It's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial opening for the season at Ocean City.
Sun worshipers race to the beach and rent an umbrella to keep out of the sun. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but then what does these days?
There is another season opening at Ocean City -- fishing season. In-shore, the bluefish are running and giving anglers plenty to do. Bottom fishing for sea bass is also excellent, and the anglers find anoccasional tog and ling.
Unless you are a dedicated ocean fisherman and drag your boat there with some regularity, it is best to take advantage of professional captains. Charter boats are a bit more thana normal bay bluefish charter, but not unreasonable for a group.
Here's another suggestion, especially if there are just one or two ofyou: a head boat. Several service Ocean City. The newest and one of
the most interesting is the O. C. Princess. She is an 88-footer certified for 150 fishermen that can move along at about 30 knots, veryfast for a head boat.
The speed gives additional range to reach those far-away hot spots or just more fishing time for those closer toport. In addition, the Princess has a full-service, hot and cold snack bar and a full-service bar.
The Princess departs from Shanty Town each morning at 7 o'clock for bottom-fishing trips and returns at 2 p.m. As of yesterday, the Princess initiated evening bluefish chumming trips departing the dock at 7 p.m. and returning at 2 a.m. Bottom-fishing trips cost $30 and bluefish chumming trips are $40; bait is free. Anglers may rent tackle for $5. For more information or reservations, call 1-800-457-6650.
For us bay fishers, this is the last weekend of trophy rockfishseason. The season closes at 8 p.m. Monday.
I know many charter captains are unhappy with the state Departmentof Natural Resources for setting the minimum rockfish size limit at 36 inches. The captains are tired of throwing everything back. It would be nice to let the parties take something home.
Right now, veryfew keeper rockfish are being caught. And even the throw-backs (rockfish under 36 inches) haven't been consistent. One captain at Solomons said he caught seven last Thursday, 11 on Friday, 38 on Saturday and five on Sunday. I have seen similar fluctuations in the Bay Bridge area.
Almost everyone forgets about a tournament the day after it is over. But, I'm certain that John McDaniel from Upper Marlboro, Jeremiah Hughitt from Stevensonville and Douglas Gallo of Annapolis still remember last weekend's MSSA Bluefish Tournament. These gentlemen took the top three places, with bluefish weighing 15.59, 15.18 and 14.86 pounds, respectively.
This year's participation was down a bit,with only 1,200 boats entered and approximately 5,000 anglers. Theseanglers caught fewer than 91 bluefish, last year's tally. Also, the MSSA representative I talked to said he had no record of any angler catching a rockfish longer than 36 inches.
One breath of fresh air may be bottom fishing. Capt. Tom Rials, of the head boat Tom Hooker, has been making some fair-to-good catches of perch up the Choptank River. Tom runs his trips from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $25 and tackle may be rented for $4. The boat departs from the Rod 'N Reel tackle shop in Chesapeake Beach. His parties have also been throwing back rockfish and keeping perch. Even a few small spot have been caught.
The excitement of the week broke last Tuesday when parties of Capt.Ed O'Brien and Capt. Claude Sacker each took four, big black drum. The largest, a 78-pounder, came from O'Brien's Semper Fidelis II. Capt. Joe Rupp, of the Lucky Duck, was also part of the black drum expeditionary team, but I did not hear how many his party caught.
It wasgood news to hear strong rumors (radio talk) of breaking bluefish inthe lower bay. They should be pointed our way.
*Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.