Catching the colorful and delicious opah in the Pacific still turns heads, even amongst diehard fishermen, but catching one out of Ocean City, Maryland is giving everyone whiplash.
Austin Ensor and his buddies are diehard fishermen with plenty of days on the pond between them, but no one could have imagined what was coming out of the depths on their recent trip.
Austin retold the story, “ We’ve been fun fishing out of Ocean City, Maryland for years and normally we are catching tuna this time of year until the season ends around Thanksgiving. Tuna have been much slower lately so we have begun to deep-drop for daytime swordfish and have had fair success with it.
This is what we were doing last Sunday on a flat calm day, which is a rare treat in the fall. We had made several drops and on the third drop we landed an 80-pound sword. While dropping the bait, a bonita strip, for the next drop, the line went slack about halfway down, around 1000-feet. We figured a sword must have picked it up and I pulled away with the boat to help get tight to the fish. The rod bowed up and we assumed we had a sword on. After 30 minutes, the fish began to act goofy, but I’m fairly new at swordfishing and I know they each act differently. When we could see the fish down deep, I knew it didn’t have a bill so I figured a tuna. The trip before we caught a 170-pound bigeye this way so it made sense.
Only as the color began to show and I could see the spots did I realize it was an opah. I have always dreamed of going on a long range trip so I’ve studied sites like the Excel and have seen pictures of Pacific opah. I was yelling its and opah and no one knew what I was talking about. As far as we can figure it is the only recreationally caught opah in the Atlantic.”
Austin was fishing with his buddies, James Doerzbach, Tommy Clark and Brian Stewart. The opah weighed in at 105.4-pounds and has made the national news because despite it’s world-wide range, a recreational catch is unheard of in the Atlantic. Opah are caught commonly in the Pacific by longliners and much less frequently by recreational fishermen. Austin’s family and friends have all been enjoying discovering how delicious opah are on the table. Gray Taxidermy is going to do a replica mount to commemorate this momentous catch.
Congratulations to Austin and his crew on this awesome and most unique catch!
Photo Credit: Austin Ensor’s Facebook