Last week’s White Marlin Open was a real nail-biter.
First off, the prize money was an almost obscene $6 million and change. Secondly, over 400 boats were fishing in it and the weather the first two days couldn’t have been more perfect. And then there was the excitement of the weigh-ins each afternoon.
The very first fish weighed was a white marlin measuring 68.5 inches long and weighing 74 pounds, which handily took first place.
The next day, a 73.5-pound white marlin solidly moved into second. Two days after that, the leaderboard was upset when Ocean City native Tommy Hinkle brought his white marlin to the scales. His 79.5-pound fish rocketed to the top, winning $1,504,720 and making tournament history. Hinkle is the only angler ever to win the coveted top white marlin twice (his other win was in 2008).
Other winners include Greg Robinson with a 277.5-pound mako shark, Russell Garufi with a 201-pound bigeye and Craig Dickerson with a 465.5-pound blue marlin. Also, Michael Wagner of La Plata walked away with $1,502,450 for a 73.5-pound white marlin that took third place in the white marlin category.
At final count, 1,459 white marlins were caught with 1,429 released. Big Deal, the top release boat broke the tournament’s 39-year-old record for most billfish releases by boat with 28 releases.
Southern Maryland lakes and ponds — Earlier this week, a friend’s son told me about the first bass he caught while fishing with his dad. It exploded on his lure and his smile couldn’t have been any wider as he told me the tale of his epic catch. School starts back up soon (my kids are already back at it), so now is the time to take young ones to a local pond for a little summertime fishing.
Recreational angler Eric Packard reports his grandson Issac Dreibelbis caught over 20 bluegill and nine bass last weekend and reeled in his personal-best largemouth bass, a fine 16-inch specimen.
Patuxent River — Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301-863-8151) reports plenty of perch are on the rip rap along the St. Mary’s shoreline from the bridge to Big Kingston. You can find hungry perch hanging out around fallen trees or staying cool under a low-hanging limb. Beetle spins work great for catching perch. They’ll also take bloodworms, but the best catches have been in shallow water on lures.
Lamb also recommends trying tiny spinnerbaits on the rocks at the entrance to St. Leonard’s Creek where there are some bigger perch being caught.
The crabbing has been excellent this past week. Everywhere I go I’m seeing doublers on dock pilings. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Potomac River — Reel Bass Adventures guide Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) said bass fishing remains sporadic with most anglers complaining “it’s been slow.”
Grass beds continue to receive the most attention from anglers fishing stick worms, frogs and plastic creature baits. Creek channel ledges in front of spatterdock fields have bass that’ll take tubes, worms or craw baits. Marsh runs are always good for a cast, especially when you observe baitfish activity. One word of caution: Your bait may be intercepted by a snakehead anywhere you fish.
Aqualand Marina (301-259-2222) reports good fishing for white perch and spot as well as plenty of “eater-size” catfish. Lamb said perch are “practically jumping in the boat” at Ragged Point.
Juniata and Susquehanna rivers (Pa.) — Anglers and guides are rating this year’s season middling-to-poor, but still there are fish to be caught for the experienced and persistent angler.
One of the best ways to fish the Susqy is an old-fashioned but effective method. Call Johnny Cunningham at 717-877-2704. Cunningham will shuttle you upriver and you’ll float the boat back to Riverfront Campground, taking in the views and hopefully catching some fish.
Deep Creek Lake — There’s been some good bass fishing in front of the state park area.
Even if you don’t have a boat, you can access ample shoreline from the park that’s all public land you can fish from. If you’ve got a boat, hit up the grass in shallow coves or throw your lure/worm near one of the many floating docks, best when it’s early morning or evening time.
You can also have a good chance of catching a monster bluegill on nightcrawlers this time of year.
Lake Anna (Va.) — Carlos at High Point Marina (540-895-5249) reports stripers are holding in cooler waters and are not very active right now, not even responding to live bait.
Bass are in a summer pattern, with numerous techniques catching fish. Carlos’ best recommendations are to try your favorite deep-diving crankbaits over mainlake points, humps and roadbeds or use jigs tipped with worms near bridges and docks.
Some very nice crappie are being caught at night on docks with lights. Live bait has been producing some larger-than-average catfish.
Chesapeake Bay — Lots of folks are proclaiming the spot fishing has been the best it’s been the past 50 years. Never mind some of them haven’t even been around 50 years themselves, but I’m going to take their word for it and just agree that it’s been excellent this year.
Lamb reports one party of fishermen at the Point Lookout Pier caught 350 spot in a 24-hour period. You might also find a willing bluefish or striper anywhere you catch spot.
Lamb also said that Spanish mackerel are “blazing hot” from the mouth of the Choptank River to Smith Point. One angler caught her first Spanish near Drum Point last weekend.
She brushed the fillets with olive oil and sprinkled a little salt and pepper on them, then topped them with sautéed peppers, onions, olives, capers and garlic and said her dinner sure was tasty.
Lamb reports trollers using surgical eels are picking up cobia from 32A to Smith Point, and I saw a photo of a big red drum one fellow caught near the Target Ship aboard Rock Solid Charters with Capt. Kyle Johnson. They’re out there.
Capt. Dennis Fleming with Fishamajig Guide Service (240-538-1260) suggests looking for breakers and trolling small spoons and hoses for a shot at Spanish and bluefish. Bonus red drum are under those breakers.
Atlantic Ocean — The near offshore wreck fishing continues to be challenging, with captains really working hard to get everyone a sea bass. Some days are easier than others. They’ve been catching lots of short flounders, too.
According to Larry Jock of the Coastal Fisherman (www.coastalfisherman.com), the charter boat “On the Run” returned on Tuesday from trolling spoons at the First Lump with a 40-pound cobia, 15 Spanish mackerel, two king mackerel and a dozen bluefish.
At the Cape Henlopen Pier, the spot bite has been steady and they’re having a hard time keeping bloodworms in stock for all the anglers eager to get in on the action.
Even with all the pressure in the canyons last week due to tournament boats, there have already been a lot of white marlin releases this week.
Tip of the week
We’ve got a nice aluminum wire net for crabbing and it works great for trotlining, but for catching crabs of dock pilings, it’s just not fast enough in the water.
I stopped by the Tackle Box and picked up a similar net with a 6-foot handle and nylon mesh for about $20 to see if we’d have better luck. I don’t recommend getting a nylon net for landing fish. It’s better to stick with the rubber kind.
We took that net straight to our pier and had about a 90% success rate catching crabs off the pilings and added about 10 keepers to our crab hotel in under 30 minutes, which I’d estimate at today’s going rate for a dozen crabs the net already paid for itself.
The nylon net scooped faster through the water and tangled the crabs before they could scoot away, and a brisk shake or two freed them easily enough.