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Posted on April 7, 2011 | Permalink

Seasonal Visitors

Type: Ocean
Region: Eastern
Location: Ocean City

We have some seasonal visitors that have been hanging around north of the 50 bridge this winter. Evidently there have been a lot of these critters up and down the coast this winter. The last three years we have seen them a lot, and they are hanging around longer and longer each year. They are both harp and harbor seals. Mostly they have been hanging out on Skimmer Island and the small Island just north of there. There are a couple of babies that are way past cute. Photo compliments of Dr Roman Jesien.

Tags: Harbor Seals

Posted on October 25, 2010 | Permalink

Artificial Reef

Type: Ocean
Region: Ocean
Location: Offshore Artificial Reef

Recently a few of the biologists from the coastal program went out in the ocean and sampled tautog on a local headboat to get age, sex, length, weight information for the regional stock assessment. It was really rough so we had to stay close to home and we got bounced around a good bit. The tautog would not bite at all at the first reef we tried, but we did much better on an artificial reef at the second site. They bit readily and it wasnít long before we had over 50 fish in the boat to sample. The captain asked if we had enough and I asked him if he wouldnít mind trying one more spot before we went in. We went to an artificial reef spot in 30 feet of water near the inlet and soon hooked up to some larger fish. They turned out to be black drum and sheepshead and were pretty decent size. It made a great end to a great day. We donated the fish meat to local shelter, so all in all I was feeling pretty good about the day. Not a bad day at the office! By the way the tautog fishing is great right now both off the Island rocks and on the nearby reefs.

Tags: Black Drum, Sheepshead

Posted on September 2, 2010 | Permalink

Fishing on the front of Earl

Type: Ocean
Region: Eastern
Location: Ocean City

Hurricanes bring all kinds of things to Ocean City; great surf, too much wind, and large pelagics! The recent spat of offshore hurricanes is no exception, we have been experiencing great marlin fishing the past two years in September and this year is the best so far. Yesterday I went 80 miles southeast to between the Washington and Norfolk canyons in the deep and experienced a truly blue planet day. Packs of three to five white marlin were balling up schools of bait on the surface, and cutting back and forth through the bait slashing and eating. On the tower you could clearly see them lit up pelagic blue and having a time of it. We were fortunate enough to get 20 solid bites, but due to some faulty leader material only got six to the boat (he he: did I just complain about only catching six marlin in a day?)

Through the day we saw over a hundred marlin and not just glimpses but we watched them swimming around and in and out of our spread continuously most of the day. One time while on the tower watching for fish, I spotted a boil, and expecting a marlin I turned the boat toward it. Up came not a marlin but a HUGE black whale, I NEARLY FELL OFF THE TOWER I WAS SO SURPRISED. It was massive and coal black. Usually when you see a whale around here they are traveling and you see them again and again. This one didnít back come up and my friend showed it to me descending straight down on the depth finder. We were in 800 fathoms of water (4,800 feet), and he said he has seen them drop over 1000 feet before he lost it on the sounder! Going down to eat squid I would presume- pretty impressive dive for a free diver Iíd say!

After Earl passes by and it calms down for a day or two, its back to the deep to see what has been left behind this time. Ocean City is truly the WHITE MARLIN CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!

PS Summer Flounder (Big Flounder) and Black Sea Bass (Big Sea Bass) fishing is picking up- stay tuned.

Tags: White Marlin, Black Whale, Summer Flounder, Black Sea Bass

Posted on June 15, 2010 | Permalink

Coastal Bays

Type: Ocean
Region: Eastern
Location: Coastal Bays

Marylandís fishery service working with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and several volunteers do an annual survey of horseshoe crabs spawning in the Maryland coastal bays. This week we saw a large number of horseshoe crabs spawning in Maryland, and worked with a Fish and Wildlife Service volunteer to tag a few. Mr. Dick Arnold, Carol Cain, and Brad Stevens tagged about 200 horseshoe crabs with our help, and Mr. Arnold shot a few pictures I would like to share with you all.

One of the Islands on which the horseshoe crabs spawn is also a rookery for many species of shorebirds including herons, gulls, ducks, skimmers, terns, and oyster catchers. The past few years we have noticed the numbers of oyster catchers nesting on the Island beginning to increase. However, for the past three years or more there were no terns or skimmers nesting on the Island. This year we have been blessed by a large number of Royal Terns and Black Skimmers nesting on the Island. As you can see from the pictures there is a large number of Royal Terns with eggs strewn about, and there are approximately two dozen Black Skimmers that are nesting on the Island as well. What amazes me is that the whole Atlantic population of Black Skimmers is less than 2000 birds!

The eggs are just starting to hatch for these nesters and letís hope the relatively calm weather we have enjoyed this spring keeps up. The past two years a northeaster in the spring has wreaked havoc on these nesters, but conditions have been much more favorable for the birds this year. These birds have some great coloration and I look forward to seeing them each year. The Black skimmers are my particular favorite as they often accompany me in the evenings when I am fishing off the rocks in and near the inlet in downtown Ocean City. They skim the water with their beaks open and snatch the fish from the air off the water- too cool. They are much better fishers than I, but I still try, and enjoy watching them score even if I donít!

Tags: Black Skimmers, Royal Terns, Horeshoe Crabs

Posted on June 10, 2010 | Permalink

Black Sea Bass

Type: Ocean
Region: Eastern
Location: Ocean City

The black sea bass fishing has been spectacular this year since the opening on May 22nd. We have seen the best catches we have seen in years off the Maryland coast. I recently went on two head boat trips in early June and had a fantastic time on both trips. The fish have been better quality than we have seen in a while. The last few days the fish have gotten a little more finicky as they begin to spawn. But from day to day they really turn on some days still.

Tags: Black Sea Bass

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