Anglers coming to Ocean City often think of fishing for one particular species of fish. Some anglers come only to catch flounder, while others are only interested in the elusive sea trout. Some care only about surf casting for large blues. This is the year of surprises. There is a variety of fish in the bay and ocean, particularly for so early in the season.
The Ocean City Inlet is one of those places. Anglers are catching the usual 2- to 4-pound bluefish with bucktails or mullet, the occasional nice sea trout at night casting bucktails with plastic twister worms, and a few tautog taken on sand fleas. Todd Vischer of Rochester, N.Y., while fishing the North Jetty with a sand flea for tautog, was surprised to pick up a 4 3/4 -pound sheepshead.
The party boat Tortuga out of Bahia Marina at 22nd Street has taken up night trips Monday through Friday. The boat is running 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. and anchoring just outside the South Jetty. The mate expounds that as long as you've got some sand crabs in the water for bait, something will be down there to eat it. Last week, along with the usual tautog, sea trout and bluefish, the boat caught and released a couple of trophy-sized stripers and a 5-pound sheepshead.
There have been an unusual number of speckled trout. Though their numbers seem to be decreasing now that the water temperature is rising, we saw more speckled trout in a couple of weeks then we usually see all year.
Flounder fishing in the bay has been fair to good. Few large flounder were reported. In fact, the biggest flounder we heard of was just over 3 pounds. To make up for the lack of "doormat" sized fish there were several 1- to 2-pounders reported along with the usual numbers of throw-backs. There were also quite a few bluefish in the 1- to 3-pound range in the bay.
We did have a couple of days when that brown seaweed clung to the bait and rig. Frustrated anglers pulled it off, and kept on fishing. Those were the days that the fishing was only fair. Flounder like clean water. When the brown grass comes along, it is best to move toward the Inlet. The flounder bait of the week was a live minnow or a live minnow swimming beside a thin strip of squid.
Surf fishing from Cape Henlopen to Assateague Island has been good. Gone were those "bruiser" bluefish we had a couple weeks ago. To replace them, we have had a generous mix of 2- to 4-pound bluefish, some flounder, a sprinkling of sea trout and quite a number of kingfish.
The kingfish, or whiting as they are also called, have a small turned-downed mouth. The angler needs to take off the 3/0-size hooks and replace them with No. 6 or even No. 8 hooks. A little piece of bloodworm threaded on the hook, or sandwiched with a tiny strip of mullet, squid or piece of peeler crab is a bait so tempting the kingfish cannot resist. Mullet or squid alone will often catch these tasty fish, which do not get much over a pound, but the preferred bait is bloodworm.
Surf anglers were surprised to hook into a much larger fish. Several dusky sharks were pulled from the beaches this past week. One man said that the dusky he caught must have weighed 35 pounds. Mary Brown of Buck's Place on the way to Assateague said that she weighed in one shark that went 18 pounds along with some kingfish that were over a pound.
The Ocean Pier also saw some of these 4-foot migrating sharks. The Pier also had good catches of flounder, trout and some excellent catches of good sized kingfish.
Henry Stegnerski of Wilmington, Del., broke the Delaware state record for tautog last week. He was fishing off Lewes near the Outer Wall when he landed into the 18.45 pound tautog. He was using a sand crab dressed with a piece of peeler crab for bait.
Another large tautog was weighed in. Steven Daniel of Upper Marlboro was fishing aboard the O.C. Princess out of Shantytown when he pulled in a 13-pound, 11-ounce tautog. He was using clam for bait.
Offshore sea bass fishing on the party boats has been up and down. The sea bass seem to be moving an open bottom. If one gets a good drift you can catch a load.
Offshore fishing for mako sharks has been incredible. The folks at Bahia Marina said the docks were covered with makos and blue sharks. They had 10 or 11 makos weighed in Saturday night, the largest going 273 pounds.
Bruce McGuigan of Captain Mac's Bait and Tackle on Route 54 also weighed in sharks most of Saturday night. Ron and Randy Weaver of Vergo, N.J., tired but happy, struggled in Saturday night with two huge makos. One went 319 pounds and the other 246 pounds.
Ron Coleman of Hydes took the largest mako of the week. He was fishing aboard the D.A.M. Z's with Capt. Ed Zimmer when they caught the 340 pound fish. It was taken on a bonito bait at the Hot Dog Lump.
Speckled trout among many pleasant surprises