An unusual catch out of Ocean City

November 18, 2017

The Primary Search out of Ocean City, Md., caught a very unusual fish for the Atlantic Ocean. It is an opah, a deep-bodied, warm-blooded fish that is usually caught in temperate waters to our south and in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.  

The crew on the Primary Search was deep dropping for swordfish at the Poorman’s Canyon when the opah took a bonito bait on its way to the bottom. James Doerzbach, Brian Stewart and Tommy Clark were the other folks on the boat. This is the first recorded recreational hook-and-line catch of an opah by anyone out of Ocean City. In addition to the 105.4-pound opah, they also caught a 100-pound class swordfish. Quite a day!

Dangerous job

The men and women who comprise the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Natural Resources Police have a very dangerous job, and as a rule, they don’t receive nearly as much credit as they deserve. Every week, I receive an email press release from Fish and Wildlife’s Police Blotter, and while most of the arrests are for fishing without a license, keeping fish and crabs that are too small, and not having enough PFDs on the boat, there are an increasing number of drug violations and, as last week, arresting people for hunting with a firearm they are prohibited from owning.

Beginning Oct. 31, the Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Police arrested Anthony Harmon, 43, of Millsboro for one count of possession of a firearm/weapon by a person prohibited. In addition, Harmon was arrested for failure to attach deer tag to antlered deer, removing deer parts prior to examining deer by division, two counts of possess or transport antlered deer that was unlawfully killed, one count driving while suspended or revoked, and one count of unlawful method of deer hunting by baiting lands. He was arrested while hunting off Piney Neck Road near Dagsboro.

To spell this out more clearly, Mr. Harmon was caught deer hunting out of season over bait with a gun he was not allowed to have and transporting the untagged buck he killed while driving on a suspended license. While the reason for his being prohibited to own or possess a firearm is not noted, the usual reason is a felony conviction. That means the arresting officer had to confront a possible felon who was armed.

The next action is even more disturbing. Matthew Schuler of Seaford was apprehended while hunting off Raccoon Ditch Road near Georgetown. He had eight counts of possession of a firearm/weapon by a person prohibited, one count of unlawful removal of deer parts prior to examining deer by division and one count of not wearing hunter orange. 

While Mr. Schuler was not supposed to have any firearms or weapons, he had eight. I guess if you are not allowed to have a firearm and are taking deer unlawfully, it would make sense not to draw attention to yourself by wearing hunter orange.

Now for the real shocker – both men we released on unsecured bail. Mr. Harmon’s bail is $8,500 and Mr. Schuler was released on $55,200.

While both men are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, it seems to me the charges are serious enough to warrant more than unsecured bail, but what do I know?

First deer

I am happy to report two young people, who shot their first deer during Delaware’s shotgun season, sent me photos of their success. Lucy Burke, age 8, was hunting along the edge of a marsh at Broadkill Beach when she had a chance to take a nice doe with her 20-gauge. She was with her dad Tom Burke Sr.

William Burke, 9 years old, took his button buck in an undisclosed location while hunting with his dad Merritt Burke. We congratulate both of these young hunters.

Fishing report

In spite of some less-than-accommodating weather, tog and sea bass fishing has been pretty good. On Monday, the Katydid was able to fish the bay and came in with almost a boat limit of tog. Mike “The Mailman” Pizzolato was high hook. 

On Sunday, Dave Furio caught a 7.96-pound flounder, also on the Katydid. The Miss Kirstin had 27 tog, also on Sunday. Rob Malone caught a 5.13-pound tog while fishing in the bay and using a white legger crab for bait. The Falkowski gang was at it again; this time it was Kyle with a 3.35-pound sea bass on a green crab.

The Indian River Inlet is producing a few more keeper tog on green crabs and sand fleas. The pier at Cape Henlopen State Park has seen small blues and flounder much as it has all summer and fall.

The big rockfish are still off the New Jersey coast.

  • 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 Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He 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