Ocean City Today

OC fishermen haul in second opah

By Greg Ellison | Dec 07, 2017
Photo by: James Doerzbach Captain Austin Ensor, right, and Tommy Clark display a 159.8 opah, or moonfish, which the crew aboard the Primary Search hooked on Saturday off the coast of Ocean City. The same group reeled in another opah, an open ocean species rarely caught in area waters, just last month.

(Dec. 8, 2017) Less than a month after reeling in an opah (moonfish), an open ocean species rarely caught in area waters, Capt. Austin Ensor and crew aboard the Primary Search boated an even larger one last Saturday afternoon off the coast of Ocean City.

On Nov. 12, Ensor and fishing buddies Tommy Clark, James Doerzbach and Brian Stewart hauled in a 105.4-pound, 44-inch opah.

“To the best of my knowledge, there’s not been one in the northeast caught on rod and reel,” Ensor, a Bel Air, Maryland resident, said at that time.

Fishing in 55-degree water this past Saturday, however, Ensor, Clark and Doerzbach brought in a second opah weighing 159.8 pounds and measuring 47 inches long.

“It’s a very rare catch as an open line fisherman,” he said. “Let alone in Ocean City and let alone twice.”

Opah are deep-water dwellers more commonly found in tropical regions. The distinctive-looking discoid fish are a red-orange hue, with white spots and large eyes.

Due to mild temperatures last Saturday, Ensor said the fishing buddies decided to wait, at least a few more days, before hauling the Primary Search in for the winter.

“We got a nice little weather window,” he said. “It was a good season and we wanted one more shot.”

In similar fashion to last month, the 28-foot Primary Search launched from Sunset Marina and navigated towards Poor Man’s Canyon to deep-drop lines in search of bottom feeders.

“It’s a different style of fishing then we’re used to,” he said. “It’s pretty technical because you need to maneuver the boat to keep the line from tangling.”

Ensor said the group was fishing in about 1,800 feet of water, approximately two miles south of the spot that yielded the opah in November.

“We lost a swordfish that day,” he said. “They’re tricky to catch, but then we caught another opah.”

Much like the first catch, Ensor said it took close to two hours to get the opah on board.

After previously researching how to scale and prepare an opah, Ensor is looking forward to once again consuming what he described as the tastiest fish ever.

With a noteworthy fishing season under their belts, Ensor said the fishing crew is looking forward to resuming its high sea adventures next year, regardless of what they bait they use and what kind of fish takes it.

“You kind of take what the ocean gives you,” he said.


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