THE GOOD NEWS is that the weather in Ocean City, Md., has been bad. Northeast winds beat up the beach much of the week, says Capt. Warren Boerum, skipper of the Serenity. So why is that good news?
They literally blew in marlin season by "shoving the warm water inwards," Boerum says. "The marlin are thick as fleas. Most are small, but they're out there." He says one boat went out earlier this week and had 17 strikes.
"As soon as the wind drops off," he says, "it's going to be terrific out there."
So if you've ever wanted to go marlin fishing, now's the time, Boerum says.
Which is just what one local angler has been waiting for. In May, Martin G. Abel of Rockville caught a 450- pound blue marlin in Hawaii. That's not big for a blue marlin -- except that Abel was using 15-pound test, less than most people use to catch two-pound bluefish in the Chesapeake.
Abel's catch -- which only took 20 minutes of fighting to land -- set the world's record for blue marlin in the 16-pound class. Certification from the International Game Fish Association is pending.
What Abel wants to do for an encore is to go after the white marlin off Ocean City, using only light tackle.
For those 70- marlin, Abel says, he wants to use six-pound test -- which is what most anglers use to catch tiny panfish. He figures the sporting thing to do is to give the fish a fighting chance, and it's more fun that way, too.
If you want to get in on the marlin action, expect to pay $500 for a day's charter. If you think the price of fish is a bit high, take solace in this remark by an old salt, quoted by Vic Dunaway in his book Modern Saltwater Fishing: ". . . When I get to missing marlin fishing too much, I just have a friend beat me across the back with a baseball bat while I throw money down the drain."
WHAT'S THE CATCH?
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND NEARBY
In the Potomac River, the stripers, or rockfish, are "scattered now" and their favorite baitfish, the herring, are "basically unavailable," says Dan Ward of Fletcher's Boat House.
But stripers are going after deep-diving artificial lures -- "not an easy way to fish, but it works," Ward says. Fishermen also are using soft-shell crab for the stripers. Some four- being caught.
Ward says catfish haven't been as plentiful (or big) as in years past, but they are around.
He also recommends fishing in the C&O Canal -- especially if you're taking children along. The canal waters are full of bluegill right now -- a big fish for little kids.
At the Duck Pond (just above National Airport on the Virginia side), some small largemouth bass are being taken, says Jose Calvino of Shepherd's Live Bait and Tackle in Alexandria. "But there are a lot of bluegill being taken everywhere," he says, "and a few diehards are catching some walleye."
One of those diehards is Mike Shrader of Alexandria, who says he has been catching walleye just north of the Wilson Bridge near the rocks on the Maryland side. Shrader says he's caught about 20 walleye there over the past three weeks using plastic smoked grubs and white Mr. Twister grubs on a 1/4-oz. lead- headed jig. The walleye weighed between 3 and 4 pounds, he said.
"I've been fishing this river for 20 years, since I was six years old, and I never caught a walleye before last year," Shrader says.
EASTERN SHORE -- "Except for white perch and a few little snapper blues, things are pretty slow here," says Dave Watson of Dave's Sport shop in Quantico, Md. "They are doing pretty good on white perch in the Nanticoke River, but that's about it. The big bluefish have moved out into the Bay.
"It's been so windy lately that not many people have been out, so there's not much to base a report on. We should start to catch some croaker as soon as it calms down."
LOWER POTOMAC -- Bob Muscolino of Newburg Marine reports that unusually large white perch are biting:
"A couple of my customers just got back with the biggest white perch that I've seen in a long time. They had a bucket full of big white perch from 10 to 12 inches long. They were filleting them, they were so big.
"They caught them bottom-fishing on the oyster bars off Swan Point. They were using peeler crabs cut up in small pieces for bait."
There are also plenty of rockfish around in the Potomac and some spot up in the Wicomico River, Muscolino says.
UPPER POTOMAC -- The pattern from last week remains pretty much the same for this week, according to Rob Gilford of The Rod Rack in Frederick.
"The people using artificial lures should fish in the mornings and evenings, while people using live baits may get action all day long. The best artificial lures for smallmouth bass are the crawdad colored baits," Gilford says.
Helgrammites are still the choice for live bait.
For largemouth bass, which aren't all that eager right now, the best artificial lures are the blue and chartreuse buzz baits, Gilford says.
Gilford says there are also some trout to be caught in the Monocacy River, which runs through Frederick.
"There are some spring holes in the river that feed in cold water. The trout find these holes and hold there when the river heats up," Gilford says.
This is also true of the Potomac, according to Jack Watson of Damascus, who is responsible for this week's most outrageous fish story:
"One year the trout were in such a feeding frenzy at the mouth of the Antietam River that I had to stand with my back to the water to bait my hook. They even tried to take the bait box away from me."
But seriously, Gilford says some of the biggest trout are caught in July by anglers who wait until everyone else figures that they are all gone and quit fishing for them.
You can catch trout all year long if you stick to it, Gilford says.
TRIADELPHIA & ROCKY GORGE -- There's not much action to report in these WSSC- controlled lakes. "Nobody's caught anything this week that I've heard about,' says one employee at the Brighton Dam who prefers to remain anonymous.
LAKE ANNA -- Expect to catch a lot of largemouth and expect to throw almost all of them back. And if you fish in the lake on the weekends, expect to be run over by a water skier.
Greg Meeks of Sturgeon Creek Marina says people are catching "a lot of fish, a lot of fish," but they're all within the lake's slot limit (throwback size) of between 12 and 15 inches.
He also says the weekend is a bad time to come out and fish, because Lake Anna is "real crowded" with skiers. If you want to do any serious fishing, you'll have to do it on weekdays.
Meeks says striper action has dropped off, but crappie fishing is still good and the catfish are great.
If you do go after largemouth bass, they can be caught where the channel cuts close to shore or near points, says Jerry Liverman of Fredericksburg, a part-time guide on the lake. "They are holding on structures on the lip of the dropoffs," Liverman says.
OCCOQUAN -- This is a bad time for both the river and reservoir, reports Phillip Mello of The Lynn Co. in Occoquan. "The only thing you can really catch a lot of is catfish," he says.
Striper action has picked up a bit, though. Mello recommends using bloodworms and twister grubs for stripers. Crappie are "nonexistent," he says, and a few bass are being caught in the reservoir. Tennessee shad crankbaits are working best on the bass, he says.
POINT LOOKOUT -- Surfcasters "are not catching any fish now," says Pat Raley of Sister's Place. "Two or three small blues have been brought in, but it's been so rough down here since Monday, the tide comes up on the causeway and the wind blows the water over the top. You get real wet, so not many people are fishing."
UPPER BAY -- The crabbing is getting good right now around Kent Island, the Wye River and the eastern Bay and in the Severn River on the western shore, reports Marv Walls of Angler's in Annapolis.
Walls also reports that the smaller bluefish are moving into the area. "We just got a report that some smaller blues, from two to four pounds, have shown up on the Eastern Shore just south of the Queen Anne Marina off Kent Island. Now that they are here, they will spread out all over," Walls says. "We didn't have any before. The big ones had left and the smaller ones were staying down in the lower Bay."