Vol 40 | Num 13 | Jul 22, 2015
Article by Larry Jock
The fishing season is in full bloom with good catches of fish showing up at the dock and marlin flags flying high.
Marlin Club Kid’s Classic
The Ocean City Marlin Club Kid’s Classic was another success with 307 junior anglers entered. Although this is down from last year, when 388 anglers participated, the tournament and activities at the Marlin Club were loaded with smiling, happy anglers.
In past years, the action was dominated by stringers of croakers and spot, but this year dolphin definitely took center stage but we also saw good catches of flounder and numerous marlin releases. As expected, we didn’t see many tuna weighed during the 2-day event, and surprisingly not a single bigeye came to the scale at Sunset Marina.
On Friday, the first day of the tournament, the “Haulin’ N Ballin’” returned after an impressive day that saw Conner Jezierski releasing a blue marlin and Torri Jezierski and Shelby Frashure each releasing a white marlin in 100 fathoms in the Baltimore Canyon. This was good enough for the kids to win 1st place in the Billfish Release Division. Anglers on the “Reel Fantasy” also had a great day on Saturday with Wil Kennington and Anna Pence each releasing blue marlin in 50 fathoms inside the Baltimore Canyon.
Alex Clarke on the “Jackal” weighed a good size, 30.4 lb. dolphin caught in the Baltimore Canyon to take 1st place in the Dolphin Division.
The “Reel Chaos” came in on Saturday after keeping their junior anglers inshore at the African Queen wreck and they threw an impressive 19 flounder on the dock, including a pair that weighed 3.5 and 3.6 lbs. These two flatties held on to win 1st and 2nd place in the Flounder Division.
Sunday was equally as busy with catches of flounder, croaker, spot and bluefish hitting the scales early. Towards the end of the session, Macy Layton on the “Nontypical” arrived with an beautiful 21.8 lb. dolphin that took 2nd place in the Dolphin Division. Right behind was Evan Winterbottom on the “Ridin’ Thirty” with a 26.4 lb. wahoo caught while trolling an artificial lure at the Jackspot. This was the only qualifying speedster weighed in the tournament. On Saturday, Sofia Stafford on the “Triple S” did catch a 43 lb. wahoo, but the tournament requires circle hooks to be used for wahoo and Sofia’s was caught on a J-hook. Still a nice catch!
Emma Campbell on the “Reel Estate” arrived on the final day with 3 white marlin releases at the East Wall of the Baltimore Canyon and took 3rd place in the Billfish Release Division.
The last boat to arrive at the tournament scale was “The Stacey” with Bradley Marks and Brian Marks each releasing a white marlin and Bradley adding a 61 lb. yellowfin that won 1st place in the Tuna Division. All were caught in 80 fathoms at the East Wall of the Baltimore Canyon.
Finally, one of the best parts of the tournament was the donation of $4,455 made by the tournament to the Wish-A-Fish Foundation. The foundation chartered several bay headboats on Saturday and 83 kids and 72 parents/guardians were able to have a fun afternoon of fishing.
We saw plenty of white and blue marlin release flags flying throughout the week. Early in the week, white marlin releases were recorded in the Poor Man’s and Washington Canyons. On Friday, the bite really turned on in the Baltimore Canyon. Blue marlin were released by anglers on the “White Lightning” and “Rhonda’s Osprey”. “Light’s Out” (5), “Griffin” (4) and the “Billfisher” (3) all released white marlin in the Baltimore Canyon.
On Saturday, the action continued to center in the Baltimore Canyon where, as previously mentioned, the “Haulin’ N Ballin’” released a blue marlin and 3 whites in the 100 fathoms in the Baltimore Canyon. The “Reel Fantasy” was also in the Baltimore, but closer to shore in 50 fathoms when they released 2 blue marlin during the Kid’s Tournament.
Several boats returned from the Baltimore Canyon on Sunday with white marlin releases, especially along the East Wall where junior anglers on the “Reel Estate” released 3 and anglers on “The Stacey” released 2 whites and a blue. Outside the tournament, “Grande Pez” and “Buckshot” each recorded 4 white marlin releases in the Baltimore Canyon and the “Poore Sport” released a white and 2 blues. The “Fish On” had the best day with 6 white marlin releases and a blue marlin release in the Norfolk Canyon.
If you think that not too many years ago, we rarely saw a bigeye tuna arrive at the scale and now, it isn’t uncommon to see a single boat return with several in the box. The “Fish Whistle” out of the Indian River Marina went on an overnight trip, leaving on Friday, and returned on Saturday with 6 eyeballs ranging from 111 lbs. to 186 lbs. All of their bites came on the troll at night in 200 fathoms in the Baltimore Canyon where Capt. Charlie Horning found 79-degree water.
Most of the bigeyes are still coming in from the Bigeye Hole in the Washington Canyon, but we also saw catches made in the Poor Man’s, Baltimore and Wilmington Canyons as well. On Saturday, anglers on the “Triggerfish” caught 3 bigeyes in the Wilmington Canyon that weighed between 137 and 171 lbs. All of their bites came between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, which has been pretty typical so far this season.
The biggest challenge for those fishing in all the canyons has been the large number of big sharks taking chunks out of bigeyes and yellowfins during the fight. Many fish have been lost by recreational anglers due to sharks and I heard that commercial anglers are really hit hard by sharks.
Dolphin & Wahoo
Warm water has moved far inshore, bringing with it schools of dolphin and wahoo. Dolphin are literally all over the coast off Delmarva with catches coming in as close as Great Gull Shoal. Most of the mahi we are seeing are in the 4 lb. to 10 lb. range, but Alex Clark did catch a nice 30.4 pounder on Saturday in the Baltimore Canyon.
Numerous mahi were caught along the 20-fathoms line around the Fingers and the Jackspot.
Wahoo are showing up in the Canyons and as close as the Jackspot. “Reel Vibrations” weighed a 42.8 pounder caught in the Washington Canyon and the Jackspot gave up wahoo to Sophia Stafford (43 lbs.) and Evan Winterbottom (26.4 lbs.) over the weekend.
If you can get your hands on the GPS numbers for golden tilefish and blueline tilefish, you can really have yourself a great time. Last week, we saw good catches of golden tilefish coming in from deep droppers in the Washington. Squid is always the bait of choice for these bottom dwellers.
The charter boats, “Boss Hogg” and the “Marli” both seem to have this fishery wired, returning to Sunset Marina last week with quality goldens and bluelines. Remember, no electric reels if you are looking to set a world record. Time to hand crank!
It was a slow pick last week for flounder fishermen with the best bite coming in from the East Channel. Anglers are seeing a lot of throwback flatties with the best bite coming in at the end of the incoming tide when water temperatures hover around 73-degrees. Water temperatures at the end of the outgoing are a balmy 78-degrees, not ideal for chasing flounder. Gulp! Swimming Mullet is the bait of choice right now since crabs are so thick that trying to fish live minnows or cut bait is next to impossible.
Ocean structure continues to provide anglers their best chance for a keeper flounder. The African Queen wreck was especially productive for those dropping cut bait to the bottom.
Headboats, such as the “Morning Star” and the “Angler” along with headboats “Fish Bound” and “Get Sum” all reported good catches of flounder on ocean structure last week. The “Fish Bound” had some exceptional days were boat limits of 32 flounder ended up in the box. On Saturday, private boat, “Migrator” hit the Bass Grounds and put 22 flatties in the cooler, all caught on Gulp! artificial baits, flounder belly and shiners.
We are starting to see catches of croaker in the bay behind Ocean City. They are all over the bay but the mouth of the Commercial Harbor tends to be a great spot for those seeking hardheads while using squid for bait.
If you are looking for good catch and release striped bass action, the area around the Rt. 50 Bridge has been a good spot for those tossing rubber shads around the pilings. Don’t be expecting any keepers though, but on light tackle, this fishery is fantastic.
The 2nd Annual Big Fish Classic is this weekend with weigh-ins at the Talbot Street Pier on Friday and Saturday from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM and on Sunday from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The inaugural event last year saw some fantastic action at the scale since anglers are allowed to fish overnight and were able to capitalize on the evening bigeye bite. I would expect the same this year.
See you at the scales.