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Vol 49 | WINTER ISSUE | Jan 1, 2024

2023 Year in Review Chum Lines Ship to Shore The Galley Issue Photos
2023 Year in Review

Article by Larry Budd

It was certainly an interesting year for fishing in 2023. Tournaments again saw record payouts; several state records were bested; the winds were relentless and the White Marlin Open paid out not only a tournament record prize, but the largest of any tournament worldwide.

All in all, the year saw a nice balance of fish caught with some species performing better than others. The year started with solid tog action. Offshore saw nice flounder and sea bass catches, inshore for flounder and bluefish. Notable for 2023 were the short lived yellowfin runs. In recent years when the bite got hot it could last for 4-5 days or a week. Last year saw runs measured in one or two days. White marlin were found in numbers greater than those of the past couple of years, but not matching the pre-pandemic seasons. Blue marlin put on quite a show in the early summer with captains reporting some of the best action they had ever seen in our area. In the weaker category were weakfish and striped bass. The latter fits that moniker mainly due to the reduction in what size anglers could keep. Cobia rounded out the summer season with a nice mid October run for about 10 days, and it was a December to remember with a hot near shore bluefin tuna bite like the one on our cover.

There was so much to 2023, so let’s spend a little time with a summary of each weeks Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Offshore reports. Each weekly issue date is highlighted in bold.

May 3, 2023

Unlike 2022, the winter and spring saw mild temperatures and fewer storms. By our first issue nearshore and bay fishing was already snapping with a strong run of black drum. Angler Christina Puglisi was on our cover with a 28 lb. black drum she wrestled in from the surf at 3R’s! The surf off Assateague Island was also hot with big blacks hitting on sand fleas, Fishbites and clams. David Moore and Morgan Mericle landed 8 big ones in one outing. Early morning or late afternoon were reported to be most productive with the best tide being an incoming one right after slack tide. Big blacks and red drum were also being found in the Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds. Big drums were not the only big fish in the suds, some heavy stripers were also in the mix up and down the coast with several over 40” reported.

The back bays were already active as well. In Ocean City, anglers were reporting keeper flounder every day. The Delaware Bay was a little tougher. Alex Neiss still found them landing 4 from the VFW slough in mid April and a few days later he and his crew pulled in 9 keepers from Massey’s Landing. The bays around the barrier islands on the ESVA also held keeper flatties in 3’ - 12’ depth range. These were good omens for sure.

The canyons remained seasonably cool with some reports of eddies in the 60°s just outside of the Wilmington and Poor Man’s Canyons. Readers also enjoyed some reports of fish caught by locals on their winter and early spring trips to Florida and South America.

May 10, 2023

Cooler air and wind moved in putting a chill on the bay flounder fishing with cold & dirty water, but seemingly it lit up the canyons! Tog fishing remained strong with big fish on the near shore reefs and wrecks as well as the Wall in the Delaware Bay. Smaller ones could be found off the Rt. 50 Bridge. Delaware saw some big ones, including a new record. James Milano of North Babylon, NY set a new DE State Record for tog with a 22.9 pounder he caught using white crab legs at an ocean structure. He was fishing on the charter boat “No Limit” out of the Indian River Marina.

The striper bite remained solid with lots of 40”+ fish being found in the surf up and down the coast. The Chesapeake Bay Trophy Rock season also opened that week with lots of fat rocks hitting coolers. Striper anglers did receive some bad news however as DE, MD and VA began to lower the regulations limiting keepers to 28” to 31”, a narrow band to be sure. Black drum also remained strong in the surf.

Sea bass season was still a few days away from opening and we were receiving reports of some nice fish being mixed in with the tog catch, a very good sign. Angler Anthony Carrieri reported the first sheepshead we heard of for the season from the Ocean City Jetty.

The ‘reel’ news of this week was the action offshore. We had expected to share when captains were planning to go out, instead we had several ‘First Fish’ reports. This included the first bigeye of the season caught by Jeff Rosenkilde on the “Full Service”, a 95 lb. tuna that was on the cover. Owner Brendan Barbey saw a warm water eddy of about 60° forming in the Baltimore Canyon about 60 miles out in 300 fathoms. This one hit on a tried-and-true skirted cedar plug as they were setting the spread first thing in the morning. That was not the only eyeball that hit the scales that week. The crew on the “Pier Pressure” put a 113 lb. tuna on the scales at the Ocean City Fishing Center. Despite a very late start due to trailer problems, they ran out to the Poor Man’s Canyon and hooked up just as the sun began to set. Another tuna species had its First Fish catch of the season. The “Kilory” landed the first yellowfin for 2023. It was 36” and about 30 lbs. and found outside of the Poor Man’s Canyon. It was their only bite for the day. And as if two pelagic first fish reports for the 2nd week of May were not enough, the crew on the charter boat “Talkin’ Trash” landed the first mahi of the season. They were tile fishing and had 9 goldens in the box when they spotted a nice weed line and a couple mahi. Angler Brad Hubbard snagged one earning the First Fish title.

May 17, 2023

Opening day for sea bass season happened this week on Monday. It was not a strong opening day like in 2022 as the weather was sporty and it was a weekday. Still, many ventured out. One of the first to the docks was the “Bet Sea”. They started at the Great Eastern Reef but did not have much luck. A short move 7 miles east to the Fingers changed that catching their 2 man limit of 30 in 21 fathoms. Angler Michael DiPalma, Sr. also snatched the title for sea bass First Fish! The Marine Electric was another popular spot and while not as many were caught, they seemed to be larger.

The striper and drum bite continued this week off the beach with some reds in the mix, while warming temps reinvigorated the flounder bite in the back bays. Anglers were still pulling in 40”+ rocks from up and down the shore as they migrated north. It was some of the best fishing seen in years. Tryan Stoltfus managed to catch a nice sized keeper rock just before the new limits went into effect. He was fishing near the bullpen on Assateague Island using sandfleas. Joe Pruitt caught a real trophy from the suds, a 50.5” striper using sand fleas and clam. Not many anglers can say they caught a rock over 50”s, let alone from the beach. Anglers on the ESVA were finding red & black drum off their western shore as well as specs. Soft peeler crabs & peelers did the trick.

For flounder in Maryland, the hot spots were the Inlet and adjoining channels. Deeper locations like by the airport and Thorofare were improving, but slower than ones closer to the Inlet. In Delaware anglers were preparing for the Joe Morris Memorial Lewes Canal Fishing Tournament and the canal did not disappoint with a mix of keepers and undersized fish being caught. Anglers at the Cape Henlopen Pier were also finding good luck with keeper flounder.

The spring tog season closed on the 15th, but it finished strong. Several anglers reported heavy action at the near shore wrecks with many reports of fish in the double digits. The headboats “Angler” and the “Ocean City Girl” both reported great end of season tog trips with several double digit fish as well.

Deeper in the back bays anglers were finding bluefish and weakfish. Down by the Verrazano Bridge was the hot spot.

Offshore was a blow out for most of the week. The warmer water had also pushed east to 100 miles or more, so most captains did not venture out.

May 24, 2023

Memorial Day was upon us and Mother Nature gave us mostly ‘sporty’ days on the water, so the action was a little light; especially offshore. We got more reports on sea bass catches from the first few days of the season and a couple tournaments were held in the canal and sand.

Opening week for the sea bass season could only be called lackluster at best. Even the most seasoned anglers were finding the knotheads to be uncooperative and dealing with a lot of shorts. A few boats did manage their limits and most caught a couple keepers. A couple notables were the “Pole Dance” returning to the Indian River Marina with over 100 fish and the “Restless Lady II” brought in a 9 man limit of 135 fish to the cleaners at the Talbot Street Pier. Wayne Small caught a 21.5” and almost 6 lb. sea bass while fishing on the headboat “Morning Star”. The Great Eastern Reef was again the spot to be.

Flounder were being caught broadly across the area. In Delaware the deeper inshore wrecks were producing larger fish. The Inlet and channels around the VFW were productive in the Delaware Bay. Shawn Hastings however did find a 22” and 2.5 lb. flattie in the Indian River Bay. Lewes Harbour Marina held the Joe Morris Memorial Lewes Canal Flounder Tournament and saw over 400 anglers enter to fish and raise money for cancer research. It was Monica Powell who took the top spot with a 4.93 lb. fattie besting the next closest fish by almost a pound. Closer to the Inlet remained the best place in Ocean City and some quality fish had moved north into the Thorofare. The high winds turned the water dirty on the ESVA putting a real hurt on flounder down there.

A few big rocks and drum were still in the surf, but fewer than the weeks before as the spring migration came to a close. There was still good action for drum at the CBBT. Ed Balcerzak made a trip south to the bridge/tunnel and caught a 12 drum on a slack tide including one at 35”.

The bluefish bite was picking up and with larger fish, some in the mid to low teens. Some nice weakfish were caught in the Ocean City Bays including a 28” one caught by Andy Ralston that weighed 6.5 lbs. He was fishing the southern Ocean City Bay on the charter boat “Lucky Break”. Old Inlet Bait & Tackle held their “Cast for a Cure” surf fishing tournament to raise money for cancer research. Team ‘DMS’ or Delaware Mobile Surf Fishing took top honors earning 120 points. The real winner was breast cancer research with $10,000 raised.

May 31, 2023

Weather this week determine whether anglers were fishing or not! A strong and steady northeast wind ruled most of the week making near shore and offshore unmanageable for most of the days. Fishing in the bays and inlets provided lots of opportunities for action and keepers. A very few braved the weather in the canyons and found some great catches.

Sea Bass fishing was very limited due to the weather. Headboats like the “Angler” and “Judith M” got out only a few times. Capt. Chris Mizurak on the “Angler” did comment that the quality and size of the knotheads was improving over those of opening week. Hook’em & Cook’em at the Indian River Marina reported a 4.5 lb. sea bass caught on a private boat setting a new Heaviest Fish for Delaware for the season to date.

Closer to shore anglers were still finding big black drum. The really huge ones were in the Delaware Bay, and lots of good-sized fish were still being pulled from the surf. The beach was also the place to be for rockfish, big rockfish, as was the Ocean City Jetty. We had many reports of fish over 40”. With the regulations for keepers now at only 28” - 31”, only a lucky few found their way into coolers.

Flounder were more active in the back bays, mainly in Maryland. The East & West Channels and the Thorofare were producing nice fish in the 16” - 19” range. Old Inlet Bait & Tackle starting to see flatfish show up in back bays of Delaware. Shawn Hastings came in with two of the first for the season with the largest at 22” and 2.5 lbs. Cape Henlopen Pier was productive with anglers catching 2 or 3 keepers a piece. In DE though, the Lewes Canal was the place to go this week. Several nice fish were landed including the one Connor Lucey caught on a live minnow. He checked into Lewes Harbour Marina, and it tipped the scales at a heavy 4.95 lbs.

Bluefish were more in the mix as well being found in the suds, at the Indian River Inlet and around the Rt. 50 Bridge. The largest for the week was 11 lbs. from the bridge.

Several good sized weakfish were found in the bays behind Assateague Island and the Indian River Inlet. Steve Gurczenski showed up at Hook’em & Cook’em with a whopping 21” and 4.5 lb. weakie! Some sharks were being caught only a few miles offshore. A junior great white was released 4 - 5 miles out and a nice spinner shark was caught and released from the surf at Assateague.

Most captains were watching the weather and the surface temperature charts. The “Primary Search”, known for fishing early in the season was one of those. They found a day where the weather was tolerable and headed out at 3:30AM so they could fish at first light. You have to love when a plan comes together because they hooked up right as they set lines in 250 fathoms of the Baltimore Canyon. At one point they had 10 lines tight and managed to return to Sunset Marina with 7 bigeye tuna in the box. Capt. Austin Ensor shared that there were yellowfin biting too, but he had no more cooler space!

June 7, 2023

The temps were unseasonably cool and the NE winds continued into a 3rd week! The much anticipated and rewarded first white marlin of the year was caught, the tuna action in the canyons was hot and a new offshore tournament launched. Closer to shore the sea bass were still finicky, and some ocean flounder found their way over the rails. Inshore the bay waters were warming helping the bite.

Larger, keeper sea bass were still further out with the Great Eastern and Jack Spot being the hot spots. Closer in the action was there, but most at places like the African Queen were undersized. Even at the deeper sites, anglers were averaging 10 keepers a trip. Capt. Rich Shoaff on the headboat “Judith M” reported most of their keepers were in the 1.5 lb. to 2 lb. range.

The Thorofare was still hot in Ocean City for flounder with several reports of limit catches. The DE bays were not yet active even though a few keepers made their way in, however the Lewes Canal continued to rule as the place to be. Live minnows and Gulp were best this week.

The drum and rock bite in the surf slowed as the waters warmed. Surf fishermen were finding spot now and smaller bluefish up and down the shore. The Bahia Marina held their Blues for DU Tournament with local Shaun Flaherty taking 1st place for a 12.1 lb. bluefish he caught off the south Ocean City Jetty.

The Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds held reds, specs and rocks in the grassy shallows and anglers at the CBBT were catching some of the first cobia of the season.

The canyons lit up with lots of tuna action, the afore mentioned first white marlin as well as the first blue marlin and several new Heaviest Fish including bigeye, bluefin, yellowfin and mahi! Capt. Chris Huk on the charter boat “Restless Lady II” were trolling for tuna on June 2nd on the west wall of the Baltimore Canyon when Chris saw the white charging the boat from 40 yards off the starboard quarter. It started bouncing between two spreader bars before it bit on a flat line, a unique way to land a marlin. Chris’ dad Joe Huk was on the rod and made quick work of getting the fish to the boat as it ran straight in. It was estimated at 72” - 23” and 70 lbs. and earned Joe serious bragging rights for first white of the season. They also managed 7 yellowfins in the box.

The private boat “Kilo Charlie” broke from the pack and headed 72 miles north to the Wilmington Canyon. They were rewarded with a limit catch of 18 yellowfins. The “Full Service” was not to be outdone returning to Sunset Marina with 23 yellowfins in the box, one short of their limit. They headed south to the tip of the Washington Canyon in 100 fathoms and had tight lines from the moment they put lines in. Cedar plugs with a skirt did the trick all day!

The first Battle for the Buckle was held with sponsor Pure Lure’s Brendan Hanley taking top honors for heaviest tuna with a 164 lb. bigeye caught just north of the Baltimore Canyon. The Heaviest Stringer came from the charter boat “Game Changer” with 5 yellowfin with a combined weight of 172.5 lbs.

June 14, 2023

The weather was mixed as the week started beautifully with low winds, but by week’s end smoke from Canadian wildfires permeated the air creating a dystopian landscape. Fortunately, the only impact this haze had on anglers was to cause them to slow down on their trips offshore. Sea bass remained consistent with anglers averaging 10 keepers a trip with a few hitting their limits of 15. The headboat “Judith M” reported several limit days on their 8 hours trips. Anglers also saw increases in the catch of flounder on the inshore wrecks and reefs, but most were undersized.

The inland bays were continuing to warm and several headboats started their 2 hour bay trips in Ocean City finding keepers in the Thorofare and the bay behind Assateague. The Lewes Canal was still the place for inland flounder in DE. Jake Wilkins caught a 26” flatfish there that weighed 8 lbs. and 10 oz. to set a new Heaviest for the season in DE.

The surf action was beginning to wane with fewer rocks and drum being caught. The stripers that were caught were early in the morning or just after sunset. All were oversized. Several good sized rays were reported from MD beaches.

Tuna dominated the action in the canyons again. Surface temps were in the mid 60°s from the Norfolk to the tip of the Poor Man’s Canyon. Even so most of the action was in the Poor Man’s in 50 to 100 fathoms. There were many reports of 6 man boat limits this week. One that was notable was the charter boat “Boss Hogg” who had an amazing 3 day run bringing a total of 54 yellowfins to the docks at Sunset Marina. The “Spring Mix II” and “Pumpin’ Hard” also returned with limits after finding water in the 68° range. The bite did slow as the week progressed and we saw anglers switching to deep dropping with several nice golden tilefish finding their way ashore.

An angler got $5,000 richer this week after releasing a white marlin. Keith Garner was fishing on the “Bill Slayer” out of the Indian River Marina when he connected with a white on a skirted ballyhoo. While not the first of the season, it was only the second one we heard of and it was the first by a member of the Ocean City Marlin Club entitling Keith to a nice payout. The first blue marlin for 2023 was also caught by the crew of the “Rhonda’s Osprey” in the Poor Man’s Canyon.

Sharks were in the mix too. Our “Chum Lines” author Mark Sampson reported 2 encounters with great white sharks on a single trip. The first was estimated at 13’ and about 2,000 lbs., the second at 10’ feet and 500 lbs. On another trip his angler caught a ~7’ smooth hammerhead on a fly rod! Rounding out the First Fish of the season for this week was the first wahoo caught by Josh Short of Smyrna, DE. The 53 lbs. speedster was in the Poor Man’s Canyon.

June 21, 2023

It was a good weather week inshore and off with only some afternoon winds and a wicked storm that blew through Delaware on Friday. A lot of boats got on the water. We saw the first offshore tournament of the season and the first swordfish for 2023 hit the scales at the Ocean City Fishing Center. The Bass Grounds were living up to their name with active catches of sea bass and the flounder were on the near shore wrecks and reefs in earnest.
Sea bass at the Bass Grounds were plentiful, but most were undersized. The keeper ratio dropped to 6-8 for a day. Larger jigs with clam proved a better choice for finding larger fish. Headboats like the “Judith M” out of Bahia Marina were still on their 8 & 10 hours trips and anglers were not as crowded as we were still in ‘pre-season’ before schools got out for the summer. The “Judy V” based at the Indian River Marina were seeing a good mix of sea bass, flounder and some triggers at sites 15-20 miles out.

Both bays were now active with flounder as warmer water pushed in. Both inlets as well were good spots for bluefish and smaller rocks. Luke Wrye was fishing the Rt. 50 Bridge and hooked a 33” bluefish despite having his lure caught in the net.

Offshore the tuna bite was thin, some nice shark catches were reported, undersized cobia were showing up and a surprise first swordfish for the season was landed.

The 3rd Annual Tuna & Tiaras Ladies Tuna Tournament held weigh ins at the Ocean City Fishing Center. 58 boats and 291 anglers battled some sparse fishing conditions to bring several bigeye and chunky yellowfin tunas to the scales. It seemed the bigger fish were in the northern canyons. The top tuna was a 183 lb. bigeye caught by the crew of the “Roncito”, beating 2nd place by over 100 lbs. They started in the Hayes and worked their way down toward the Wilmington where they hooked the winning eyeball taking an hour to land. The Heaviest Stringer went to the bunch on the “Pumpin’ Hard”. They had 9 yellowfins for the day from the Baltimore and the 5 heaviest weighed in at 191 lbs. Outside the tournament there were a few other bigeyes caught mostly in the Wilmington. Crews were hitting the docks with yellowfin tunas in the low single digits.

If tuna fishing was slow, billfishing was almost at a standstill. We only had reports of 3 blue marlin releases from the central canyons.

June 28, 2023

It was the week of the 4th of July and the prime summer season had fully kicked in. Lots of boats out despite some ‘on and off’ weather. There were a couple outstanding tuna days, but no billfish reports and only a few mahi. Some turned to target tilefish with a few nice goldens hitting the scales. Inshore the reefs and wrecks were hopping. Captains on the headboats “Judy V”, “Judith M” and the “Angler” all reported their crews getting limit catches of flounder. Sheepshead had also started to show up, mainly on the southern sites. Sheepies were also found at the Outer Wall. Flounder in both bays and both inlets also saw bluefish and stripers.

There were two tournaments to report. The 8th Annual Kid’s Catch All at the Indian River Marina saw a mess of young anglers bringing over 12 species of fish to the scales. The 5th Annual Fish N Paddle Saltwater slam also concluded. Over 60 anglers competed in this kayak only event. Tyler Clazey took the top spot with a two day stringer total of 31.7 lbs. for 2 bluefish and a 12 lb. striper.

The “Boss Hogg” graced our cover with an epic catch from the Baltimore Canyon. They set the spread in 70 fathoms of 70° water and hooked up early and often. By the time they got back to Sunset Marina they had 6 bigeyes, 13 yellowfins and a couple gaffer mahi in the box! The “Rhona’s Osprey” landed 3 eyeballs and 7 yellowfin in the Wilmington. The charter boat “Fish On” was trolling the edge between the Wilmington and Baltimore Canyons in 66° water and got covered up with 6 big hits. They miraculously landed all 6 bigeyes ranging from 138-191 lbs. The hot bite however cooled as fast as it came after some wind blew through.

The Delaware Bay was hopping with sharks. The “Top Fin” hooked 26 on one trip, getting 19 to the boat. The largest was estimated at 250 lbs.

July 5, 2023

As we rolled into July anglers found a great mix of fish to target, despite the increased pressure from the crowds. There were several great weather days and even a couple that made the canyons look like a lake.

While the sea bass bite had cooled a little, some nice keepers were still coming over the rails. Flounder became the primary target with the near shore reefs and wrecks yielding limit catches for many anglers. “On the Run” came back from Reef Site 10 with appropriately 10 keepers up to 22”. Red hake, trigger fish and cutlass fish were now in the mix and a lucky customer on the “Angler” reeled in a 39” cobia. At just 1” short of a keeper, it was almost our first cobia of the season. Further north, the Old Grounds and A Buoy were the hot spots. Closer in the Fenwick Shoals and 1st Lump became productive for spanish mackerel. Sheepshead were around the OC Jetty and Indian River Inlet. The convicts were also thick at the CBBT all the way up to the Tangier Sound.

In the back bay both inlets were good for flounder. The Thorofare, Massey’s Ditch and Lewes Canal continued to produce nice flatfish. For those looking for the man in the brown suit, the CBBT and lower Chesapeake was hot.

Tuna remained the primary catch offshore, however the days ran very hot or cold. The Ocean City Marlin Club hosted its 41st Canyon Kickoff over the weekend. 34 boats entered the fray with mostly 35-45 lb. yellowfins hitting the scales at Sunset Marina. One 219 lb. bigeye from the middle of the Washington Canyon from the “Fish On” did dominate as the only eyeball to the scales taking 1st Place, beating second place by over 160 lbs. At the time it was the Heaviest of the season but was shortly bested by a 221 lb. bigeye caught on the “Obsession” out of Bahia Marina. The Rockpile was the hot spot for yellowfin and shark bites!
All of the billfish reported were single fish per trip in the southern canyons in deep water. A lone blue marlin was released in the Wilmington by the “Loose Knot”.

July 12, 2023

Hot weather and low winds set the stage for some excellent fishing. The sea bass were getting beefier and the flounder were still snapping. It was prime season for sheepshead and croakers in the Ocean City Bay north of the Rt. 90 Bridge. Offshore remained challenging but a new Heaviest Fish for the season was set.

The Old Grounds, Great Eastern and A Buoy were the busy spots for knotheads and flatfish. Triggers were in the mix too. Action was consistent in the bays from the ESVA to the Delaware with both inlets and the Lewes Canal being most often referenced.

There were red drum and bluefish in the surf. Numen Bila reeled in a monster off the beach in Fenwick, a butterfly ray with a 7’ wingspan. Clams were still abundant for the raking in early season.

The week started with most of the offshore action in the Washington Canyon and expanded a little north to the Poor Man’s as the week progressed. Tuna was tight with most catches in the low single digits. The “Reel Passion” set a new Heaviest Bigeye for a Delaware based boat with a 234 lb. eyeball from the Washington Canyon weighed at Hook’em & Cook’em. Likewise, the “Bill Slayer” set the bar with an 86 lb. bluefin tuna they caught just 12 miles off the Jersey Coast. With a slow tuna bite, many turned to deep dropping and finding blueline and golden tilefish. The “Ro Sham Bo” landed their first swordfish of the season on an overnight trip to the Washington.

Some billfish were in the northern canyons. The “Kilo Charlie” ran up to the Spencer and released 2 whites. They also got 3 yellowfins in the box including a 94 pounder that set a new heavy for the season to date. Andy Drip spent an hour and a half fighting a blue marlin in the Wilmington Canyon and the “Roll Groove” released 3 blues and a white on the same day.

July 19, 2023

We were in full summer and mother nature reminded us with hot & humid weather that also brought fast and severe afternoon storms. The flounder action on the nearshore wrecks and reefs was insane with many anglers catching their limits. The Old Grounds was most productive with anglers using big baits to get big fish. A few hooked some nice red drum over 40 lbs. on their flounder rigs. The bays and inlets, while not as hot, were consistent in the deeper channels. Snapper blues were at the 1st Lump and clark spoons were snagging spanish macks at the shoals. Cobia were there too. Down south there was clear water ocean side on the ESVA while the Chesapeake warmed slowing the action.

The Ocean City Tuna Tournament dominated the offshore action. 74 boats entered and battled with lack luster action and very sporty weather. Despite it all some nice fish came to the scales from the tourney and elsewhere. The “Cabana” swept the event taking both the top stringer award and heaviest fish, the first time in the event’s 36-year history. They worked the edge of the Norfolk both days landing a single bigeye each day and 4 chunky yellowfins to make a 2 day stringer total of 763 lbs. Their eyeball on day one at 236 lbs. secured 1st Place for Heaviest Tuna. As only one of a few bigeyes caught that week, it was not the largest. That honor went to the “Ro Sham Bo” for a 246.4 lb. fish from the Washington. It set the record for Heaviest of the Season so far. While the Washington was where the bigeye action was, some like the “No Limit” were finding yellowfins at the inshore lumps chunking butterfish. One of their trips saw 13 in the box including one at 91 lbs. making a new Heaviest for the Season in DE.

The only billfish we heard of this week were two sailfish from the Norfolk in 1000 fathoms and a swordfish. The sword was a nice gift for Capt. Mark Hoos as he celebrated his 60th birthday. The 284 lb. fish actually hit on a tuna bait while the crew was drifting and fighting a tuna!

July 26, 2023

Another beautiful week blessed Delmarva with seasonal highs and humidity. Fishing in the canyons was still slow, but consistent at least with mahi making a splash. Big flounder continued to be the primary catch inshore with triggers, sheepshead and some of the largest redfish in years. The usual hot spots in the bays continued to be hot!

The Delaware Bay specifically saw an influx of action as the Paradise Bay Flounder Tournament kicked off. The top 2 fish were both 5.9 lbs., however Luke Horney’s was a quarter inch longer giving him the top slot.

The Ocean City Marlin Club held its 19th Annual Kid’s Classic with fish of all types and sizes getting weighed at Sunset Marina. 1st Place for spot went to the “Partnership” at 2 lbs. 2nd Place was a 9 way tie! Notable was the Unusual Catch which was a gaff that the “Restless Lady” had lost fighting 12 bigeye earlier in the week!

The ESVA saw slow action in the Chesapeake, however the Atlantic surf held kingfish and some sport spotails.

While billfish were elusive, the “Reel Chaos” was on the cover with 3 white marlin they managed to release during the Kid’s Classic. The “Max Bet” also released 3 during the event. All from offshore of the Poor Man’s in 900 fathoms.

Tuna were picky, but consistent with a mix of bigeye and yellowfins. Breaking the bank was the “Restless Lady”. She was at the 19 Fathom Lump headed to the Poor Man’s when 12 rods came tight, all bigeyes! Amazingly the crew was able to get 8 in the box with one launching the afore mentioned gaff out of the boat with its tail. Like the billfish, the yellowfins were offshore of the Poor Man’s. The “Sea Hag’ was there and caught a 156 lb. allison tuna setting a new heaviest to date for yellowfin. The mahi were in the deep water too and were the best catch of the week.

Another record was shattered when angler Jeff McCoy set a new state record in Delaware for a king mackerel. He was anchored at the Fenwick Shoals shark fishing when the big fish hit on a mackerel fillet (irony?). The 56” and 52.7 lb. fish beat a record set almost 30 years prior.

August 2, 2023

High temps, pop up storms and hot water were the headlines for th

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