There has been a chill in the air lately. In fact, just yesterday morning was probably the first time I turned the heat on in my truck since May. If you’ve been outside in the early morning hours lately, you know what I’m talking about. It’s been half chilly outside. There is no doubt about it; fall is in the air here in Ocean City.
It seems like every year we get a nice little stretch of cool weather around the middle or end of August — the days get noticeably shorter, the water temperatures start dropping and I find I am wearing my flip flops less and less. It is always hard to believe when summer is coming to a close, but every year I welcome it with open arms. As of this moment, my thoughts have changed to fall.
Without a doubt, I am not the only one preparing for fall around Ocean City this week. There is an ocean full of fish out there that are preparing for it as well. Lately, I have been watching the small schools of little baitfish in our bay as they constantly grow larger. Pretty soon they will be packing together even more tightly, and constantly building up in numbers as they prepare to exit our inlet and head south for the winter.
There will be plenty of predatory fish out there prepping themselves for fall in the coming weeks as well. As the end of August turns into September, I am always surprised at the number of striped bass that just seem to re-appear in our waters. Generally these are school-sized fish, but there are always some nice keepers mixed in. Most of them, I believe, aren’t migratory fish, instead they are our local stripers that have been lying low all summer — enduring the warm waters until the cool nights of August begin to make their habitat a little more comfortable for them again.
Pretty soon these schools of local stripers will be joined by pods of hungry bluefish and the feast will be on! I have spent many early September nights standing on top of the Rt. 50 Bridge and watching as groups of stripers and bluefish attacked the huge schools of baitfish that gather below. In the fall, the eddies that form around the bridge pilings become a haven for huge schools of small baitfish, and it is a true spectacle of nature to watch the small fish fleeing for their lives — groups of them flying in the air as the hungry predators attach from below. Pretty cool stuff to see if you are a fisherman.
Just in case you can’t already tell, I am getting psyched up for fall. I love the cool weather, the increased fish activity, and the excitement. I enjoy putting my flannel shirts on again, and my bibs. After a long summer, the changing seasons always provide a much-needed sense of anticipation, and I can’t help but wonder what this fall will bring…
But for now, it is still August. Summer hasn’t completely passed us by, and we still have this past week’s reports to cover. So let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from fishing this past week.
Sue Foster at “Oyster Bay” reports, “Fishing this week was similar to last week. There were a few more keeper flounder reported in the bay, but there’s still tons of undersized ones. A few more bluefish were reported from the Inlets and surf. Offshore flounder fishing is good. Croaker are running excellent in Delaware Bay and just offshore. No jumbos, but lots of action. Sea bass is still happening and so is dolphin. Tuna slowed up a bit. White marlin action is excellent.
“More and more snapper blues are being reported from the surf. Kingfish, Norfolk spot, croaker, sand perch, occasional sea trout, big rays, and sand sharks are the mixed catch. I’m hearing their less Norfolk spot than there were the weeks before. The best bite is early in the morning. At night, we’re seeing sand sharks, larger toothy sharks, skates, 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.
“I went to the Delaware Beach on Tuesday and caught three kingfish, baby bluefish, sand sharks, and hooked three huge rays which I let break the rig. I held the spool, walked backwards, till the hook on the kingfish rig broke or bent out. Some anglers are trying to pull these monsters up on the beach and are ruining their reels with the strain. When you see the two flapping wings of the ray, it’s a big ray. Anyway, I was using bloodworms and little strips of finger mullet for bait. Cut blue was working too.
“Anglers on Assateague beaches are having action with the small stuff too. A few kings, spot and sand perch along with snapper blues. Big rays and sharks for anglers wanting serious pullage.”
Captain Jeffrey Grimes of "Helbent Charters" reports, “Fished the incoming tide today and we were rewarded with a mixed bag of flounder, bluefish and sea bass. The bite started out slow but picked up as the morning went on. The crazy part of the bite today was the fact that every fish we caught today was a on a white Glup. Why a fish would pass up a nice live minnow and bite on a four-inch white Glup is still amazing to me. The fact is that Gulp catches fish. The bite was not as strong today as it has been in the past few weeks but there was still plenty of action to keep everyone happy. As the summer winds down, there is still plenty of time to get out and enjoy some of the best fishing of the year. Each week the flounder are getting bigger and so are your chances of bringing home dinner so now is the time to get out on the water and enjoy the cooler weather. See you on the water.”
“Oceanic Pier” reports, “Anglers are catching lots of flounder with a keeper every once in a while — about one in every 25. There’s little sea bass, sea robins, bluefish and croaker. Small sea trout hit the pier the other night as well. They weren’t keepers but action was good. Anglers catch blues, trout and shad at night on gotcha plugs.”
Brian at “Old Inlet” reports, “Stayed at the cottages and fished IR Inlet and did fairly well. Caught lots of throwback flounder on pieces of live spot and shiners. Had six keepers, largest was 24 inches caught on half a live spot (only the head seemed to work). Caught some small stripers, nice-sized blues, and some croakers. Actually fished at bubblegum beach. Blues on the beach and running in the Inlet on incoming tide.”
“Bill Sports Center” in Lewes reports, “That flounder are biting good at B Buoy and the Old Grounds. Some sea bass and ling cod mixed in as well. Indian River Inlet saw flounder as well.”
“Lewes Harbour Marina” reports, “Ocean flounder action has been very good for anglers who are proficient at working the artificial structure of reef sites 9, 10 and 11. Flounder have also been hanging around area wrecks as they stage to begin moving offshore. The stone and live coral bottom of the Old Grounds between DB and DA is holding good numbers of fluke too. Guys using bucktails tipped with strip baits have done well. … Drifting the reef sites in Delaware Bay has yielded flounder too. However, croakers remain he star of the show. Hardhead action has been hot on the Star Site, reef 8. A summertime mix of kingfish, spot, blowfish, porgies, snapper blues and small trout have mingled with croakers. Bloodworms, clams, shrimp, squid and Fishbites will catch them all. Plenty of spot were caught from the Cape Henlopen Pier with bloods and Fishbites. Inshore trollers hooked dolphin and wahoo between 20 and 30 fathoms. On the offshore scene, there was a decent white marlin bite in the Wilmington Canyon. Tuna fishing was spotty, but some yellowfins and bigeyes were taken the past couple days among groups of whales feeding on bait in the Bight of the Baltimore.”
Captain Monty on the “Morning Star” reports, “Fishing remains very okay for sea bass. Flounder are biting too. Also seeing a handful of inshore mahi/dolphin/dorado — fun and tasty. Cod on deep trips.”
Capt. Chris on the “Angler” reports, “The sea bass fishing continues to be fairly good for late August. Plenty of action with most people going home with enough for a nice dinner. We had some good flounder fishing this week with some keepers on just about every trip. Summer is coming to a close and the fishing should only get better in the coming weeks. We are sailing daily from 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and the cost is $62. After Labor Day, we will be staying an hour longer for the same price. I will be posting some dates for our 18-hour deep drop and 30-hour tuna trips in the coming weeks. For more information and reservations, call 410-289-7424 or check us out on Facebook. Thanks and hope to see you soon.”
Captain Victor on the “Ocean Princess” reports, “Make sure you call 410-289-6226 for a reservation if you would like to go fishing. We have been picking up a mix of both keeper and throw back sea bass over the last week. We are seeing a few more nice flounder coming in. Croaker just offshore as well.”
Captain Drew on the “Tortuga” reports, “This week we continued to catch a few keeper flounder every day. Seems we had less throwbacks though. However we also put some trigger fish on the dock as well as plenty of puffers and kingfish adding to the action. So come on out and try your luck on the Tortuga, located at Bahia Marina/Fish Tales, 22nd St. bayside. Summer is winding down, so don’t miss out on the action.”
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.)