Gone Fishing

It is hard to beat an early morning walk across the Route 50 Bridge. For me, it’s therapeutic. In the off season, I almost always start my days out with a nice long morning walk. When summer rolls around, however, all the hustle and bustle — and just plain busyness — tends to make it a lot tougher for me to put on my walking shoes and get out there. So whenever I do get a nice morning to myself, I like to take advantage of the opportunity.

I was able to get out one beautiful morning this past week. Usually I like to keep to myself on my morning walks, but this morning I found myself studying the passing cars and the people in them. Instead of the usual sports cars and motorcycles, I was surprised to see so many mini-vans showing up this week — all packed with kids and luggage — these were families ready for vacation. It was at that point that I realized summer is officially here.

Every year summer sneaks up on me. In fact, it is hard to believe that this weekend will be the Independence Day weekend. This is always one of our busiest times during the summer. And if you don’t already know, summer is family time here in Ocean City, especially the Fourth of July.

In addition to the beach and the Boardwalk, there are a lot of other things for families to do in Ocean City. When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do was go crabbing with my brother and grandpa. We would get a pack of chicken necks from the grocery store and a ball of string. The three of us would then head down to the dock and set out our lines. After a couple minutes, you would see one of the strings moving, then either my brother or I would try to slowly pull the crab up to the surface where my grandpa would scoop it up with his long handled net. Most of the time the crabs would be too small and we’d have to throw them back in, but not before my brother and I terrorized them a little bit on the dock. Those were good times.

Crabbing isn’t the only family game in town, however. There are quite a few shallow spots in the bay where clamming can be done. And who could forget fishing. There are a lot of places around town that are great for families who love to fish. In fact, the beach in Ocean City is a great place to try your luck this time of the year. Early morning hours before lifeguards arrive and then later on in the evening and night are the best times. There have been good reports of kingfish lately, as well as some croakers showing up and some flounder from the surf as well. So if you are in town this coming week and you want to get out and spend some good family time in the outdoors, hit the beach with your kids for some surf fishing or get some bait and head to one of our public docks to do some crabbing. You will make memories that last a lifetime.

But for now, let’s take a look back at some of the reports that have come in from this past week.  

At “Oyster Bay”, Sue Foster reports, “Water temperatures are rising and we are seeing all kinds of summertime fishing. The surf is full of Norfolk spot, along with some croaker, kingfish, small trout, snapper blues, huge rays, skates and sharks. Flounder are biting but you got to wade through lots of ‘shorts.’ The big ones have been caught from the bulkhead at 2nd through 4th streets. Stripers and blues are still in the Inlet. Tog and triggerfish at the rocks. Route 50 Bridge has given up flounder, blues and stripers. Sea bass are biting offshore, with catches of cod, triggerfish and some flounder. Offshore, still good tuna fishing. We’re getting lots of reports of Norfolk spot in the surf. Anglers are using bloodworms, Fishbite bloodworms, and little pieces of squid or fresh bunker when available. Small croaker are mixed in with the spot, along with some small sea trout and a few kingfish. Had two good reports from 142nd St and 94th streets this week. Still some big, big rays with lots of pullage (all you want), sand sharks, and bigger sharks for anglers fishing for them. Combination baits are great for the small fish. FishBites and a little strip of fresh bunker, frozen mullet or box squid.

“Flounder We’re getting reports from all over the bay including the Thorofare, the main east channel, the Oceanic Pier, and the bay behind Assateague. The bulkhead between 2nd and 4th streets have been especially good on keepers this week. Anglers are now catching live spot with little hooks and bloodworms or fishbites and fishing them on the slacking tides at the bulkhead.

Some boats were working near the draw of the bridge on slack tide with live bait and were catching some keeper stripers we hear. If you have your own boat, stop by the Route 90 Bridge with some tiny hooks and pieces of bloodworm and Fishbites and catch some live spot. Stripers are in the Inlet. Had a guy stop by to buy a Night Stalker, black MirroLure and said he caught a lot of short stripers from the Inlet wall at night. No keepers, but he had a good time.” 

J.J at the “Oceanic Pier” reports, “anglers are catching lots of flounder though lots of throwbacks. There’s been live spot caught on the pier this week. Some tautog have been caught at the very end and left hand corner of the pier. Triggerfish are biting too. At night, it’s shad and blues, with some nights being better than others.”

“Old Inlet” reports, “Several nice flounder on the scales lately. Wayne Henderson, of Elverson Pa., hooked a 27-incher on gulp bait. Ryan Weiber, of Camden Del., had a 29.5-incher on gulp as well. Both were caught in the Inlet. Plenty of schoolie stripers in the Inlet. Best bite has been at night while the moon was full.. Artificial baits are working well. Bombers, Mirrolures, black bucktails etc. Live eels will work too. Bigger fish have been found on the end of the north rockpile for those venturing out on to the jetty. The boats have picked some nice fish up out there as well. Some nice flounder in the Inlet with the cool water staying inshore. Bucktails with Gulp baits are working well. The spot and croakers have started to show. Picked up a few on the beach last weekend. Tautog season reopens July 1.”

Capt. Monty on the “Morning Star” reports, “From ultra-fussy to two fish getting on the same hook; From Thursday’s wear-you-out 2,000 plus seabass among 15 people with a skimpy 10-percent keeper ratio; To a very tough, tog-like delicate seabass bite. We’ve seen it this week. One gal hooked a keeper flounder, a sea bass and a cod on two hooks. Another day saw a slow bite of nearly all keeper sea bass. Sunday was just a slow bite: period. Summer fishing. There’s no guessing it. I am so very honored when someone catches their best fish with me. Bluefin tuna have been kind in the extreme. We had yet another triple in 20 fathoms and a single only 14 miles out. For whatever reason, they are eating our wood-mullet and green plastic ballyhoos trolled at hull speed. I have now caught more bluefin tuna this year than in all my years combined. We’re allowed one fish under 47 inches and one fish over. Haven’t seen an over but tagging suits me. I can always add to the data. If we don’t catch another tuna this year, we’re certainly not owed. There’s a lot of charter boats — if you want tuna, book a trip. But maybe. just maybe another kid on his first trip out will have an amazing day. Maybe another life-long bottom fisher will feel a hearty pull. Seabassing with a couple fluke, still a couple cod — tog are now quite rare and the odd bluefin. Hunting blueline tiles soon — just a few trips this summer. I do dearly enjoy the deep dropping — no electric reels allowed.”

Captain Sean on the “Restless Lady” reports, “Stopped by the bluefin hole at the Jackspot and of course whacked five off the bat, pushed offshore to the Poormans and released 15 yellowfins, brought 10 home with some gaffers one at 30 pounds. Had a big mako on the tuna gear jumping all over, he ate one of the tunas off the hook. Just all around a great day, had a great crew of military veterans who met in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, Eskan village. This will be their annual trip with more guys from their unit. The Restless Lady certainly appreciates the job they do for all of us. Tyrone Bennett of Brandywine, Md. Rockie Upshaw of Chickamauga, Ga., Mel Leary of Middletown, Del. and Walter Thomas of Port Tabacco, Md.

Captain Chris on the “Angler” reports, “We had another good week of sea bass fishing on the Angler. Some days are tougher than others, but overall not bad for this time of the year. Most people have been heading home with six to 10 keepers, and some lucky anglers approaching 20. The largest fish of the week tipped the scales at 4 pounds. We are also seeing more flounder. We are sailing daily from 730 a.m.-2 p.m. The cost is $62, which includes rod, reel, and bait. Thanks and hope to see you soon.” 

Captain Drew on the “Tortuga” reports, “This week stayed consistent with keeper flounder scattered about the coastal bays with no rhyme or reason. Some fish were caught near Harbour Island, north of the Route 50 bridge and in the Inlet area. Incredible amounts of throwbacks were present at times providing the majority of the action. Also there have been reports of croaker being caught deep in the bays while only a few have been seen close to the inlet. Come see us at Bahia Marina/Fish Tales, 22nd Street bayside and try your luck.”

Capt. Victor Bunting on the “Ocean Princess” reports, “That despite some rough and windy days this week we have seen a few decent days of fishing this week. There seems to be plenty of throwback sea bass to go around with some keepers thrown in here and there. We also caught a few more flounder this week. Unfortunately, most had to go back as they were just under the legal size limit. On Friday, we caught our first couple triggerfish of the year. The first triggerfish of the year was caught by Will Schumann of Forest Hill, Md. and weighed in at 1-pound, 6-ounces. With the water temperatures warming up, we should start seeing a few more of these hearty fish coming in. We also are still catching some nice tog, a 6.5-pounder caught by Susan Matthews of Church Creek, Md. and a 6-pounder caught by Donna Anderson of Parsippany, N.J. I have been hearing some reports of croakers being caught in the surf and in the back bays. Mid-July oceanfront croaker fishing anyone?” 

Here at “Skip’s Bait and Tackle Shop”, we weighed in some really nice fish this week. Bob Gummer, a local and one heck of a flounder fisherman, brought a super-sized flounder to the scales. Bob was fishing his secret spot by the 2nd to 4th streets bulk head when he hooked into a 26-inch, 7 ½-pound flounder on a large live minnow he bought here at Skip’s. We sell the largest minnows in Ocean City. Come by and check them out. Bob also reported the next day that he hooked another flounder that was bigger than that one, but it got off after he fought it for a few seconds.

Another flounder worth mentioning brought to the scales was long time charter customer Ed Norvell from Bristow Va. Ed was fishing from the dock at “White Marlin Marina” with some more of the super-sized minnows from “Skip’s” when he hooked into a 24 ½-inch, 5 ½-pound flattie that gave him a great fight. It was Ed’s personal best. I will be taking Ed and his wife Mary fishing for stripers this weekend so I hope I have some pictures and stories for you next week.

I had some awesome striper charters this week with still plenty of stripers cruising the south and north jetties looking for that Hershey Bar on a hook the “Norfolk Spot” which we do sell here at the tackle shop. One I would like to mention is with some regular charter clients of mine, Seth Caldwell, Jim Mason, and Rusty Showalter all from Harrisonburg, Va. They had a great trip with a limit of six nice keepers and over 50 throw backs and it was a personal record of spot used on a four-hour charter — 95.

The next trip I would like to mention was with Mary Clarke and her daughter and granddaughters — an all-girls trip. I don’t get many of those. Mary, Sabra, Courtney, Morgan, Sydney (also known as Squid) and Ashton from Bristow, Va. caught lots of stripers, with only one keeper, but lost several nice ones with break offs at the boat. But all and all the girls had a great time with lots of giggles and screaming and did I mention rain, lots of rain, but the girls were troopers and stuck it out with not one complaint about being soaked to the bone. Thanks girls. I had a great time and I’m looking forward to next year. I will still be booking striper charters for a few more weeks so give me a call.

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 off the hook. 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 [email protected] or [email protected].

The summer weather is here, and the fishing is smoking hot. 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.)