Local boys make good

October 3, 2020

The 23rd annual Delaware Seashore Fall Surf-Fishing Classic was held last weekend with headquarters at Old Inlet Bait and Tackle. There were 314 anglers, including 44 ladies and 17 kids entered in the contest.

After two days of fishing, local angler Darren Purcell, whose family owns Lloyd’s Market in Lewes, was in first place with 110 points. He won $800 and a beautiful bronze statue. Scott Aiken Jr. came in second with 109 points. Scott is the grandson of legendary long-distance surf caster and Georgetown resident Harry Aiken. Scott won $600 and another beautiful bronze statue. Coming in third was Gary Born. Gary is from New Jersey, but fishes surf tournaments in Delaware and other locations, usually with great success. He scored 108 points and won $400 and a bronze statue.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the closest surf-fishing tournament in history. Only three points separated the top three places after two days of fishing.

Harry Newman was in fourth with 102 points, winning $200 and an Okuma Surf rod and reel. In fifth place was Michael Born with 99 points. He won a Reynolds Surf Fishing Rack for the front of his surf-fishing vehicle.

First place in the Ladies Division went to Gretchen Loose, who scored 28 points. She won $200, the Nicole Born Memorial Trophy and a custom surf rod presented by Gary Born in honor of his daughter. Second place was won by Deb Weichardt with 25 points. She won $100 plus a trophy and a rod and reel. Third place was a three-way tie among Jamey Murray, Monica Bayless and Lynn Downs. They each won $15.

In the Kids’ Division, first place was a tie between Austin Matthews and Logan Wierzbicki. Each scored 15 points and won a trophy and a surf rod and reel. Jaden Rivera came in second with 12 points and won a rod and reel and a trophy, while Jake Blevins was third with 12 points and also won and trophy and a surf rod and reel. Tie was broken by largest fish.

The big money was in the largest bluefish and largest fish Calcuttas. Harvey Atkins took the $1,000 prize for the largest fish of the tournament with a 17-inch trout. Mike Hollinger had the largest bluefish, a 16-incher, and walked away with $2,800. James Swatski won $250 for the Great Anglers Picture Posting Contest.

Most of the scoring fish were kings and blues, plus a couple of trout and a croaker. Lots of short rockfish, flounder, black drum and pompano were also caught. 

We congratulate the winners and hope to see everyone back on the beach Oct. 9-11 for the Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen Surf-Fishing Tournament.

Hunting season

This weekend begins the firearms hunting season for deer in Delaware. Archery hunting has been going on since the beginning of September, and I give those guys and gals lots of credit. They have to brave the thick foliage, countless bloodsucking bugs and sticky heat to pursue their sport. They also have to put in a lot more time practicing their craft to make sure they hit the target.

There are plenty of public lands for those of us without leases to hunt. I have used these lands, but never had much luck. Probably because I am just not comfortable not knowing who else is on the property. 

I did take my very first deer on public land back in 1958 when I was 16 years old. It was a spike buck, and after I shot it, a man walked up and tried to claim it was his deer. Fortunately, I was hunting with another man who saw me shoot the deer in the back of the head with a slug and saw it fall down dead. It certainly didn’t walk 100 yards through the woods with a slug in its brain.

All the deer I have taken since then have been on leased property. Some in Delaware, some in Maryland and one or two in South Carolina. Unless they have changed the laws, there is hardly any way you can kill a deer illegally in South Carolina.

Friend of mine killed one on a paved road. Another friend tried to get him arrested as a joke. Game warden asked if there was a school bus on the road. We said no. Any other cars or people? We said no. Game warden said no problem.

They have deer down there that travel in herds. They live in the thickest swamps you can imagine, and the only way to get them out is with dogs. They only hunt with dogs on Saturday and only shoot bucks. You can kill all the does you want during the week.


  • 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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