Wild Chesapeake: $5.4 Million White Marlin Open, and Other Bites

Fishing and hunting guide Captain Chris Dollar brings up-to-date sporting life insight to the Bay Bulletin. Check in weekly to see what’s happening out there right now.

The world’s richest marlin tournament kicked off on Monday in Ocean City, Md., and man, what a start. A monster 881-pound blue marlin sits atop the White Marlin Open leaderboard as of Tuesday afternoon. Joe Rahman was on the rod aboard the 80-foot Viking sportfisher Auspicious out of Palm Beach when the leviathan took the bait. Rahman stands to take home $700,000 for that fish if it stays on top of the board. Jake Pilkerton weighed in a 71-pound tuna to assume first place and a solid shot at the $960,000 tuna prize. The white marlin bite, however, has been slow, and the few legal fish that were landed so far did not meet the tournament’s 70-pound minimum. But, that’ll change since there’s a lot of fishing left and with a favorable offshore forecast through Friday. It’s anyone’s game.

Bluewater anglers not fishing the WMO from Rudee to Wachapreague and Ocean City to Indian River are catching plenty of mahi-mahi and king mackerel and a few tunas and wahoo. Brothers Cole and Riley Evans of Berlin, Md. fished over the Chicken Bone about 30 miles out from the Ocean City Inlet and trolled-up a nice 40-pound wahoo, which hit a blue-and-white Islander lure with a ballyhoo. They also took home a 15-pound mahi-mahi. 

 Brothers Cole and Riley Evans of Berlin MD fished the Chicken Bone with a friend, where they trolled up a nice 40-pound wahoo (Cole), which hit a blue-and-white Islander with a ballyhoo, as well as 15-pound mahi (Riley)

Off of Sandbridge Beach, fast-trolling gold spoons could net you some pretty Spanish mackerel. Also, in the same waters are king mackerel and even a few cobia. In the Bay, there are plenty of sheepshead along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) piling and spadefish there and around the rocks. Big red drum, cobia, and croaker are available throughout lower Bay on live bottom. If you’re after speckled trout and puppy drum, cast paddle-tails or twitch baits in Rudee and Lynnhaven inlets. Clean, moving water is essential. 

Capt. Mike Henderson says anglers fishing out Point Lookout and St. Jerome’s Creek are catching cobia as well as some red drum. Trolling spoons, chumming, and even jigging might get you hooked up. The Norfolk spot are inside the Patuxent and in Tangier Sound at fishy places like the Puppy Hole.

In the upper Bay, wallet-sized spot are in the West, South and Magothy rivers, giving the chapter fleet and sport anglers perfectly sized bait to live-line rockfish. Inside the Magothy and on the lumps approaching the Patapsco River, you can catch fat channel and flathead catfish, which will hit bloodworms, clams, and cut bait. Some croakers are around, too. The white perch are thick around Thomas Point and the Bay Bridges. They prefer bloodworms but will hit spinners and other lures. Eastern Bay and the lower Choptank and Chester have school-sized rockfish, which sometimes bust bait. The better bet is casting topwater plugs such as Stillwater Smack-its, MirrOlure Popa Dogs, or Heddon Spooks.

The snakehead haunts the Potomac creeks, while Blackwater and Wicomico continue to entertain anglers casting weightless soft plastic frogs and such into lily pads and
other vegetative cover.

All-in-all, it’s a good time to fish, and $960K will buy a lot of marine fuel and drinks at the Sunset Grille.