First Ever Opah Caught off of Ocean City, MD

By Scott Lenox

First Ever Opah Caught off of Ocean City, MD

The way the inshore fishing has been going I figured I might get a few pics of tautog and rockfish today (which I did), but I never thought that I’d get the text that I got this afternoon or see the fish that I saw tonight.

At about 2:30 this afternoon I got a text from offshore from my buddy Captain Austin Ensor of the Primary Search out of Sunset Marina that read, “I need you to call someone at DNR and ask them if Opah (yes the west coast round orange fish) are legal to harvest in MD.)  After about 5 minutes of waiting while I pondered how drunk Austin might have gotten himself offshore I got another….”Please!  I have a 80-100 pound sword and an “expletive deleted” opah on board…’s huge and orange!”

I immediately called my DNR connection and he assured me that Opah, being that one has never been caught out of Maryland…EVER, was not regulated by MD DNR and was therefore ok to harvest.  I sent Austin the text confirming that he could keep the fish, but I’ll be honest…..I couldn’t believe it was actually an opah until I saw it for myself.

See, Opah are usually caught in tropical waters and most people that have even heard of the fish believe that they are only caught on the west coast and in places like Hawaii.  Rightly so.  Rumor has it that there may have been one caught by a commercial boat in the near Atlantic in the past, but this is definitely the first ever caught out of Ocean City on rod and reel.  Cool fact about the opah, they are the first known warm blooded fish in all of the world’s oceans.

And now to the report.  Captain Austin, James Doerzbach, Brian Stewart and Tommy Clark fished the Poor Man’s Canyon today and caught an 80 to 100 pound swordfish and this absolutely beautiful 105.4 pound opah.  The opah ate a bonita strip bait while it was on it’s way to the bottom in search of another sword.  Captain Austin reported water temperature of 59 degrees.  Thanks to Captain Terry Layton for the shot of the crew in the back of Primary Search.  I put a photo of my hand next to the fish to give you an idea just how big the eye was.  Congratulations to Captain Austin and the #gang on their truly unbelievable catch!!

Check out this cool video by Dave Messick of Hooked on OC with an interview with Captain Austin.

Ocean City Opah

In other more normal fishing news, bottom fishing was good again over ocean structure for boats that got out to enjoy the nice conditions.  Captain Chris Mizurak of the Angler reported good fishing today with triggerfish, bluefish, sea bass up to 3.5 pounds and flounder up to 4.5 pounds.

Captain Wes Pollitt fished over ocean structure today on board the Reel Direct and had a crazy good day.  Wes fished with Captain Brian Arni and Tim Romberger and caught a boat limit of tautog along with a bonus sea bass and a bonus sheepshead.

Kyle Breitzke fished the bass grounds today and had a mixed bag of triggerfish, porgys, sea bass, sharks and some short flounder.  Here are a couple of the nice keepers.

Tautog fishing was good in the bay again today as well.  Captain Jason Mumford of Lucky Break Charters had another good day of fishing with five keeper tautog and another 51 released.  Water temps are on the rapid decline as Captain Jason reported 47 degrees at the bottom of the tide.

Bear down at the Oceanic Pier saw some good fishing today.  Bear sent the following pics of Jason and Mark from Baltimore who put some nice keeper tog on the pier while using sand fleas and green crabs.  John Peyton was at it again from the bulkhead using Zoom baits to catch another nice keeper rockfish.

Big Bird Cropper and neighbor Dave had a good day of fishing the route 50 bridge today.  The guys took a shot of Paul McWilliams with a keeper flounder, neighbor Dave caught himself a good flounder and both guys had plenty of throwback rockfish action.

My buddy Eric “Perch Murderer” Sexton gave credibility to his nickname today while fishing the mouth of the Nanticoke River.  Eric, Benny Bennington and Brian Duke caught over 70 fish with enough keepers to make for a good fish fry.

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