Remembering an outdoors Christmas morning

December 20, 2019

I really miss not having young boys to buy Christmas presents for this time of year. When my two sons were young, they would get really neat things having to do with hunting or fishing, not the least of which was a boat.

I had a very good friend, Ron Pickle, who was a vice president at Trojan Yachts in Lancaster, Pa., and somehow, we got to talking about how I wished I could get my boys a boat. He said he had one in his back yard that he was using to cover his fireplace logs and I could have that. It was a 12-foot solid fiberglass skiff that they had built at Trojan. I can’t recall exactly why, but a few had been made from the mold and Ron had acquired this one.

When he delivered the boat, it was in pretty bad shape from sitting on top of his firewood pile for several years. I carried it to Butch “Fuzzy Bear’s” gas station in Newark, where a lot of scrubbing and polishing brought it back to a like-new condition.

On Christmas Eve, my sister Debbie, who was home from her missionary work in Africa, and I carried the boat from my neighbor Tim McMillin’s house, where it was hidden for a few days, to my living room and placed it as close to the tree as possible. I hadn’t told my wife what I had done, so there were plenty of surprises on Christmas morning.

Later that week, my wife and several of the neighborhood ladies were sitting around having tea and coffee complaining about what a mess their homes were. Barbara said, “I have a boat in my living room.” That ended the conservation.

The boys didn’t get a motor for the boat the first year. They had to row it around Indian River Bay from our camper trailer at Bay Shore. The next year I did get them a 1.5-horsepower motor and it pushed the skiff just fine.

By the way, the name of the boat? Mother’s Worry.

A few years later, after both boys had completed their hunter training, I gave them Remington 870 shotguns. Both have taken deer with their guns, but the fantastic goose hunting I enjoyed for so many years ended before either of my sons had a chance to join in on the experience.

I have been blessed that my two sons enjoy hunting and fishing as much as I do. It has been a family tradition going back at least as far as my grandfather and, according my sister Debbie, who is tracing our family history, back as far as the early 1700s when a Capt. William Cryer (on my grandmother’s side) was known for his excellent fishing skills.

Happy Holidays to all.

Bluefish regulations

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council have made it official: There will be new regulations for bluefish in 2020. The bluefish stock is overfished, but not experiencing overfishing. Because of this, there will be a recreational harvest limit reduction of 18 percent from the 2019 RHL to 9.48 million pounds for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The result will be a three-bluefish-per-person bag limit for shore-based and private boat fishermen and a five-fish-per-person bag limit per angler on for-hire head and charter boats.

This will not impact most Delaware anglers as few keep their 10-bluefish limit. Not many, if any, Delaware charter or head boats run bluefish trips, but they do keep blues caught while targeting other species such as rockfish, sea bass and flounder.

As with all new regulations, the bluefish regs will have to pass through the usual Delaware regulatory process. A public hearing will be held and public comment will be taken before the secretary of DNREC signs off on the new law. All of this is expected to be complete before blues arrive in the spring.

Fishing report

It should come as no surprise that fishing has taken a back seat to hunting and the holidays, but if the weather would give us a break, as it is supposed to do this weekend, and the rockfish were to show up in the ocean and/or bay, the boat ramps would be lined with anxious anglers. Even if the rockfish don’t show, I still expect good fishing for tog and black sea bass.

Right now, the sea bass are on structure well off the coast, so a long run is required and the trip is well worth the effort. Head boats out of Ocean City are reporting limits to five pounds of chunky sea bass plus good numbers of porgies.

Tog are being caught closer to shore. Green crabs remain the top bait.

  • 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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