Not so much of an epic day of fishing

May 31, 2014
The first tuna of this season recently hit the dock at Lewes Harbour Marina. Geoff McClosky, Brian Petka, Mike Zeccola and Joey DellAversano had a great trip to the West Wall of Wilmington Canyon. They trolled skirted ballyhoos on waybacks and planers in 65-degree water for bluefins of 50.5 and 114.5 pounds aboard the Tutta Benne. COURTESY LEWES HARBOUR MARINA

Last week I bragged about an epic day of fishing, and this week I paid the price for bragging. Once again one of my sons was involved, but this time it was Roger.

Roger works on a head boat, the Golden Eagle, out of Belmar, N.J., and asked me to come along with him last Saturday. The boat had been doing real well on big bluefish to 15 pounds, and I was looking forward to doing battle with one of these choppers.

We departed the dock at 0730 and headed up to Sandy Hook to join several other head and private boats from Brooklyn, Brielle and Belmar. The bite started off slow and stayed that way all day. There would be a few fish caught here and there, but nothing consistent.

The fact that I didn’t catch one would have been bad enough if it weren’t for the drunk guy next to me. He and his buddy brought aboard a bottle of sour mash whiskey, a bottle of tequila and an unending supply of beer.

Every time he dropped his lure to the bottom, he backlashed his reel. Sometimes he was able to fix the problem, but as the day wore on his hand-and-eye coordination became less than stellar, and he would ask the mate for help.

Once the lure was on the bottom and the line on his reel was straightened out he would do a very unorthodox jigging motion that was part up and down and part moving from side to side as he took a swig of either beer or booze.

When his first fish hit, he was quite surprised. No more so than me. Watching him fight the fish on a broomstick rental rod would have been quite entertaining if I already had a couple in the box. Since that was not the case, I just stepped away from the rail and tried to ignore the show. The angler wanted to crank the 10-pound blue up to the deck while the mate tried to gaff it. In spite of this, the mate was able to land the fish, and since the angler didn’t want to put it in his very large beer cooler, the fish ended up in a burlap bag.

After he caught his first fish, I tried to imitate his jigging action, but I guess you have to drink more than Diet Coke to pull it off successfully. I went back to my previous technique while my good buddy caught a second blue. Talk about rubbing salt into the wound.

After his second fish hit the deck, the celebrating began in earnest. He and his buddy killed the sour mash and tequila and then tried, without success, to finish the beer.

I will say these guys were happy drunks. They didn’t cause any problems for other passengers and didn’t use bad language. I did get a kick out of the intimate descriptions of what good times awaited their wives upon their return to Allentown, Pa., I do believe their hopes along with their heads would be dashed if in their current condition they tried anything funny with those ladies.

I ended the day fishless and had to endure the smart remarks from my son. I quickly reminded him of my success the previous Saturday when I fished with his brother. And so it goes.

Fishing report

I must say that when fishing finally got underway, it began with a bang. The beautiful weather over the weekend brought out lots of anglers, and most found some success.

Black drum are in the bay from the Broadkill Slough to the Coral Beds. Clam is the best bait and evening the best time to fish. Those who drop a piece of bloodworm down while waiting for a drum have been catching croaker and kings.

Flounder were caught out of the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, Broadkill River and Indian River. Blues and small rockfish have been caught at Indian River Inlet on metal lures and bucktails.

A few five- to six-pound trout have been caught at Roosevelt Inlet on jigs baited with Gulp!.

The fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park saw the first spot and croaker of the season. Bloodworms will be the best bait for them. Some keeper flounder were caught from the boards on live minnows and Gulp!.

The inshore ocean has seen good numbers of flounder on the Old Grounds and plenty of sea bass on the wrecks and reef sites. Many of the flounder are keepers; many of the sea bass are not.

The first tuna of the season were caught near the Baltimore Canyon. Both bluefins and yellowfins were taken on the troll.

  • 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