Home | Advertise | Issues | Fishing Info | Tournaments | Buy a Photo | Delivery Locations | Merch | Send a Photo

Vol 49 | Num 4 | May 22, 2024

Offshore Report Ocean City Report Delaware Report Virginia Report Snarky Lines Ship to Shore The Galley Issue Photos
Snarky Lines

Article by Capt. Mark Sampson

What We Know (Part 2)

In last week's column I relayed a true story from 1978 about a 14-year old boy who caught a 124-pound swordfish from a Fenwick Island beach, thus proving beyond a shadow of doubt that "maybe" there's a "chance" swordfish might be spending at least some of their time meandering about our surfline and perhaps no one else has ever caught one from the beach because no one has been fishing for them. Recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, marine scientists - we all think we know so much about the fish out there, but I don't think anybody saw that one coming!

So that has me wondering if maybe we're missing opportunities to catch other types of fish in places we'd least expect them to be just because we've never fished for them there. For instance - "marlin in the bay". Who do you know has ever tried to catch a white or even a blue marlin in any of our back bay waters? I know what you're thinking, "considering all the people who fish the bay each year, and all the boats that use the coastal bay waters "someone" would have caught or at least seen a marlin if there were any in the bay!" Well "yes" maybe by now some evidence of billfish in the bay could have or should have shown up. But let's face it, have you ever heard of a blue marlin crashing a Roy Rig or a white marlin snatching up a Gulp paddletail or a shiner that's being bounced along the bottom? Never! We all know that Marlin don't eat little things like that, that's why offshore anglers troll rigged ballyhoo, mullet, squid and other relatively big baits for them. So of course no one is going to catch a marlin in the bay, just like hooking a swordfish in the surf, everyone is using the wrong bait! It just stands to reason that if you want to catch a marlin in the bay you've got to fish for them properly.

Naturally, marlin fishing in the bay might lead to some confusion during any billfish tournaments that stipulate what time boats are allowed to leave the inlet in the morning. After all, a team that fishes in the bay won't leave the inlet at all, so does that mean they can fish whenever they want to or must they follow the same fishing schedule as all the fishermen who will be running 60-miles out to catch fish that might be swimming around their docks? And if a team shows up at the weigh-ins with a marlin that's still alive (because they caught it 5 minutes ago just 100-yards away) can they win the heaviest fish category then turn it loose and get release points as well? These are questions the tournament organizers must be prepared to answer once bay marlin fishing is discovered and becomes popular.

Certainly once they start catching swordfish in the surf and marlin in the bay anglers will be looking to land other offshore species in locations they've never considered. I've never tried it but I'm wondering why chunking for tuna off the Rt.w 50 bridge might not work? There's a lot of natural bait that hangs out under that structure and I'm sure the rockfish and bluefish aren't eating them all. As a matter of fact, the local stripers and blues probably make for a nice snack for any giant bluefins that might be swimming about the bridge pilings.

Of course catching tuna from the bridge might not be as easy as it seems as it would require anglers to not only be able to hook and fight the fish to the bridge, but also get the thing 20-30 feet up and over the railing. I envision a really large bridge net and more than just a couple pair of hands to haul the catch up from the water. And as it's not uncommon for fish to fall back in the water while they're being lifted up, it would probably be good for tuna anglers on the bridge to make sure there aren't any curious boaters below during the landing process as 50-pounds of tuna falling from the sky never seems to end well for those on the receiving end. However, such concerns for the well-being of anyone on a PWC is entirely unnecessary being that so many of them obviously liken themselves as some kind of kama-kazi thrill seekers and would probably find it a badge of honor to be crushed by a tuna. Of course bridge anglers who have not yet caught a tuna should feel free to deliver fish carcasses, horseshoe crabs, or rotten bait until they have acquired a tuna fitting for the occasion.

Hearing all this, I'm sure a lot of folks are already beginning to worry that the bay is going to become an even more crowded place to be if all the offshore guys start fishing inshore. Fortunately, nature always seems to make things like this work out. Just as ocean species could be in our bays, there's no reason not to expect that bay fishermen might not be able to catch their quarries offshore. Think about flounder - it used to be that no recreational angler went out on the ocean to catch flounder. Now, that's where almost all the big ones are taken. So if flounder, then why not other bay targets like blue crabs, clams, or anything else you can catch from a kayak or a 20' tri-hull deck boat with a 900hp motor? Yeah I know, crabbing in 300 feet of water is going to require a lot more string and probably bigger chicken necks, and clammers will need extensions on their rake handles, but knowing local anglers the way I do I'm certain that in time they'll figure out a good system to make it work. After all, they know everything about everything! ยง

Coastal Fisherman Merch
CF Merch



Buy a Photo