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Vol 48 | WINTER ISSUE | Jan 1, 2023

2022 Delmarva Year in Review Chum Lines Ship to Shore How to Catch Tautog Flounder Fishing in the Surf Fishing Glossary The Galley Issue Photos
2022 Delmarva Year in Review

Article by Larry Budd

The summer of 2022 will be one to remember for record catches and tournament payouts as well as one to forget for tough offshore fishing! Fortunately, the inshore and nearshore action was solid with good catches of flounder, bluefish and striped bass. Late summer also saw a nice cobia run off of Maryland and Delaware with most action just off the Virginia coast. So lets take a roll down memory lane with a summary of the Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Offshore reports. Each weekly issue dates are in bold.

May 4, 2022
After a very windy winter and spring, it was a cold start for May with bay temps around 55° and the ocean around 50°. Air temps at night were in the 30°s. Still there were black drum showing up in the surf, but not in big numbers. Rockfish were in the Delaware Bay to spawn and off the Rt. 50 Bridge in OC. Further offshore big tog were being caught on crab at the deeper wrecks. Flounder fishing was slow, but the first keeper flatfish was caught this week, even with 29 mph winds! Other first keeper fish reported were for black drum, bluefish and rockfish.

A new author was added to give us a view of the action in Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Matt Abell from Sea Hawk Sports Center. His first report shared info on productive flounder fishing on the inside of the barrier islands with the best bites during the last half of the ebb tide. Good action from the surf as well with black drum, rockfish and kingfish in the mix.
We also reported the catch of only 2 mako sharks reported to us in 2022. Don Mauzy headed out to the Norfolk Canyon and reeled in the mako and a barrel fish. This was before the moratorium on mako shark fishing was put in place by NOAA in June. Another change was made to regulations regarding summer flounder. Maryland, Delaware and Virginia lowered the keeper limit to 16” as of May 1st.

May 11, 2022
Wind was the word for this week, causing several days to be a washout. Anglers who did get out on the less windy days found success close to shore. Assateague Island on both the Maryland and Virginia parts were active with black drum, but less than weeks before. Stripers were in the mix as well with Ben Hostetter reporting a nice 37” rock. Morgan Mericle found a keeper 34” striper despite 20 mph winds. Big black drum were being found at Lighthouse Shoal offshore and tog were in the OC bay with Brian Reynolds landing a nice one from his kayak. The main channels in Ocean City were best if looking for keeper flounder. Targeting deep holes with a squid/minnow combo worked best.

Our man Matt in Virginia reported that black and red drum were biting on crabs and clams in more sheltered areas due to the winds. Flounder were being found from the VA barrier islands from Chincoteague to Quimby when cleaner water was found. Tog anglers working the last few days of the spring season got a nice early season surprise when they found they were catching sheepshead!

The cold offshore water kept the battlewagons at the dock but there were a couple notable catches this week. Calvin Malone caught a 5-foot shortnose sturgeon while fishing for drum and stripers off of Assateague Island. This one was estimated to be 30 years old and was released. A rare fish, especially this far north. In Delaware Capt. Brent Wiest set a new state record for tog with a 20.48 lb. blackfish he caught on his boat “Katydid”.

May 18, 2022
Two big stories this week, first was a spring nor’easter that sat off the coast for 4 days with devastating impacts to the beaches and extreme flooding on the bayside. Surprisingly, inshore fishing returned fairly quickly leading up to the other big story, opening day for sea bass. Unlike last year’s beautiful opening day, 2022’s big day saw foggy conditions that made going far impossible for many. Those that could get to Site 11 or the NJ/DE Reef were rewarded with limit catches. Big breeder drum were being caught in the Delaware Bay as well as the surf with many over 60 lbs. Matt Moffa won the Lewes Harbour Marina Joe Morris Memorial Canal Flounder Tournament with his 4.15 lb. flatfish.

The action for sea bass in Maryland was at the African Queen and as usual there were many boats to compete with! Despite the crowds and an increase to the keeper limit to 13”, many reported catching their limits of 15 per angler including several headboats. Flounder was the top catch in the back bays with the Rt. 90 Bridge being the hotspot. The surf had an abundance of bluefish and several lucky anglers landed some keeper stripers and a few remaining black drum.
The waters off Chincoteague were the place to be in Virginia for sea bass opening day with silversides and bunker bits being reported as best baits. Flounder fishing was particularly good in the shallows of the back bays. The inlets and surf yielded some nice black drum along with some rockfish and the first kingfish of the season arrived.

Offshore the fishing did not rebound quickly, in fact it got worse. It looked like the weather pushed the warm water we saw coming north a few weeks before back south. Sea bass fisherman reported the water in the Poor Man’s Canyon was 50°. Capt. Willie Zimmerman saw some warmer water pushing in behind the canyon and planned a trip that was 100 miles each way!

May 25, 2022
With Memorial Day right around the corner, the forecast looks to finally shepherd in some warmer weather into the 90’s, although briefly. Still, it offered several comfortable days to get out. More ‘First Fish’ were reported for the season for yellowfin and bluefin tuna as well as the first thresher shark. While the tog season closed on the 15th until July, the sea bass action more than made up for it with lots of limit catches and some real trophies showing up at the docks.

Anglers found the flounder in the Delaware back bays were more willing to chase baits than in past weeks. Craig Beard found a bucket list catch with a 5 pounder. Black drum were still in the suds and the number and quality of bluefish (up to 30”) increased nicely despite the significant beach erosion. Some rockfish could be found as well, but not in the numbers anglers were finding off the Maryland and Virginia shorelines. Those shorelines were producing lots of ‘over the slot’ stripers in the 40” to 50” range. Smaller stripers and blues were in the OC bays, especially around the Rt. 90 and Rt. 50 Bridges. Epic angler Big Bird Cropper had a good week landing keepers for stripers and limits of blues.

Virginia’s warmer water had the flounder bite jumping in the shallow flats in less than 10’ of water. The grass flats at Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds were great for red drum, rock and specs.

Offshore finally showed some action with the report of the first yellowfin and bluefin tunas. Capt. Skip Daisey and the crew on the private boat “Take Em” returned to Harbour Island in OC with a mix of yellowfins and bluefins to lock the ‘First Fish’ title for both in 2022. They had run 71 miles to a spit of warm water southeast of the Poor Man’s Canyon, almost halfway to the Washington Canyon to find the bite, but the bite was short lived. When other boats returned the next day, the water was cold again and no fish were found. The first thresher shark of the season was also caught this week by Capt. Zach Brenner and the crew of the “Hot Line”. They found the big 88” and 347 lb. thresher at the Fingers in 57° water.

June 1, 2022
As forecasted, Memorial Day weekend was gorgeous and we also saw the crowds increase on this unofficial start of summer. The sea bass bite slowed a little as the crowds put pressure on the closer wrecks. Sites further out like the Jack Spot and the DelJersey Reef fared better due to less boats. An angler on the “Morning Star” found a nice surprise while sea bass fishing, they reeled in a pollock. A rare fish for this area anymore. Flounder were being found in the bay behind Assateague Island with squid reported as the bait of choice. In Delaware, the water near shore was still a little cool, but anglers were having some luck at B Buoy. On the other side of the island, the surf was still giving up some black drum and ‘over the slot’ rockfish while most of the northern beaches were still closed or heavily impacted by the spring nor’easter. The 3R’s was open, and while it was narrow, anglers found an abundance of bluefish in the suds ranging in size up to 27”. Those looking for black drum headed to the Delaware Bay where several fish over 50 lbs. were reported.

Down south, the Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds continued to take the spotlight with good catches of red drum, specs and stripers. They seemed hungry as they hit on a number of different baits. The Seaside of the ESVA was still contributing keeper flounder with several reported in the 4-to-5-pound range. Fishing at the CBBT was yielding drum and sheepshead.
The water remains cool in the canyons, most in the low 60°’s with the southernmost canyon the Norfolk only warmer by a degree or two. There were warm water eddies in western waters around 100 miles or more. The crew of the “HotLine” made a long run well east of the Poor Man’s Canyon and caught the first Mahi of the season. They only traveled 250 miles and burned 250 gallons of fuel!

June 8, 2022
The drum have finally moved north past the Maryland and Delaware beaches and had set up show in the Delaware Bay to spawn. While there may be some stragglers it seems most stripers had moved north of the MD/DE line as they headed north for their summer home. The sea bass and bluefish bites however were full on! Sea bass were in the deeper wrecks on the 100-135 ft. range with the Great Eastern Reef and the DelJersey being the hot spots. The surf and bays of Assateague, OC, DE and the Indian River were raging with bluefish as several large schools moved into the area with many slammer blues being reeled in. Flounder in the OC Bays were consistent and the headboat “Angler” reported their first catch of an ocean flounder showing us that the water was getting warmer.

Down on the ESVA, the flounder were moving into their warm weather pattern with the most activity on the shallow water at the end of the flood tide. Kingfish were still in the surf along with some reds and a nice surprise this week was the arrival of a few early cobia off the coast of Assateague. The action remained strong at the CBBT for spanish mackerel and spadefish.

It felt like someone flipped a switch and turned up the offshore fishing! Some warmer water finally moved in but it was still a long way out, 75 to 100 miles. The “Bill Slayer” out of the Indian River Marina was one of the first to head out, running 92 miles to the southern edge of the Spencer Canyon. The trip was worth the ride as the crew got 5 yellowfin tunas in the box quickly and by the end of the day rolled into the marina with a limit catch of 18. The next day a small armada headed back to the 100-fathom line in the Spencer. Lots of boats caught their limits that day including the “Foolish Pleasure”, “Boss Hogg”, “Ro Sham Bo” and the “Restless Lady”. The “Reel Chaos” found 17 yellowfins 75 miles out in the Wilmington Canyon in 67° water. We also had the first reported longfin tuna from the Wilmington Canyon for angler Chad Tingle. So the tuna were finally here, just very far out. Other boats stayed in the canyons and were finding nice catches of blueline and golden tilefish in the Washington. The “Catching or Cussing” caught a 29 lb. snowy grouper there as well. Lastly, the first black tip shark of the season was caught, and the 373 lb. monster set a new seasonal heavy as well.

June 15, 2022
Consistent warm and mild weather made for lots of opportunity to get out fishing and anglers made the most of it across Delmarva. Also, a much anticipate milestone for the offshore community was achieved as angler Kevin Gibbs caught and released the first white marlin of the season in the Baltimore Canyon while fishing on the “Wrecker”. It was Kevin’s first white marlin release as well!

The pressure on sea bass finally hit a tipping point after weeks of anglers working the wrecks. There were lots to catch, but limited keepers. Again, the hot spots were deeper areas like Site 10 and the African Queen, however those that worked lesser known wrecks had better luck. Ribbonfish were also active and were large compared to past years.
Flounder were moving inshore with good action at A&B Buoys and the African Queen as well with several fatties over 6 lbs. The bay behind Assateague remained the spot for flounder in the bays. The surf action was consistent, but hard to get a keeper. DE beaches saw flounder and bluefish and a 39” cobia being caught at the 3R’s. The MD beaches in contrast were quieter with a few black drum being reported and some reds down near the VA line. The ESVA continued to enjoy flounder from the shallows around the barrier islands and inlets as well as more anglers working the nearshore wrecks.

Offshore saw consistent action for yellowfin tuna as well as the afore mentioned first white marlin. The “Rhonda’s Osprey” also released a white on the same day in the Wilmington, but after the “Wreckers”. The tuna were a little closer now, in the Baltimore and north Wilmington Canyons and the action cooled a little bit from limit catches to high single digit fish in the box. The water was ranging from the mid 60°s to low 70°s across these canyons. Some notable catches were from the “Bill Slayer” with a 75 lb. yellowfin, the “Hooked Up” with an 80.6 lb. tuna and the “Spring Mix” with a 243 lb. bluefin that had lost its tail to a shark at the boat! That one set the record for Heaviest Bluefin and remained unchallenged for the rest of the year.

Under the ‘First Fish’ category, several were added this week. The first bigeye tuna was caught on the private boat “HotLine” that was pulled from the Baltimore Canyon in a patch of 72° water. The first swordfish of the season came to us from the crew of the charter boat “Espadon” from the Poor Man’s Canyon.

June 22, 2022
This week saw strong west winds and warmer temps. While the latter made the water warmer and improved the inshore action, the biting flies from the west winds were unbearable! The back bays in both DE and MD turned on for flounder. There was good action in the DE Bay with limited keepers while the deeper parts of the OC Bays continued to produce decent keepers. The offshore wrecks in DE like Site 11 and near A Buoy were hot for keeper ocean flounder and while sites off Ocean City were active, keepers were hard to find. Likewise, the sea bass bite for keepers across the region slowed. Like flounder there was a lot of action, but anglers had to work through many throwbacks and ribbonfish to find some keepers. The ribbonfish were as thick as anyone could remember and becoming quite a nuisance. The bluefish run made up for the other slowdowns with one of the best seasons seen in years. They were everywhere, on the wrecks, in the surf and in the bays.

Sheepshead were showing up in both the OC and Indian River Inlets including a 27.5 lb. convict caught by Jo Fishers that was close to a DE state record.

The hot action in the ESVA was ‘the man in the brown suit’. The cobia bite was on fire as angler Russ Garufi reported boating 12 in one day off Cape Charles with a few over 50”. The action was thick all the way down to the CBBT.

Those strong west winds kept most of the offshore boats in their slips for the weekend and even delayed the Tuna & Tiaras Ladies Tuna Tournament for a week. The first blue marlin release for 2022 was from the “Rhonda’s Osprey” in the Poor Man’s Canyon. Before the blow, the only tuna bite was yellowfin and that slowed down with many undersized fish in the mix. The “Shorebilly” reported on one trip this week to the Poor Man’s that they caught 29 tuna, but only 5 were keepers! Tilefish were abundant in the Baltimore Canyon, mainly golden tiles. Some ‘by-catch’ mahi were being caught by those trolling for tuna that were mainly schoolies. A notable catch for this week was a barracuda caught at the 000’s. Capt. Scott Stapleford could only remember seeing 1 or 2 in our waters.

June 29, 2022
It was the weather week we had been waiting for all season and just in time for the 4th of July! There were several days of fair winds and waves and only a couple days of blow. There were also 2 inshore and 2 offshore tournaments running concurrently over the weekend! Offshore there was the Tuna & Tiara’s Ladies Tuna Tournament. The Ocean City Marlin Club held their 43rd Annual Small Boat Tournament with inshore and offshore calcuttas. Additionally, there was the 7th Annual Kid’s Catch All Tournament at the Indian River Marina and the 4th Annual Fish N Paddle Saltwater Slam Kayak Fishing Tournament!

The keeper action inshore, nearshore and offshore did not match up to the nice weather. Delaware anglers reported catching 8-10 sea bass before getting a keeper. The headboat “Angler” out of OC reported catching keeper knotheads harder to find, but the flounder was improving. The same was reported from DE anglers. Spanish mackerels and snapper blues were thick at the Fenwick Shoals. Cobia were also being hooked at the Shoals just south of the OC Inlet. It was at Kelly’s Reef also south of OC that angler John Stackhouse paddled his kayak to find a 46.25 lb. cobia that one 1st Place in the Fish N Paddle Saltwater slam! A few sheepshead were being found at the Ice Breaker in the DE Bay and at the OC Inlet.

The ESVA told a different story however! Limits of flounder were being caught from depths of 5-15 feet of clear water in or near the inlets of the barrier islands. Big fatties were also found at reefs like the Blackfish Banks off Chincoteague. Cobia were commanding most of the attention in the lower Chesapeake Bay from the CBBT north to the lower reaches of the Pocomoke Sound. Surf fishermen across Delmarva were finding kingfish, and the occasional croaker.

Offshore action was dominated by two tournaments. First up was Tuna & Tiara’s on Friday/Saturday. The bite was to say the least, tough. Each boat to the scales only brought on qualifying fish with the “Game Changer” taking top honors with a 54 lb. yellowfin. Offshore anglers in the OCMC Small Boat Tournament found similar conditions for their Saturday/Sunday event. Top honors there went to “Team Moritz” for a 66.6 lb. yellowfin they raised east of the Baltimore Canyon. In the Mahi Division, there were only 2 qualifying fish weighed with 1st Place going to Joe Roberts on the “Hump’n Along” with a 20.6 lb. dolphin from the Norfolk Canyon. The IRM Kid’s Catch All did have a Tuna Division and it was 10 year old Francesca Gessler that took 1st Place with a 49 lb. yellowfin from the Wilmington Canyon. Less than a handful of billfish releases were reported in or outside of the tournaments.

July 6, 2022
Unlike the week prior, the nice weather over the 4th of July weekend proved to be very productive offshore and inshore. There was good tuna action in the canyons and anglers were kept busy inshore and in the bays with lots of action.
The African Queen, Bass Grounds, A Buoy and the Old Grounds proved to be good locations for limit catches of flounder as well as decent sea bass catches. There were bluefish in the mix as well as a few false albacore. One angler on the headboat “Ocean City Girl” even caught an 80 lb. bluefin tuna!

Flounder were abundant in the OC Bays as well. Up till now they were concentrated at the south parts but were now spreading out to the northern parts near the Thorofare and further north. The back bays in DE as well as the Lewes Canal were yielding nice flatfish and limit catches.

In the bays, the Rt. 50 Bridge was the spot for bluefish and undersized rocks. Sheepshead were active in the DE Bay at the Ice Breakers where Grady Falgowski found a 10 lb. convict. That’s a big fish. Cobia were still hitting by the CBBT, but the action had cooled. There were still plenty of kingfish and sheepshead to keep everyone busy.

The inshore wrecks off the ESVA were getting a lot of attention with anglers targeting a mixed bag of spadefish, triggers, ribbonfish, flounder and even tog now that the season had reopened.

Offshore the action was mainly in the Poor Man’s and Washington Canyons with water temps now ranging from 70° to 75°. Anglers saw a full range of tunas being caught with many boating double digit yellowfins. Bigeyes were in the mix too. Notable catches were from the “Playmate” with a 219 lb. eyeball from the Washington Canyon and the “Top Dog” with a 243 lb. bigeye from the Hambone that was the heaviest caught to date. We also saw something of a rarity up to this point in the year, a nice bluefin tuna. The “Carol’s Teakettle” rolled into Sunset Marina with a chunky 132 lb. blue they caught at the Hambone.

While billfishing had been slow to this point, there was some action this week. Several blue marlins were caught and more released. The “Big Stick” landed a 288 lb. blue marlin in the Poor Man’s and the “Reel One” boated a 340 lb. blue from the Washington that got tail wrapped during the fight.

Notable too was the first wahoo of the season being caught by “Chasin’ Tides” at the Hot Dog and the last two mako sharks caught by Tyler Enslin & Andy Swope were the last we would see for some time. The ICCAT lead moratorium on them was set to policy by NOAA and took effect July 5th.

July 13, 2022
The first big money tournament of the season, the Ocean City Tuna Tournament was held over the weekend. Despite high fuel prices and mediocre bite offshore, a record number of boats entered driving the prize money to a record $1,100,000! Inshore and in the bays, the flounder bite slowed down notably. Anglers had to work hard and move around to find a few keepers. As the water was warming, the inshore bite was moving to deeper water and anglers were dealing with a lot of throwbacks. South of B Buoy, the Bass Grounds and Blackfish Banks off Chincoteague were best this week. In the bays, top spots were the area by the Power Plant in the Indian River Bay, down by the OC Airport, the bulkhead at 2nd Street in OC and around the inlets to the ESVA barrier islands.

Sheepshead were plentiful in the DE Bay and the OC Inlet. Fenwick Shoals was hot with kingfish. The surf action was mainly shark and rays with small kingfish and spot mixed in.

Most of the offshore action was from the Tuna Tournament and the tuna of choice was the bigeye. Of the more than a dozen eyeballs brought to the scales, 8 were over 200 lbs. and most from the Norfolk Canyon. It was the “Reel Crazy” that took the top spot for Heaviest Tuna with the 275 pounder they caught on day 2 of the event earning $307,852. This was the heaviest bigeye to date but ended up being bested by a 276 lb. fish a few weeks later. The charter boat “Talkin’ Trash” took first place in the stringer division at 535 lbs. with 2 bigeyes in the set raking in the top tournament payout of $316,042. Most of the yellowfin catch was 1 to 3 fish per boat in the 45 to 65 lb. range. There were no qualifying mahi or wahoo weighed, however the “War Horse” did land a nice 55 lb. speedster, but they were not in that calcutta.

July 20, 2022
The summer was in full swing, the weather was great, and Delmarva was packed! The heat was settling in and it put a damper on the number of keepers, but the action remained heavy with lots of undersized sea bass & flounder. The inshore spots remained the Old Grounds, the African Queen and the wrecks off Chincoteague for sea bass, flounder, trigger, an occasional tog and of course nuisance ribbonfish. The Great Eastern Reef offered up some larger fish with less throwbacks as the bigger fish moved to deeper waters.

Paradise Grill in Long Neck, DE held its annual Flounder Pounder this week and had 800 anglers competing for one of the most lucrative flounder tournaments in the country. This year’s champion was Brandon Groce with a 6 lb. and 25.75” fattie that earned him $20,000!

Warmer waters also spread the flounder bite out in the bays. Anglers found flounder and some croaker in the deep holes of the back bays of the Indian River Bay and at the Inlet. Those in OC found success at the Inlet and in the southern bay north of the Rt. 50 Bridge through the Thorofare. The Inlets to the Barrier Islands in the ESVA continued to produce. Sea trout and small rocks were being pulled by the Verrazano Bridge and red drum were swimming in the surf off Assateague. Storm Cline pulled in a trophy sized 45” red there.

Some nice sheepshead were being found at the Outer Wall in the DE Bay. That’s where Parker Pastorius found his 10 lb. convict using sand fleas. Several other over 9 lb. fish were reported. A couple pompano were also being seen in the surf.
This week again was mainly about yellowfin tuna offshore. The best way to describe the bite was ‘picky’. Captains were split between trolling the canyons and chunking the inshore lumps.

The southern Poor Man’s Canyon was the most promising location on the troll and the Hambone for the chunk. Most reported being able to put mid-single digits catches in the box with average weights in the 50’s.

Billfishing was still slow with only a few boats making the long runs to find warm clean water. The “Blood Money” ran out well east of the Washington Canyon and went 3 for 4 on white marlin and released the first sailfish for 2022. The “Billfisher” took a similar strategy during the Ocean City Marlin Club’s Kid’s Classic Tournament running 98 miles east of the Washington as well and came to the scales with 4 white marlin release flags flying. They also released a sailfish.

There were all the peanut mahi one could ask for at the bass pots and anglers found some tunnys and bonitos mixed in as well. There were plenty of blueline and golden tilefish to be found in the canyons as well as trigger fish that made up for the slow tuna and marlin bite. Lastly, the “Roll Grove” took the top slot in the Wahoo Division during the Jimmy Johnson’s Quest for the Ring in Atlantic City, NJ with a 55.3 lb. speedster.

July 27, 2022
It was full on summer with hot and humid days in the 90°’s with storms in the evenings. While this made fishing uncomfortable for anglers, the fish did not seem to mind. Inshore action remained good for catching, however the ‘keeping’ side was more challenging as there were lots of shorts for sea bass and flounder. Deeper sites like the DelJersey, Jack Spot, and great Eastern were more productive as the fish too looked to find cooler water temps. The “Angler” was finding keepers up to 2.5 lbs. Jessie Normal landed a flounder of a lifetime at the Del Jersey that tipped the scales at 10.4 lbs. at Hook’em & Cook’em at the Indian River Marina. The doormat was 30”! Anglers were also finding that a good number of keeper triggerfish were being more cooperative.

In the bays, recreational boat traffic was making the water less clear, and the heat was driving the flounder to deeper holes. This combo made anglers have to work harder to find keepers as the bite slowed.

Sheepshead were a bright spot with the Outer Wall in the DE Bay remaining the primary spot. So many were targeting this delicious fish that sand fleas were sometimes hard to find. Resourceful anglers were raking in their own from the beach.
Yellowfin continued to dominate the offshore catch with lots of undersized fish, but also double digit and limit catches. Most of the canyons were productive for trolling and the inshore lumps like the Hambone in 20-30 fathoms were hot spots for chunking. Saturday especially saw an explosion of action with so many boats heading out. Most boated mid-single to low double-digit fish. Some exceptions were the charter boat “Marli” that had two limit trips of 18 and another with 10 in the Poor Man’s. The charter boat “Restless Lady” chunked butterfish at the Hambone to get 12 nice sized yellows in the box. This week also saw a new Heaviest Yellowfin for the season at 89.2 lbs. This one came from the charter boat “C-Boys” from the Massey’s Canyon. Another heavy record was set for bigeye. The charter boat “Wrecker” weighed in a record 276 lb. eyeball. This one would remain unchallenged and was the Heaviest Bigeye for the year. This week saw 3 bigeyes over 200 lbs.

Billfishing remained slow, however the private boat “Kilo Charlie” released 3 white marlin in the Norfolk and the charter boat “Turnin’ Fins” released the only blue marlin for the week in the Washington Canyon. That one was estimated at 250 lbs.

Lastly, Ryan Spillman set a new Heaviest Wahoo for DE with an 87 lb. fish he caught in Massey’s Canyon. The speedster hit on a purple & black high speed bullet head, and it also remained unchallenged to finish the year as the Heaviest Wahoo for DE.

August 3, 2022
As we turned into the first week of August, we saw our next big money tournament, the 9th Annual Big Fish Classic. This year’s event hosted at the Talbot Street Pier saw 90 boats entered and a prize money payout of over $1,000,000. Inshore sites saw ‘consistent’ action for mainly flounder and some sea bass with less shorts than previous weeks. The flounder were getting bigger with many limit catches and anglers were using Fluke Candy style rigs to great effect. It was also a nice surprise to still see that sea bass were still being caught, but most were landing only a few keepers per trip. The Old Grounds and the Bass Grounds were the spots inshore. The back bays up and down the coast as well as the Lewes Canal were the places to be for flatfish inland.

Anglers were also finding lots of triggerfish including some big ones. Kevin McNelis caught a 5 pounder at the Old Grounds, a personal best. The OC Inlet and Rt. 50 Bridge were a hot spot for multiple species. Sheepshead were on the South Jetty Wall, bluefish in the Inlet and big stripers were being caught at night at the bridge. One crew on the “Lucky Break” caught a 10 lb. bluefish at the Inlet and Nick Ager shared a 40” striper he landed at night at the bridge using a Fin-S Shad. Up north sheepshead were thick in the DE Bay at the Outer Wall and Ice Breaker with lots of citation sized fish coming to the docks. Alex Arters caught a 11.77 lb. and 25” convict he caught using sand fleas.

Offshore anglers started the week still chunking butterfish at the inshore lumps for tuna, but as the week progressed many went back to the troll targeting bigeyes and had great success! During the Big Fish Classic over 20 eyeballs were brought to the scales with 11 of them over 200 lbs. The “No Limit”s winning eyeball was 258.5 lbs. earning the crew $192,252. All the bigeyes this week came from the Wilmington Canyon. Those chunking for yellowfins were finding fish in the 40-50 pound ranges, those trolling had some better luck when they hit pods of fish in the 50-60 pound range. Most saw 2 or 3 per trip in the box, however the “Restless Lady II” was an exception returning to Talbot Street with 12 on ice.
Marlin remained elusive with only 1 white marlin brought to the scales during the Big Fish Classic. That one was from the “Boss Hogg” who started well east of the Wilmington Canyon and worked their way back to the shallows to find their 76 lb. winning marlin. All in they took home $225,000 in prize money. We heard of about a dozen releases overall for the week, way down from normal averages this time of year.

Swordfish were in the canyons in earnest with over 10 weighed at the tournament. The winner was 170.5 lbs. caught on the “Big Stick” in the Poor Man’s Canyon earning just under $100,000.

As in prior weeks, there were only a few blue marlin

Coastal Fisherman Merch
CF Merch



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