It was another striper trip on the south and north jetties. The ocean was very rough and we had rollers and waves up to 20 feet slamming into the jetties but we still managed to catch three keepers with one measuring 42 inches and weighing over 20 pounds.

The last charter was Tuesday and it was non-stop rod bending action with four nice keepers and over 20 throw backs in just four hours of fishing. The anglers were Bill and Zack Minger and their friend Bud Daugherty all from West Virginia. These guys caught a bad case of striper fever and wanted to go back out the next day weather permitting. I will fill you in on that trip next week.

I have all the boats in the water and they’re geared up ready to fish. We have a boat for every person’s needs. From bay to inlet, inshore to offshore, with half-day and full-day trips available. Book now while the fishing is hot, and while the stripers are here and heavy. 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 [email protected] or [email protected].

The weather this holiday weekend is going to be phenomenal and the fishing is the best we’ve had this season. 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.)