Fishing from the Point: Tuna tourney and steady flounder fishing keep anglers busy
The offshore bite this summer has been the biggest seen in nearly a decade, with plenty of yellowfin, bluefin and big-eye tuna tipping the scales at the marinas, and not a moment too soon. This weekend, the 25th Annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament looks to impress, set for July 13-15 with a cash payout of $500,000.
Last year, the Crush Em stole the show, after pulling in two massive big-eye tuna that weighed 190 and 259 pounds. Their stringer, which included three yellowfins, coupled with the big-eyes, gave the Crush Em a record-setting 594-pound tournament weight. The tournament last year netted the crew of the Crush Em $243,797.
And with the way the tuna have been biting this year, Rolfe Gudelsky at the Ocean City Fishing Center said, he expects another entertaining tourney this weekend.
“The turnout looks awesome,” he said. “The fishing this summer has been amazing. It’s been really hot. There have been bites all over the place the last few weeks and this week, too, and we’re hoping that continues right into tournament time. We’re seeing a bunch of big-eyes around the 200 mark and some skirting around 250. Bluefins are even coming in closer, which gives a good shot for all boat sizes in the tournament.”
The Baltimore and Washington canyons have been the go-to spots so far this season for tuna, and while they’re the prime target for this week’s competition, the leisurely angler can still enjoy a steady billfish and dolphin bite by trolling some ballyhoo, as well.
According to Eric Burnley Sr.’s report for Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, the 100-fathom line is a hotbed for the big-eyes as of late, and chunking in the southern canyons can yield a nice catch in the evenings.
Inshore, around the Hot Dog, Massey’s Canyon and the 19-Fathom Lump, the tuna are still plentiful, with yellowfin, bluefin and dolphin.
“It’s amazing at how many tuna are being pulled in as close as they are,” said Gudelsky. “Fishermen have been working steady, and the bluefins and big-eyes are moving in. We’ve been very fortunate this year.”
Like last year, this year’s tournament is expected to bring plenty of action to the scales at the marina with no disappointments — except, perhaps, for those fishing beside the Crush Em as they pull in a whopping 260-pound big-eye, Gudelsky said with a laugh.
Sea bass and flounder catches are also productive around the inshore lumps, including Reef Sites 10 and 11 and the Old Grounds. Live spot and bunker are the bait of choice for flatties, and clam and squid are doing the job for the sea bass. Croaker and triggerfish are hanging around the reef sites and wrecks around the Delaware Bay, according to Bill’s Sport Shop in Lewes. Site 5 in the Broadkill Slough has been a good spot for croakers, along with blowfish and kingfish.
The bite in the Indian River Inlet is also staying steady with Gulp! and drifting live spot working the best. The VFW Slough, the south side of the inlet and Massey’s Ditch are all producing keepers, while the jetty jockeys hugging the rocks can find flounder on live spot and minnows.
Plenty of reports are coming in about the summer striper bite picking up again in the evenings throughout the inlet. Live fleas drifting will more than likely do the trick along the jetties and around Bubblegum Beach. If you’re working in the surf, snapper blues are coming in on fresh spot while bloodworms can make angling kings, sand perch and small croakers entertaining, too.
For more information about the Ocean City Tuna Tournament, check out www.octunatournament.com.