Lots of folks scoff at the idea of getting up before sunrise, regardless of the reason. Me? I don’t mind, as long as it’s for something fun and worthwhile—even if it's technically “work.”
In this case, “work” involved heading to Ocean City, MD, to film the third episode of the boats.com fishing show Got Bait? But instead of stalking flounder like we did in the first episode around Ocean City's coastal bays, we’d be heading nearly 60 miles offshore to see if bait or lures were better for catching mahi-mahi, a colorful and hard-fighting fish found off much of the U.S. East Coast.
We joined Capt. Larry Golden of Thrillseeker Fishing Adventures aboard his World Cat 3300 TE powercat Thrillseeker at the West Ocean City launch ramp before the break of dawn. Along for the ride were boats.com senior editor Lenny Rudow, his sons Max and Dave, Paul Cronin (our videographer), and me. Luckily, our planned weather window worked out, so we shoved off in beautiful conditions just a little past 5 am. Our destination was Poor Man’s Canyon, a slice of 600-foot deep water about 53 miles offshore from the Ocean City Inlet. Two and a half easy hours later, we were on the fishing grounds.
Now “bailing” may seem like a bad word when you’re almost 60 miles offshore, but in this case, it describes the method we'd be using to entice the mahi-mahi onto a hook. When we arrived at the canyon, we looked for lobster pot floats. That’s because mahi-mahi have an odd habit of hanging out underneath most anything that floats on the sea, whether it’s a piece of plywood, a Mylar balloon, or even an old cooler. To lure them out, we’d sidle up to the floats, toss out a bunch of live minnows and bait, and then cast into the resulting melee with lures and baited hooks. That’s "bailing," in a nutshell.
And luckily, unlike the uncooperative fish we encountered during the filming of episode 2, the mahi-mahi at Poor Man’s Canyon were eager and hungry. As soon as the live minnows hit the water, dozens of feisty mahi-mahi came out from under the lobster floats to enjoy the buffet we’d laid out. Unfortunately for them, however, there were artificial lures and circle hooks baited with squid floating among the fleeing minnows. Plenty of fish were brought aboard, including a handful of chicken and cow mahi-mahi that we tagged and released. Since the water was crystal-clear, it was almost like fishing in an aquarium. A few mahi-mahi even tried to eat our underwater camera a few times.
Once we’d caught our share, we pointed Thrillseeker back toward Ocean City. Not a bad day, especially when it’s technically work.
So, was it lures or bait that won the day offshore? I’m not telling. And if you want to know what “gaffers,” “chickens,” “cows,” and “bulls” have to do with mahi-mahi, you’ll just have to watch the third episode to find out. The first one is coming in August, so be sure to “Like” the boats.com Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel for timely updates as each episode is released.