Friday, July 4, 2014

Down the Shore  July 2014

Ever since I can remember my family has vacationed "down the shore". A number of years ago, Philadelphia Magazine featured an article reporting what most of us in the Delaware Valley already knew- Jersey shore communities were a mirror of the neighborhoods and suburbs in the Delaware Valley that populated them. As long as you stayed south of the Barnegat Light you were in Eagles territory.  Stray to the north and it was Giant and Jet decals on the SUV's. At the shore you could always count on seeing people from your neighborhood back home, and you could be sure that you would always go where your people had always gone. I remember Pop Schernick's place was around 17th and West. My cousins could often be found there.  Joe McGinley's clan was around 20th and Asbury. My family?  2740 Central or 2108 Wesley were our haunts growing up and now it's my brother's place at 1820 Central. As far as I can tell my children and my nieces and nephews are the fifth generation of Evans' to head to Ocean City when the sweltering temperatures of the Philadelphia suburbs drive its inhabitants to the sea.
Fishing was not on the agenda during those early days at Ocean City- rafting the waves, sand castle construction and re-enacting the battles between Patton's Sherman tanks and Romel's Afrika Corp occupied much of my childhood beach time. But I remember Pop Schernick spinning his fishing stories from the rocking chairs at the OC Fishing Club Pier and it made me want to cast a rod into the briny unknown. For me the sea was always a place of mystery and strange creatures and that was only reinforced by the sea robins and flounder that became my first catches.
As the teen years transitioned to adulthood, surf fishing became a regular event during beach trips. Setting up two or three rods near the family "encampment de jour" on the beach would usually feature a parade of sand sharks and skates accompanying the occasional schoolie bluefish, flounder, striper or weakfish.
Finding myself now in the middle chapters of life, I still love Ocean City and a day of doing nothing on the beach- although it is difficult to be around water and not fish.  The allure of surf fishing now means trudging up and down the beach, wading up to my chest to cast past the breakers all with my knee replacement. So, with the internet at my fingertips, I went in search of an inshore guide that could put me on some tasty flounder. I hit the jackpot with Bill Kott and Kott the Limit Charters. Bill is a retired high school teacher who has been guiding in Ocean City for about 15 years. What made the day a success was not the number of fish brought into the boat. What really mattered was that on a difficult, windy, "bluebird" day following one storm and preceding Hurricane Arthur, Bill used his clean, comfortable and well maintained boat perfectly sized to the water we fished and the conditions we encountered. Skilled at both fresh and saltwater fishing, Bill knew just where to find the fish. Using flounder rigs with bucktail jigs and killies we managed a good balance of good fishing with good conversation. All in all a fun  day on the water demonstrating once again that floundering on the water beats floundering on a beach blanket.
Fishing at the Shore, the tradition continues.

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