Service for Capt. John Nedelka set Aug. 15

August 8, 2020

There will be a memorial service for Cap. John Nedelka at Indian River Marina Saturday, Aug. 15. His ashes will be spread from the Miss Ene III leaving the marina at 4 p.m. Those who would like to follow in their private boats are welcome.

At 5 p.m., there will be a celebration of life at the Marina Pavilion. Please join the family there for light refreshments and reminiscing.

Capt. John ran the Karen Sue out of Indian River for more then 40 years before retiring last year. He passed suddenly this spring and now is the time for all of us who knew and loved the man to pay our last respects.

White Marlin Open

The White Marlin Open is just underway and, because of the tropical storm, has only one day in the books prior to my Wednesday deadline. The Restless Lady out of Ocean City has the lead in the tuna division with a 114.5-pound yellowfin caught by Travis Ork from York, Pa.

I have covered this contest since the first one when I fished with Jim Motsko, the man who originated the idea of a white marlin tournament out of the White Marlin Capital of the World.

Along the way I have ridden on big boats and small boats, and I must say big boats are better.

In 1981, I was approached by a tackle rep who was one of the world’s great salesmen. He could, beyond a doubt, sell water to a drowning man.

One of his big clients was fishing the open and wanted a writer to come along. For some reason, I was selected. I said sure and that was that.

The weekend before the tournament, I went down to Ship’s Café (that’s what Harbour Island was know as before the condos were built) and checked with the boat captain. He said everything was OK and looked forward to me being on board.

On Tuesday, I ran by the marina just to be sure we were still fishing on Wednesday. The captain was on the flybridge when I drove up and I don’t think his feet hit the ground until he was halfway across the parking lot. Before I could get out of the truck, he has was at my window telling me I couldn’t come on Wednesday because the owner had invited six ladies who were unrelated to anyone on the boat by birth or marriage, to join the crew and the last thing he wanted was a writer with a camera.

No problem, because I also had an invite from a bunch of friends who owned a tackle shop to fish on a 32 Blackfin. I just stopped by that boat and everything was set for Wednesday.

Then came Hurricane Dennis. He was moving up the coast as we cleared the inlet and the seas were just a tad nautical as we ran to the Baltimore Canyon. I don’t want to make the waves larger than they were, but when we were in the trough, we couldn’t see over the tops.

One of our crew was not doing well. He was sicker than anyone I have ever seen on the water. At one point, we put him in the fighting chair wearing just a poncho so we could hose him off since he was sick from both ends.

In spite of the rough conditions, we did manage to release one white marlin. Due to the weather that was getting worst by the minute, and the condition of our sick comrade, we did head in early. That deep vee bottom on the 32 Blackfin paid for itself on that run.

Most of the time I rode along on boats from various factories that wanted a write up about how well their product preformed. In truth, that was a pretty easy assignment. I mean, how bad can a 55-foot Viking or a 70 Spencer be?

There was one year when I was on a brand new model of a well-known builder. The captain assured me he had excellent tackle, and when I came on board, he showed me the Fin-Nor rods and reels. I should have looked closer.

The weather was perfect on the first day we fished and the run to the deep went without so much as a drop of spray reaching the windshield.

As I set out the baits, I noticed the line looked a bit old. We raised seven white marlin that day and the line broke on all seven. Great boat, great tackle, rotten line.

The next day, I had my tackle on board with fresh line and we didn’t raise a single fish. And so it goes.


  • 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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