There may be lots of "throwback" flounders in Ocean City, but there are also lots of keepers.
The throwbacks under the legal limit size of 13 inches aractually a good sign, though, because it means flounder are spawning and are coming into the bays.
BAlong with these smaller fish are good-sized flounder in the 2- to 2 1/2 -pound range. Barbara Glinka of Bahia Marina reported seeing some of these larger fish taken on the bay-going party boat Tortuga. She said live minnows have been the preferred bait.
Flounder catches were scattered all over the Ocean City bay this past week, including the U.S. 50 bridge, the Shantytown pier and the Oceanic pier. For boats, the best spots were the Thorofare area, Convention Hall channel, the drift between the U.S. 50 bridge and the inlet, and the channel in front of Horn Island.
The best tide for flounder in Ocean City continues to be the
beginning of the outgoing tide.
Ocean City saw its first sea trout catch last week. Anglers fishing the Oceanic pier with strips of squid caught numbers of trout in the 12- to 18-inch range.
Snapper blues in the one-half to 3-pound range have been sighted from the rock pile at the inlet to areas slightly south of the U.S. 50 bridge. Anglers are catching them with squid, or by casting bucktails and spoons when they see the sea gulls working close to the surface of the water. One angler on the Oceanic pier said, "One of the boys had a 5-gallon bucket full the other night."
Offshore, the bluefish are larger. Harold Upperman of the Talbot Street pier said that early in the week the charter boat Wet Whiskers was catching about 30 every day.
Captain Bill Bunting from the Angler dock said, "The best area for the blues seems to be between the Southeast Lump and the Jackspot."
Party boats were successful with numbers of sea bass during the week, but the fishing was hampered by strong northeast gusts last weekend. Most of the party boats had to return to the dock.
Ocean City party boats are running during the week now. Though there's usually a crowd on board Saturdays and Sundays, weekdays see fewer anglers. Since bottom fishing is always good this time of year, it is a great opportunity to fish for a reasonable price and have lots of elbow room, too.
The old image of bottom boat fishing is changing. What used to be a predominantly male crowd, meat fishing with large trash cans at their sides, is becoming a scene of the past. Anglers on party boats today are often couples, business friends, families with children and groups of women. There are more comforts on the boats, too, including cleaner "heads."
Mates also are becoming more professional. They are trained to help the patrons, including teaching novices how to work the reels.
There seems to be a new trend in party boat fishing: "catch and release," where anglers are encouraged to release the smaller fish and keep the larger ones. In the ol' days, it was thought that a sea bass would die if it was released after catching it in deep water. Studies have shown that if the swim bladder is expanded when brought up on the hook that the angler may deflate it with the tip of the fish hook or the tip of a knife, and the fish can swim away. The bladder can also be pushed inward with a finger. Fish reeled in more slowly also will fair better.
Sea bass are one of those fish that are born female and turn into males in their later life. Releasing small sea bass will help save the spawning stock of this wonderful fish.
In offshore fishing, the first bonit were caught last week. Bruce McGuigan, owner of Captain Macs Bait and Tackle on Route 54, said, "Ken Walsh and Bake Timmons caught some of the area's first bonit from the area of Fenwick Shoals. They were using spoons and feathers." He also said that Bob Parcells of Ocean Pines almost hooked a mako shark on the 30 fathom line, north of the Washington Canyon. "Unfortunately, he lost the fish," he said.
There were other shark catches in the area, however. Ms. Glinka of Bahia Marina reported that the charter boat Virginia had four blue sharks and one sandbar shark last weekend. "The blue sharks all went over 100 pounds, and all the fish were released," she said. Offshore shark fishing should pick up over the next couple of weeks.
At area beaches, there were only a few bluefish, but plenty of sharks. Anglers were catching dusky sharks up to 4 feet with any kind of cut bait.
Fishing at Indian River Inlet turned on with bluefish this past week. According to Jack Sullivan of Old Inlet Bait and Tackle, "These fish, running up to 4 pounds, were hitting on bucktails."
Sea trout and tautog also hit at the inlet. Anglers caught sea
trout in the 3- to 4-pound range on the bottom of the outgoing tide using bucktails. Tautog were continuously being caught using sand fleas on the slack tides. Stripers were being caught at night by anglers throwing bucktails.
Sea trout are still hitting in the Delaware Bay. Ray Harper of R and R Fishing Center in Rehoboth said anglers are catching trout from Broadkill Beach on peeler crabs, and at Roosevelt Inlet, there's a mix of trout and flounder on peelers and mirrolures.