Fishermen set new records in Maryland and Virginia

January 28, 2012
Charlie Donahue caught this new Maryland state record 23-pound tog while fishing on the Morning Star out of Ocean City, Md. SOURCE SUBMITTED

This time last year you could not find a fish anywhere north of Oregon Inlet, and this year we have fish just off the beach. Capt. John Nedelka on the Karen Sue out of Indian River Inlet called me Wednesday morning to say he had good fishing for tog out to the shipping channel on Monday and was doing equally well at the barge that morning. While tog have been available all winter in good years, to have them this close to shore at the end of January is quite unusual.

Capt. John also told me he had encountered a large school of rockfish last Friday while running out to the shipping lanes. The fish were 4 miles offshore so he did not stop on them. He heard later in the day that the boats out of Ocean City, Md., found the rock near Fenwick Shoal and had a good catch.

New Maryland tog state record
Charlie Donahue from Pennsylvania caught a 23-pound tog while fishing on the Morning Star out of Ocean City. The catch has been verified and is now the new record for that species in Maryland.

New rockfish state record in Virginia
A 74-pound rockfish was caught by Cary Wolfe on the Bada Bing with Capt. Tim Cannon. They were fishing the oceanfront at Virginia Beach, and this is now the official Virginia state record striped bass.

When I started fishing for rockfish, Charles Church had the world record 73-pound striped bass caught at Cuttyhunk Island in Massachusetts in 1913. Then in 1982, because I was doing the South Jersey fishing reports, I got a phone call from Campbell’s Marina in Atlantic City, N.J., asking me to get there ASAP to photograph the 78.5-pound striper they had just weighed in, caught from the beach by Al McReynolds. Since I was living in Delaware, I called Pete Barrett in New Jersey and he took the photos of Al and his fish.

Shimano was running a contest that awarded $100,000 to anyone who caught an all-tackle world record on one of their rods or reels. Al was using a Shimano rod with a Penn reel casting a Rebel WindCheater plug and thought that award and the money he would collect for endorsements would put him on easy street. He was wrong. Saltwater fishing is not like professional bass fishing. Catch the world record largemouth bass or even win a few B.A.S.S. Classics and you can have a pretty good income. That same money is just not there when it comes to saltwater fishing. The only exception is the numerous king mackerel tournaments run in the South. If you can win consistently, you can make a decent dollar.

Less than a year before Al’s catch, Bob Rocchetta had caught a 76-pound striper from a boat at Montauk, New York. Bob was fishing an eel during a lunar eclipse when that world-record fish hit.

Last year, an 81-pound striper was caught in Connecticut also on a live eel. Big as that fish was, I believe bigger ones are still swimming around. The largest striper ever weighed was caught from the Roanoke River in North Carolina and weighed over 100 pounds.

That is why I keep fishing for the darn things.

Deer hunting
Tomorrow is the final day of what was a very long Delaware deer season. In spite of all those opportunities, I never made the first trip. Sometimes things just don’t go the way you hope, and the 2011 deer season will be recorded as one of those times for me. I did notice several trucks that I took for deer hunters parked along the road on Tuesday during that beautiful weather. I also saw several fishermen working the shorelines of local ponds. Winter, spring, fall or summer, all it takes is some good weather, and Sussex County sportsmen will take to the field.

While deer season is closed, the waterfowl season is open for a good while. Managers want to kill a lot of snow geese and have liberalized the hunting laws in an effort to make it easier for hunters to comply. It has been my experience that snow geese are easy to kill, but hard to hunt. On most days they fly high and it takes a big spread to draw them down. Once you get them coming in you can pop a few and the others will keep right on coming. This is best done in the fog and rain.

I hear shooting on most mornings that I think must come from somewhere near the Broadkill River. The action is around daybreak and then nothing for the rest of the day.

Sounds like goose hunters to me.

  • 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