Vol 39 | Num 12 | Jul 16, 2014
Article by Larry Jock
First, I would like to extend big congratulations to local anglers on the “Sea Toy” for winning the 2014 Bermuda Billfish Blast. Tommy Fowler, Greg Jones, Deacon Burke, Bobby Kitchen, D.J. DeJarnet and Capt. Bull Tolson took home the 1st place trophy with 1,400 points and a check for over $146,000. Good job, guys!
The “super full moon” really screwed up fishing last week, both in the bay and in the canyons. Although the number of fish caught dropped off compared to prior weeks, a few nice catches of single fish and stringers still arrived at the scales throughout the week.
Ocean City Tuna Tournament
Last year, we saw a record 29 bigeye tuna weighed at the tournament and with a good bigeye bite so far this year, there was hope that plenty of eyeballs would show up at the scales. Unfortunately, the moon messed all of that up, but it didn’t stop Capt. Sylvain Cote and the crew on the “Espadon” from throwing a 249 pounder on the scale at the end of the 2nd day of fishing. The “Espadon” started their day around the Hot Dog but ventured out to the Baltimore Canyon where the 75 1/2-inch bigeye was hooked on a trolled ballyhoo and held on to win the Single Largest Tuna Division, worth over $273,000 in award money.
Both the 2nd and 3rd place bigeyes arrived on Sunday, the final day of the tournament. “Game Over” boated a 183 pounder on a trolled ballyhoo around the 800/800 to take 2nd place in the tournament. Third place went to the final boat to arrive at the scale, the “MJ’s”, with a 165 lb. eyeball caught in the Baltimore Canyon at 1:00 in the afternoon.
In the Heaviest Stringer Division, we saw a lot of 2 and 3-fish stringers during the 3 day tournament with mainly a mix of bluefins and yellowfins from the Hot Dog and Hambone areas. The “Marli” fished on Friday and scored a 104 lb. stringer of 2 yellowfins and followed that up on Sunday with 4 yellowfins totalling 207 lbs, giving them a 2-day total of 311 lbs. and tying for 1st place with the “Restless Lady”. Capt. Mark started out on Sunday at the Hot Dog and then ventured down to the Washington to catch his yellowfins. The “Restless Lady” grabbed the early lead in the Heaviest Stringer Division with a 3 yellowfin, 173 lb. stringer caught on Friday in the Washington Canyon. On Sunday, they spent the day around the Hot Dog and returned with 2 bluefins totalling 138 lbs. to put them into a 1st place tie with the “Marli”. The “Billfisher” ended up in 3rd place with 271 lbs. caught during their 2 days of fishing. Their 3 yellowfins on Sunday, totaling 167 lbs., were caught in the Baltimore Canyon.
The Dolphin Division was an exciting one since $13,000 from last years tournament was carried over into this year, making the winning fish worth over $27,000. On the final day, the “Moxie Boys” trolled a custom made, Binnacle lure in 30 fathoms inside the Washington Canyon where they nailed the 34 lb. winning dolphin. Right behind them on the final day was the “Reel Desire” with a 25 pounder caught in 200 fathoms in the Washington Canyon and third place was won by the charter boat, “Spring Mix” with a 22 pounder caught on a trolled ballyhoo at the Lumpy Bottom.
Susan Menchaca on the “Wrecker” won 1st place in the Top Lady Angler Division with a 68 lb. yellowfin caught on Sunday in the Washington Canyon.
Local angler, Hugh Thomas Cropper jumped to an early lead in the Junior Angler Division with a 49 lb. yellowfin and sweated it out for 2 more days before finishing the tournament in 1st place.
In the Boats Under 40-Feet Division, the “Crabby” took top honors with an 87 lb. bluefin caught on the 2nd day of the tournament between the Crotch and the Lumpy Bottom.
Overall, despite slow fishing in the canyons, it was an exciting tournament, especially on the final day. Hats off to all participants and the team at the Ocean City Fishing Center for another fun weekend.
With no chunking allowed in the OC Tuna Tournament, most boats found slow, moon driven fishing in the canyons last week. Those who spent time chunking in the Washington Canyon at night found good catches of yellowfins weighing up to 80 lbs. Bluefins and yellowfins were also caught on the chunk at the Hot Dog and the Hambone late last week and over the weekend when chunkers definitely had better results than trollers. Some anglers ventured out to 75-degree water in the Baltimore and Poor Man’s Canyons over the weekend and found nice size yellowfins in addition to spotting some white marlin.
Outside of the tournament, we saw a big eyeball arrive at the Ocean City Fishing Center on Sunday morning from the crew on the “Miss P-Vee” who spent the night chunking in the Washington Canyon. They boated a 228 lb. bigeye after hooking it on a 30 lb. class reel with 40 lb. leader. It took the guys 2 hours to get it into the boat. They also had 3 yellowfins and a pair of dolphin.
The charter boat, “That’s Right” released a blue marlin on Saturday while trolling in the Washington Canyon.
In the bay, colder water and the super full moon put flounder fishing out of whack last week. We saw a lot of throwbacks caught all over the bay. Anglers needed to be on the move, picking up a flounder here and then moving to find their next keeper. Water was clean during the latter part of the week, but the temperature swing was wide, coming in around 63-degrees during the incoming tide and warming up to 75-degrees at the bottom of the low tide.
A good example of the inconsistent bite was the headboat, “Bay Bee” that returned with a great, 11-keeper catch on Saturday morning in the East Channel and around Harbour Island. Their afternoon trip turned up nothing with a slightly better action (mostly throwbacks) shifting down to the bay behind Assateague Island.
The inshore, ocean structure flounder bite is really turning on with good numbers of quality fish coming in from the Old Grounds, Russell’s Reef, African Queen and the subway cars at the Jackspot. The headboats are seeing improved catches and the charter boat, “Fish Bound” returned with 19 keeper flounder from the Isle of Wight Shoal on Saturday
Small, live spot and Gulp! Swimming Mullets are the top producers right now with squid, minnows and shiners coming in a close second.
On Thursday night, Bill Linedinst caught a monster, 26-inch, 14 lb. 4 oz. sheepshead while fishing off the North Jetty. Bill hooked the fish on a bucktail tipped with a worm.
If you are looking to get away from the pack and want to do something different, head to Fenwick Shoal or Winter Quarter Shoal to catch some triggerfish and spadefish. Use very small, sharp hooks tipped with squid or cut bait to have your best shot at these bait stealers.
Little hardheads are all over the bay, but especially at the mouth of the Commercial Harbor, in the Ocean City Inlet and in the West Channel, south of the Rt. 50 Bridge. Small chunks of Fishbite bloodworms or squid will do the trick.
Striped Bass & Bluefish
Anglers fishing off or near the Rt. 50 Bridge are hooking into some nice striped bass and bluefish. Some of the bluefish are large choppers and you will have to wade through a lot of throwback stripers to get your keeper, but they are there for offerings of spot and swim shads.
This weekend is the world famous Ocean City Marlin Club Kid’s Classic. The tournament is Saturday and Sunday with weigh-ins at Sunset Marina. Check out their ad on page 57 of this issue for details.
See you at the scales!