Share: 

Fishing adventures with Harry and Larry

Harry Yingling with one of the two keeper rockfish we caught at Hackett's while chumming just below the Bay Bridge. ERIC BURNLEY PHOTO
October 7, 2017

After what seemed like an eternity without fishing, my friend Harry Yingling called last Thursday and asked if I wanted to join him for a day of rock fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. I said yes before he could tell me where and when. Fortunately, he wanted to fish on Friday at Hackett’s just a bit south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  We planned to meet at Angler’s Sport Center on Route 50 at 7 a.m. to buy bait and chum, and to buy a Maryland fishing license for me. 

We hit a bit of a snag when the automatic fee-collecting device at the entrance to Sandy Point State Park refused to take perfectly good American currency. Finally, I switched to a credit card and that made the little gremlins in the machine happy so they let us in.

If you have never been to Sandy Point State Park, the launch ramps are in excellent condition and there are plenty of them. Parking for boat trailers and tow vehicles is abundant.

Once we had Harry’s boat in the water we headed to Hackett’s about three miles down the bay. There we set up to chum and fish chunks of fresh alewives on the bottom.

There were several charter and private boats already there and we anchored a safe distance away from them. No need to crowd anyone when there is plenty of room for all.

Within an hour of arriving, all the other boats had moved off and started trolling. Harry’s boat was not set up for trolling so we continued to chum. Once the tide slowed down we began to pick away at the rockfish. Within an hour and a half we caught five, two of which were keepers. When the current picked back up the rockfish bite stopped. Unfortunately, the cow-nosed ray action increased and I managed to catch two on my light rockfish outfit. I can’t say they don’t put up a good fight, it’s just that they take forever to land and they wear out my poor old body.

We packed up and headed back around 1:30 p.m. with one rockfish each to take home. All in all, a good day.

While we were waiting for the rockfish to find our alewife chunks, Harry and I made plans to fish in Ocean City on Monday. We both had a poor year on flounder, and I had better reports from the City than from anywhere in Delaware.

Harry drove down to my house from his home in Maryland on Sunday and by 8 a.m. Monday we were on our way to Ocean City. I have not launched from the ramp in West Ocean City in a very long time. Here too the ramps remain in good condition with pretty good parking.

Our first stop was alongside the airport behind Assateague Island. Bites came fast and furious as small bluefish attacked our baits. I was using Gulp! shrimp on a white bucktail, and by day’s end the little devils had cost me many Gulp! shrimp and they chewed most of the hair off my bucktail.

From our starting point we moved to an area inside the inlet, then to the channel by the condos and finally to the area about a mile south of the Route 90 bridge. In spite of the blues, we caught flounder at every stop. The problem was none measured more than 15 inches. In addition, we caught a few small blues, a lizardfish and one very small sea bass. The outgoing current started to drop out around 1 p.m. and we headed back to the ramp.

While we didn’t set the world on fire, we caught fish on Friday and Monday, and that is more than I did for a month previous to our trips. It was wonderful to be back on the water, and Harry is a great treasure trove of stories from his 38 years as an enforcement officer for Maryland DNR.

On Wednesday, Larry Weldin and I headed into the ocean through Indian River Inlet. NOAA weather called for light winds and seas of three to four feet. As soon as we cleared the inlet those NOAA four-footers met us head-on. The Old Grounds was our first choice, but after a short conference the decision was made to work Site 10 since it was only three miles out.

Site 10 proved barren, and after the seas began to drop out we resumed our original course to the Old Grounds. We ended the day with one 14-inch trout in the box and a steady pick of short sea bass and flounder. The final straw was Larry impaling his hand with a large hook while attempting to release a shark I caught. I am pretty sure both will survive.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at Eburnle@aol.com.