Offshore shark fishing hitting its peak
Over the years I’ve gotten to know many outstanding lady anglers, including my wife. Some were specialists in striper fishing in the surf, others in catching bluefish in the ocean, others targeted the flounder. But, Ocean City’s Maureen Klause has made a career of catching world record light line class fish. At this point she holds an incredible 24 of those records and soon that may become twenty-five.
Maureen’s latest is a 126.4-pound mako shark she landed on 6-pound test monofilament line. She owns her own boat and was in the Lemke’s Canyon at the time. Apparently, there was interest in her bait being shown both by the mako and a thresher but the mako won and took the hook.
Incidentally, as avid an angler as Maureen is, her husband, Harry, has nothing to do with her boat and does not go fishing.
As you can gather, the shark fishing in the canyons is excellent right now. The windy pattern of the entire spring and the first few days of summer seems to have been broken and that is permitting more boats to get offshore. Along with just about all the canyons, one of the traditional shark hot spots continues to be the 28 Mile Wreck. The Wreck long has been popular with anglers with smaller boats that are not capable to making the canyons.
If sharks are not your thing, the activity on yellowfin, bluefin, big eye and longfin tuna seems to be getting better with each passing day. Some mahi and white marlin also are mixed in with the tunny family members. Probably the best areas continue to be the Poorman’s and Baltimore Canyons, but those are long runs for boats north of Cape May. However, there are encouraging reports now trickling in from the Wilmington, the Hambone, Hot Dog and Elephant Trunk which are much closer for Atlantic and Ocean County based boats. If you ever wondered how those places got their rather colorful names, if traces back to their shape on a nautical chart. Sometimes you have to use your imagination but if you look hard enough you can see the vague form of a ham, weenie or an elephant.
Much, much closer to home kingfish are dominating the reports. These tasty little guys are being taken in great numbers from most, if not all, the oceanside piers and many of the various inlet jetties. Some of the anglers who are looking to stock up for a fish fry or fill the freezer
have come up with a new tactic for catching more of the kingies. They have resorted to using mackerel trees or shortened Sabiki rigs so they can get more hooks in the water and it seems to be working. In the days when the mackerel were an integral part of late winter and spring fishing in south Jersey the mackerel trees were the rig of choice. Since the departure of the macks you might have a tough time finding any off these rigs even in the biggest tackle shop.
Summer flounder fishing remains strong, although there are some signs the larger fish are starting to move outside and head toward the artificial reefs and snags.
A few stripers are being reported but most are undersized and almost all of that action is taking place at night along the beaches and sod banks.
If you are looking to have some big game style action, brown and sand tiger sharks are being hooked-up from some of the beaches, especially in Brigantine. These are not giants by any means but generally are between 3 and 5 feet long. They may be relatively small but they still can put a hurting on you so be careful with them. And, always release them.
Quietly, this is turning into a rather good crabbing season. One thing not to do is place any blue claws you catch in a pail of water. They will drown. Just place them in a basket or cooler and cover them with seaweed or a damp cloth.
ACROSS THE BAY
Unlike New Jersey, the kingfish action in Delaware is just beginning. Those that are being caught are being found off the beaches and seem to be averaging a little over a foot in length. That activity should continue to improve as long as the weather holds.
While you are casting into the surf for the kingfish, you also might see some anglers casting heavier equipment looking for sharks, usually the sand tigers and browns.
Summer flounder catches remain constant. Remember, in Delaware the minimum size is 17-inches and there is a 4 fish bag limit. Along with the always popular inside flattie spots the anglers are now hitting them off the coast around Sites 10 and 11 and the Old Grounds.
If you are interested in bringing home some tuna for the grill head off in the direction of the Baltimore and Poor Man’s Canyons for some good water. You should have little trouble hooking up some yellowfin and bluefin while casting over that way.
The Delaware Marine Patrol is stepping up its enforcement of the state’s boating under the influence laws. So if you will be on the water this long holiday weekend you have been warned.