World-record black drum taken by spear

October 26, 2013
Richard Martin of Lewes with his 112.51-pound world-record black drum. SOURCE LEWES HARBOUR MARINA

Fishing has been hampered by the weather, but when anglers can reach the grounds, good catches have been the result. The most predominant catch has been tog along the Outer Wall and over bay and ocean reef sites. I have seen several five-fish limits off charter boats out of Lewes and good numbers caught from private boats tied off to the Outer Wall. Occasionally, very large sheepshead have been caught along with the tog. Box crabs seem to be the bait of choice.

Now that cold weather has invaded the coast, we should see more rockfish as they move down from New York and New Jersey. I have reports from friends as far north as Rhode Island about the good rockfish action on both bait and lures. The fish have been feeding on sand eels, so the prudent angler will stock up on AVA jigs. The top natural baits have been bunker and clams.

I am personally looking forward to the opening of sea bass season Friday. Nov. 1. I have high hopes of getting out before the season closes for the winter Dec. 31. Nothing like a few sea bass filets in the freezer before winter sets in.

Anglers fishing from the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier were still catching big spot over the weekend, but this could be over now that fall has finally arrived. The last report I had from the Broadkill River indicated the spot had left for warmer climes.

Indian River Inlet is beginning to see improved fishing for rockfish on live spot. Once the crowds arrive it will be a real zoo, especially near the Coast Guard Station. Adding to the confusion will be the ongoing dredging operation at the inlet. My advice is to stay clear of the melee and find your fish in another location. Try trolling along the oceanfront or run back around Oak Orchard and fish the bank on the south side of the river.

Tackle shop auction

On Friday and Saturday, Emmert Auction will be selling off everything at Captain Mac’s Bait and Tackle at 37320 Lighthouse Road (Rt. 54) near Fenwick Island. The sale will begin at noon and run until 10 p.m., Friday. It will reopen on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and run until everything is gone.

Those of you have attended tackle auctions before know it is possible to get some real bargains on everything from fishing line to rods, reels and lures. I hope to see you there.

World-record black drum

Richard Martin has set a new world record for black drum taken with a spear gun. He was free diving (no air tank) off the Outer Wall Oct. 2 when he encountered the massive creature. Taking a shot, he managed to spear the drum in the head, then swim it back to his 14-foot boat, where the fish was hauled aboard.

Back at Lewes Harbour Marina, Martin and three other men lifted the fish to the scales, where it weighed 112.51 pounds. He submitted the catch to the International Underwater Spearfishing Association for verification as the new world record for that species. After deducting 10 pounds because he did not have a photo of the fish on the scales, the IUSA declared it the new black drum world record. Martin has the world record for sheepshead with a 12.8-pounder, also taken from the Outer Wall.

I have caught my share of black drum on rod and reel, and I know how hard they can pull. It takes a lot of confidence in yourself and your equipment to spear one of that size all alone and without scuba gear. Congratulations to Mr. Martin.

Hunting photos

I am happy to report that I have received several photos of game taken in Delaware, and I will run all of them as space permits. The even better news is, all the photos received thus far include young people enjoying the thrill of the hunt. With all the concern over young people spending too much time indoors at computers, tablets, video games and smartphones, it is refreshing to have proof that many still get outside on a regular basis.

Another benefit of taking young people hunting is the requirement that all hunters take a hunter safety course. I know young people who are properly trained in the safe handling of firearms are much less likely to be involved in shooting accidents.

  • 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