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Vol 44 | Num 16 | Aug 14, 2019

Ocean City Fishing Report Ship to Shore Chum Lines Fish Stories The Galley Issue Photos
Ocean City Fishing Report

Article by Larry Jock

This Week Last Year

•”Weldor’s Ark” catches 83 lb. white marlin in Norfolk Canyon to win the WMO.

•”Buckshot” breaks record with 75.5 lb. yellowfin worth over $924,000. Caught in the Norfolk Canyon.

•Winning wahoo caught inshore of the Rockpile.

•Top boat, “Viking 72” released 12 white marlin while fishing in Norfolk, Washington and Spencer Canyons.

•Best flounder bite was on live spot in the East Channel.

•Inshore flounder fishing improved at the Old Grounds, the Bass Grounds and at Russell’s Reef. Bucktails with strip baits worked the best.

•Good numbers of cobia showed up off the coast of Delaware.

What a week of fishing in Ocean City! We have to start with a super exciting White Marlin Open. The Trump flags were flying, the weather was nice and the billfish were really snapping, evidenced by the tournament record set for white marlin releases. Here’s what the species count looked like when compared to last year:
White Marlin
Released 1,429 vs. 705
Boated 30 vs. 18
Blue Marlin
Released 45 vs. 57
Boated 2 vs. 1
As with most White Marlin Open’s, the busiest days were on Monday and Friday, both in the number of boats fished and also the number of winning fish weighed. In the 14 leaderboard positions, the final day had the most changes to the leaderboard with 43% of the winning fish weighed that day.
Monday 29% (4 fish)
Tuesday 21% (3 fish)
Wednesday 0% (0 fish)
Thursday 7% (1 fish)
Friday 43% (6 fish)

In the White Marlin Division, it didn’t take long to set the bar when the “Chasin’ Tail” was the first boat to arrive at the scale, weighing a 74 pounder that was caught in the Norfolk Canyon that sat in 1st place until Thursday when the “Fish Whistle” arrived with their 79.5 pounder that they hooked in the Wilmington Canyon and ultimately won the tournament. In between these catches, “The Natural” received a scare when the “Backlash” showed up with a white marlin that was a 1/2 lb. shy, weighing 73.5 lbs. Like many of the marlin we saw throughout the week, the 3rd place fish caught on the “Backlash” was hooked in the Wilmington Canyon.

There was only one blue marlin that hit the qualifying length and that one came in on the “Haulin’ n Ballin’” on the 2nd day of the tournament. Craig Dickerson caught the fish after hooking it on a plug in 750 fathoms behind the Washington Canyon. There was another blue marlin boated later in the week, but unfortunately it didn’t reach the 114-inch minimum length requirement.

Tuna fishing in recent weeks hasn’t been very good, so everyone was interested in seeing how the Tuna Division would end up. We did see quite a few yellowfins hit the scale and a couple of allisons ended up on the leaderboard, but the winning fish was a bigeye tuna caught on opening day by Russ Garufi on the “Crisdel”. The bigeye was part of a doubleheader where one fish was cut-off so they could concentrate on the larger bigeye. It looks like it was a great decision. The 201 pounder took 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to the boat after being hooked on a ballyhoo in the Wilmington Canyon. On the second day of the tournament, Ronnie Fields on the “Mjolnir” weighed a 145.5 lb. allison yellowfin that he hooked on a naked ballyhoo in the Baltimore Canyon. Ronnie’s yellowfin ended the tournament in 3rd place in the Tuna Division. It wasn’t until the final day of the event that the “Seakeeper” weighed a 150.5 lb. allison to jump into 2nd place in the Tuna Division. The big yellowfin was caught on a Laceration lure in the Baltimore Canyon.

Several other impressive yellowfins were caught throughout the week in the Baltimore and Wilmington Canyons with several over the 60 lb. mark and some into the 70s.

The final day also saw the 6th largest wahoo in tournament history when Anne Aramendia on the “Give It Away” weighed a 91 pounder that she caught on at the East Wall of the Wilmington Canyon. The bar was set early in the week when “The Natural” sat in first place since opening day with an 82 lb. wahoo that was caught in the Baltimore Canyon. Third place in the Wahoo Division went to the “Hubris” with a 76.5 pounder caught on Friday. They weighed an impressive catch that also included a 76.5 lb. yellowfin. Both fish were caught deep outside the Wilmington Canyon.

We definitely saw a lot of dolphin throughout the week, both on the scale and those left in the box, but again it was on the last day when all of the final leaderboard changes took place. The “Irene” came in on Friday with a 39 pounder that was caught deep in the Wilmington Canyon to briefly take over 1st place in the Dolphin Division. Their lead didn’t last long when John Kreiner on the “Playmate” weighed a 41 pounder to take over the top spot. The big dolphin was hooked in 400 fathoms in the Wilmington. As if enough leaderboard changes didn’t take place already, one of the final boats to the scale was the “Miss-Tres” with a 38 pounder that finished in 3rd place in the Dolphin Division.

Some years we don’t see any sharks, but this year the “Polarizer” weighed a 277.5 lb. mako that they hooked on a ballyhoo while trolling for marlin. I’m sure they were surprised when the big mako surfaced in 300 fathoms in the Wilmington Canyon.

There was a new category for Top Lady Angler this year and it was won by Jackie Tenuto on the “Lit Up”. Jackie took the top spot by releasing 8 white marlin throughout the week.

Finally, the anglers on the “Big Deal” had a tournament to remember when they released 28 white marlin during their 3 days of fishing. This gave them 1,960 points, breaking a tournament record that stood for 39 years! In addition, angler Ed Russo won Top Angler honors for his 17 white marlin releases. Congratulations to Capt. Brian Rabbitt, Ed and the entire crew for their record breaking performance.

Outside the tournament, the big news was the cobia and mackerel bites. Cobia were quietly caught in good numbers, especially around Little Gull and Great Gull Shoals. We also saw them caught off the Bethany Beach coastline and out at Fenwick Shoal. Most were caught on bucktails tossed to fish cruising around schools of bunker.

Big king mackerel showed up at the Bass Grounds, but the big boys were caught around Great Gull Shoal. On Saturday, Nick Watts on the “Saltwater Adventures” boated a 53 1/2-incher after hooking it on a Rapala X-Rap lure. Dan Hill was right behind with a 52-incher that he also caught at Great Gull Shoal. His 32 lb. 4 oz. smoker was hooked on a Stretch 25. Several other smaller king mackerel and a few Spanish mackerel were also caught in the same locations.
The black sea bass bite continues to be underwhelming. Fish are being caught, but getting enough to fill your limit has been difficult for anglers fishing with squid and clams.

It looks like we may have reached the point in the season where the flounder bite on ocean structure is better than the one in the bays. Nice fish are being caught in the waters behind Ocean City and Assateague Island with the East Channel, the Thorofare and around the South Jetty being the top spots for keeper flounder. Live spot or mullet have worked the best when it comes to catching larger fish in deep holes, however the old reliable white Gulp Swimming Mullet is still enticing flatties.

We did see some striped bass caught, including some keepers, around the Rt. 50 Bridge and in the Ocean City Inlet on rubber shads and Z-Man artificial baits.
One of the nicest catches of the week came in last Tuesday when Chris Gaba caught a 12 lb.1 oz. sheepshead at the South Jetty on a chunk of clam.

Upcoming Tournaments

This weekend is the famous Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open at Bahia Marina. The tournament starts on Thursday and goes through Saturday. If you have never experienced the Poor Girls Open, it is definitely one to see. The ladies bring in some great fish and the enthusiasm in incredible.

On Monday, the MidAtlantic Tournament rolls into town and runs all week with weigh-ins from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Sunset Marina.

Until next week, I’ll see you at the scales!

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