This upcoming Monday, is, THE BIG ONE. Before the sun begins to peak its rays above the horizon, before the rooster crows or the hound howls, and most likely, even before your first cup of coffee, anglers will have set out from Harbour Island, Ocean City on an adventure: An adventure for treasure. For these adventurers, like it has been for many years, the treasure they seek lies beneath the sea. But it is not gold or relics of old, it’s the creatures that live within it. The White Marlin. Known to be a rare and solitary species, it has been coveted by watermen since the Atlantic was the Atlantic. In the old days this beautiful creature was known as Skilligalee (say that word out loud and you’ll want one too). People have always sought after this sailfish, for its meat, for the story, the adventure, and now they will come to Ocean City, MD for the riches that it could bring. Last year’s lone Skilligalee brought it’s capturer over $1,200,000.
OCMD is historically a fishing town. In the ol’days men would simply drag boats to the water’s edge and navigate through the surf. Imagine these salty fellas yelling ‘SKILLIGALEE!’ over pounding wind and rain. In 1933 a hurricane tore a hole in the land creating a passable inlet, thus bettering life and fishing chances in Ocean City, MD.
There are a few ways to enjoy Ocean City’s White Marlin Open. Known as ‘The World’s Largest Billfish Tournament’ and celebrating its 41st Anniversary, this event is sure not to disappoint. One way to enjoy the tournament is to head down to the inlet and Harrison’s Harbor Watch Restaurant to watch the parade of big fancy boats heading out to sea. Harbor Watch has the best view in town and they supply us land folk tournament information and give insight to what all the different flags on the boats mean (you’ll see what I mean if you attend the event). Want to have a more permanent location to watch the boats, check out the Oceanic Motel. Book a room overlooking the bay and watch the boats, day and night, as they travel to cash in on the Skilligalee! Even throw in a line yourself from the Oceanic’s lengthy fishing pier.
By far, the most popular way to take the action in is to head down to the Harbour Island Marina on 14th Street and the Bay. There you can watch the big fancy boats come in, witness the sea creatures being weighed and check out the vendors. There’s always a festival atmosphere going on down there and usually the town provides a shuttle from the convention center to the harbor.
The best way to get into the action is simply entering the tournament. You’ll need a boat. A big boat. Think JAWS big. And then think, ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat.’ For those that do enter, good luck!
For those that are not going to enter the tournament and want to enjoy the town fishing, there are quite a few options for you as well. The bulkhead at 2nd thru 4th Street is a free fishing zone; you can fish without a license here. You still need to be part of a registry (call 855-855-3906). Keeper flounder can be found there with a slacking tide. Anglers can also find sea bass, rock, spot, croaker, bluefish, tautog, and puppy drum. If the tides moving hard, cast straight down, it’s deep enough and you won’t get hung up.
The OC Pier is another spot you can fish without a MD license. Kingfish and croaker have been running hot there these past couple weeks. The Route 50 Bridge coming into Ocean City is also a hotspot for anglers; let’s just hope the bridge doesn’t get stuck in the “up” position like last week. You’ll need a MD License to fish off of the 50 Bridge, which are reasonably priced. So remember, you don’t need a big fancy boat to hook a nice fish in Ocean City, MD.
Speaking of big boats, be sure not to miss one of the newest attractions to Ocean City: the Galeón Andalucía. The Galeón Andalucía, or Tall Ship as it is referred to, is the only galeón class ship in the world sailing today. Coming out of the second half of the 16th Century, galeóns had a little different build style than you will find of the boats at the White Marlin Open. Back in the day, hundreds of expert tradesmen, including carpenters, blacksmiths, shipwrights and pitch-melters worked day and night for months to make a galeón seaworthy. The Tall Ship is definitely something to check out while you’re basking in all the other sea worthy activities. It offers tours of the ship which will show you the impeccable workmanship that went into building one of these behemoths.
Tickets can be purchased at the boat, but purchasing them in advance from their website offers you a discount. Also, for one evening only, El Galeón Andalucía will be open to the public for the “Party with the Pirates” VIP Event. Appetizers, soft drinks, beer and wine will be served during this rare chance for the public to experience El Galeón in the evening and enjoy the sunset onboard. Meet the Captain and crew and hear in their own words what it is like to sail on El Galeón. Learn about the vessel and its history from the perspective of those who sail on it! Tickets for this event can be purchased online.
We definitely recommend checking out one, if not both, of these events while you’re in Ocean City. The White Marlin Open is one of Ocean City’s most famous events during the course of the summer. The Tall Ship, although only in its second year appearing in Ocean City, was wildly popular last year and is sure to be a staple of OCMD summers for years to come. So, from August 4th through the 8th it’s ‘Skilligalee Week’ and from August 1st through September 1st you can visit the Galeón Andalucía. Last but not least, we hope that you enjoy your time with us in Ocean City, Maryland!