Anglers score more big fish

October 17, 2020

I said last week that I would not be surprised if another big flounder was caught, and lo and behold, that is exactly what happened. This time the big fish came from Ocean City and weighed 13.2 pounds. It was caught by Cleon Timothy from the boat Miller Time with Capt. Brandon Miller and mate Jeff Murdorf. They were fishing tight to the Route 50 bridge when Cleon thought he had snagged the bottom or a bridge angler’s line. Then he felt the telltale head shake of a big flounder. He alerted Jeff who manned the net while Brandon ran the boat until the monster flatfish was onboard.

Back in Delaware, Mike Lewis Sr., Pete Campbell and Chris Huk ran to the Wilmington Canyon on Sunday and deep-dropped to catch a 415-pound swordfish. If it had not been caught on an electric reel, it would have been a new Delaware state record. The crew also brought in five big yellowfin tuna.

Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen tournament

Last weekend saw the Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen hold its 14th annual Surf Fishing Tournament. The weather was fine, but the fishing was slow.

Gary Born from New Jersey won the overall tournament with three fish for a total of 39 points. There was a tie for second between Lynn Downs and Brian Hafer who both scored 38 points for their three fish. Third place went to Mike Walker who also caught three fish, but only scored 36 points.

The Ladies Division was won by Karen Alexander who caught two fish and scored 30 points. In second place was Anita Chandler with one fish worth 14 points, and in third was Monica Bayless also with one fish worth 12 points.

No fish were caught by the seven kids entered in that division, but they all walked away with a new rod and reel from Rick’s Bait and Tackle.

The Largest Bluefish Calcutta was split between Karen Alexander and John Pilcicki who both had 17-inch blues. The Largest Fish (other than bluefish) category was a four-way tie among Gary Born, Lynn Downs, Chad Bayless and Bryan Hafer. They all caught 12-inch kings.

The awards party and other social functions were canceled this year due to the virus.

On a personal note, I must say seeing those excellent surf fishermen and ladies only catching two or three scoring fish in a day-and-a-half does make me feel better about my pitiful showing from the beach this year.

Rockfish arrival

About this time of year, I get anxious for the arrival of rockfish along the Delaware coast. Unfortunately, they have skipped Delaware ever since the passing of Superstorm Sandy. I have no idea what that storm did to the bottom of the ocean or to the navigational system in the rockfish brain, but these fish have not come into Delaware waters since the storm went past. They have also bypassed Maryland and Virginia.

Before the storm, we had good fishing in the Cape May Rips during November and December. You could troll Stretch 25s or 30s, jig with bucktails, drag eels or pull Drone spoons in the rips and count on at least some action. Like any fishery, some days were better than others and the fish might be on the Delaware side around the Eights on one tide, and on the New Jersey side at Overfalls or Somer shoals the next. Rockfish would also chase bunker up the bay as far as the power plant at Artificial Island, giving the folks in New Castle County a shot at some big rockfish.

We also had good fishing at Indian River Inlet. We fished the incoming water from the Green Can back to the entrance to South Shore Marina casting white bucktails with white worms and catching nice rockfish. Not all were keepers, but by the end of the tide we usually had a couple in the box.

At the end of the run, the rockfish would move down the beach and boats could intercept them by watching the birds. Trolling or casting would work once the schools were located.

And then there were the poor, lonely surf casters. Believe it or not, but we got in a few good days.

I recall one day fishing with Darren Purcell and his father. The bunker were thick right off the beach and I was snagging them and then tossing them back out as bait. I had caught and released a 30-inch rock and then Darren’s dad hooked a really big fish. I helped him land and release that 44-incher. Then the big blues moved in.

I have not had a good year from the beach in 2020. Perhaps the Fishing God will take pity on me this fall. I won’t hold my breath.


  • 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 several publications and 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

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