If I had to pick one highlight of this season’s inshore fishing so far, I think I would have to say that flounder top the list. The fishing has been “flat” this year around Ocean City … “flat” meaning flounder. In fact, I think I could take this one step further by saying the “flattie” fishing has been “phat” so far this summer.
Seriously though, whether I am on the dock or in the shop, it seems like every angler I have been talking with has had great luck chasing the flatties this season. As usual, most of the fish have been a little on the small side, but what they lack in size they have made up with numbers. That is why in this week’s article, I would like to highlight five reasons why summer flounder are one of my favorite inshore gamefish.
Number 1: There are a lot of them. It is true; there are a lot of flounder around Ocean City. Flounder fishing is the best it has been in decades. It doesn’t matter whether you are fishing inshore in the bay, offshore on reefs, or even along the beachfront, you can find flounder around Ocean City.
Number 2: They are pretty easy to catch. Summer flounder are aggressive fish and are willing to strike many different bait presentations and artificial lures. Most anglers do not associate bottom-hugging fish like flounder with aggressive feeding habits, but in the case of flounder they are the exception to the rule.
Number 3: Flounder can be caught during daylight hours. After years of nighttime fishing for striped bass along our beaches and Inlets, I have to say that it is nice to target a fish that is not afraid to eat during daylight hours. Plus flounder fishing has done wonders for my sleep schedule.
Number 4: They are here all season long. In Ocean City, our first flounder of the season are generally caught inshore sometime during early- to mid-April. And the great thing is they never leave. Flounder will stick around inshore all summer long until the waters become too cold for them in late October or early November.
Number 5: Flounder taste great. Seriously, if you have never eaten flounder, you really need to do so. They have wonderfully mild-tasting meat, especially when you catch and eat them fresh — not frozen.
If you are reading this article and have never tried to catch flounder around Ocean City, maybe you should give it a go. There is no better time to start than now. If you have any free time coming up this week, get out there and try it. But for now, let’s take a look back at some of the fishing reports that have come in this past week.
Sue from “Oyster Bay” reports, “The flounder bite was still on this week with more and more snapper blues in the bay. I had few reports of croakers in the Ocean City bays but I did hear reports from Indian River Bay and just offshore. Though many of the inshore flounder were undersized, there were some nice keepers mixed in. More and more flounder are being reported from offshore. Kingfish and spot continue to be caught in the surf, with a sudden appearance of snapper blues. Sea bass continue to be good offshore. Further offshore, we have tuna, marlin, dolphin, and wahoo.”
"DAndrews" reported on Aug. 13, "Fished Assateague today. Got a late start because it poured until about 11 a.m. but not a big deal since the Camperee was going on. Fished three rods with home-made hi-lo rigs. Started out with fishbites and nothing touched it. Switched over to mullet I had caught in the cast net recently about the time the tide started coming in and started catching snapper blues. Caught about nine and kept five for dinner tonight. All of the fish but one was caught on the fireball rig."
Dave Jemellaro of Timonium reports, “I took my son Max and a friend Jerry down to Assateague Island on Saturday for a little surf fishing. The weather was overcast most of the day, with a few light intermittent showers. The sun made a couple brief appearances. We fished the falling tide. We caught some snapper blues (all about 12 inches) on finger mullet, including Jerry’s first as he had never been fishing before. I was surprised that there was nothing interested in our bunker or fishbites. We had some of each out there most of the day. Oh well, that is fishing from the beach. A very fun day. I think Jerry will go back, hopefully he is ‘hooked’.”
Captain Jeffrey Grimes of "Helbent Charters" reported on Aug. 15, "This weekend mother nature showed us who’s boss. On Saturday, we hit the Inlet early and we were rewarded with a good early flounder bite. Just as we were getting into our third drift I noticed some low level clouds moving in which caught my interest. After a quick check of the weather radar on my Blackberry, I confirmed a line of storms was headed our way. A quick run back to the dock we waited out the storm over a pot of fresh coffee and then we headed back out. We picked up where we had left off and were rewarded with several nice heavy flounder. Live minnows produced the larger fish but white Gulp also produced a nice number of fish. As the current picked up, we left the Inlet and fished all over the commercial harbor where we switched the Gulp from white to yellow and quickly caught snapper bluefish. After taking several fish off the hooks, I went to grab another one to throw back and I took a double take. This was not a bluefish but it was a sea trout. I have not seen a sea trout for many years in OC so to actually see one again is a great sign. As the afternoon went on, the wind picked up and another round of storms showed up on the radar it was time to call it a day. Sunday started out windy and went downhill with a heavy rain all afternoon. The good news is the fishing continues to be very good and the flounder keep getting bigger and heavier each week. Now is the time to get down to OC and get out fishing. See you on the water."
“Old Inlet” reports, “Blues on the beach and running in the Inlet on incoming tide. Stripers — right now, it’s a nighttime bite with black and purple plugs doing the trick. There are some nice blues moving through the Inlet during the day and a few keeper tog in the mix as well. There has been a fleet of boats working from the end of the north rockpile out to the green can most mornings. Plenty of shore flounder around right now. But then again it is August. Bigger fish are only a few weeks away. Kings and spot on the beach as well as a few flounder."
Capt. Monty on the “Morning Star” reports, “While we have seen decent flounder fishing, it’s not consistent; Clients sometimes have to suffer with just sea bass in the skillet. Also seeing a handful of inshore mahi/dolphin/dorado — fun and tasty. Went up to see the 563-foot destroyer, Arthur W. Radford, being laid to reef Wednesday. With two WWII tragedies nearby-sunk by German U-boat, and at least five huge Bethlehem Steel wooden drydocks sunk in the late 70s as well as recent additions of subway cars and smaller ships from Delaware’s reef program, there was plenty of structure to fish over while we waited for the Radford to sink. Fishing was tough — just caught dinner. But seeing the Radford was awesome.”
“Lewes Harbour Marina” reports, "More Croakers. If you’re interested in catching croakers, now’s the time to go. Boats drifting and anchored on Reef #8, the Star Site, have had all the hardheads they could handle over the past few days. Size of croakers in the box has been increasing, too. Good numbers of fish over 12 inches have shown up, and those of even larger "Cadillac" proportions have been mixed in as well. Bottom rigs baited with clams, bloodworms, shrimp and Fishbites have been irresistible to hardheads. Croakers fight hard and provide great fun for anglers of all ages. They’re also good table fare. They make for a fine fish fry and can be turned into delicious fish cakes as well. In addition to hardheads, bottom fishermen encountered blowfish, kingfish, spot, snapper blues and small trout. Flounder action in the bay has been fair, with flatties reported among rubble of most of the reef sites. Flukers on Katy Did worked the Brown Shoal reefs Wednesday for 10 keeper flatfish. The ocean flounder bite was good today. Wes Olson and his crew kept their limit of 12 fat flatfish to 5 pounds while drifting southeast of DB Buoy. Edwin "Max" Maxwell jigged up his limit of quality flounder, including the plump pool winner, while fluking with Captain Ricky Yakimowicz."
Captain Dan Stauffer on the “Fin Chaser” reports, “Ran 60 miles south looking for a yellowfin or some mahi. Spent the first hour working the gear in the Washington Canyon with only a few short Mahi bites and a brief encounter with a white marlin. Moved over to where most of the scarce yellowfin have been coming from and started working the pilot whales. After catching several skipjacks, we had another white in the spread. The fish takes the hook and the lady angler gets in the chair. After about a minute and several jumps, the marlin finally throws the hook. The next hour only sees more skipjack. Once again, I pull through the whales and more rods go down with skippies. While dealing with them, one of our floater baits gets nailed and this seems like the right thing. Finally, we put a small Yellowfin in the box. Pull through the area again and two spreader bars get exploded on. One fish misses, but one comes tight. After 10 minutes it very clear, this thing is big. Sixty minutes later, we catch the first glimpse of the fish, it’s a big eye tuna. About 30 minutes later, Dave’s gaff hits the mark and we put a 235-pound big eye in the box.”
Captain Victor Bunting on the “Ocean Princess” reports, “That after several days of good croaker fishing, we are back to wreck fishing. We caught so many croakers on our Tuesday night trip that we had to call in extra help to clean the catch. We also caught a number of small trout and bluefish along with the croakers. We tried for croakers this morning, Tuesday, Aug. 16, but no luck. We are hoping that they are just scattered and that they will be back in a day or so. Yesterday, we had a really good catch of triggerfish which are excellent eating. James Domino of Monroe Township N.J. and Brenton Mitchell of Stewertstown, Pa. each caught 4-pound triggerfish.
Captain Drew on the “Tortuga” reports, “This week we continued to have high numbers of flounder caught, however we had to catch maybe 200 or 300 throwbacks to get one or more fish over 18 inches. Even still there was plenty of action for everyone between the founder, seabass, croaker, sea robins, puffers, stargazers and kingfish. Our most unusual catch of the week was a banded rudderfish caught just above the Route 50 bridge.”
“Skip’s Charter and Guide Service” had some more great flounder trips this past week, with lots of action with flounder. Most all the flatties were under sized but the action was hot and heavy when we had clean, clear water. We also fished the south jetty some for stripers with the same results there with just shorties being boated.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The summer is slowly coming to a close, but we’re gearing up for the second 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.)