Ever since the waters calmed down after Hurricane Bob, offshore fishing has been hot. One of the most exciting catches has been the longfin albacore. These fish, which most anglers call true albacore, are the most valuable of tuna -- they are the ones that are canned and labeled "white meat tuna."
Most of the longfins were taken in 100 to 200 fathoms of water on rigged ballyhoo or lures such as the green machine.
The big eye tuna was also in evidence last weekend. Gregg Schmehling of Ocean Pines fought a huge 335-pound big eye for 2 1/2 hours on the Remedy II. The fish took a ballyhoo in the Washington Canyon. Gussie Hill of Ocean City landed a 201-pound big eye, fishing aboard the Magic Marlin during the Ladies Invitational Tournament.
The offshore canyons are still seeing their share of yellowfin tuna and dolphin, along with a fair amount of white marlin. The cooler weather and shortening days stir the offshore fish into feeding frenzies as they sense it's almost time to migrate. Some of the best offshore fishing in Ocean City is in September.
Slightly inshore, the action is also hot. The Fenwick Shoal has seen a variety of fish. Anglers trolling or casting are still catching the Spanish and king mackerel. Anglers fishing the bottom with bait are hitting cobia, tautog, triggerfish and sea bass.
Boaters trolling from the Big Gull Buoy (5-mile buoy) out toward the first and second Lumps of the Bass Grounds are running into the Spanish mackerel and false albacore. Casting small spoons is best for these.
The third Lump of the Bass Grounds is also seeing king mackerel (which are taking lures or rigged ballyhoo) and also cobia. Father Jim Farmer of Baltimore landed a 53-pound cobia from the third Lump fishing aboard the Catch All. He was using a cedar plug lure.
On the inshore scene, the big news is sea trout. Gene Palese, a Baltimore city fireman, landed an 8 1/4 -pound sea trout from the south jetty on a live spot last weekend. Danny Sargent, Joey Collins and John Kerber of Pittsville had an excellent trout experience. They had 10 trout up to 6 pounds from the south jetty using white grub lure.
Trout are hitting from the sea wall and the Oceanic Pier, mostly at night. The U.S. 50 bridge also saw trout action last week. James J. Zawacki of Baltimore caught one of the largest -- an 8 1/2 pounder taken at night on a mirro-lure.
The sea trout tend to come into the bay and feed around the bright lights at night. Any pier or bridge where the lights are shining attract the bait fish that attract the trout. Jigging twister lures, spec rigs, bucktails, mirro-lures or grub lures all work for the feeding trout. Anglers fishing the new high tide have the best success, but any change of tide will do.
Flounder fishing in the bays around Ocean City was only fair this week. There was some action as the high tide started to go out. One of the largest flounder weighed in at 4 pounds 3 ounces. It was caught by Robert R. Andrew of Tilghman in the Thorofare on a squid and minnow sandwich.
The bulkhead at Third and Fourth streets held some surprises last weekend. Besides great spot fishing and strange-looking lizard fish, anglers also picked up flounder. Steve Puller of Millersville pulled in a 4 pounder caught on a live minnow while casting from the bulkhead. Dan Wiechecki of Mohnton, Pa., caught another big flounder from the same spot -- a 3 pounder taken on a squid strip.
The bay in Ocean City continues to offer great Norfolk spot fishing along with increasing numbers of croakers. The Route 90 area and the bulkhead close to 33rd Street have seen most of the action. The croakers take the same bait as the spot -- a piece of bloodworm trailed with a tiny strip of squid.
The croakers have not just been for anglers in boats, though. Those fishing the Oceanic Pier and behind the Convention Hall also got into larger croaker. Croaker must be 10 inches to keep in Maryland, and since these fish are spawning this time of year, it's good practice to return any unwanted fish.
Anglers fishing on the Ocean Pier are still picking up a good number of flounder, as well as a lot of Norfolk spot and numerous kingfish. Sea trout were taken from the pier as well last week, along with large sharks and skates.
Surf fishing in the area is picking up. Though there are still no blues of any size, sea trout in the 1- to 2-pound range have moved in, along with a number of kingfish and a few croaker. Spot fish are almost always in the surf, giving anyone with a piece of bloodworm on the hook a little action.
The sea trout have been taking the worm also, sandwiched with a tapered strip of squid or filleted mullet. Like the offshore fishing, the surf fishing is helped by the cooling weather and shortening days. The fish sense the need to feed. Any night where there is a slight Northeast breeze or a falling barometer, the fish will be even better.
All surf anglers need are bloodworms along with some kind of cut bait and the right hook size, such as a No. 6 or 4.
Fishing at the Indian River Inlet is seeing action on snapper blues on the incoming tide. At night anglers are picking up sea trout and stripers on bucktails dressed with a plastic worm. Soon, we should be seeing tautog action there.