Chesapeake Outdoors by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 28

July 11-17, 2002

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Bluefin’s the Best

Sometimes in offshore fishing, as in horse racing, it isn’t how fast you get out of the gate that’s important, but how strong you finish. That certainly was the case for Karl Roscher’s Hurricane, the 34-foot sportfisher he runs out of Ocean City with his wife, Robin.

The inaugural trip of the 2002 tuna season certainly fit this description, because as we cleared the inlet, the port motor bogged down like it was starving for fuel. Not a pleasant feeling. Karl shut the boat down and then, amid the slop generated from the fishing fleet racing to the offshore grounds, jumped down into the hold and changed out all the fuel filters. That did the trick, and we only lost an hour. By 8am, our lines were wet, with four skirted ballyhoo on the outriggers and a cedar plug and Green Machine connected to the flat lines directly astern.

We’d barely finished straightening up the cockpit when the port long outrigger went off, line screaming for mercy. Half a minute later, the starboard reel engaged, and a pelagic freight train was lighting out for the Labrador Current. With two decent bluefin tuna on, it was glorious, adrenaline fueled chaos. I love fishing, all kinds, but bluewater quarry is just so powerful and tenacious that to me there just isn’t a comparison to brackish or freshwater.

Bluefin tuna are apex predators, eating squid, crustacean and other fish on their way to reaching weights greater than 1,400 pounds. The ones attached to our Penn TW 30s were mere babies in comparison, only in the 50-pound range.

With a worldwide distribution, bluefins can be found seasonally in the inshore Atlantic waters from the Bahamas and as far north as Newfoundland. We found a nice school a little less than 25 miles off Maryland’s coast.

Karl and Mike Earsman subdued the scrappy fish, and after I gaffed Karl’s bluefin and put it in the box, we turned our attention to Mike’s fish. But it was too late: The fish had seen the boat and exploded, spitting the hook in the process. Although not really his fault, we nonetheless gave Earsman the obligatory verbal beat-down for losing a quality fish.

We all had a turn at fighting the fish, and all told we landed four and released two bluefin. As I said, better to finish strong than bolt out quickly and fade.

Fish Are Biting
The area is buzzing with Snakehead Fever, with local and even national media attention over this nasty walking critter. There are even wanted posters hanging in the Crofton area, apparently. If you catch one, the state recommends you euthanize it. I suggest you kill it but good.

Chumming has slowed for rockfish, but trolling is okay for bluefish and some sea trout. Offshore, the bite out of Wachpreague and Ocean City remains good for bluefin tuna, some dolphin (mahi) and bluefish. Steve Linhard and his crew aboard Wonder Why caught their bluefin limit (four) and some gaffer dolphin at 26-Mile Hill.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly