If you’ve been following the past few installments of “Fish ‘N OC”, you’ll know that we have spent a good bit of time talking about fishing lines lately. In this week’s article, I would like to come back to the subject of lines in order to complete our series.
So far we have talked about braided line and mono line, which leaves us with just one more type of line to cover — that is fluorocarbon.
In the grand scheme of things, fluorocarbon line is a relative newcomer to the fishing market. Some of you may have not even heard of it. Still, in the short amount of time that “fluoro” has been on the scene, it has grown quite popular amongst anglers.
If you’ve never seen fluorocarbon fishing line before, just picture a transparent, single-strand line, very much like nylon monofilament. In fact, to the human eye, it is very difficult to tell the difference between monofilament and fluorocarbon. To a fish’s eye, however, there is a difference.
In fact, the main selling point of fluorocarbon fishing line is based on this idea that it is very tough to see underwater. Hence, fish are more likely to strike your lure or bite your bait since they cannot see the line that is attached to it.
To understand how this works, you have to know a little bit about the chemical makeup of fluorocarbon line. I will share with you what little I know about the subject and try not to bore you to death while doing so.
“Fluorocarbon” is a compound that is created by the chemical bonding of the elements Fluorine and Carbon. When these two elements combine to create fluorocarbon, the resulting molecule is one that is very similar in shape to that of a water molecule. So, whenever your fluorocarbon line is underwater, light will pass through it just as it does the water molecules surrounding it. Light rays are not refracted when passing through fluorocarbon as they are with monofilament line. Scientifically speaking, fluorocarbon is much less visible underwater than other types of fishing lines.
As far as handling goes, fluorocarbon line is a very hard, stiff material that takes on a lot of memory and can be very tough to manage, which (in my opinion) makes it not very well suited as a mainline. Monofilament and/or braided lines are better options. A lot of bass anglers might dispute me on those views, but I have to be honest. I have not found much of a use for fluorocarbon as a mainline in saltwater fishing. My personal use for fluorocarbon is as a leader.
Still, in many fishing circles, the visibility factor of fluorocarbon has also become a subject of debate amongst many anglers. “Is fluorocarbon really tougher for fish to see than mono? Or does using a fluorocarbon leader really help you catch more fish?” I think in some situations it does.
In fact, on many occasions I believe using a fluorocarbon leader has helped me hook and land fish that I might not have caught otherwise. In dirty or ever cloudy water, I don’t think there is much of a benefit to using fluoro leaders (other than its improved abrasion resistance over mono). In clear water situations, however, I believe fluorocarbon can help produce more bites, especially from keen eyed fish. Tuna fishermen (in particular those chunking bait) have become especially fond of fluorocarbon over the years. Also there have been many times when making a change from a mono to fluoro leader has produced more striped bass for me and my clients on my boat. Surprisingly, I have also seen fluorocarbon make a difference while fishing for stripers at night from the Route 50 Bridge. Over the years, I have seen enough evidence to secure a spot for fluorocarbon in my tackle box.
Generally, for inshore striper fishing I will use about a 30-inch section of 30- to 40-pound test fluorocarbon leader. However, if I am going to come in close contact with rock and other hard structures (like on the bridge) I will often go up to a 50- or even 60-pound test fluoro. I’ve found the tuna guys offshore tend to start out using 80-pound test for their leaders, but often will go lighter if they feel it is necessary to get bit.
This concludes our series on fishing lines. Hopefully after reading these articles you now know a little bit more than you ever thought you would need to know about braid, mono and fluorocarbon lines. But for now, let’s forget about fishing lines, and shift our focus back to look at some of the fishing reports that have come in this past week.
Sue Foster at “Oyster Bay” reports, “Fishing this week was still good on flounder though there are tremendous amounts of throw backs. Croaker fishing is up and down in the bay. Some days anglers catch plenty. Other days they can’t find them. Blues are biting around the Inlet area and Route 50 Bridge. A few nice stripers were caught at the Inlet. Stripers are also biting around the Route 50 Bridge and South Jetty. Big spot are in the bay as well, but no small spot. Little finger mullet and peanut bunker are around for bait for cast netters.
“Surf fishing continues to be good with kingfish (whiting) and Norfolk spot and sometimes a few croaker in the mornings. Sharks, big rays, snapper blues, kingfish and some croaker are biting at night.
“Route 50 Bridge continues to be excellent fishing at night with stripers (lots of shorts) and blues. By day, the bridge is seeing flounder, tautog near the draw, and blues.
“Offshore, the bite continues with sea bass and flounder. Kingfish, some Norfolk spot, and an occasional croaker are biting from the beach. The best bite is early in the morning. At night, we’re seeing still seeing sharks, skates, huge rays and snapper bluefish. Remember, you cannot keep a sand tiger, sand bar, or dusky shark. If in doubt, always release any sharks with teeth.”
“Shark Hunter” reports, “Caught a few flounder, shorties, using strips of spot that I caught using fishbites. Most hits came from just behind the wash. I figure the flounder are waiting just far enough back to ambush anything swimming along the shoreline current. It seems you have to place the bait near the flounder, as the flounder don’t go looking for the bait. Caught a few small throwback kings on cutbaits. Caught many spot that will be used for bait later today if the weather permits. "
Captain Jeffrey Grimes of "Helbent Charters" reports, "Lots of time on the water this week with some great kids. The weather was great and the water was clean which helped keep the flounder biting. We moved around the bay and Inlet as the tides changed from outgoing to incoming looking for the bite to turn on. We were fishing the airport to the commercial harbor waiting till the tide changed and then we would hit the Inlet. We were rewarded everyday with a nice number of flounder each day. Every kid this week hooked up and reeled in their own fish including a 6-year-old. Gulp continued to be the hot bait this week with white still out fishing the other colors and live minnows. We were getting a lot of tails bitten off at the Gulp and I thought it was some small sea bass but was surprised to find several Gulp tails in the mouth of the flounder we caught.”
JJ at the “Oceanic Pier” reports, “Anglers are catching lots of flounder along with some big ones caught between 25 and 27 inches this past week. There are a couple croaker runs every day, some blues, shad at night, and lots of small fish for the kids to catch.”
“Old Inlet” reports, "Right now it’s a nighttime bite with black and purple plugs doing the trick. Old Inlet Night Manager Eddie Heite had fish up to 32 inches this week after dark on the incoming water. There are some nice blues moving through the Inlet during the day and the Asian contingent says there are a few keeper tog in the mix as well. Plenty of short flounder around right now. But then again it is August. Bigger fish are only a few weeks away. Kings and spot on the beach. Some are eating size. Anita Chandler had two flounder over 21 inches on Fenwick last weekend.”
“Bill’s Sport Center” reports, "This week there’s reports of keeper flounder, ling cod and sea bass southwest and southeast of "B" Bouy. Croakers and spot are being caught at the Cape Henelopen Pier. Croakers and kings on the surf and Indian River Inlet is good for croakers, flounder and spot. A customer just reported three keeper flounder in the Broadkill. Linda and Jack Brzoska caught six keeper flounder, up to 23 inches and 5.34 pounds in Rehoboth Bay. Minnows and bucktails did the trick."
Capt. Monty on the “Morning Star” reports, “sea bass fishing remains very okay considering it’s now high summer. Couple days this week could have passed for spring. Twelve and a half inches is still a pain in the neck, but often times the catching’s great. Sending folks home with several fish fries’ worth, some aboard will have flounder too."
Capt. Dan on the “Fin Chaser” reports, “Aug. 4 starts will small craft warnings. I tell the charter I think we can do it and if they think it’s too rough, I’ll turn back and refund their deposit. After 25 miles, we throw out the spread. Before the second line even touches the water, we put a nice 12-pound mahi in the box. The rest of the day held a steady mahi bite. Not doubles and triples, but a steady pick. Every 15 to 20 minutes we would get hit. Surprise of the day was a 15-pound barracuda. At the days end, we had 16 Mahi in the box to 17 pounds and the first Cuda of the year in OC.”
Captain Drew on the “Tortuga” reports, “Good fishing continued from last week to start off this week. The latter part of the week did show a decrease in action due to winds blowing out of a different direction for a few days. This stirred things up in the ocean and gave us poor water clarity for a few days. However, even with less numbers of fish being caught overall, we still managed to catch our keepers. As of writing this, the water quality seems to be improving on the incoming tides each day and that should provide for some better action this coming week. Our most notable catch of the week was a beautiful 25 ½-inch, 7-pound flounder by Antonio Lisboa of Germantown.”
Captain Mike on the “Judith M” reports, “this summer on the "Judith M" has been very good with plenty of action and variety. For example, in the last few days, they have caught many different species — tog, flounder, croakers, bluefish, triggerfish, sea trout, sea bass, blowfish, jacks, sharks and more. It’s been a very good summer. This morning, the "Judith M" returned to the dock with more croakers than you can count. Great fun and great action.”
This week on “Skip Charter’s and Guide Service” we had some great trips. The one I would like to write about was with a group of three generations of “The Williams Family” It was a striper and flounder combo charter. The striper action was good for this time of the season with a few nice shorts boated. The flounder fishing that day was not as hot and heavy with some dirty water in the bay. But we did keep at it and ended up with two nice keepers coming in at 22 and 21 inches, caught by Emily Williams and her great uncle Robert Sexton.
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@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.)