Vol 41 | Num 21 | Sep 21, 2016
Article by Larry Jock
Well, this is the last issue of the season for the Coastal Fisherman and we are ending it on a high note with the return of the Challenge Cup to Ocean City, the epic overnight trip on the “No Quarter”, a good flounder bite and improving sea bass action on ocean structure and solid white marlin release numbers in the canyons.
First, let’s talk about the trip that everyone is still talking about on the charter boat, “No Quarter”. On Wednesday, Capt. Kyle Peet and his crew returned from an overnight trip to the Norfolk Canyon with the very first Fantasy Slam ever recorded by a boat in Ocean City. A Fantasy Slam consists of releases of 5 different billfish in a single day. During their overnight trip in 77-degree water, the anglers released 23 white marlin, 2 spearfish, a blue marlin and a sailfish. If that wasn’t enough, they also caught a 350 lb. swordfish and a 263 lb. mako shark. Their Fantasy Slam took place on Tuesday with 14 white marlin releases in addition to a blue marlin, spearfish and a sailfish. An epic trip that included several highlights including mate Parker Marshall free gaffing the mako while it was munching on the swordfish at the side of the boat. Congratulations go out to Capt. Kyle, mates Parker Marshall and Erik Mateer and their anglers for their major accomplishment!
The other big news last weekend was the return of the Challenge Cup trophy to Ocean City after a 4-year absence. The Challenge Cup pits boats from the Ocean City Marlin Club against boats from the Cape May Marlin & Tuna Club. Cape May has won the Cup for the last 4-years, but our anglers came through in the clutch, winning decisively with a 787.5 to 500 point performance. For the 1-day shoot-out, Ocean City boats released 126 white marlin and a blue marlin compared to Cape May’s 58 white marlin and 1 blue marlin. Most of the action took place in the Washington and Norfolk Canyons with the better bite in the Norfolk. Here’s how our boats ended up (white marlin releases in parenthesis): “Makara” (13), “Billfisher” (12), “Bar South” (9 & 1 blue), “Sea Slammer” (11), “Intents” (9), “Gret’s Three J’s (7), “Contango” (7), “Griffin” (7), “Buckshot” (6), “Par Five” (5), “Reel Joy” (5), “Odinspear” (5), “Reel Toy” (5), “Tighten Up” (5), “Wrecker” (3 & 1 spear), “Instigator” (4), “First Light” (4), “Top Dog” (4), “Game On” (3), “Brenda Lou” (3), “Liquid RX” (3).
Congratulations to all of the participants who represented Ocean City in the tournament.
Outside of the Challenge Cup, boats heading to the 800/800 and down to the Norfolk Canyon found cooperative white marlin throughout last week. A lot of boats came back with high single-digit releases and a box full of dolphin. I do want to mention the overnight trip to the Norfolk Canyon made mid-week by Mike and Dave Burt on the “Pumpin Hard”. The duo returned with 27 white marlin after hooking 19 on Tuesday and 8 on Wednesday. Quite a trip for only two guys!
Yellowfins popped up again in the Washington Canyon with fish up to 72 lbs. Greensticking continues to be an effective way of hooking yellowfins, but trolling ballyhoo and spreader bars was also effective.
In addition to the swordfish caught on the “No Quarter” we also saw one come in on the Moore Bills when they returned with a 74 pounder in addition to 7 white marlin releases, 2 blue marlin releases, a small mako and a load of dolphin from the 800/800.
If you are looking for dolphin, you can find them pretty much everywhere in the canyons and even closer to shore at any 20-fathom lump. There are plenty of bailors, but we have seen a definite increase in larger mahi as well. If you come across any floating debris, chances are you will find dolphin, and maybe some triggerfish underneath.
Fishing on inshore structure continues to improve with good catches of flounder and sea bass last week. Headboats found the best action on artificial reefs and wrecks in 100+ feet of water. The bite should only get better as flounder begin moving from the bay to inshore structure. The Old Grounds is still the best location for inshore flounder, but you can also find cooperative flatties at the Great Eastern Reef, the Bass Grounds and the Jackspot.
Fishing in the bay has not been very good this season, but if you are going to catch a big flounder, now is typically the time. The fish have fattened up and are stacking up as they prepare for their migration to the east. Look for fish along the 2nd Street Bulkhead, along the north wall in the Inlet, along the rocks at Martha’s Landing and around the South Jetty. Bucktails tipped with flounder or mahi belly always seems to produce nice fish, but white Gulp! Swimming Mullets combined with minnows can also do the trick.
We also saw keeper size striped bass caught in the Inlet over the weekend, which is surprising since the water temperature is still in the low-to-mid 70’s. You can also look for weakfish around the South Jetty and Rt. 50 Bridge as well.
Speaking of trout, now is the time to anchor north of the Rt. 50 Bridge between the East and West Channel if you are looking to tangle with a speckled trout. Most seasoned speckled trout anglers will be tossing MirrOlure lures.
As mentioned earlier, this is the final Coastal Fisherman of the season. If you have any pictures you would like to submit for the big Winter Issue, you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of big striper pictures in my inbox and I wish everyone a productive and safe fall fishing season.