Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ocean City Meet & Greet

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Saturday was the July Meet & Greet for the MKF forum members.  It was held in Ocean City, MD and the target species was flounder!  This fishing trip was special for me, because my first saltwater trip was here, as well as my first fishing trip with the forum members 2 years ago.  I was very much looking forward to the trip, because I don't get many opportunities to fish in real saltwater, and also because I hadn't fished with my buddies from the forum in a while either.  An added bonus to the day would be if I could bring home some flatties for dinner!

Paddling out into the inlet area.

We all met up bright and early at 6:30AM at the Lucky Angler Bait & Tackle store, a block away from the Sunset marina that we were going to launch from.  The shop owner was really helpful with giving us tips and her daughter took care of me with some huge live minnows that I was going to use as back-up in case the gulp + bucktails didn't work out for me.  We chatted a little in the parking lot about technique and tactics, and headed to the marina to start our day.

First fish of the day!

A few of us headed out first, and slowly paddled out as we waited for the others to rig up and join us.  When we got to the opening to the inlet, we slowly dabbled with our jigs around the piers and rocks to see if we could get anything early in the morning.  I had some good luck vertical jigging gulp by bridge and pier pilings last time, so I tried that around some of the pilings by the opening.  I managed to pick up a tiny black sea bass in about 10 feet of water on my gulp mullet.  It wasn't huge, but I was still happy to see a live fish! 

Now that my jigging hand has gotten warmed up with a fish, I started venturing out into the inlet.  It was still early enough that there were no boaters in sight, and the fog still hadn't lifted from the water yet.  The water in the inlet was also very calm, which allowed me to check out some deep areas by the inlet where I thought there might be some flounder.  I had heard from others that deep drop-offs and holes are good places to jig for flounder.  As I paddled out toward the inlet, I was surprised to find a drop-off that went very quickly from 8-9 feet down to 30 feet.  Perfect!  I quickly sent down my 1.5 oz white bucktail with a 4" chartreuse gulp mullet.  It was kind of hard to maintain my position, and I could read from my new-to-me fishfinder that I was drifting at about .5 mile to 1 mile per hour.  Still, I had a couple hits on the gulp, and lost a good fish near the boat within the first 30 minutes.  I kept at it for a while, but ended up losing several rigs due to snags as I drifted out of the hole and toward the rocks.  I really wished I had a hobie...

My first keeper flounder!

I eventually snagged all of my bucktails that were heavy enough to hit bottom, which was no problem because I had my bucket of minnows!  I brought along a bunch of tog rigs that I had left from my Kiptopeke trip, which I thought would probably work for flounder.  I baited up the largest minnow I could get a hold of and sent him on down.  Within a few minutes I had a fish on!  I was hopeful that it would be a keeper flounder, and sure enough it was an 18" flounder.  My first keeper flounder ever!  I stuck around the inlet area for a while longer, but didn't have any luck.  All the big flounder boats were also coming out to play, and it was actually getting a bit crowded, so I decided to head over to the route 50 bridge.

Ocean City from the water

The bridge area was not anybetter, and the water was actually very murky.  There had been some very strong storms in the area the day before, and I guess it really muddied up the water behind the inlet.  Several other kayakers were by the bridge as well, and no one really had much success, probably because of the low visibility.  I moved on to head back toward the inlet, while fishing along the docks on the ocean city side.  The water was actually much cleaner here than by the bridge.  With an incoming tide the entire morning, I guess the cleaner ocean water was making its way in.  I hoped that I could pick up some more fish in this cleaner water, but for the next several hours I didn't catch another thing.  The current had really started to pick up too, and I was drifting at 1-2 miles per hour.  That got kind of tiring after a while so I headed back towards the marina a bit away from the inlet.

Couple other kayakers by the jetty in the inlet.

I decided to take it easy, and just drifted around in the bay area while casually eating some snacks.  I was surprised to be getting some hits on my minnow as I left my rod to rest over the side of my kayak.  Maybe there are some fish here too?  I quickly finished up my snack and picked up my rod to try a little harder to catch something.  After a few drifts I finally hooked up with another flounder.  This one gave a bit of a stronger fight than my first one, and it turned out to be another 18" fish.  My second keeper!  Now I was happy with the day's catch and would be content with going home with 2 flounder.  Not much later, the others in the group were chatting on the VHF about getting hungry, so we all headed in and packed up to head to Pizza Tugo's for lunch.  We had a good time sharing stories and enjoyed some food... These Meet & Greets are great not only because of the fishing, but also the relationships that we build from the lunches afterwards. 

Dinner for 4

I considered going back out to fish some more after lunch, but my wife texted me saying she was having a rough day with the boys, so I decided to head on home.  That was okay, because I caught more keepers than I had hoped for, and it also left time in the evening to prepare one of the fish for dinner.  I haven't really been too fond of frozen flounder from the store, but fresh flounder is actually really tasty!  I baked one for dinner Saturday night, which was enough to feed my family of 4, and I filleted the other one to have with my in-laws who were coming in a few days to visit.  We ended up having sashimi with that one, which was also very good.

Chomp Chomp

This was another successful fishing trip.  Everyone caught fish, with maybe half of us going home with keepers.  No one turtled this time.  And I didn't get any bad sun burns.  I need to live closer to the ocean...