The charter boat Reelistic, with Capt. Bill Verbanas, drifted in an eerie darkness. It was an overnight shark trip and the anglers had not seen a fish in four hours. Earlier, during the daylight hours, they caught numerous bluefish and several blue sharks.
The mate wandered over and watched the five-gallon bucket of frozen chum, slowly melting inside a plastic milk crate tied off near the transom of the boat. He scanned the black slick made by the chum, and noted the position of the ballons that floated the bait away from the boat. One whole mackerel bait was positioned near the surface, another approximately 50 feet below the surface, and another about 100 feet below.
Suddenly one of the anglers yelled: "Look at that whale swimming in the chum line!"
One of the lines went slack as the dark form came closer to the boat. "That's no whale! It's a huge mako shark! Maybe 800 pounds!" yelled the mate. "Start cranking the reel; when it gets tight, slam 'em hard!"
The excited angler did what he was told and the hook was set. The mako shark, which had picked up the bait and had headed toward the boat, fought back. After a half hour of man against fish, the huge creature wrapped its tail around the 130-pound monofilament line. The game was over and the fish had won its freedom. The power of the tail along with the weight of the fish chafed the thick line and broke it.
The party was disappointed yet exhilarated. They had plenty of blue shark and bluefish action, plus the rare experience of fighting a huge mako shark.
There were a couple mako sharks hooked last week that did not get away. David Sachs of Pasadena, fishing aboard the Grand Slam out of Bahia Marino with Capt. Butch Davis, boated a 251-pound mako. He was using mackerel for bait and was drifting in 50 fathoms of water in Poor Man's Canyon.
Scott Mancuso of Silver Spring landed a 221-pound mako last Sunday on the charter boat MoJo out of O.C. Fishing Center with Capt. Joe O'Boyle. They were fishing in 40 fathoms of water inside the Poor Man's Canyon. Mako sharks have been caught farther offshore than normal because of cool water.
Mako sharks were not the only fish in the sea last week. The charter boat Remedy II, out of Dorchester Street Dock with Capt. Barry DePristo, caught three yellowfin tuna below the Washington Canyon.
Also offshore are Atlantic bonitos, which are good to eat, and plenty of large blues weighing up to 17 pounds. Jim Krall of Bahia Marina said the fish-cleaning stand was stacked with bluefish last Sunday. Mr. Krall said the blues were hitting at the First and Second Lump at the Bass Grounds and the Jackspot.
Flounder fishing was good to fair. Ocean City bay is filled with flounder under the legal limit of 13 inches, but there are some good-sized ones mixed in. Norma Heim, in his boat the Yellowtail, caught five good-sized flounder drifting near Buoy No. 5 on the incoming tide with live minnows. Dick Kelly and Libby Hall of Ocean City caught 33 flounder and were able to keep eight. They were drifting north of the Thorofare near Buoy No. 3 with live minnows.
Nancy Cover of Baltimore caught the largest flounder of the week. She was fishing the 32nd Street channel, also with a live minnow, when she landed the 4-pound, 5-ounce flat fish.
Trout fishing in Ocean City has been good. By day, anglers in boats are catching them at the South Jetty. Nick Palese of Baltimore and Ocean City, who is only 4 years old, landed a 9-pounder. Alan Fields of Ocean City had 11 trout, while Jim Powell of Ocean City had 4 trout weighing up to 8 pounds. The trout here are taking bucktails with plastic worms, bucktails with peeler crab, or just plain minnows and squid.
At night, anglers are catching sea trout with lures. Jerry Kuczinski of Adolfo's Italian Restaurant near the Inlet in Ocean City, slipped out after work and landed a huge 13-pound trout from the sea wall behind the Oceanic Pier. He was using a bucktail with a plastic worm.
Tautog are still hitting at the north and south jetties in Ocean City. The party boat Tortuga out of Bahia Marina caught tautog weighing up to 9 1/4 pounds. They released the pregnant fish.
The Ocean Pier, which saw huge bluefish two weeks ago, is seeing slightly smaller fish. The blues there are now running about 24 inches. The Pier also has some kingfish and sharks.
Kingfish were also reported from area beaches this week, proving the water is warming up. One man had five fish, with two of them weighing more than a pound. Bloodworms on a size No. 6 hook is best for kings. Also seen in the surf were snapper blues and a few legal-sized flounder.
Warm temperatures this week brought luck for crabbers using hand lines and traps. These are the first reports of good crabbing. Before this, the cool water temperatures made crabbing unsuccessful.