STATE #24 - DELAWARE JULY 2018 - THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
SPECIES CAUGHT - Skate, Flounder, Black Sea Bass, Sea Robin, Tiger Shark
My first trip ever to our nation’s first state found me at Rehoboth Beach where I stayed the night of the 10th and indulged in some great Atlantic seafood. Early on the 11th, I met Chuck Cook of First Light Charters at Massey’s Landing on Indian River Bay.
Chuck was easy to get to know and we became friends immediately. After going under the beautiful Indian River Inlet Bridge we headed offshore into the Atlantic starting the fishing over a wrecked ship probably 12 miles out.
I caught them early and often starting with a skate-something I had never heard of. After asking Chuck if they were edible, I kept one of these bizarre looking creatures for an experiment. I threw the other approximately 20 or more back over the course of the day while bottom fishing 85 to 90 feet deep.
Another species I caught about the same number of was a sea robin. I also kept only one of those for the same reason. We left the shipwreck and headed to something Chuck called the Old Grounds. We fished up and down this approximately 5 mile stretch where bricks and rocks lined the ocean floor.
Ships unloaded these stones to lighten their loads in the past. They probably didn’t know they were creating such a great future fishing spot. The necessary ballast weights for these ships in the depths of the Atlantic became a liability to them when nearing the mouth of the Delaware Bay.
The ballasts had to be removed to raise the level of the vessels enabling them to navigate the shallow waters of the Delaware Bay where their destination awaited. Interesting history and also interesting fishing for me.
I caught Sea Bass and Flounder here, and many more of the other sorts I had already got. My line hung up several times in the rocks and had to be cut loose but it came with the territory bottom fishing. Chuck announced we would make a move after the bite slowed.
So I let the line down for one more try. Shortly after I reeled on it, I told Chuck I was hung again. Thinking it was hung on a rock I tugged on it a couple times to realize it was hung in something alive when it took off.
After a pretty good fight I got the tiger shark to the boat but not in it. We got a picture of it and then like being hung in the bricks cut it loose. There’s a plug for “let me try one last time.” I’m reluctant to leave when a spot produces good like the Old Grounds did.
From there we went a little further out to another shipwreck with similar results. I was delighted with all the new firsts for me in regards to species with several in the box to keep. Chuck is an excellent guide with all the knowledge and expertise needed for this type fishing.
Beyond the business of our agreement to charter fish, he is someone I count as a friend. After many hours of fishing and already longer than we agreed on he offered to keep fishing as long as I wanted. Very nice of him and very appreciated by me.
We made a stop in the bay at a marina where Chuck gassed up his boat and a kid cleaned my fish for me. He only charged 5 bucks and so I tipped him a couple more. I think that 14 year old kid was the best I have seen with a manual fillet knife.
While he cleaned them I noticed a fresh fish market there. I was surprised to see striped bass were the most expensive on the market. Surprised because these fish are all over the nation in salt and freshwater both. My taste buds will testify they are awesome to eat from all the places I’ve caught them.
Chuck’s fishing charter service is top of the line. I had one of my favorite days fishing with him. His company can be found at www.firstlightcharters.net online. It will be hard to find anybody much nicer than him.
When I got home with my catch from 5 states the skate and sea robin experiments were first on the grill. The sea robin was okay but it had some “bone ends” where the spines of it’s wings anchored that are hard as steel. Not much yield and still had to eat around them bone spurs.
But the skate was a different story. The red meat of this thing looked like the head and strings of a mop with the strings grown together. I grilled it with lemon butter and Tony’s seasoning. It turned white when it cooked and when it completed it looked really good to me.
But Billie Jo said she wasn’t about to eat something that looked like that. It didn’t help her perception of it hearing me refer to it as old red mop-head or seeing the picture of it when it was alive. Well all I can say is she missed out.
It was delicious, a firm but tender texture with a smooth and mild distinct flavor. It only took one bite of this delicacy to make me wish I had kept all these critters that resemble a stingray except being brownish orange colored.
America’s first state produced a lot of first experiences and new species for me while Fishing America in the Atlantic Ocean with Chuck Cook. I would have been happy staying all week there.