The summer season is over, but the fishing continues. Many are awaiting the striped bass run, and only concerned with that species when it comes to fishing. Most of us just like to fish and couldn’t care less about what we catch. The best part of fishing is going through the motions and being out there, sitting on the beach, hanging at the pier and relaxing at the rail and rocks. The best part of living the life is reliving the moments we experience. If all you’re concerned with is catching that one fish, the memories will be far and few between. I can remember the details of every time I have been fishing; the smell of the salt air, the sounds of the waves and birds, the stinging from the sand blowing through the air … everything. Yesterday I fished Cupola Park in Millsboro, and I can still hear the sound of the cars passing over the bridge at the spillway, between the fish smacking the water's surface. Remembering the catch is a small moment in the grand scheme of things. Recently I interviewed a few guys who were reliving the moment, and rightfully so. The more I talked to them the more they remembered the trip together, and I’m sure as the days pass they will remember every detail.
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If you have not heard already, the Delaware state record for swordfish was broken on Sunday morning and will be pending until the end of the year. I had a great time interviewing and hanging out with these guys Sunday morning. It was good to see so many friends down on the docks.
Sunday morning my phone rang very early. I was planning on sleeping in for once on Sunday funday, but it was Scott Jost, and he was yelling at me to “WAKE UP GET YOUR BUTT TO LEWES HARBOR MARINA!” I said, “Dude you’re killing me, I can't go fishing today! I have other commitments.” He was headed out with Captain Brian Wazlavek on the Lil' Angler to do some fishing. I was invited to go, but couldn't make it, and I figured this was a last-ditch effort to get me to blow-off work and go fishing. Scott says to me, “Check your messages and look at the picture I sent you. DNREC is on their way down here to confirm this swordfish for the state record. It is 358 pounds!” I looked at the picture, almost dropped the phone, and said I’d be right there! Long story short, I couldn't get to Lewes Harbor Marina fast enough. When I arrived, the swordfish was hanging from the scales over 10 feet in the air and almost touching the ground. It was an immense fish at one hundred and forty inches, tail to sword, and 358 pounds. The boys on the docks were all sitting around reminiscing the catch. I dropped into the Lewes Harbor Marina shop and talked to Joe Morris. "Kurt Lorenz caught the pending new DE State Record Swordfish when he landed that 358 pounder in Poor Man's Canyon aboard Candy's Reel Choice with Capt. Pete Floyd, Mark Avon, Rusty Smith, Captain Chris Ragni and Brian Garancheski". I talked to Captain Chris Ragni and he told me about the catch. "We set the first rod up at the Poor Man's Canyon in about fourteen hundred feet of water. Within seconds of being set, the rod tip bounced real fast. We figured something just ran into it, no way a fish would hit that fast, then it bounced again. Maybe it was a swordfish tapping the bait. Kurt Lorenz grabbed the rod and the fish just took off ... FISH ON!! I went down below and told Mark Avon, the boat owner who was making breakfast at the time, we have a fish on and it is BIG. His reaction was, “NO WAY, ALREADY!” Then I went up to the wheel and spent close to three hours working that boat around that fish as it kept circling. It was no picnic trying to keep up with a fish like this, you have to really pay attention and work the engines. It was a team effort landing this fish, you just don't reel in a catch like that, you have to have the right crew.”
The boys were all excited retelling their part in this catch. I was waiting for Kurt Lorenz to return so I could hear his story. When he arrived he was wearing an ear to ear grin, no surprise there. Kurt told me it took him two hours and fifty minutes to land the swordfish. "The fish hit, would run in quick spurts, and was swimming in big circles around the boat. It ran four times and I never stopped reeling. I was cranking that reel the entire time. This is the first swordfish I have ever caught. I have been out a few times with these guys. When we got it on board we all had to get out of the way, it took up the entire deck, and was flopping around." Kurt showed me his hands and he had some nice blisters to go along with a great memory of a record catch. All of the boys were still caught-up in the moment, and we all joked around while we waited for DNREC. We got a great laugh at the people who went by in the sailboat and said, “Oh my, look at the big white marlin.” Officer Shea Lindale showed up, confirmed the catch, and signed the paperwork. Joe was contemplating just how he was going to fillet this fish, and several of us suggested a chainsaw (joking of course). That man can fillet a fish like I’ve never seen, and if you aren't paying attention he can fillet a flounder as fast as you can blink. At this point the docks were being visited by a lot of people. Everyone wanted to see this great catch, and the word was out in Lewes. Now this is a fishing story that will be retold for years to come, and it will always be remembered in detail. The old record was set in 1978 at 276 pounds by Albert Scott. The boys caught plenty of other fish while they were out there, and they had to come back because they ran out of ice. Congratulations to Kurt Lorenz on a pending Delaware State Record swordfish and a great memory.
The other day Captain Brian Wazlavek, Jon Masten, Scott Jost, and Captain Carl Meyers took the Lil"Angler II out to the Washington Canyon. The boys wanted to do a little tuna fishing. They were supposed to be back the next day at 7 p.m., so I had my day planned to meet them at the docks; once again too busy to blow off work to go fishing. I know that is odd to say, considering part of this job is fishing, but at times it is not the most important part of the job. The phone rang at noon the next day, Captain Brian said, “We are on our way back. Be there at two thirtyish and bring the camera, ‘cause we limited out.” The boys are starting to kill me with these phone calls, and had I known they would be back this early, I could have gone. Fishing trips; the end result of which you cannot plan. I went to Roosevelt Inlet and pulled a few croakers and tossed a spoon for a bit waiting for the boys to come through. I figured why not get a little fishing in since my day has been cut in half, and let them have all the fun. This was at a dead low tide and I noticed the rocks are covered in oysters; even more so than last year. You cannot harvest them in our waters, but it is good to see them there. They will help clean up the waters in our bays. Not to mention create structure and a food source for fish. I met the boys at the docks and watched them unload the boat, in fact everyone watched them unload the boat. They had twelve yellowfin tuna – had I gone they could have made it fifteen. I took lots of pictures with three different cameras, and then the boys started cleaning fish. We all agreed to meet at Delaware Distilling Company for a fresh tuna dinner. John, the chef, and the kitchen crew made seared, blackened, and sesame tuna. We ate all three, and it was awesome. I have some Striped Bass trips we are working on with Delaware Family Fishing and we will announce them soon. We just have to wait for the fish to show up, there are always striped bass here and the resident fish (as we call them) are all over the place.
Yesterday I fished Cupola Park in Millsboro, DE. This is a great place to take kids fishing. There is a playground if they get bored, picnic tables with places to grill, and the fishing can be rather good depending on the tide and wind. The park is below the spillway that runs under Rt. 24. You can find information and directions on the “places to fish section” on the website. It is a nice place to relax and do a little casting, and I was hitting shorty striped bass on a one-ounce silver spoon. They had a nice fight to them as well. It was a good time. There were all kinds of smaller fish following my spoon. The ones jumping were striped bass, tiny bluefish, and peanut bunker. Ducks and Canadian geese were all over, and it is a very active place for such a small area. Keep in mind you have to be three hundred feet away from the spillway if you want to use a cast net. There is also a sinkhole in the parking lot, so be careful. Getting your kids out there fishing is a great thing to do as a family. I hear from many folks that have used the information on the DSF website and Facebook page to get their kids out there and spend time fishing together. Catching is the bonus, and they are grateful they all have something to enjoy together. Some of the best places to take kids are of course Cupola Park, Holt's Landing, Rosedale Beach, Massey's Landing, any of the beaches, and the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. Roosevelt Inlet and the Indian River Inlet are good places but require more experience to fish that type of environment. The other areas are more of your “bait a hook and drop it in the water.” All of these areas are also listed in the “places to fish section” of the website. More will be added to the list soon. Get out there and take a kid fishing! You will make memories that will last a lifetime. This Sunday you can attend the National Hunting and Fishing Day at the Aquatic Resource Education Center located near Smyrna, De. at 4876 Hay Point Landing Rd. That should be a great place to educate the kids on outdoor activities.
The fishing has been rather good this past week, you just have to put in the time. The striped bass are starting to get a little more active, and I have been catching them all over the place. Mostly shorties, but a few keepers have been pulled at the Indian River Inlet. I have heard of a few keepers in the surf near the Ocean City Inlet Jetty and the beaches. That would make sense, as the fish are starting to get excited for the fall run, and are joining the migrating schools. There are baitfish all over the place, and the mullet are getting bigger. The other day I watched schools of bluefish tear into mullet schools while moving into the Indian River Inlet on the incoming tide. This was the same day the crews down there moved the dredge pipe, and it made for some nasty looking dirty water. The waves on the north beach were grey, and still are as the replenishment continues. Personally I think the stirred up water is not good for the fishing. Many at the inlet feel the dredging will change the fishing at IRI once again. The bluefish action has increased but is no where near the frequency we saw last year. I don't know if it is just one of nature's cycles, or they are just not as prevalent this year. That depends on whom you talk with. Either way, on the incoming tides the bluefish have been caught in snapper sizes in both inlets. Some have shown up in the surf, but again not as prevalent as last year. Mullet is working in the surf, and bucktails or lead heads with soft plastics at the inlets and in the bays. I have hit a few on silver one-ounce spoons. It is still a day at the beach and catching is a bonus. Just being there is half the experience.
There have been many keeper flounder caught at the old grounds and Site 10, as well as the inland bays. The Indian River Inlet is still producing some keeper flounder and a few nice-sized redfish (red drum) the other day. Gulp is working good jigging for flounder and live spot has been another favorite choice, as well as minnows. The only problem with using gulp at the old grounds is snagging up on the wrecks and losing your gear. That can get a little costly. A few keepers have been full of Hogchokers, but catching them for bait will prove difficult. Black puppy drum are still being caught at Massey's Landing; Ron Capone is still banging up the drum. There are croaker all over the place and they are getting bigger every week. Spot are everywhere, and a few pompano are still showing up in the surf. These are much bigger than the little ones caught last year, but the numbers caught are not as large. As always there are big skates and rays out there. Annoying to catch at times for many, I still consider it a challenge to land one and get your gear back. A few weakfish have been caught at IRI, the Lewes Canal, Broadkill Beach, and Roosevelt inlet. Triggers and blowfish are still popping up in the Delaware Bay. The charter boats out of Lewes have been doing decent this season. Little Clay Harrison has been getting it done this past week with his dad, catching nice-looking striped bass. That kid can fish. There are still kingfish out there and mostly in the surf. Fishbites and small sand fleas have been the best baits. The beaches are once again carved out with a shelf from the heavy winds last week. I have only seen one person actually drive off that shelf, and that can be rather entertaining. Everyone in this area and the entire eastern seaboard was treated to a very cool light show the other night when the Minotaur V rocket was launched from Wallops Island. That was the brightest rocket we have seen launched. Speaking of keeping an eye out, there will be a lot of bikers in this area for the OC Bike Week so please be careful on the roads and pay attention. Have a great weekend, and I will see you in the sandbox, at the rail, on the pier, or drifting the bays.