Thinking back to simpler times

September 30, 2017

This has been such a slow fishing season for me that I have had too much time to ponder things that may or may not be important.

One thing that I think about is the number of people who have lost all concept of the natural world. Humans are the only animal species that can control their environment to allow them to live in every region of the world.

This became apparent to me after the recent hurricanes left millions of people in the South without electric, and with no air conditioning. I grew up without air conditioning in my house, school and church. Somehow we survived and took steps to keep reasonably cool. Today, it is apparently dangerous to sweat. A good friend of mine, who happens to live in Virginia, says air conditioning is what ruined the South, not General Sherman.

We now have a couple generations who have lived in a society where just about everything is well controlled. Normal weather conditions are unnoticed, and extreme weather is just a minor inconvenience ... until they have to face catastrophic weather that destroys all the comforts they are accustomed to.

People who spend a considerable amount of time outdoors can cope with the conditions nature sends us much better than folks who spent their time between home, car, work and entertainment encased in a climate-controlled cocoon. This includes construction workers, hunters, fishermen, hikers, bird watchers and all those linemen and their support staff who spent time down south repairing electric lines so people could get their air conditioning back.

Evolution caused humans to develop many skills not possessed by other animals. I hope somewhere in the distant future humans don’t select against their ability to survive in the outdoors.


During the past week, I have read several stories about natural resources police cracking down on poachers. One was in Canada where two poachers were caught with about 100 fish over their limit. The criminals were fined $10,000 and had their boat and all their fishing equipment confiscated.

In Massachusetts, enforcement officers were doing random checks at a boat ramp when they saw a poacher dump a bucket of black sea bass behind a bush. Upon further investigation, they discovered 30-some sea bass plus five scup in the boat. All the fish were undersized, and black sea bass season is closed in Massachusetts. They have not been to court yet, but the officers confiscated their boat and all their fishing equipment.

Then there was the Viking Fleet out of Long Island. Upon returning to port, enforcement officers boarded one of their boats and found about 1,000 undersized and out-of-season black sea bass. The problem was, all the anglers left their coolers on the boat, so the officers could not place any single poacher with any single cooler. The captain and crew said they told the passengers about the laws, but they cannot be expected to enforce the law when there are only five of them against about 100 poachers.

Fall Surf-Fishing Classic

Old Inlet Bait and Tackle hosted the 20th annual Delaware Seashore Fall Surf-Fishing Classic sponsored by Hi Seas/American Fishing Wire and Okuma this past weekend. The contest drew 262 anglers who fished in some pretty rough surf.

The top score of 58 points was caught by Charles Fortner. Points are accumulated by measuring each scoring fish and compiling that number to reach each angler’s total score. All fish species eligible for scoring have a minimum size. Charles won $800 and a bronze statue. In second place was Floyd Morton with 51 points. He won $600 and a statue. In third was Dan Iacangelo, who had 50 points and won $400 plus a statue. Mike Walker also had 50 points, but Dan had the largest fish, which was the tiebreaker. Mike took home $200 and an Okuma rod.

The statues that the top three anglers won are beautiful depictions of a surf caster and are cherished by the winners and coveted by the losers.

There were 31 women and 13 kids entered in the tournament, but they did not catch a scoring fish. In fact, only 19 of the 262 fishermen caught a scoring fish, and they only managed to bring in 45 blues and kingfish.

Doug Druschel walked away with the big money. He caught a 16-inch bluefish Saturday, and it held up through Sunday as the largest fish of the tournament and the largest bluefish. The combined payout was $3,420.

The next surf tournament in Delaware will be the Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen’s Invitational Oct. 6-8. Anglers may fish Delaware Seashore State Park from the inlet north and Cape Henlopen Saturday, but only Cape Henlopen Sunday.

  • 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

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