Every summer, blue-water anglers dream of winning one of Ocean City's many tournaments. George Heinecke of Baltimore added his name to the list last Sunday when he reeled in the largest fish during the Ocean City Tuna Tournament, held by the Ocean City Fishing Center. He toiled for five hours fighting the 195-pound bluefin tuna, which took a ballyhoo at the Hot Dog Lumps.
Mr. Heinecke was fishing aboard the Pursuer, which runs out of Talbot Street, in the capable hands of Capt. Albert Simpson.
Another Ocean City captain took prizes for winning the tuna tournament's most weight category. Each boat is allowed to weigh 10 tuna and combine the total weight. Capt. Alan Fields, aboard the Sheila Ann, had 464 pounds of tuna.
While the weight might not seem so impressive, the fact that the boat also released 34 tuna over a period of two days is. Twenty-seven of these were tagged. The boat, owned by Joe Zimmer, also won prizes for the most releases.
Capt. Butch Davis of the charter boat Grand Slam out of Bahia Marina is probably kicking himself for not entering the tournament. Angler Tyler Cowan landed a 202-pound bluefin tuna while they were fishing on the Hot Dog.
Captain Davis also tried something new last week. He began flipping popper type lures at the smaller tuna in the 15- to 20-pound range, when he saw them "working" on the surface. On lighter tackle, this is most sporting.
There are other huge fish swimming the offshore waters of Ocean City as Brad Simmons of Deale found out last week. He landed an 893-pound blue marlin aboard the Dream Weaver with Capt. Ralph Beatty out of Harbor Island. The boat was trolling through one of Ocean City's hot spots, the Poor Man's Canyon.
Smaller boats have enjoyed better fishing in the waters closer to home. Just offshore of the Jackspot, anglers picked up tuna in the 15- to 20-pound range, a few king mackerel, bonitos and quite a few Spanish mackerel.
Bruce McGuigan of Captain Mac's Bait and Tackle on Route 54 says that the offshore waters are alive with fish. Though mako shark fishing is dropping off, hammerheads, duskies and tiger sharks are out there swimming around the 20 fathom break.
Surf fishing from Assateague to Cape Henlopen has been hot and cold. One day an angler can stand for hours and not have a bite. Then, the next day, just like last Monday, the angler can be standing knee deep in a school of bunker bait fish, with snapper blues jumping out of the water.
A light northeast wind usually gets these blues stirred up. Anglers also picked up sea trout in the surf with either mullet or squid strips.
Spot and kingfish have also moved into the surf and by the Ocean Pier. Bloodworms are the bait for these easy-to-catch panfish.
David Townsend of the Ocean Pier says that the kingfish and trout are biting in the morning hours, but that the evening hours are seeing even more fishing activity. One man hung onto a shark that was 6 feet long. It was so big he couldn't land it, even with the huge net on the pier.
Ocean City's biggest news is still flounder. Anglers are enjoying one of the most consistent seasons of flounder fishing. Though there are some anglers who complain that there are too many small ones, most are happy to be catching fish this year.
Last week, there was a return of larger flounder in the bay behind Assateague. Paul Vreeland of West Ocean City weighed in a 5-pound, 2-ounce flounder he caught there on a live minnow.
The Thorofare area remains a good spot, though there are many throwback flounder there. Phyllis Marle of Logenville, Pa., landed a 4 3/4 pounder from the Thorofare on a live minnow.
A new hot spot for flounder last week was the area of buoy No. 9 through buoy No. 13. on the east side of the bay. Charles Walker of Glen Burnie caught one of the largest flounder drifting past buoy No. 9. It went 6 pounds 6 ounces and was weighed in at Bahia Marina. And this wasn't his only flounder. He had a whole stringer of the flat fish.
Flounder fishing on Ocean City's U.S. 50 bridge has continued to good, though the evening fishing has slowed up a bit. Take a pack of frozen shiners and a couple of flounder rigs, and any novice can have some action as long as he or she follows the tides. The best tide is three hours before high tide and approximately two hours after the high tide.
If the flounder aren't biting, throw in a line close to the pilings and sport fish for small sea bass and snapper blues. They really aren't big enough to keep, but it passes the time and entertains the kids till the flounder action starts.