White Marlin Open Tournament Ocean City Maryland
Of all the famous places scattered across an offshore fishing chart, none rival the history and reputation of the shoal that lies about 20 nautical miles southeast of Ocean City's inlet and known as the "Jackspot."
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Surrounded by 85-115 feet of water and rising to within 50-feet of the surface, the depth changes at the Jackspot create increased current flow and upwellings that attract both predator and prey of all sizes and species.
These days, when billfish are thought of as mostly canyon fish, it's probably hard to comprehend that the Jackspot is a big reason why Ocean City is known as the "White Marlin Capital of the World."
But back in the '50s and '60s, it was the place to go if you wanted to tangle with a white or blue marlin.
The Jackspot was the billfish hot-spot for a lot of years, but by the '70s its reputation shifted to becoming the place to go to consistently troll-up a catch of big bluefish.
Even though it was no longer a destination for billfish, the Jackspot was far from being down for the count.
Bluefish remained strong throughout the '80s and '90s, but anglers found that if they trolled a little faster they could avoid a few of them and have a decent chance of hooking into a tuna, dolphin, bonito, or king mackerel.
For a lot of years, the "Spot" held the reputation for being one of the hottest places to be on the East Coast to hook a tuna and boats routeenly traveled all the way from Indian River and Cape May to get in on the fun.
During the '90s, when chunking was king, it would not be uncommon to see as many as 200 boats anchored on the shoal trying to land a limit of blue and yellowfin tuna.
Even after the mother-lode of tuna shifted their residence to the "Hotdog" and "Hambone," the Jackspot continued to provide anglers with consistent summertime action with king mackerel, bonito, bluefish, false albacore, and dolphin.
Recently, the king mackerel and big bluefish have been scarce, but the bonito and dolphin have continued to keep fishermen happy, and in September the false albacore have been showing up on the shoal and making for some of the best light tackle action on the East Coast.
As if all that wasn't enough, as a part of the Ocean City Reef Foundation's network of artificial reefs the Jackspot has been the recipient of many barge loads of subway cars and other reef building material making it a destination point for bottom fishing as well.
Maybe, compared to some points in history, the action on the Jackspot has been rather pale lately, and consequently there haven't been too many anglers fishing it.
But in just the few days I fished there last season we caught, sea bass, jacks, bonito, false albacore, sharks, bluefin tuna, dolphin and bluefish, and I'm looking forward to giving the old shoal a good working over again this year.
While I don't expect we'll catch any marlin, I'm sure we'll find plenty of "something" prowling about that will make for some great fishing and pleasant memories of the good old days!