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Vol 43 | Num 16 | Aug 15, 2018

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Ocean City Fishing Report

Article by Larry Jock

Well, the 45th Annual White Marlin Open is in the books and it was a record-setter. This year, 382 boats competed for a record $5,461,560 in award money. This is an increase of 29 boats and $504,595 in payouts.

Although we saw an increase of 1 white marlin weighed this year (18 vs. 17), there were considerably more releases of white marlin (702 vs. 385) and blue marlin (56 vs. 34). Heading into the tournament, tuna fishing was slow and it reflected in the number hooked during the 5 days of fishing. Last year, 42 tuna were boated and this year only 14 ended up at the scale.

The White Marlin Division saw a unique situation when anglers on the “Underdog” and the “Weldor’s Ark” both boated 83 lb. white marlin. However, since the fish caught on the final day by Pascual Jimenez on the “Weldor’s Ark” wasn’t gaffed, it won the tiebreaker because the fish caught the day prior on the “Underdog” was gaffed. Both were hooked on tinker mackerel in the Norfolk Canyon. Earlier in the week, on the second day of the tournament, Bill Haugland on the “Lights Out” caught a 75 lb. white marlin on a trolled ballyhoo in the Baltimore Canyon and held on to win third place in the White Marlin Division.

One of the highlights of the week occurred on the first day of the tournament when the “Auspicious” arrived with an 881 lb. blue marlin caught in 1,200 fathoms outside the Wilmington Canyon. This was the 6th largest blue marlin caught in the 45 year history of the White Marlin Open and was worth over $900,000 in award money.

The other stunner was the 75.5 lb. yellowfin caught on the local boat, “Buckshot” that brought in a record $924,936. This was the highest payout for a tuna in tournament history. The winning fish was caught by Gary Stansberry on Thursday while trolling a plug in the Norfolk Canyon. A day earlier, Charles Matatall caught a 73.5 lb. yellowfin that ended the event in 2nd place. The yellowfin, caught on the “Blinky IV” was hooked north of the Lindenkohl Canyon. Third place in the Tuna Division was won by the team on the “Brass Monkey” with a 71 lb. yellowfin caught on a ballyhoo in 30 fathoms outside the Hot Dog.

The Wahoo Division saw some final day excitement when local boat, “Over-Board” arrived with a 63 lb. speedster to jump into 1st place and win over $115,000 in award money. Capt. Dustin Lorah said the wahoo hit a lure inshore of the Rockpile. Luckily, the anglers did a good job boating the wahoo since the lure broke sometime during the fight. Second place in the Wahoo Division went to the “Desperado” with a 58 pounder. Justin Ratcliff, captain of the “Desperado” gets an A+ for effort for driving the second place fish to Ocean City from Rudee Inlet, VA and arrived only 6 minutes before the scales closed on Wednesday night.

Compared to last year, the Dolphin Division saw the largest increase in activity with 14 fish weighed versus only 2 in 2017. This years winner was a 50 pounder caught on the “Fin•Nominal” in 60 fathoms in the Poor Man’s Canyon on the second day of the tournament. The 2nd place dolphin, caught by George Mess on the “Rigged Up” was also caught in the Poor Man’s Canyon on a trolled ballyhoo. In 3rd place was a 36 lb. bull caught by Rob Overfield on the “Moxie Boys” while trolling a horse ballyhoo north of the Poor Man’s.

Two heavyweights battled it out for Top Release Boat with the “Viking 72” edging out the “Billfisher”, 875 points to 840 points. The “Viking 72” released 10 white marlin and a blue marlin while the “Billfisher” released 12 white marlin during their 3 days of fishing. The “Viking 72” split their time between the Norfolk, Washington and Spencer Canyons. The “Billfisher” hit the Washington Canyon on their first day of fishing and the Spencer Canyon on their remaining two days. This year was truly a family event on the “Billfisher” with 3 generations of Duffie’s participating.

Overall, it was another exciting tournament. Hats off to the Motsko family and all of the volunteers who work very hard to put on a world class event! If President Trump keeps our economy cranking, there’s no telling how big the tournament will be next year. We could be seeing our first $1,000,000 tuna!

Outside of the tournament, flounder fishing continues to roll along with good catches coming in from anglers fishing in the bay and out on ocean structure.

In the bay, the best bite has been in the East Channel for anglers fishing with live spot or mullet. White Gulp Swimming Mullets are still producing for anglers choosing to fish with artificial baits, but this time of year, castnetting live bait will give you a definite advantage. Looking for deeper holes in the East Channel and around the Rt. 50 Bridge where the water is slightly cooler is a good idea right now. We also saw fish pulled out of the West Channel, south of the Rt. 50 Bridge and in the Fishbowl, which is located between the East and West Channels, north of the Rt. 50 Bridge.

Inshore structure continues to produce better catches than what we are seeing in the bay. The Bass Grounds, Russell’s Reef and up north at the Old Grounds are all good summertime spots for targeting larger flounder. Anglers dropping Spro bucktails tipped with Gulp or strip baits do well when fishing structure or coral bottom off the coast. You will see what I mean when you read through this issue. It is loaded with pictures of good size flounder caught on ocean reefs and wrecks!

The other exciting news is that cobia are showing up in good numbers right off the coast of Delaware and are heading our way. They have been found cruising the surface or just under schools of bunker. Anglers have had luck tossing them live eels (always a cobia favorite), live bunker or even bucktails tipped with Gulp Swimming Mullet. Just last Friday, John Burbage from Ocean View, DE caught a 79.4 lb. cobia to set a new Delaware state record. John was just a mile and a half off the Bethany coastline when he spotted some big cobia around a school of bunker. He tossed it a live bunker and fought the fish for over an hour before getting a chance to sink a gaff in it. John said that he saw a good number of fish in the area and they were moving south. Cross and Nicky Ferrara have also had good luck in recent weeks tracking down cobia right off our coast while fishing from their jet skis. Last weekend, they boated a couple more cobia after hooking them on live eels off the coast of Fenwick Island. We even saw a cobia caught and released last Friday by Chris Clasing while fishing with live bunker in the West Channel, south of the Rt. 50 Bridge.

Upcoming Tournaments

This weekend is the world famous Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open at Bahia Marina. Lady anglers will be fishing Thursday, Friday and Saturday with weigh-ins from 4:00 PM to 7:30 PM each day.

Right on the heels of the Poor Girls Open is the MidAtlantic tournament that starts on August 20th and runs through the 24th. Weigh-ins are each night from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Sunset Marina.

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

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