It's that time of year when the locals head out to their favorite flounder hole and give it one last try. The flounder are making their move as they sense the coming of fall and the call of the Continental Shelf.
There was a flounder lull for a couple of weeks, and many 'D anglers gave up the search for the elusive fish. Now the flounder are back, and anglers are fishing for them once again.
Since the flounder are heading out, it makes sense that the inlet area has been a hot spot for fluke. Anglers have also been doing well catching the fish from the docks near the U.S. 50 bridge, the bridge itself, the Oceanic Pier and the Second to Fourth Street bulkhead.
Anglers in boats are finding that the deeper holes are producing the best catches, and the top places are the inlet, just south of the South Jetty, the drift in front of the Ocean City Yacht Club and the bulkhead off 33rd Street.
Shiners, as well as live minnows, are working well as bait. But small live mullet or spot are often the best bait this time of year, especially for the big, doormat flounder -- over 3 pounds. The doormats are just waiting for a large, live bait hooked on a single long-leadered hook or a fish-finder rig with live spot or mullet.
Gene Roberts of Towson landed one of the doormat flounder last weekend from the Dorchester Street dock with a shiner. Matt Rieche of Pylesville pulled in a 4 1/2 -pounder from a boat near the bulkhead at 33rd Street, where many large flounder are being caught. He used a live minnow and squid combination.
The Thorofare, always productive, has some deep holes north of the two marshy islands. Tony Moen of Severna Park picked up a 3 1/2 -pound flounder there on a bucktail with a live minnow attached. Other anglers have said that they have had luck attaching a live minnow to a white twister lure.
Many anglers have been fishing the U.S. 50 bridge at night with white grubs or twisters on the beginning of the outgoing tide and picking up large flounder.
By using a strip of squid and bouncing the lure close to the bottom, anglers were catching flounder as well as trout. Dan Sargent and three friends from Pittsville caught 10 trout up to 7 3/4 pounds last week while anchored next to the large sandbar between the U.S. 50 bridge and the old Railroad Bridge. They were casting grub lures and jigging them off the bottom.
Trout are also hitting from the U.S. 50 bridge, Oceanic Pier, the Ocean City inlet and South Jetty on white twisters, bucktails with white worms and live spot. Trout are nocturnal fish that tend to feed best at night, dusk or dawn.
Crisp autumn-like evenings are stirring up the tasty tautog, which practically disappear in the heat of the summer but are now returning to the rock jetties and bulkheads in the area. Anglers are tossing small sand crabs or sand fleas a few yards from the rocks and getting a bite after only a few minutes.
Anglers with boats are trying their luck for the tautog near the rocks of the South Jetty. Two Ocean City locals, Hugh Cropper and Earl Simpson, were surprised to pick up a puppy drum while fishing here. There have been several reports of the drum being taken in the past two weeks. The fish, which is related to the croaker, is prevalent in North Carolina and Virginia and seems to be making its presence known in this area as well.
Another interesting fish seen lately is the pompano. Not usually caught in this area, there are suddenly a number of them, mostly from the surf. To fish for pompano, anglers should use small hooks, preferably gold, and sand crabs for bait. They should fish in the drop off, where the ocean becomes deeper, with a light to medium action rod with about a 12-pound test line and keep the bait moving. Other baits for pompano are bloodworms and shrimp.
Ocean City, Assateague and Delaware beaches saw an array of surf fish last week. Norfolk spot and whiting were taken on bloodworms, and small snapper blues were taken on cut fresh mullet or spot. When the fish are running small and the surf is relatively calm, a light to medium action rod with smaller hooks can be a lot of fun.
A surprising number of flounder were also picked up on the beaches. A filleted strip of fresh mullet is the key to catching this fish in the surf.
Offshore action is also good. Anglers in boats say that the First and Second Lumps of the Bass Grounds are alive with Spanish and king mackerel. The Spanish take the smaller spoons, while the kings take ballyhoo, larger spoons or hoochie lures.
The O.C. Princess out of Shantytown came back from a 24-hour chunking trip with a boatload of dolphin up to 25 pounds. These fish were taken around the 30-fathom line, inshore of Poor Man's Canyon. The party boat caught the dolphin on pieces of squid and butterfish.
The Ocean City charter boats were doing well on the overnight trips with yellow fin tuna and dolphin. The largest dolphin of the weekend was taken aboard the Sheila Ann with Captain Alan Fields. It weighed 51 pounds and was caught by Rick Pitts of Laurel.
Several white marlin were taken last weekend, although anglers said it was just an average catch. A few blue marlin were also caught and released. Terry Burmingham of Baltimore, fishing aboard the Dirt Merchant, landed a 278-pound blue marlin close inshore near the Jack Spot.