Georgetown man scores state’s largest bass ever

March 31, 2012
James Hitchens with his new Delaware state record 10-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass.

I hate it when a newsworthy event happens on Friday and I have to wait an entire week to write about it. Such is the case with the new Delaware state record largemouth bass.

James D. Hitchens from Georgetown caught a 10-pound, 10-ounce bass from his “favorite Sussex County fishing hole.” The fish took a live shiner and was released back into the pond from which it came.

The previous record had stood for 32 years. That fish, caught by Tony Kaczmarczyk in 1980, weighed 10 pounds, 5 ounces. If my memory serves, and it often doesn’t, Tony’s fish was also caught on a shiner in the early spring from one of the lakes in Milford.

Many people believe the state record for largemouth bass is the most coveted in Delaware. Considering that largemouth bass are the most popular fish in the country, I can’t dispute this notion. Will it be another 32 years before the current record is broken? Only time will tell.

Virginia state record tog
Some people have luck, some have skill and some just fish their hearts out, and the latter is the case with Dr. Ken Niell III from Virginia. Last Sunday, he could not find anyone willing to go out tog fishing, so he left the dock at Rudee Inlet in a dense fog by himself. Running his 31 Albemarle 30 miles out to a series of wrecks called the Triangle, he commenced to anchor up and begin fishing for tog. The abundance of sea bass on the wreck quickly ate up most of his crab bait, but he did manage to eke out a few tog. Just about out of bait, he made one more drop and connected with something big. That something turned out to be a 24-pound, 3-ounce tog, and it is now the state record for that species in Virginia. The fish was 13 ounces shy of the world record of 25 pounds caught in New Jersey.

The previous Virginia state record tog was caught by a young man fishing on a charter boat out of Wachapreague. The party was supposed to go offshore but arrived at the dock too late to make the long trip. Bottom fishing was selected as an alternate trip, and the state record tog was the result.

Ken is a friend of mine and fishes as hard as anyone I know or have ever known. The fact that he was willing to run a 31-foot boat 30 miles offshore in the fog, alone, says something about his dedication or lack of good sense; take your pick. Ken’s boat, the Healthy Grin, is the same boat my son Roger was on when he caught both of his world record snowy grouper. The same boat has seen several other records and countless Virginia citation-size fish.

Delaware flounder

Last Friday, Doug Elliott and I fished the Broadkill River and the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We started at Oyster Rocks during the last of the incoming current and then worked both sides of the Broadkill for several hours of the outgoing.

Finding nothing in the river, we motored up the canal to the Savannah Road bridge and drifted back to Roosevelt Inlet. This proved to be equally productive. A friend of mine covered the same water with the same result on Friday during the incoming current.

We were fishing with shiners and live minnows on Bob Baker flounder rigs. Since I know the bait and rigs will catch flounder, I must conclude that decent numbers of these fish have yet to arrive in the river or the canal. We did speak with one angler who had caught two shorts, while all the other folks we spoke to had the same luck as Doug and I.

On the plus side, Indian River Bay has seen several flounder limit catches. The VFW Slough and Massey’s Ditch were mentioned as hot spots. Shiners, minnows and strips of fresh bunker were the top baits.

The rockfish have arrived in the upper bay with limit catches reported in Blake’s Channel and other locations. Chunking with fresh bunker produced the good catches. One boat caught a keeper flounder on bunker.

Limits of rockfish were also caught last week by boats trolling along the oceanfront. To date, I have no report of rockfish from the Rips at the mouth of the bay.

The rockfish action at Indian River Inlet has been spotty at best. Jetty jockeys are catching a few keepers along with some shorts using bucktails, flies and plugs.

In the surf, rockfish have been caught along with a few blues and flounder. This fishing is also spotty at best with most surf casters catching dogs and skates, if anything.

  • 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