Ocean City has seen its first flounder. Bob Coolick, from Ocean Pines, picked up three flounder up to 16 inches in the Thorofare area last week. He was drifting in his boat with strips of mackerel. Another man had a catch of four the same day.
Barbara Glinka of Bahia Marina was surprised when a rental boat came in with three "keeper" flounder on Saturday. The anglers were drifting outside the commercial harbor with shiners.
The first flounder of the season are always caught in the deeper water. Live minnows, strips of squid, frozen shiners, or strips of fresh cut bait will all snare a flounder or two. The first ones are usually good-sized, though not as plentiful as we would like. Tide is important in the spring. Two hours before high tide, and two hours after the high tide is ideal.
Ocean City's flounder action has just begun, but in Virginia, the "run" is on. Wachapreague flounder fishing is good, with anglers catching their limit of 10 fish per person. Two hours before high tide, and two hours after the high tide is ideal.
Anglers drifting the waters at Quinby, Va. between buoys 3, 5 and 7 are having good catches of flounder. Chincoteague, Va. also "turned on" last week.
Flounder fishing remains good as long as the water stays clean. If we have a spell of windy, blustery weather, the fishing can turn off in a heartbeat. Pick your days, and always consult your tide chart before hauling the boat to Virginia. Jack Redinger, at Sea Hawk Sports Center, always has an accurate report on Virginia flounder fishing. Give him a call at (410) 957-0198 for the latest information.
The first inshore tautog were caught last week at the Indian River Inlet. These fish are white fleshed, good to eat, and sporting to catch. Anglers line the rocks waiting for the tide to slack before casting out into the channel for these fish.
Tautog are a bottom-feeding fish that like mussels, worms and crab. The all-time favorite bait for these fish are sand crabs and sand fleas.
The angler pushes the hook through the apron of the crab and out the shell. Many avid tautog fishermen use spark plugs to offset the price of sinkers. If you do not have a supply of old spark plugs, use flat or torpedo shaped sinkers. (These do not get hung up in the rocks so readily.)
Cast out a few yards beyond the rocks, and wait for the "tap-tap" of a tautog bite. The trick to tautog fishing on the rocks is to use heavy line, 25- to 40-pound test being the average pound test that anglers use. Anything lighter can easily chafe on the rough edge of an underwater rock when a hooked fish lunges for freedom.
Tautog are one of the smartest fish around. They can strip your hook of everything but an empty crab shell in a matter of seconds. When they do get hooked, they will swim quickly beneath a rock and land your sinker in a snag. It takes quick reflexes, patience and a tight drag to catch tautog.
Anglers fishing offshore wrecks are coming up with some large tautog. Julian Woods and Pete Messina from Millville, Del., caught over 30 up to nine pounds last week.
Captain Bill Verbanas, aboard the charter boat "Reelistic" had an offshore shark trip out of Indian River. The party caught 23 blue sharks.
The Ocean City mackerel run is still on. Though most of the party boats are not bragging of any spectacular days, the catch has improved. Apparently, the fish have moved a little closer to shore, but most of the action has been toward the Northern portion of the coast. One boat did extremely well near B Buoy, which is about 12 miles offshore.
Captain John Bunting on the "Miss Ocean City" had one extremely good day. He was coming home after an average catch when he saw a large school of fish on his recorder. He slammed the boat into neutral and shouted, "Drop 'em down, folks!" Everyone loaded up their mackerel rigs a couple of times, turning an average day into a superior one.
Whether the mackerel will still be here this week is anyone's guess. If the water temperature remains under 50 degrees, as it has been, the mackerel should linger another week. A few summer-like days and the mackerel may zoom north. Call your favorite party boat or marina for the latest fishing news. Mackerel can be here one day and be gone the next.
xTC When the mackerel are done, it means the water temperature is right for all the other fish anglers have been waiting to catch. Bluefish are usually nipping at the mackerel's tails by the end of April. And that's what avid surf anglers are waiting for.
Bluefish usually run off the surf in Ocean City around the first week of May. Before the blues hit the beach there is generally a run of sharks and blowfish. Blowfish, which seemed to disappear for a number of years, are coming back. These strange looking fish are good to eat, though somewhat difficult to clean.
Right now, the blowfish are quite abundant on the Outer Banks of Hatteras, which means they will be heading our way any time.