Posted on August 5th, 2023
Kristen and I fished in the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce Flounder Tournament today and the weather changed quite a bit from this morning to this afternoon. This morning there was a stiffer breeze than expected and it was mostly cloudy and actually a little cool. This afternoon the breeze was still there, but the sun was shining and it got pretty warm out. We didn’t catch anything that did any damage on the leaderboard this time around, but we did manage a couple of keeper fish that are going in Lake Crisco this week.
Congratulations to Kerrie and all of the folks at the OP Chamber for putting on an awesome event. Congratulations to the winners as well!!
Chase NeNeumayer 21 3/4″ 3.96 Pounds
Kevin McNelis Sr. 24″ 4.58 Pounds
Kevin McNelis Jr. 24″ 5.04 Pounds
Ty Hubicki 24.25″ 5.31 Pounds
Congratulations to the winner of the first ever Marlins for Mason Tournament!!
Captain Chris Mizurak of the Angler reported sporty conditions again today, but he did manage some sea bass and some flounder for his die hard anglers.
Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star saw some big knothead sea bass come over his rail on today’s trip.
Got a great start on the day. Tied her loose a half hour early.On my way off I thought, ‘This has to be the worst summer ever for selling suntan lotion & sunglasses.’ Dagone fog.. When it cleared, the sky came overcast in a semi-sporty NE wind. A combination of everything I don’t want for a day’s fishing. I did see a bizarre feeding event inshore – don’t know what any of it was, but it was going on! While we did have a few really nice sea bass, with Jigmaster Tom taking the pool – and some anglers even caught a delicious dinner’s worth! – The bite was so fussy, and this after fishing a full day, I credited clients $50 on their next trip.. Caroline from NY was today’s guest reef builder. She dropped three pyramids at Capt. Nicky’s (Not At All) Top Secret Pyramid Reef at the Bass Grounds. Nicky Ferrara owns Bear Concrete. His guys have been sending a trailer load of reef pyramids south almost once a week since spring – adds up! I see it coming. Capt Ward Brex, who had the Mast restaurant and Taurus party boat in WOC said of the Bass Grounds (through tears, so help me) “We had the best sea bass fishing on the coast and we let them destroy it.” Capt. Paul Russell, who was truly the Paul Bunyan of early trap fishing off Maryland, was said to have ‘a sea of flags’ at the Bass Grounds. In those early days party boats would even fish Great Gull and Fenwick Island buoys for dolphin (what we call mahi mahi today to avoid confusion.) I’m sure those trap flags were targeted in July & August for mahi. My dear friend Jim Whaley told me of winning the Marlin Club’s marlin tournament with two fish he caught at the First Lump – (immediately inside would have been the Bass Grounds.) Was a time of zero regulation. We had dozens of surfclam boats working from OC Harbor. I remember em in the late 1970s all rafted off. Some folks say it was more than 50 boats – all towing a heavy steel dredge that liquidated the bottom; pulverizing anything that wasn’t stone. Therein lies the problem. I have personally witnessed a surfclammer impact to rock bottom about 20 miles out – filmed it in the early 2000s. You can see the striations where the dredge’s water jets left a perfect trail through sand & then shaved all coral growth off the boulders. Fishing, indeed, came to a halt on those rocks for a number of years ..but then growths came back. Regrew. Fishing came back too. It’s now an excellent reef. At the Bass Grounds, however, we have hard bottom similar to some of the bottom at Winter Quarter Corals. This substrate well resembles marsh peat – what you hope you’re going to step on when navigating marsh to go hunting. I’ve had divers bring me up samples: while hard enough to support coral and a variety of other growths — you can break it apart by hand and mush it into muddy sand….. A fifteen ton surfclam dredge would have little issue with it. Didn’t. What was approximately 4.5 sq miles of spectacular natural sea whip meadow and star coral became barren sand. With the substrate lost, so too was an equal measure of fishery production lost. Today we have sq yards of that bottom left ..but it’s all under Army Corps Artificial Reef Permit. We’re slowly gaining a toehold – the Ocean City Reef Foundation will restore that magnificent reef bottom. It’s begun. Begun just weeks ago with a full load aboard Capt Stormy’s Tike XIV – Capt. Nicky’s brand new (Not At All) Top Secret Reef will factor into that restoration. So will the already published Kinsley Reef with nearly 1,000 pyramids (and counting!) they’ve sent down from Kinsley’s York PA concrete plant.. There is no state program. No fed grants. No wind windfall. Just our very small nonprofit plugging away at it. Want to help? See ocreefs.org or slide over to the t-shirt tent at Marlin Fest in the inlet parking lot all this coming week. They’ll have our new reef t shirt – “Return Billfish to Their Historic Inshore Grounds” We’ll have Ts on the website after the tournament. Squid, you see, spawn on hardbottoms the world round. I bet before 1975 that artist’s portrayal of a marlin feeding on squid atop a hardbottom reef happened tens of thousands of times. Aim to make it happen again! And! If you have a beer at Marlin Fest a portion of the proceeds helps build reef too.. It’s a huge project. From enormous biofilter oyster reefs being worked on by so many, to vast stretches of sea whip meadow off the coast where squid once spawned in astounding number that NOAA doesn’t even realize once existed: Reef Restoration is key to bringing marlin back to the Jackspot ..and even closer. Its 100% doable! Cheers, Monty
Ron Humphress of Berlin, MD had a great day on Assateague Island catching multiple red drum, bluefish, kingfish and spot.
Luke Wrye had this nice keeper rockfish at the route 50 bridge. He also caught and released rockfish of 24″ and 26″ and had a 26″ bluefish.