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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I had a tough time finding an open boat with my tidal fish ho announcements or many calls to captains trying to find an open spot. The wind was blowing too hard to take my kayak or little boat across the bay bridge on New Years Eve so I went to the shore boatless. So I did New Years Eve plus a few days with the wife and kids at the in laws. But I had originally planned, or should I say dreamed, that I'd get a day or two down at CBBT somehow. Well that wasn't meant to be. NO problem, I'll just shore fish the beaches and jetties around Ocean City. First day I tried was Friday, Jan. 2nd after reading a report on tidal fish about a massive pod of birds seen just outside the inlet. I had phoned a few captains but couldn't find a boat going out on Friday or Saturday.

I worked my way north for some reason to try Indian River inlet on Friday. I made it about half way there around Fenwick when I see this massive, sky covering flock of birds. Both roosting and flying in formation and these birds had a blackish wing tip, over an all white body and the size looked right, could it be, the mother load of gannets? On the Bay side? OF course not, but a spectacle of nature at its best either way. I've read and heard stories of snow geese before but I've never actually seen any species of wildlife in such abundance as I did on Friday.






For some reason I left this spectacle because I thought I saw some birds working the beach across route 1. Sure enough when I climbed over the sand dune after crossing route 1 there was a good size bird show just offshore. Nothing too exciting and I knew shore fishing was out of the question so I continued on north to the Inlet. I fished the morning at the inlet pretty hard, even in a blinding snow storm as I was fishing from the north side and the wind and snow was pelting my face the entire time. But there were even quite a few other hardcore souls there trying their luck and doing rather well on schoolie size fish fishing a three way rig with a dropped bell sinker of 4 0z to a 3 or 4' leader with a 4 or 5 inch clouser fly as the "bait" of choice. These guys would cast practically to the center of the inlet lettering their rig bounce on the bottom and swing in with the tide. But I opted for the end of the jetty to try plugging the rip there that has produced well in the past but in November, not January. I took a big skunking but it was fun trying and I wanted to get back to my kids in Ocean City by 11am.

On Saturday I spent the morning with the family and got the pass to fish for the rest of the day. Like I said before, I originally had huge plans to either jump on a charter or fish the barrier islands with a kayak but they didn't work out. But my car was filled with the essentials to put me in a decent position to catch some jetty fish. I had chest waders, corkers, gortex jacket and enough fleece to fish in the arctic. I arrived at the south jetty around 1pm and didn't feel like putting on the waders and just worked my way to the eastern tip as spay from waves would shower me from time to time. Towards the end of the jetty were half dozen professional looking photographers pointing their lenses north but I wasn't sure what they were looking at. I saw a few gulls on the water, a few cormorants and loons but nothing special. I asked someone finally and they said they were looking at all the rare birds. Rare I thought??? You guys don't get out much.
Then I noticed some specs off on the horizon. Way off, like over a mile maybe. But I had an idea what they were. Here I am with the naked eye telling the birds watchers with thousands of dollars in equipment about a massive pod of potential gannets due east. They all started buzzing to each other, "GANNETS?, did he say gannets. Oh wow, gannets…." I even borrowed a lens or spotting scope or two to take a look and it was going off in legendary proportions. What a tortuous sight I thought. All the bird geeks thanked me for showing them but they had no idea how I saw them without a lens. Oh well, gannets are an incredible sight to see, but when you're a light tackle junkie fishermen, stranded on shore with no way of getting to them, they are just plane torture. So what does any sane individual do in that situation? Go beg and plead with someone for a boat ride. I thought why don't I just run down to the marina and try and find a captain or a paddle boat somewhere, anything to get me closer to those birds.

I went straight down to the boat ramp that had one loan tuck and trailer in the lot. NO one else but I noticed the trailer was dripping wet. Someone had just dropped a boat I said to myself! Sure enough, there's an older gentlemen in a good looking but older center console, made by Neptune, 20 footer, with a running two stroke. I parked my car illegally and ran down to the ramp to exchange a few words and tell him about the massive pod of gannets just outside the inlet and how I was DYING to go fishing. Well, I got the invite and off I go after I grab a few rods and reorganize my jetty bag into an offshore jigging/top water bag.

When we first arrived it was nothing short of mesmerizing. Thousands of gannets diving simultaneously with only 4 other boats in any direction as far as you could see and each boat had their own congregation of synchronized diving torpedoes. First cast we are both hooked up and throwing high fives like we were life long friends. Both our fish were good solid 26 or 27 inch fish but we could see 12" bunker getting snapped out of the water by the birds along with numerous car hood size swirls on the surface from a cow down below. IT was just a matter of time before we hooked a monster. Next cast, same deal, similar size fish. It went on like this for three hours where we only repositioned the boat once or twice as we kept drifting into more fish. Many fish were over 30 inches with one very close to 40 inches. Top water produced, any color plastic or bucktail produced. After a while the surface mayhem died down a little as the flock moved further offshore but the lowarance continued to show good marks on the bottom in 40 feet and with a light braided line and a 1 ounce head, the subtle technique often referred to as the "force" on this board continued to produce fish on almost every cast once the jig finally found bottom. My new found friend was having a hard time finding bottom with his trusty buck tails or storm lures so I shared some 1.5oz heads with bass assassins or 10" BKDS and we both continued to slay the fish. Later my new friend Pete, who is probably more than twice my age, called me his new good luck charm. We later traded contact info at the ramp and vowed to fish together again soon. He's a local and a regular to IRI but has never seen anything like what we saw that afternoon. He has always wanted to fish the Susquehanna Flats and I hope I get to return the favor for such an awesome trip. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Here's some fish picks but wouldn't you know it, Murphy's law had the camera die shortly into the trip. I wish I took more video and pictures of all the birds. Heck even just the sound of all the gannets communicating with each other is a sound I'll never forget. The fish pictured here was about average. Good old cookie cutter thirty something incher. So before you make that trip down to CBBT, you may want to take a peak in Delaware. It looks like there's a lot more fish to move south. The fat lady isn't even warm yet.





 

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I was on the beach in South Bethany on Saturday and didn't see anything like that. Wish I'd had the gumption to head up there too. Instead, I spent the morning winterizing my folks' boat and walking on the beach with the kids and the dog.

Sounds like you had a remarkable day.
 

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Sweet deal Jon
Fisherman is good people
 

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Great Story

As I get ready to trailer my boat to Kipto to leave there for the next couple months:eek: The thing about the CBBT at least is you pretty much can ALWAYS find fish on the tunnel but like Deleware and any where else on the ocean from there S you can"t ALWAYS find fish. Cool you found em though, I like the tenacity in trying to get a ride! I would have done the same thing!:pp Johnny O
 

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Great read, Jon. No doubt you find a way to catch fish anywhere you go. I love it that you found a fishing partner like that. Congratulations on some amazing fishing.
 

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Salma trutta......I'm jeolous as heck. I might be the one that made the post about the birds...saw them off OC a few days ago. Since then I have been trying to find a way out onto the water with a casual HO post. No takers. Wish I had the nads to do what you did cause it paid off big time for you. Seems like the flocks of gannetts are heading north instead of south so maybe they will be around for a while. Congratulatins and way to make it happen.
 

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That's one great story. Glad the gods smiled on you and you got into the action. If you're a fisherman and the gannet show doesn't get the adrenalin pumping you need to give it up. It's the greatest show on earth. Great post and pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
M.Q. - IT was your post that started it all and got me excited to stay in Delmarva area. On Friday I saw a good size pod of gannets near Fenwick but nothing like what was outside IRI on Saturday. Either they moved north or the school is enormous.
 

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Good read Jon. Thanks for posting the story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for all the replies.

Mark, how have you been? Courtney, my wife is here with me and says hi. You took us both fishing to the flats five or six years ago before we were married. She still puts up with my fishing.
 
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