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Ocean City Area Features

Tortuga Bay Fishing

  By: Alison Clary

Mike Abbaticchio visited Ocean City in the early 2000s and fell in love with the coastal, small-town atmosphere and the endless fishing opportunities the bayfront provided. He quickly decided to become a “permanent vacationer” and move his wife and children from their Long Island, NY home to Ocean City. In 2002, Mike purchased a 54' diesel-powered fiberglass vessel named Tortuga, a bay fishing boat that has operated in Ocean City beginning in 1974.

The fishing industry was far from a new venture for Mike, who has been around boats and fishing his whole life. Mike’s father, John, was a fishing boat captain, and Mike has been a licensed captain for 40 years. “Fishing is all I’ve ever known,” says Mike. 

Now in its 44th year of operation and 16th year under Mike’s ownership, Tortuga gives visitors and locals the opportunity to hop aboard its spacious deck and fish the calm waters off Assateague Island. Although ownership has changed since its initial founding, Tortuga still sails with its original vision: to provide passengers with the safest and most memorable fishing experience!

The staff aboard Tortuga bring an enormous amount of experience, and they are happy to pass along their expertise to passengers ranging from first-timers to seasoned fisherman. They teach passengers the best fishing techniques and make sure all fishing is carried out legally. Captain Drew Zerbe, Captain Mike Walsh, and 1st Mate Serge Garder have all been a part of the Tortuga team for over 15 years. Together, they have over 100 years of combined fishing experience.

Tortuga can comfortably fit up to 42 passengers, so they are able to easily accommodate large families or groups. Tortuga fishing trips are fun and affordable, and they operate under a blanket license. Therefore, passengers are not required to obtain their own fishing licenses. Plus, there is plenty of free parking right by the dock, so passengers can simply show up and hop aboard.

Trips last around three hours, which gives passengers plenty of time for a full fishing experience. The targeted fish is flounder, but the bay ecosystem provides the potential to catch countless other fish species, such as croaker, bluefish, spot, and bass. In addition to fish, it is likely passengers will witness dolphins, migratory and resident birds, and possibly even the famous Assateague wild ponies.

Perhaps one of the most well-known attributes of Tortuga’s business is the Annual Free Flounder Derby, which results in cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The rules of the contest are simple—people who catch the three largest-weighing fish of the season (May - October) aboard Tortuga are the winners. “I really enjoy calling folks at the end of the season to let them know they are one of our winners,” expresses Mike. “It really makes their day and mine,” he continues.

For Mike, Tortuga is more than just a business. It’s also an opportunity to share his love for the sea with others. “My absolute favorite part of the business is seeing a kid catch a fish for the first time,” states Mike.

For a fishing experience that you will remember for years to come, hop aboard the Tortuga and prepared to get “hooked.” For more information, call 410-289-7438 or visit www.fishingtortuga.com, or stop on by Bahia Marina at 22nd St. on the bay.

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