Tautog make their fall appearance


September 11, 1994|By Sue Hayes | Sue Hayes,Special to The Sun

Fishing begins anew on Labor Day weekend as fish sense the coming of winter and the time to migrate south or farther offshore.

Schools of trout and croaker congregate one to five miles off the coast off Ocean City, getting bigger with each cool night. Last week, the fish were running on the small side. Anglers have been able to keep maybe one in 10 trout, but many of the croaker have been legal. Croaker must be 9 inches and the cruel limit is 10. This could change at any time.

Party boats from Ocean City were catching trout, blues and croaker right outside the inlet Thursday, but gale-force winds kept most of the boats in over the Labor Day weekend.

Most of our Ocean City breezes this summer have been from the southwest. This has kept the ocean water cool and the surf relatively calm. But last weekend, northeast winds made for some excellent inlet fishing. Al Kahler IV of Fenwick Tackle caught 17 bluefish and two stripers up to 31 inches on Friday night. he was casting bucktail jigs with plastic worms with only 10-pound test. He stated the fishing was "incredible." (Striper season is now open in Delaware for anglers who like to fish the Indian River Inlet. One fish, 28 inches per day, is allowed.)

Northeast breezes also stirred up the tautog at the inlets. Tautog, which prefer sand fleas or small speckled crabs for bait, were reported averaging 1 to 3 pounds. Anglers were catching number of them at both inlets. Tautog are one of those fish which bite best in the spring and the fall.

Boaters and anglers from the shore caught bluefish in the one to 3-pound range all weekend then the Ocean City Inlet. In northeast winds, the water in the inlet is protected and fishing can be very good. In fact, fishing in the whole area between the inlet and the U.S. 50 bridge remained good throughout the weekend, while the back bays become choppy and dirty.

The U.S. 50 bridge was good fishing this time of year. As the flounder sense the coming of winter, they slowly move out of the bay. On the outgoing tide, anglers have been catching members of keeping flounder from the bridge. Shiners, strips of squid and live minnows all work well.

Some anglers use live spot for flounder bait as well. Live spot makes good bait for big flounder and trout, but you need to aerated bucket to keep them alive. Spot are not available at all tackle stores either. Sometimes you have to catch them yourself with little pieces of bloodworm and tiny size No. 8 freshwater hooks. Spot can also be caught with an umbrella net baited crab or you can even catch a few in your minnow trap.

The Shantytown Pier had a good week on sea trout and snapper blues. Some of these blues were up to 5 pounds. Shantytown Pier is also seeing plenty of small sea bass and sea robins for the LTC small child to catch. Bait up with little strips of squid or small shiners on No. 6 hooks and the children will have a ball. For serious daytime flounder fishing, you want a larger hook. A No. 2 or No. 1 wide-gap hood on a double or single bottom rig with all 1 1/2 to 2 ounce bank type sinker will do. Bait up with shiners live minnows, spot or squid strips and cast into the channel. Work your bait slowly in with your rod tip down, right around the high tide for flounder.

The same technique will catch some founder on the Oceanic Pier as well. Anglers have had a fantastic week on the pier for blue and trout as well.

The Ocean Pier also had good catches last week, although the wind over the weekend made for some uncomfortable fishing Saturday and Sunday. The Norfolk spot are still there, along with number of snapper blues, some sea trout croaker, sharks, skates, ling cod and blowfish. Some flounder were also taken along with several stripers. Bloodworms tipped with a strip of squid are the preferred daytime bait for the spot, trout and croaker. At night, the answer is cut bait of any kind. Be sure to cut the mullet, spot or squid into strips for the best effect.

Surf fishing was excellent last Thursday and Friday on snapper blues up to 4 pounds. Anglers should be catching more and bigger blues as the September surf fishing season begins.

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