On Monday morning, I arrived at the Katydid dock in Lewes at 5:15 a.m. just behind Chris Vann, the mate, who helped me stow my gear on the boat. By the time I parked my truck and walked back to the dock, several other anglers had arrived, and by 5:45 a.m., all eight of us were onboard and ready to go. Chris and Capt. Brent still had a few chores to complete before they cast off the lines, and we were underway before 6 a.m.
It was just about perfect weather and the surface of Delaware Bay was as smooth as glass. Chris was busy getting everyone’s outfit rigged up and ready to do battle with the local flounder population. He used a simple top-bottom rig baited with orange Gulp! plus strips of squid, flounder or spot. All carried six-ounce sinkers. Having everyone using the same weight is critical to prevent tangles with eight head fishing so close together.
We ran until 7:15 and ended up a few miles east of the Indian River Inlet bridge, where Capt. Brent put us on top of some very sticky structure. My rig had no more than touched bottom when I had a fish on and Chris quickly netted the first keeper of the day. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the fish. Before Chris could put my fish in the box, my friend Mike Pizzolato hooked up with something big. It turned out to be a solid six-pound flounder that would be the biggest of the day.
Capt. Brent never cut the engines and kept moving the boat to keep us over the structure. It was easy to tell when you were on sand and when you were on the structure by feeling the difference through the line. The sand felt soft, but as soon as you hit the structure you could feel the hard metal or rock return a much sharper feel. All of the flounder were on the structure.
Did I mention it was sticky structure? I pride myself on keeping my rigs out of the snags, but I must have been hung up at least a half-dozen times. The only consolation I had was that I was not alone. Everybody sacrificed several rigs to the bottom. The good news is the rigs belonged to the boat, not the anglers. That relieved the pain a little bit.
I brought my usual tackle bag full of rigs, Gulp! and FishBites. When Chris took my rod and began rigging it up, I didn’t say a word. I learned long ago never argue with the captain or mate. I have seen others, usually fellow outdoor writers, explain to the mate or captain that he or she was an expert in whatever type of fishing we were doing and the captain or mate should stand back and let a real expert show them the correct way to proceed.
Some captains or mates told the “expert” to sit down and shut up. Others simply ignored the advice and went about their job. Often the “expert” would persist in their technique and end up embarrassed at the end of the day.
As some of my faithful readers may recall, I had an episode a few years ago on a deep-drop trip where the sun got the better of me. Since the sun was just as hot on Monday, I decided to fish for awhile, then move to the cabin to rest. I am happy to report I felt great all day. During my rest periods, Chris fished with my outfit and caught two keepers.
Capt. Brent fished from the flybridge and caught eight keepers. I think he is like my son Roger and was born with the Golden Horseshoe.
I have no idea how many flounder each man caught because I could only see the two people on either side of me and the fish the captain caught from the flybridge. I know the box was filling up, and at 12:45, I brought in the last keeper of the day and my fourth to make my limit. Other than flounder, a few clear-nosed skates and a matching set of conger eels, caught by me and Mike Surowiec, were the only fish I saw all day.
The other anglers on the trip were John Gudkuecht, Bill Birago, Bill Hughes, Mark Sciosgia and Paul Lowe.
Back at the dock we had the fish cleaned at Lewes Harbour Marina while we sat around on discarded furniture and solved the problems of the world.
I want to thank Mike Pizzolato for inviting me to join the Monday group and Mike Surowiec for finding me an open slot. It was a wonderful day on the water that resulted in a nice bag of flounder filets.