Marlin conditions give anglers a rare upper hand

On The Outdoors

August 13, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Marlin fishing is a pastime enjoyed by a relative few recreational anglers, perhaps because the cost of a trip offshore is high and in many years the chances of hooking up with an 80-pound white or a blue close to 1,000 pounds are usually slim.

This year, however, the waters over the canyons offshore of Ocean City have been hot for marlin, hot enough that the chances of landing a marlin are pretty good.

"There is little doubt we are seeing the best concentration of billfish in close to 20 years," said DNR Fisheries Service biologist Martin L. Gary. "In the general area from Poorman's Canyon to Washington Canyon, along the 50- to 60-fathom line, blue water, good temperature breaks and loads of bait have been present.

"All of this is contributing to the excellent billfish bite."

In the White Marlin Open, fished last week out of Harbor Island Marina, 402 white marlin and 21 blue marlin were caught over five days. The white marlin catch was a record for the tournament, which had its previous high of 314 in 1980, and 388 of them were released.

The final, official results from the open also included a world record payout of $543,891.93 (plus $13,400 and $7,550 for captain and mate) for a white marlin to Roger Viens of Crownsville.

The rest of the official billfish results:

White marlin: 2. Brandon Trevillian, Severna Park, $5,321.43; 3. Tony Battista, Ocean City, $99,065.93.

Blue marlin: 1. Webb St. Clair, Ocean City, $228,641.93; 2. Buddy Doughtery, Alexandria, Va., $99,315.93.

Top angler (top 3): 1. Scott Knoff, South Jersey Champion, 1,270 points, 18 fish; 2. Sandra Silman, Hatteras 70, 700 points, 10 fish; 3. Jud Black, Bluewater, 635 points, nine fish.

Top boat (top 3): 1. South Jersey Champion, 1,480 points; 2. Bluewater, 985 points, 3. Smoker, 925 points.

Rockfish season reopens

The last segment of the recreational and charter-boat fishing season for rockfish opens Saturday with an 18-inch minimum and limit of two per day. Fishing hours on Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are 5 a.m. to midnight.

There are geographic or bait restrictions during the "fall" season.

The season closes Nov. 30.

State record bluegill

Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County is arguably the best bluegill water in Maryland, and on Aug. 9 the impoundment produced a state record catch weighing 3 pounds, 7 ounces.

Sarah Brenneman caught the monster bluegill on a nightcrawler fished in the Sky Valley area.

B.A.S.S. Federation sweep

The Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation celebrated its 25th anniversary by sweeping the national club awards categories at the BASS Masters Classic last weekend.

The state federation, which has more than 1,200 members in 108 clubs in the state, was honored with the Federation Publication Award, Federation Special Event Award, Federation Youth Award and as Federation of the Year for the second successive year.

"Maryland is one of the most proactive groups in the Federation, and they lead the way in most cases when it comes to youth involvement, publishing and supporting conservation and environmental causes," said Don Corkran, national director of the Bass Anglers Sportsman's Society Federation.

Fishing updates

Upper Chesapeake Bay: White perch, spot and catfish over oyster bars and humps off the Patapsco, Magothy, Gibson Island, Chester River and Kent Island. Bay Bridge pilings also good for perch. Croaker appear to be moving south in response to changes in photoperiod. Scattered bluefish from 1 to 3 pounds above the Bay Bridge.

Middle Chesapeake Bay: Flounder numbers are increasing along eastern edge of the shipping channel from Buoy 84 south. Flounder also are being caught along channel edges in Eastern Bay, the western edge from Breezy Point to Deale and at False Channel below the mouth of the Choptank. Holland Point Bar is good for sea trout, spot and croaker. Cooks and Todd points at the mouth of the Choptank are excellent for large to medium spot. Hard bottom areas from Thomas Point Light to Hacketts continue to be excellent for white perch and some spot. Bluefish are scattered throughout the area, with sea trout often lying beneath them. Breaking schools of small blues, especially over points and bars, often will be mixed with schools of rockfish under the 18-inch minimum that goes into effect Saturday. For larger rockfish, try working lures under the breaking fish from the deep side into more shallow water. When casting to breaking fish, crimp down the barbs on your hooks for easier release of under-sized rock. If using bait, try circle hooks, which most of the time result in lip-hooked fish that can be easily released if necessary.

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