A family fishing trip to remember

December 5, 2020

Boy, I’ll tell you, getting old is not for sissies. I woke up Saturday morning with both knees sore, my right wrist as stiff as a board and both thumbs rubbed raw. And yet I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. How can that be?

Let me tell you how. On Friday morning, my sons Ric and Roger and I got up at 4:30 a.m. and were on the road by 5. After a stop at Wawa for coffee and lunch, we headed down to Ocean City for a date with the Angler head boat.

We were checked in and boarded well before the boat left the dock at 7 a.m. After a very pleasant two-hour ride, we dropped our clam baits in 100 feet of water. I had found a top-bottom rig tied by Joe Morris and thought I would use that in hopes it might bring me luck. Boy, did it ever!

From the first drop to the last, it was a constant drop and crank. As soon as your bait hit bottom, you had a bite. If you missed the hits, you could count on your bait being gone, so you might as well crank back up and try again. I found the bites came so fast that I would set the hook as soon as I cranked out the slack and more often than not I had at least one and sometimes two fish on. Ric and Roger were doing just as well.

Now, as my regular readers may remember, Roger is a fish-catching machine. He just has the touch, the luck or a Golden Horseshoe; whatever, he always catches the most and the biggest fish on any trip. Well, not on Friday. He may have caught the most, I don’t know because were didn’t keep count, but I caught the biggest. In all the times we have fished together, this is only the second time I have caught a bigger fish than Rog. After the terrible year I have had, I needed a little boost in my confidence.

As the day went on, Capt. Chris moved from place to place and the fishing remained steady. Most of the time he anchored, but we did do a bit of drifting early in the day before the current really started cranking.

I must admit, I didn’t expect the fishing to be this good. With it being in late November and fishing in only 100 feet of water, I expected to catch a lot of shorts and a few keepers. Capt. Chris had the good numbers and he put us on some quality fish. There were two summer flounder caught; the largest was seven pounds, and that was the pool winner.

The mates cleaned our fish on the way back to the dock, so we left with bags of filets. They did a good job because I didn’t find any bones when I vacuum-sealed the fish.

So, while my knees were sore from rubbing against the rail, my wrist was stiff from cranking in all those fish and my thumbs were raw from holding the fish by the mouth while taking out the hooks, I was still grinning like the Cheshire Cat because it was one of the best fishing trips of my life. I love every second I get to spend with my sons; then you add in great fishing, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Fishing report

We were not the only ones who did well over the Thanksgiving weekend. Boats out of Lewes, Indian River and Ocean City all caught limits of sea bass and tog.

The Fish Bound from Ocean City fished four days and boxed tog limits on three. They released 17 females over 10 pounds including an 18- and a 17.3-pounder. The Morning Star, also out of Ocean City, limited out her party on sea bass and added more structure to the Ocean City Reef Foundation.

Back in Delaware, Frank Tucker and Otto fished the Outer Wall and caught seven keeper tog. The Grizzly, with Capt. Cary Evans, had several days with boat limits of tog. Surface Tension, with Capt. Keith Beebe, had a limit of tog including Dave Vetter’s six-pounder on a tog jig. Bradley Young had an 8.25-pound tog, while Michael Williamson had another tog that weighed 7.5 pounds. They were fishing on the Persistence with Capt. Jason DeStafney over ocean structure using green crabs. The Thelma Dale IV with Capt. Mark out of Fisherman’s Wharf had excellent catches of both tog and sea bass over the weekend.

The No Limit out of Indian River had a limit of tog. The Judy V had tog and sea bass for her customers.

And then came Monday!


  • 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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