Vol 39 | Num 18 | Aug 27, 2014
Article by Larry Jock
It was not a good weekend for fishing with windy weather creating rough conditions on Saturday and Sunday. Only a few boats ventured out on Saturday and nobody that I heard from left the dock on Sunday. On the bright side, I guess after the week long MidAtlantic tournament, it gave folks time to regroup and get some boat work done.
The MidAtlantic (formally known as the Mid-Atlantic $500,000) rolled into town last week with weigh-ins held in Cape May, NJ and at Sunset Marina. This year, 127 boats entered the tournament (+10 versus last year) with 68 fishing out of Ocean City, 9 more than last year.
It was another year of domination by the Ocean City boats, taking 8 of the 11 weight categories and a good chunk of the money.
The marlin bite was good, with 616 white marlin and 30 blue marlin hooked, and over 95% released, over the 5 days of fishing.
Due to the weather, it really turned into a 3-day tournament with most boats heading offshore on Monday, Thursday and Friday.
The majority of boats headed to the Baltimore Canyon on Monday and the “Billfisher” returned with 8 white marlin releases to take the early lead in the Points Division. We didn’t see any white marlin hit the minimum weight requirement of 65 lbs. The “Goin’ In Deep” had an incredible tournament and started it off by arriving at the scale with a 107 lb. bigeye tuna that ended the tournament in 3rd place in the Heaviest Tuna Division. The “Restless Lady” weighed a 43 lb. dolphin, caught in the Baltimore Canyon, and held on to win 1st place in the Dolphin Division.
Tuesday and Wednesday saw rougher conditions and only 16 boats ventured out on Tuesday and 13 on Wednesday.
With 59 boats heading out on Thursday, you had a feeling something exciting might happen at the scales. It didn’t take long for the action to rev up with the “Why Not” waiting for the scale to open at 4:00 PM with an 847 lb. blue marlin on board that would eventually take 1st place in the Blue Marlin Division. Right behind them was the “Billfisher” with a pair of 80 lb. white marlin caught in the Baltimore Canyon. Their white marlin finished the tournament in 2nd and 3 place in the White Marlin Division, getting beat out of 1st by a just single pound by the “Krazy Salts” out of Cape May, NJ.
Friday is usually a very exciting day at the scale, and this year did not disappoint. The “Lady Luck” was waiting with a 586 lb. blue marlin that was caught in the Baltimore Canyon by Steve Ramsey. The fish held 2nd place in the Blue Marlin Division until the last boat arrived at the scale, the “Goin’ In Deep”, with a 596 pounder caught in the Wilmington Canyon. The “Playmate” also weighed a 361 lb. blue marlin earlier in the day, but it didn’t hit the minimum weight requirement. Also on Friday, the heaviest wahoo of the tournament, a 65 pounder, was caught aboard the “Fish On”, south of the Washington Canyon.
Overall, it was another good tournament with over $2,412,000 in award money given out. Congratulations to all the anglers and especially to those who fished out of Ocean City. They made us proud once again!
The white marlin bite started the week between the Wilmington and Baltimore Canyon and worked it’s way south into the Poor Man’s Canyon by Saturday when “That’s Right” ended their day with 10 releases in 50 to 100 fathoms.
The yellowfin bite has been scarce with a few being caught on the chunk in the Washington Canyon throughout the week.
We also have seen a dropoff in the number of bigeyes caught recently, with only 1 coming to the scale last week during the tournament. On Thursday night, the “Fish Whistle” did boat a pair around 6:00 PM in the Baltimore Canyon.
The flounder bite was a little scarce in the bay last week, but excellent on ocean structure. We are seeing more and more anglers discovering the great flounder action, both in quality and quantity, on ocean reefs and wrecks off the Delmarva coast. The African Queen, Bass Grounds and several shoals all continue to produce great catches of flatties. If you want to venture further north, Sites 10 and 11 off the coast of Delaware are always hot areas for big flatties.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any fish in the bay. You just need to be prepared to weed through some throwbacks to get your keepers. The East Channel, both north and south of the Rt. 50 Bridge, along the wall on the north side of the Inlet and around the South Jetty are all areas that typically hold flatties this time of year as they begin staging to head offshore. Last week, we saw flounder caught in the Middle and West Channels by anglers drifting live spot or Gulp!
The M.S.S.A. Beach N’ Boat Flounder Tournament was held on Saturday and the top 3 locations were around the Rt. 50 Bridge, South Jetty and behind the Ocean City Airport. A few fish also came in from the channel behind Bahia Marina and in the East Channel. Live spot or bunker was the preferred bait, but anglers also caught some fish on Gulp! Swimming Mullets.
Several wahoo were caught throughout the week, mainly in the Washington Canyon where the “Foolish Pleasures” boxed a 61 pounder on Monday.
Mahi are being caught up and down the line by boats chasing marlin. Trolling along weedlines was the main tactic last week with several 25+ lb. fish being hooked on ballyhoo.
Hardheads can still be found roaming the waters around the Rt. 90 Bridge. We also saw a big 3.2 pounder caught by Big Bird Cropper on Saturday while tossing a white Gulp! Swimming Mullet around the Rt. 50 Bridge. Anglers will also find that Fishbite bloodworms are a tasty offering to any hardhead.
The striped bass bite was pretty good at night for anglers tossing lures off the Rt. 50 Bridge. Casting bucktails or Gotcha Plugs is a tried and true method for catching a keeper linesider from the bridge. Look for this bite to improve as we head into September and October.
While we are talking about striped bass, I want to let everyone know that the feds are considering radical changes to our striped bass regulations effective January 1, 2015. Although the fishery is considered rebuilt and not overfished, the female spawning stock biomass has been steadily declining since 2006 and has reached a level that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission feels something needs to be done. We could be seeing a 1-fish per person limit and/or a big increase in the minimum. The process is in the public comment stage with the closest meeting to us being held at the DNREC Auditorium in Dover on September 11th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
A few bluefish are being caught around the Rt. 50 Bridge but the better bite is in the surf. We aren’t seeing the big choppers at either of these spots with action dominated by smaller, feisty fish.
This weekend is the Ocean City Marlin Club White Marlin Tournament. Anglers can fish 2 of 3 days beginning on Friday. Weigh-ins will be held at Sunset Marina from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM on each day. It’s primarily a billfish tournament but there is also a Heaviest Fish Division for those chasing tuna and dolphin.
See you at the scales!