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Warmer waters bring multiple fish species to the region - Ocean City Sentinel: Fishing

Fishing Report Warmer waters bring multiple fish species to the region

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Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 2:07 pm

It was a very busy week fishing-wise. So many species were being caught both inshore and offshore.

I heard many fish stories, of the ones that got away and the ones that did not. One story, in particular, struck a chord with me. Captain Jason Olsen, of Clean Sweep Sportfishing, took a charter in pursuit of tilefish.

Tilefish are a button fish found along the edges of the offshore canyons. They are highly prized for their taste, most often compared to lobster.

While they were catching golden tilefish in 600 feet of water, they hooked up with something much larger and stronger than a tilefish. After a 45-minute fight with many guesses, of a shark or maybe a swordfish, they landed a 158-pound big-eye tuna. Big eyes are a close relative of the bluefin and yellowfin tuna, known for their great power.

Personally, I have never heard of a big eye being caught bottom-fishing. They are usually caught trolling. Besides the fact that this is a great catch, what this made me realize is that this is one of the core reasons that I fish.

There are many reasons to fish: the challenge, the accomplishment of providing dinner, enjoying the outdoors, but the one that unites many of us is the mystery.

No matter how accomplished the angler and how cutting-edge his gear, he never is 100 percent sure what will bite the hook on the other end of the line.

I feel we as a society are quite jaded; there is little that we find awe-inspiring in our daily lives. We have information overload. There is an answer for everything, just check Wikipedia.

New discoveries in science get 30 seconds of news coverage, while the royal wedding gets weeks of nonstop coverage.

But hang out in a tackle shop and listen to fishermen talk about the mystery of fishing, and you will see excitement and passion.

I love when fishermen come in with fish they were not expecting. Years ago, one customer had caught a 50-pound cobia while tuna fishing. Others have caught mahi-mahi while flounder fishing at the Cape May Reef.

Then there are the true monsters of the deep, such as when a tuna fishermen sees his first blue marlin (which can reach weights over 10,00 pounds) or when a fishermen catches site of a great white shark.

Fishing reports

Sea Isle City:

Mike Cunningham, of Sea Isle Bait and Tackle, wrote, “Team Pirasea won the South Jersey Shark Tournament with a 338-pound mako. The back bay continued to produce some nice flounder fishing. There were lots of little fish but some nice keepers mixed in. The striper fishing in the surf has slowed but there were still some caught. There were also a couple of king fish showing in the surf. The crabbing is beginning to heat up and in the next couple of weeks we hope to be in full swing.”

Avalon:

Tammy Carbohn, of Avalon Hodge Podge, said it was “yet another great week of fishing in South Jersey. With several nice fluke weighed in, the biggest was 5.15 pounds and 25 inches caught by Steve Bond of Avalon fishing Patty’s Hole using the old standby, minnows and squid. He also had a couple other keepers to round out the day. A very respectable weakfish was caught in Townsends Inlet by John Kuhn of Avalon. His fish tipped the scale at 6.98 pounds and 28 1⁄2 inches, and he was fishing pink plastics. The striper bite seems to be slowing down as the water temperature rises into the mid 60s, however there are still a few smaller ones being caught in the back bay on clam or artificial.

“There have been a few reports of kingfish and croakers showing up in the surf, but nothing consistent just yet. Finally, honorable mention is Bea Pritchard, of Royersford, Pa. She landed her first-ever saltwater fish, a fluke weighing in a 3.52 pounds and 21 1⁄2 inches also using minnows and squid at Patty’s Hole.”

Ocean City:

Ocean City FinAtics’ John Grzymko said they are still catching striped bass in the 35-40-inch class along the beaches.

“There are still plenty of fluke in the back bays, but the keeper ratio has dropped,” he said.

Grzymko thinks fishermen are picking over the same holes and that a change in strategy should increase the ratio. Look for less-fished areas, possibly some channels behind Corson’s inlet. Some fluke are starting to be caught at the reefs. Kingfish are being caught in small numbers, but as warmer temperatures arrive, they should increase. He also mentioned, “Still some weakfish behind Corson’s at night, but the anglers are staying tight-lipped with reports.”

Margate:

Robin Scott, of Ray Scott’s Dock, said, “Although the annual minnow shortage hit in the past few weeks, the flounder have not stopped eating whatever floats over their heads. These voracious predators are snapping at mackerel strips, shedder-soaked squid strips, squid head and tentacles, all varieties of gulp dressed with a strip bait, spearing, bunker strips and brined quartered shedder crabs.

“Although live minnows provide an entertainment factor loved by small anglers and are important to have on hand, all the dead frozen baits as well as the artificials will yield a shore dinner if worked properly. Pint-sized anglers have the advantage because of their “antsiness” factor. That is, they naturally jig the bait off the bottom to interest their prey.

“As evidence, the Linn family of Margate took a quick jaunt around the bay and returned with a healthy catch. The Calhoun family of Ocean City always takes their three small daughters, or “good luck charms,” during their annual tournament.

“Of course, the three girls caught three good-sized flounder. This week’s successful anglers include former Margate resident John Nardini and his brother Vince with a 21-inch flounder, Jeffrey Pino and Nick Launa of South Philly with a 19- and 20-inch flounder, Harrison Singer and girlfriend Amanda of Margate with two nearly 3 pounds, John Schiavo of Deptford with a 4 7/8-pound flounder in addition to three other big ones, bagging him a $100 gift certificate to the dock, and Kellen Faber of Ventnor with his first flounder, a 21-inch beauty. Doctors Jim Spotila and Hal Avery of Margate had two at over 20 inches, while Rob Youllar and team from Long Island bagged three with 10 pounds of fillets on one of our sixpack charters.

“Hollie Van Nostran of Margate caught her first keeper of the season, a 23-incher, while Scott Engel and Mike Sherman of Margate entertained Scott’s visiting son with a flounder dinner. The Burkeys of Philadelphia are on a mission to top last year’s record of four $100 dock gift certificates for large flounder. They have three in two weeks. The flounder bite has been so strong since opening day May 23.

“We have had only two parties with no keeper flounder and they had throwbacks. An extraordinary beginning to the season. Keep in mind that we are only discussing one species here. The bay abounds with tailor blues and striped bass as well. No angler will sleep this week if we start talking about those. Not to mention Harrison Singer’s white perch catch on the mainland lakes. If fishing provides your adrenaline rush, this is your season and South Jersey is your place.”

South Jersey Marina in Cape May held the 34th annual South Jersey Shark Tournament. The final standings were:

Heaviest Shark: Dumb and Dumber — 654-pound thresher

Heaviest Mako: Relentless — 338 pounds

Most Points Mako: 1,400 points, Absolut Pleasure. They had 97 boats in the tournament and a total payout of $323,273.

The participants reported releasing 281 sharks. It was one of the best local shark tournaments that I can remember, with many makos over 200 pounds.

Chuck Hinchcliffe is proprietor of Off the Hook Bait and Tackle at 989 Ocean Drive in Cape May.

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