The Atlantic croaker gives Ocean City anglers a great deal of action. Yes, this little fish that is related to a drum and which resembles a Norfolk spot, has been schooling in the Ocean City bays.
From the Route 90 bridge to the Thorofare, anglers with boats are catching these hard-hitting, good-eating panfish with little strips of squid on size No. 6 or No. 4 hooks. The minimum size limit on croaker in Maryland is 9 inches and the creel limit is 20 per person.
Be sure you can tell the difference between a croaker and a spot before heading out in your boat. The croaker can be distinguished from the Norfolk spot by its sharp gill plates and the barbel on its lower jaw.
Flounder fishing in Ocean City was only fair last week. The bay water was dirtied by periods of high winds and rain. The flounder that were taken were in the usual flounder fishing holes.
The Thorofare, the Convention Hall Channel, the U.S. 50 bridge and the bay behind Assateague all produced some catches. There have been numerous "throw-back" flounder, which are under the legal size limit of 14 inches, but for the patient angler, a few "keepers" can be caught on the flood high tide. Derrick Hess of York, Pa., was one of those lucky fishermen. He took a 3 3/4 -pound flounder from the Thorofare area on a minnow and squid sandwich. He weighed in his catch at Rainy Day Canoe on Route 589.
Some large trout have been hitting from the Ocean City Inlet and the U.S. 50 bridge at night for anglers tossing bucktail jigs. Justin Marshall of Salisbury took a 7 3/4 -pound sea trout from the South Jetty over the weekend. He weighed in his catch at Delmarva Sport Center.
Smaller trout, along with good-sized bluefish, are hitting from the Shantytown Pier. Anglers casting "spec rigs" have been catching trout anywhere from legal sized (12 inches) to approximately 16 inches. This action can be quite good if you go when the tide is just right. Anglers need to fish two hours before and two hours after high tide.
The Ocean Pier saw excellent catches of Norfolk spot last week, along with catches of croaker, bluefish, trout, small sharks, puppy drum and kingfish. The bait of choice on the pier was a little piece of bloodworm sandwiched with a small strip of squid.
The same bait was also the choice among surf fishermen. The surf came alive last week with small sand sharks and spot. The action was also quite good during the early morning and evening hours with croaker, small sea trout and kingfish. Sunday saw a little spurt of snapper blues as well.
Though nothing really large is coming out of the ocean this time of year, the fishing can be active on these good-eating panfish. Even the kids can catch fish with little hooks and bloodworms as one does not need to cast out far to catch fish.
Party boats really slammed the big tautogs. Nick Delich of Forest Hill, Md., took the largest tautog of the season so far on the O. C. Princess. It went 14 pounds, 9 ounces and was taken on clam for bait. Dave Hoenie of Cincinnati, Ohio, landed a 10-pound, 14-ounce tautog while fishing aboard the Mariner with Capt. Jeff Nottingham. He was using a sand flea for bait.
On the offshore scene, the first bigeye tuna which went 236 pounds was caught aboard the charter boat Impulsive out of Bahia Marina. The angler was Randy Worthington of Churchville, Md.
Anglers looking for bluefin tuna found them just past the Jackspot this past weekend. The MoJo, out of the Fishing Center, had a 90-pound-plus bluefin. The Paula B, also out of the Fishing Center, had an 81- and an 86-pounder plus several smaller ones.
The yellowfin tuna continue to hit in the 30- to 40-fathom range. While most of these fish have been averaging 15 to 30 pounds, John Cunningham of Arnold took a 107-pound jumbo yellowfin while fishing aboard the Reel Nuts.
Several dolphin were reported over the weekend, including a 28-pounder taken by Darren Terzi of Sykesville while fishing aboard the Trial Balance.
White marlin were scattered and only a few were caught and released last weekend. The best fishing was in the area of the "Rockpile" in the Washington Canyon. The charter boat Last Call out of Bahia Marina released three there this past weekend. Capt. Bob Gowar on the Liquidator had a double-header release. He was fishing near the tip of the Washington Canyon.