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Vol 42 | Num 8 | Jun 21, 2017

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Ocean City Fishing Report

Article by Larry Jock

The news that had the whole town buzzing last week was the decision by the United States District Judge announcing his decision disqualifying Phil Heasley and the crew of the “Kallianassa” from winning over $2.8 million for their white marlin in last years White Marlin Open. You can read more about the decision on page 67.
Outside the courtroom, it was an action packed Friday and Saturday of fishing in Ocean City with a good tuna bite in the Poor Man’s Canyon and a couple of white marlin finally being caught and released.

Last Friday, Ian Schwing on the “Fish Whistle” released the first white marlin of the season while trolling in 250 fathoms in the Poor Man’s Canyon. The “Fish Whistle” runs out of the Indian River Marina, but is a member of the Ocean City Marlin Club so Ian will receive the $5,000 award from the Club. With warm early season water temperatures, many anticipated the first white marlin of the season to be released much sooner than Ian’s. Last year, the first white was released on May 27th in the Norfolk Canyon by Andy Urban.

The first white marlin released by a boat out of Ocean City came in on Saturday when Dave Taylor unhooked one that attacked his trolled, pink skirted ballyhoo in 70 fathoms on the north end of the Poor Man’s Canyon. Since it was the first white out of Ocean City, Dave won $5,000 from the Town of Ocean City and another $6,000 from Fishermen United of Ocean City, a group of 6 businesses who put up the money when the Town of Ocean City was going to stop their award. The group is made up of Atlantic Tackle, Bahia Marina, Bank of Ocean City, Coastal Fisherman, Ocean City Fishing Center and Sunset Marina. In addition to the cash awards, Dave also won prizes from All Tackle Ocean City and Costa sunglasses from An Optical Galleria in West Ocean City. Congratulations to Dave and his fellow anglers, Chip Raynor and Tim Babikow.

We had 2 tournaments in Ocean City last weekend. The M.S.S.A. Tuna-Ment, grew to 55 boats this year (41 last year) and yellowfins caught in the Poor Man’s Canyon dominated the weigh-ins. There were a few bigeyes also caught along with a couple of bluefins. The largest fish caught in the tournament came in on Saturday when a 218.2 lb. bigeye was caught on the “FFMD” in 400 fathoms in the Poor Man’s Canyon. Water temperatures in the Poor Man’s stayed consistent throughout the weekend with boats reporting a range of 66 to 68-degrees.

Windy weather and rough conditions on Sunday turned the 2-day Ocean City Marlin Club Small Boat Tournament into a shoot-out with 24 of the 25 boats opting to fish only on Saturday. Of the 24 boats, we saw 14 show-up at the scale with mostly yellowfins in the box. A few had small bluefins as well, but we didn’t see any bigeyes at the dock. The final boat of the day was the “Vapor Trail” with a 60 lb. yellowfin that took top honors in the Heaviest Tuna Division. As expected, it was hooked on a spreader bar in 200 fathoms in the South Poor Man’s Canyon in 66.5-degree water.

When it comes to sea bass fishing you can never count out the “Jezebel” and they took the top prize again with a load of sea bass caught at the San Gil. They also won 1st place for Heaviest Tuna with a 1.8 pounder also caught at the San Gil.

The first boat to arrive at the scale was the “Joken” with a big, 14.2 lb. tautog that had no problem holding on to win first place in the Heaviest Tautog Division. The bruiser was hooked on a green crab at Site 11 in 68-degree water.

Tuna & Dolphin

As mentioned earlier, trolling in the Poor Man’s Canyon was the place to be for tuna on Friday and Saturday. Yellowfins, bigeyes and bluefins were caught anywhere from 200 to 700 fathoms with water temperatures basically hovering around the 66-67 degree mark. Although we didn’t see many double-digit catches of yellowfins, we did see quite a few boats returning with a handful. Small bluefins were plentiful with several charter boats reporting releases 20 to 40 “unders” after keeping their allowed 3 fish.
Dolphin were also caught in the Poor Man’s by boats targeting tuna. We didn’t see any monsters with most fish coming in around 10-11 lbs.

Sea Bass

The ocean reefs and wrecks have been hit hard since the opening of the black sea bass season on May 15th, so it isn’t surprising that most boats are struggling to get their limit. However, the flounder bite on ocean structure has improved significantly in recent weeks for anglers dropping larger bucktails tipped with belly meat, squid or Gulp! artificial baits.

If you are fishing in less than 100-feet of water, chances are you will find smaller sea bass. The larger fish are still hanging further offshore in 100-120 feet of water. The Del-Jersey-Land reef has slacked off in production but I have received numerous good reports from folks who headed to the San Gil and up to the Old Grounds, where the ocean flounder bite should really begin to pick up.

On Saturday, anglers on the charter boat, “Get Sum” ended their trip with 5 keepers in the box after drifting with Gulp! baits in the West Channel, north of the Rt. 50 Bridge. Their fish ranged in size from 18 to 21 3/4-inches


Flounder fishing in the bay was hampered by dirty water conditions, but over the weekend, fish were caught in the East Channel, both north and south of the Rt. 50 Bridge, in the West Channel, north of the bridge and in the bay behind Assateague Island, down by the Duck Blinds.


Lately, a few sheepshead have been caught by anglers fishing around the South Jetty. ?A week ago last Sunday, Gary Thomas boated an 11 lb. 4 oz. fish while targeting flounder around the rocks. Then, last Monday Ross Kendall caught an 8 pounder while fishing for stripers with a natural color paddletail. The following day, Ross was at it again, this time catching a 23-inch, 6 lb. 12 oz. sheepshead on a green crab.


A few cobia were caught last week. On Saturday, Steve Figiel caught a 32-incher in the East Channel, south of the Rt. 50 Bridge and Colin Savage hooked a 34-incher in the bay behind Assateague Island.

Upcoming Tournament

We have a rare weekend off for fishing tournaments out of Ocean City, but only a short distance away is the Indian River Kids Catch-All Tournament on Saturday and Sunday, June 24th and 25th. Like the Marlin Club Tournament, this is a great event for junior anglers, filled with competitive but fun fishing.

Until next week, I’ll see you at the scales!

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