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Vol 42 | Num 21 | Sep 20, 2017

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Ocean City Fishing Report

Article by Larry Jock

Last weekend was a busy one around Ocean City docks with white and blue marlin flags flying, big wahoo hanging from the scale, flounder coming in from the wrecks and sheepshead still snapping at the South Jetty.
Let’s first start off by congratulating the Ocean City offshore boats that fished in the 39th Annual Marlin Club Challenge Cup. This event pits the Ocean City Marlin Club against the Cape May (NJ) Tuna and Marlin Club in a 3-day, billfish release event. Points accumulated by each teams top six boats determine the outcome and this year, our team really took it to them with 2,325 points versus their 1,725 points. The top boat in the tournament was the “Reel Joy” with Capt. Andy Helms at the wheel. Out of the 29 boats that represented Ocean City, the top six boats were:

1. Reel Joy - 525 pts.
2. Reel Chaos - 450 pts.
3. Billfisher - 375 pts.
4. Fishbone - 375 pts.
5. Buckshot - 300 pts.
6. No Quarter - 300 pts.

For all of the boats that competed in the tournament, Ocean City boats racked up 4,950 points versus Cape May’s 2,850. Congratulations again, to the entire Ocean City team!

Outside of the billfish releases recorded during the tournament, most of the action around the scale centered on big wahoo caught by anglers trolling in 75 to 100 fathoms from the southern end of the Baltimore Canyon to the northern end of the Poor Man’s. With an 88.5 pounder being the heaviest of the year, it looked like it was going to be tough to beat. Early in the week, the “Grande Pez” showed up with a nice one hooked by Noah McVicker at the East Wall of the Baltimore that ended up weighing 81 lbs. On Thursday, Capt. Frank Goodhart on the “Brenda Lou” flirted with the leader when they weighed an 88 pounder caught between the canyons on a Pakula plug. Then, on Saturday during the Challenge Cup, angler Danny Gough captured a 93 pounder on a naked ballyhoo in the Baltimore Canyon while fishing on the “Billfisher”. Right now, this holds the top spot for heaviest wahoo caught out of Ocean City this season.

There was also a big wahoo brought in on Saturday aboard the “Quick Draw”. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get an official weight on the fish since all of the scales were closed by the time they arrived at the dock, but on their spring-loaded hand scale, the fish registered 95 lbs. It was hooked by angler, Joe Reyes in 75 fathoms ,south of the Baltimore Canyon on a spreader bar.

Another notable wahoo bite last week came on the charter boat, “Marli” when they returned with 5 in the box on Wednesday. Remarkably, there were only 2 anglers on the boat and twice they had 6 wahoo on at one time while trolling in 65-70 fathoms in the Baltimore. Quite a day!

The marlin bite was right there where boats were picking up the wahoo throughout last week from the Baltimore down to the Poor Man’s. Although a lot of boats were frustrated by a lack of bites, quite a few came back with 3 or 4 releases and a couple boats were able to record higher single-digit catches.

The dolphin bite has been disappointing this season and the trend continued last week. The number of fish caught is definitely down from last year and we just haven’t seen big dolphin arrive at the scale with any regularity. I could probably count them on both hands the number of big dolphin we have seen this season and coming off of last year, when the dolphin bite was strong and we saw quite a few big fish, this years lack of action was very noticeable.

Finally, a 164 lb. swordfish was caught during the day on Saturday by angler Tom Arnot on the “Fishbone”. On only their second drop, the big swordfish ate a squid in 1,400 feet of water on the north end of the Poor Man’s Canyon.

Inshore, the flounder bite was hit-or-miss. Several anglers reported that the bite has gotten worse since the last blow, but we did see some nice catches come in from those fishing at the Bass Grounds, the African Queen and the Great Eastern Reef. Everyone reports an increase in the number of throwbacks found on a variety of ocean structure. The same reports came in on sea bass with the best bite coming in from the Great Eastern Reef.

Speaking of inshore flounder fishing, the M.S.S.A. Flounder Tournament was held over the weekend and the top two fish came from Site 10 and a spot just outside the Shipping Channel. Russ Coward took first place with a 30-inch, 10.6 lb. flattie and Kern Ducote was right behind with a 10.2 pounder hooked on a Gulp artificial bait in 88-feet of water outside the Shipping Channel.

Out on Fenwick Shoal over the weekend, reports came in regarding a large number of cobia seen cruising the surface. One report came in estimating close to 40 nice size fish separated into 4 different schools. After a couple of years of great cobia action right off our coast, this year would have to be considered a disappointment. Maybe after the effects of Hurricane Jose blow through, they will have worked their way closer to shore where you can legally catch them in state waters.

In the bay, the star of the show continues to be sheepshead with a good bite around the South Jetty for anglers fishing with sand fleas. The largest one of the year was caught early in the week by Jake Allnutt when he boated a 14 lb. 13 oz. beast after hooking it on a chunk of clam. In addition to Jake’s big fish, several other sheepshead, weighing over 7 lbs., were caught throughout the week at the South Jetty. In addition, a few triggerfish and a lone weakfish were hooked there as well.

Flounder fishing in the bay continues to be slow with most fish coming from the East Channel and a few from the Fish Bowl and West Channel.
We also saw a surprising catch come in on Friday when anglers fishing in the East Channel on the charter boat, “On the Run” boated their limit of 5 red drum and released 3 others after hooking them on Gulp artificial baits.

Since this is the last issue of the Coastal Fisherman for the season, I just want to take a moment to thank a few folks.

First, thank you to all of our faithful readers. The paper continues to fly off the rack each week and we always appreciate all the nice comments we receive. It definitely makes it worthwhile knowing that readers are enjoying the paper each week. I also appreciate all of the pictures that readers submit. This year, we ran 1,646 pictures in the Coastal Fisherman, with many of them emailed to us each week.

Thank you to our advertisers. Many have been with us for 13+ years, and we appreciate their loyalty. Since the Coastal Fisherman is still a free publication, advertisers make it possible to keep the doors open. That is why it is so important give our advertisers as much business as possible. Nowadays, it is too easy to just sit at our desks and order online. Local business are the backbone of our community and especially our fishing community. Please let them know how valuable they are and how much they are appreciated by giving them your business.

Thanks also go out to our columnists. Capt. Mark Sampson, Capt. Franky Pettolina, Steve Katz, Dr. Julie Ball and my mom, Maureen Jock, all did a great job this season writing entertaining and informative columns each week. Trust me, it’s not easy coming up with an interesting topic every week. It is much harder than you can imagine, but our columnists continue to do it every year and their work is appreciated.

Finally, thanks to my staff. We are a small, family business and my parents, Maureen and Larry, my brother, Tom, my wife, Mary and my son Larry all work very hard with almost no time off during the season. They all do a great job and I thank them for it!

Well, that’s it! Hopefully, we will have a nice fall. The marlin and wahoo bite will continue and big flounder and sea bass will snap hard on ocean reefs and wrecks. And finally, stripers will show up along our coast in good numbers, something we haven’t seen in a couple of years. I wish everyone a safe and happy fall season and hopefully this “Paperboy” will see you on the water. Look for the next Coastal Fisherman on January 1st.

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