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Vol 47 | WINTER ISSUE | Jan 1, 2022

2021 Maryland Year in Review 2021 Delaware Year in Review Ship to Shore Chum Lines OCRF Update Fishing Glossary The Galley Issue Photos
2021 Maryland Year in Review

Article by Larry Budd

2021 is in the books, but it is always fun to look back on the year that was! The following is a week by week review of the Coastal Fisherman’s Maryland report with the issue dates in bold!

May 5, 2021
As we began this fishing season we received many reports of large tog being caught on crab and sand fleas both inshore as well as offshore. Large fish were being caught at the African Queen which was the hot spot this week. The Bass Grounds were also reporting great catches of tog. Crab was the best producer with clam a close second. The Oceanic Fishing Pier reported a few keeper rockfish and bluefish. Big Bird Cropper was pulling small rocks and blues by the Rt. 50 Bridge as well. Keeper flounder were few and found in the bay behind Assateague and by the Verrazano Bridge. Black drum were in the surf off of Assateague Island along with a few over slot rockfish.

Offshore the cooler weather also limited the action. Normally by this week we would have seen yellowfin and bluefin tuna and even a mako, not so in 2021.

May 12, 2021
A little warmer improved the fishing both in the back bays and the near coastal waters. “Fish Bound Charters” reported several limits of flounder on nearshore deeper wrecks. Tog fishing on the wrecks was still in full swing with clam and sand fleas being the best baits. Off the beach at Assateague Island remained hot for black drum with several above 50 lbs. These anglers were also landing several large over slot rockfish. Even though they were not keepers, they are still a blast to catch from the surf.

Offshore the water remained cold with only a few boats venturing to the canyons. Those that did made long 90 mile rides south to the Norfolk looking for warmer water. The “Hot Lick” ran south and caught the first bluefin tuna for the season in 1000 fathoms in the Baltimore Canyon. The “Black Magic” released a 75 lb. mako in the same area.

May 19, 2021
Opening day for sea bass was on a Saturday and the weather was beautiful! This however resulted with the wrecks and reefs being loaded with anglers trying to keep a few of these delicious fish! Some charter boats chose to dodge the crowds and target deeper water in the 100-130 ft. range. Many limit catches were taken with some really big knotheads in the mix. Tog fishing remained hot in the deeper wrecks with crab being the best bait. The area near the Virginia line off of Assateague Island were producing nice big black drum. Fresh bait like surf clams were hard to find but worth the effort. A few rockfish were also caught off of Assateague and almost all were over the slot.

Offshore the colder water continued to dampen the action. Several shark releases were reported from the Rockpile in 300 feet. Unlike the week before, no tuna to report, however anglers on tuna trips did find tilefish and sea bass for their efforts.

May 26, 2021
Memorial Day brought warmer weather and the back bays came alive. Specifically, the bay behind Assateague Island was hot for flounder followed by the East Channel with a squid minnow combo being the best bait. Looking to sea bass, the deeper wrecks at the Great Eastern Reef and the Jack Spot were the key locations. The rigs of choice were fresh clam and butterfly jigs. Rockfish showed an increase in catches with most coming from the Rt. 50 Bridge using paddle tail jigs such as the Roy Rig. On Assateague Island, fresh crab and sand fleas were accounting for big black drum as well as a few rockfish catches, most of those remained over slot.
Offshore - We did get a report of the first thresher shark of the season caught at the Twin Wrecks that measured 81” and 267 lbs. We were seeing more bluefin tuna arrive from the Washington. A few boats were still making the long runs to the Norfolk Canyons and beyond and found blue marlin bites. One was the “Ro Sham Bo” that made a 36 hour trip to the Norfolk where they released a blue marlin estimated at 500 lbs. and also went 2 for 3 on white marlin in the Washington.
June 2, 2021
The week began with decent weather but ended up with high wind storms and extreme tides. Many boats on the east side of the Rt. 50 Bridge were sitting on the sand bottom. Due to this extreme tide, fishing the deep channel was the best bet for flounder in the bay with the bay behind Assateague as the hot spot. Offshore the flounder bite was tough. Sea bass anglers targeted the closer in spots due to the weather, mainly the “African Queen” and the “Bass Grounds”. A few hearty souls did try the Jack Spot and got some larger keepers. Stripers and bluefish were around the bay, but still small. Craig Cropper did get a couple blues over 30” off of the pilings of the Rt. 50 Bridge. Red and black drum were now running off of Assateague, otherwise the surf fishing was slow.
A strong Nor’easter moved through the area making the weekend a washout offshore. However, as anglers headed out Monday we saw that the tuna had fully arrived. The crew of the “Blood Money” landed both the first bigeye and yellowfin tunas of the season in 66° water. The “Marli” and the “Wrecker” found hot bluefin tuna action in the Poor Man’s Canyon. Tilefish continued to be an additional catch on the tuna trips and we got a report of the first mako shark catch of the season. It was 85” and 187 lbs. caught at the Fingers in 20 fathoms. The “Capt. Ike II” also landed a nice 309 lb. thresher shark on the 20 fathom line.

June 9, 2021
The weather cooled, but the sea bass fishing did not, if anything it picked up. The nearshore artificial reefs were on fire with sea bass, however due to higher pressure from anglers over the weeks before, we were seeing a lot more throwbacks . Flounder started to show up nearshore and the African Queen was the top spot. In the bay, the Thorofare topped the list for keepers with the bay behind Assateague slowing down. Those fishing the surf were finding dogfish, dusky and even a sand tiger shark.

With warmer water moving in offshore, it was time for the tuna run! The Poor Man’s Canyon was where almost all the action was with many double digit catches of yellowfin along with some bluefin tuna. The first ‘over’ bluefins were also reported along with some large golden tilefish. This was also the week of the Mako Mania Tournament with sharks coming in from the Hambone and Fingers. The “Reel Fun” landed a 410.2 lb. thresher and the “Gulfstream” took 1st Place with a 129.9 lb. mako that was found in the Poor Man’s. Still no reports of white marlin.

June 16, 2021
Several storms, some strong with high winds made the week difficult. Ocean City near the Inlet was flooded out several times. Even with the weather, flounder in the bay was in full summer mode. The main channels were showing the effects of the increased crowds, however to the north around the Rt. 90 Bridge and south behind Assateague were giving up keepers. On the nearshore, sea bass remained good, however with the week’s storms it was not as good as last week. Dogfish eating your catch was also a problem. At the Rt 50 bridge Craig Cropper and his Roy Rig accounted for a few nice keeper rockfish and bluefish. Cobia catch reports were coming in from near the VA line.

Storms also played with the action offshore, however we saw the first white marlin of the season caught by the “Tuna Fowl” in the Washington Canyon. The warmer water continued its march north making the southern Poor Man’s Canyon the hot spot with reports of yellowfin and bigeye tuna as well as our first mahi and swordfish for the season from the “Reel Chaos” and “Primary Search”. The “Boss Hogg” landed 17 yellowfin in the north Washington.

June 23, 2021
While the tuna were hot offshore, in the bay flounder remained solid with spadefish and sheepshead making their arrival. Flounder were best in the Thorofare and at the Jack Spot in deeper water. At the inlet mouth, sheepshead and spade fish started to show up. The throwback ratio for sea bass was about 10:1 for keepers, but there was plenty for those that spent the time. Deeper locations like the Twin Wrecks were producing the best ratio of keepers.

Offshore we saw dusky sharks as well as lots of dogfish around the nearshore areas. The first cobia was also reported from the same areas as was the first wahoo from the Washington. Yellowfin remained strong, still in from the lower Poor Man’s through to the Norfolk Canyons. The bigeye bite slowed, but those landed were larger. The “Fishizzle” caught a 212 lb. eyeball in the Poor Man’s. On the marlin front, the first blue marlin was released by the “Blood Money” in the Washington Canyon. As of this week, all of the “First Fish” we tracked were reported except longfin tuna.

June 30, 2021
Fourth of July saw anglers find a slower fishing pace than past weeks as the increasing summer crowds put on pressure. Flounder in the bay dropped a bit but was respectable and the offshore bite for keepers remained consistent. Croaker in small numbers were in the bay and on the wrecks while weakfish made a surprise appearance after being largely absent in the past few seasons. Sea bass catches were strong, but those with limit catches slowed. Cobia were to be found at the Fenwick Shoals and sharks were everywhere nearshore. Surf fishing had turned to the normal staple of sharks, rays and small blues.

Offshore the tuna bite remained but cooled from the large catch numbers earlier in June. They were still to our south. The bigeye were getting bigger with a 233 lb. tuna being caught by the “Kilo Charlie” and a 235 pounder from the “Ro Sham Bo”. Both were in the Washington. More blue marlin bites were reported, and white marlin were still hitting on anglers’ tuna spreads. Lastly, peanut and small bull dolphin were hitting the docks in numbers.

July 7, 2021
Boat traffic on the bays and nearshore areas was the heaviest in years. Early morning fishing was the best option to avoid the traffic. The East Channel and Rt. 50 Bridge remained the go to for keeper flounder in the bay with lots of action at the wrecks. Bigger fish as well as sea bass were at the Great Eastern Reef. Capt. Jason Mumford on the “Lucky Break” reported sea trout and bluefish in the bay. The Oceanic Fishing Pier saw bluefish and trout in the evening hours. Luke Wrye found some hardcore action on the west side of the Rt. 90 Bridge and got lots of double hookups and fish up to 11”. Sea bass continued last year’s long season and were best at the Jack Spot. Triggerfish were also moving onto the wrecks, especially at the Fenwick Shoal. Cobia were there as well.

Offshore was tough as it seems mother nature pumped the brakes on the heavy action in June. Tuna catches dropped to the single digits, mainly from the Washington and billfish releases were few and far between. A few highlights were the “Talkin’ Trash” getting their limit of 18 yellowfin and DJ Johnson boating a huge 98 lb. yellowfin both from the Poor Man’s Canyon. “Kilo Charlie” had 5 white marlin releases from below the Washington; Roy Badger caught a 458 lb. thresher shark at the Old Grounds and “Reel Desire” got a 250 lb. mako in the Poor Man’s.

July 14, 2021
Wind played its hand again, however the passing storms seemed to have churned up the water and revitalized the fish! Keeper flounder could be found just about anywhere in the bays and the African Queen continued its run as top spot with the Bass Grounds nipping at its heels. Sea bass remained strong late in the season and the cobia bite was in full swing. The Isle of Wright and Little Gull Banks were the place to find the “Man in the Brown Suit”. Spanish Mackerel were being trolled up at the Fenwick Shoal as were triggerfish.

Offshore fishing remained tough as weather and preparation for the OC Tuna Tournament kept crews busy with most of the action coming from the tourney. The “Hydrosphere” took 1st Place in the Tuna Division with a 233 lb. bigeye at the Washington. The “Big Stick” won big taking Heaviest Stringer with a combined 638 lbs. of tuna from the Norfolk Canyon over the 2 days. Larger bigeyes were in the northern canyons with 100 lb. class fish found in the southern ones. Sharks were really cutting into catches down south. Billfishing remained tough as well, but some blues & whites were found in the southern canyons.

July 21, 2021
Flounder, sheepshead, and croaker commanded the inshore waters and were abundant in the bays and on most near shore wrecks. In the back bays anglers needed to work the deeper channels to find quality fish. Large Gulp baits on a flounder rig were the best baits for both flatfish and sea bass. Near shore the Bass Grounds was the hot spot. Fishing mid week is the best to miss the heavy weekend traffic. Sheepshead were along the rocks of the OC Inlet and croakers showed up in higher numbers. Sea bass were still around despite the warmer water.

Offshore was a little fickle with a southern wind and many boats were also prepping for the upcoming White Marlin Open. Mid week was best. The “Rhonda’s Osprey” found 9 yellowfin in the Poor Man’s Canyon and several boats had success chunking at the Hot Dog. We also had our first reported catch of a 61 lb. longfin tuna from the Baltimore Canyon completing the “First Fish” chart! Billfishing was still spotty, however a highlight was some sailfish released in the Washington.

July 28, 2021
The steady west wind made for a buggy weekend on the water. For those who braved the biting flies they found most wrecks filled with triggerfish, flounder, and croaker. Near the Verrazano Bridge trout and redfish were around and would eat a well placed swim bait or bucktail. Sharks and cobia remained pretty strong offshore with dusky sharks being the prime shark caught when chumming for cobia. Deeper areas like the Jack Spot and Great Eastern Reef were still good for sea bass.

Offshore saw generally good fishing with moderate weather. Earlier in the week saw the tuna and white marlin bite turn on, only to moderate again as we approached the Huk Big Fish Classic. Top tourney fish for 2021 was a 301 lb. swordfish caught by the “Reel One” in the Washington Canyon. Yellowfin tuna dominated the tuna catch with most on the smaller end with a notable exception being an 111 pounder caught by the “Chaser” in the Spencer Canyon! Billfish catches were dominated by the swordfish due to the tournament, and marlin fishing remained spotty.

August 4, 2021
Light winds and crowded water ended up slowing the bite in the bays and nearshore. Keeper flounder could be found with some work in the main channels and in the deeper holes by the OC Airport. The same was true at the offshore sites. John Foreman caught a trophy 28.5” flounder in the back bay. The key was to find an area with less boat traffic. Spadefish and sheepshead were on the rocks at the Inlet and the deep hole at the end of the south side jetty. Black drum were again in the surf off of Assateague and were in the mid 40 lb. range.

As we were in full tournament season, the offshore fishing was dominated by the start of the White Marlin Open with 444 boats registered! For billfish, the mid to lower Wilmington Canyon through to the Poor Man’s Canyon was the place to be. Captains reported releases in the mid single digit for white marlin and single blue marlin. Big wahoo were showing up at the Hot Dog and 19 Fathoms Lump including a 92 lb. speedster caught by the “That’s Right”. Bigeye once again dominated the notable tuna action with several fish in the mid 200 lbs. Mahi were still bailer to small gaffers up to 20 lbs. mostly from the Wilmington.

August 11, 2021
One of the busiest summer weeks was the White Marlin Open week. It even impacted the bay as over 400 boats moved from their slips to the ocean and hopefully back to the scales at Harbor Island. This churns up the water from the Rt. 90 bridge to the inlet. Flounder anglers had more success north of the bridge up to and in the Fenwick Ditch. On the nearshore reefs & wrecks the flounder and sea bass was consistent with some really impressive sea bass catches. The headboat “Judith M” had several trips catching blackfish, triggerfish and flounder, however schools of sea robins did make it difficult at times.
It was a heck of a week for fishing in the canyons with some amazing catches being reported from the White Marlin Open. There were lots of whites weighed and the winning one was 85.5 lbs. and 76” caught on the “Sushi” deep in the Norfolk Canyon. Their payout set a new tournament record at $3,238,160. The top blue marlin was from the “Seven” with their 775 lb. winner from west of the Wilmington Canyon in only 300’. The boat also took the top spot for tuna with a 137 lb. bigeye from the Wilmington as well. The mahi were in the low 30 lb. range and several wahoo made it to the docks with 1st Place going to the “El Azul” for an 84 lb. fish.
August 18, 2021
The bays had just about every species you could want; sheepshead, redfish, croaker, flounder and trout were biting. The action was still to the north and south of the inlet as the on going tournament action kept the area from Bahia Marina to the inlet very busy. Warmer than average water also helped with some of the best weakfish landings in years. Sea trout and redfish were also on the rise. The Ocean Pines Flounder Tournament was won by Brandon Miller with an impressive 25”, 7 lb. flattie. Sea bass, which are normally gone by now, remained in good numbers and kingfish dominated the slow action in the surf.

Offshore the bite was tough for the first half of the week but picked up towards the weekend just in time for the Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open. Team “Cocktails and Canyons” on the “Big Stick” took top honors with 8 white marlin and 1 blue marlin release from the Poor Man’s. The majority of our reports had billfish moving north and in deep water to the east and southeast of the Poor Man’s Canyon. Depth was consistent at 1000-1400 fathoms so some diesel was burned that week! Tuna were in the Baltimore and down to the Rock Pile.
The catch was mainly yellowfin in the 35 - 50 lb. range, however a few bigeye were being found in the Baltimore Canyon. A lot of wahoo action were reported with fish in the 40-50 lb. range. The mahi bite remained strong but mainly for smaller fish.

August 25, 2021
Flounder in the back bays was the best we have seen in years. The East Channel and off of the 2nd Street bulkhead were the place to be. The headboat “Bay Bee” reported numerous citation flounder catches as well as tons of croakers. Sea trout and redfish were caught near the Verrazano Bridge. The African Queen and cable piles defined the odds and continued to yield keeper sea bass. Many deeper wrecks were holding lots of triggerfish.

Offshore the action was dominated by the MidAtlantic Tournament. Blue marlin was the top action. The “Billfisher” brought in a huge 1,135 lb. blue marlin to the scales from below the Washington Canyon setting both a tourney record and a new record for Maryland. The “Wolverine” also boated a 958 lb. blue from between the Spencer and Wilmington Canyons. Bigeye tuna were being caught in the 100-175 lb. range, however the “Pipe Dreamer” found a pair of over 200 lb. eyeballs in the Wilmington. Mahi were most likely caught trolling open water off the Baltimore Canyons and some big wahoo were found a little more inshore at the Fingers and Sausages.

September 1, 2021
Labor Day week saw good fishing from the week before despite high temps and a west wind bringing biting flies. Headboats reported nice catches with flounder up to 26”. The East Channel remained the top spot. Nearshore almost every site had a flatfish or two, but the African Queen kept the title for top spot. Most stripers caught were small, but local experts Shawn Flaherty and Big Bird Cropper managed to pull two 30” stripers from the Rt. 50 Bridge and a 29” bluefish. Headboats like the “Angler” continued to see mixed catches of sea bass, flounder and mahi.

Offshore the blue marlin bite was some of the best we have ever seen. Mainly in the Baltimore and Poor Man’s Canyons, but it did cool by the weekend. White marlin fishing on the other hand was spotty. The tuna were still running with lower catch numbers during the week, however the weekend picked up with boats reporting 5 or 6 yellowfins per trip. It was prime mahi season and boats were coming back with 40+ fish from spots like the Hot Dog, Jack Spot and Fingers. Wahoo were active with fish up to 84 lbs. being boated mostly in the Baltimore Canyon.

September 8, 2021
The remnants of Hurricane Ida rolled up from the south and kept many on shore for a couple days. Before and after the blow up, the fishing was good. Best chance for keeper flounder were the Thorofare in the bay or at the Marine Electric site offshore. The northern and southern areas of the bay were flush with croaker. The “Lucky Break” was indeed lucky and landed an early 25” redfish at the inlet. The headboat “Judith M” and others shared that the Bass Grounds continued to offer keeper flounder, triggerfish and even sea bass!

Offshore was tough for marlin with most drawing a blank for their efforts. Two notable exceptions were the “Big Stick” with 5 white and 1 blue marlin releases with the “Primary Search” and “Blood Money” both releasing 3 whites and a blue. Most of the action was east of the Poor Man’s and Washington Canyons. Tuna remained consistent with mostly yellowfins in the 40 to 50 lb. range being reported. The Rockpile was a hot spot. An exception was a nice 75 lb. yellowfin pulled from the Washington Canyon by the “Sea Wolf” and a 137.5 lb. allison yellowfin on the “Blue Label”.

September 15, 2021
High winds and wave action pummeled the coast as Hurricane Larry blew by offshore. Flounder was the hot ticket with several trophy fish being caught along with sea bass, spadefish and triggerfish still ample. Outside of the weather, flounder and croaker could be had across the bay and sheepshead with some spadefish remained at the inlet. Overall the Great Eastern Reef was the place to be nearshore for flatfish and continuing sea bass run! Red drum and some pompano were showing up in the surf.

Before the bad weather the mahi bite slowed a bit and marlin fishing remained tough. Captains did find fish in the Poor Man’s and the Baltimore Canyons. Tuna, specifically yellowfin, remained strong with multiple hookups common. A notable catch was a 113 lb. allison yellowfin tuna caught on the “Primary Search” in the Washington. While most mahi were bailer or peanut sizes, a 58 lb. bull mahi was caught by Brad Brin. Lastly the “Game Changer” found a 72”, 97.5 lb. wahoo in the Poor Man’s.

September 22, 2021
We ended our season of the magazine with exceptional fishing. Big flounder were everywhere inshore and offshore. Keeper sea bass were still there and the wrecks and reefs were full of sheepshead and triggerfish! Rockfish were beginning to show up in the bay and surf, but still small and spanish mackerel were in the surf. This bite actually continued through October and early December making for a great fall season.
Offshore saw swordfishing in full swing in the Washington, however the hot tuna bite drew anglers’ attention to chunking! The tuna also kept biting through October with some epic catches showcased in this issue. §

Coastal Fisherman Merch
CF Merch



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