Timing right for tuna event


July 09, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament will be held this weekend, and if reports from last weekend are any indication, some extraordinary catches could be brought to the scales at the Ocean City Fishing Center tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.

"The fishery for big-water pelagics [open-ocean species] is busting wide-open," Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Martin L. Gary said. "The first big eye tuna was caught over the holiday weekend, as was the first wahoo, blue marlin release and sailfish."

The tournament offers a $100,000 bonus prize to the angler who can break the IGFA world record (392.5 pounds) for Atlantic big-eye tuna.

Entry registration for the tournament, which last year paid out $105,000 in prizes without a world-record catch, closes today. For more information, call 800-322-3065.

Kevin Opper of Fruitland caught the first big eye of the season while fishing the 150-fathom line south of Washington Canyon aboard Capt. Craig Zieglar's Box Lunch. The 246-pounder was landed after a 4 1/2 -hour fight on 50-pound test line.

The first blue marlin release of the year was credited to Jason Laudsman of Owings Mills, who battled a 500-pounder at Baltimore Canyon aboard Capt. Scott Waltemeir's Water Dog.

The 50-fathom line turned up a 66-pound wahoo for Dale Venable of Berlin, and Capt. Jeff Curry of the Amnesia caught and released a 60-pound sailfish at the Hot Dog.

Fishing updates

Ocean City inshore: Croaker catches are increasing in the back bays. Sea trout remain reliable from the South Jetty, Route 50 Bridge and inlet piers. Flounder catches are numerous, but the great majority are under the 14 1/2 -inch minimum. Rockfish catches are still common, but most are under the 28-inch minimum in Maryland's seaside waters. Surf fishing has been good, with kingfish, small bluefish, sea trout, skates, dogfish and a few keeper-sized rockfish being hooked.

Ocean City offshore: While the first of several species were taken offshore over the weekend, bluefin and yellowfin tuna action continues to be very good, with yellowfin to 95 pounds taken from the 30-fathom line to the canyons and bluefin as large as 120 pounds caught at the 21- and 26-mile hills and the Hambone and Sausage lumps. Dolphin fishing is improving, and bluefish are numerous from the 3rd Lump to the Fingers.

Upper Chesapeake: The mouth of the Chester River and Belvedere Shoals continue to be the best locations for rockfish, and chumming is the best method for 20- to 24-inch fish. Trollers working edges away from pods of chumming boats might have better luck with larger stripers. DNR urges chummers throughout the bay to use non-offset circle hooks to reduce deep hooking of under-sized rockfish or those that will be released after a limit is caught. With water temperatures close to summer highs, rockfish now are especially susceptible to hooking mortality after they are released or to death caused by the stress of fighting against light tackle. The lumps along the western shore from the Magothy to Fort Smallwood are good choices for white perch and spot, as are the bay bridge pilings and the oyster bars in the Chester. Love and Podickory points continue to produce sporadic catches of croaker. Catfish from 3 to 8 pounds are on main bay oyster bars in 6 to 18 feet of water and in the Chester, Sassafras, Elk and North East rivers.

Middle Chesapeake: The Hill, Diamonds, Hook, Summer Gooses, Gas Docks and Buoy 1 off the West River all are superb locations for rockfish chummers, with limits of 28- to 34-inchers possible. Croaker fishing has turned on in the evening at James Island, Punch Island Bar, Holland Point Bar and the Chinese Muds, mouth of the Patuxent, mouth of the Choptank and in Eastern Bay. Bluefish from 3 to 5 pounds also are moving north, with some catches reaching 10 pounds. White perch are a good bet in most creeks and rivers over hard bottom areas as well as at Hackett's, Tolley Point, Holland Point and Eastern Bay edges.

Lower Chesapeake: Bluefish from 3 to 5 pounds and occasionally 10 pounds are abundant at the Middle Grounds, The Triangle and Punch Island. Chumming for rockfish continues to turn up quick limits at the Middle Grounds, Buoy 76, HS Buoy and Point No Point as well as in the mouth of the Potomac. The Honga River, Middle Grounds, Tangier Sound, Kedges Straits, Hooper Island Light and off St. Jerome's Creek all are good choices for croaker. Sea trout numbers are increasing, with the eastern bay channel edge and the mouth of the Potomac providing good action. Lots of action for spot in the Potomac and the Patuxent and over oyster bottoms.

Susquehanna: Rockfish, catfish and black bass action is plentiful. Sassy shads, peelers, crankbaits and eels are good choices for rockfish, while cut baits are best for catfish. Largemouth and smallmouth hitting crankbaits or minnows fished near islands or shorelines.

Tidal Potomac: Grass beds in the main river and lily pads fields in the creeks have been good choices for largemouth bass, but rains this week will again increase turbidity in the main river and might make the creeks the best bet.

Pub Date: 7/09/98

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