OCEAN CITY, MD – Mid June found the family heading east to Ocean City for a sorely needed vacation. Of course Bryce and I worked some fishing into the week’s plan. This would not only be my son’s first time fishing saltwater, it would be his first time fishing in the ocean. Bryce had done fine on Lake Erie, but in case he was ill or for inclement weather, I decided a bigger vessel would be the safest route. This meant a head boat, and we decided on The Ocean Princess.
The weather was perfect and I really hoped to the fish would cooperate being that it would be a somewhat lengthy motor out to where we would fish. Bryce has been fishing a lot for a kid his age, so he understands concepts such as not catching or missing bites… but I desperately hoped his first trip would be successful. Not simply for the memory, but the desire to do it again. I hated the feeling of extra pressure, but if it only ended up being a long boat ride, maybe he would opt out in the future. Being that I had done this type of fishing before out of Myrtle Beach, SC (Black Sea Bass & Spiny Dogfish) and also Clearwater, FL (Grouper), I will say I had cautious optimism. The positive Google reviews also helped the psyche. Whether I got my mind in the right place or not, the reality was that as nearly fast as the captain said we could drop our lines, I got bit. And also just as fast, I missed it.
My mistake of missing the quick bite right when my sinker hit the bottom, would not happen again. The next nibble, the hook was soundly set, on the smallest Black Sea Bass I had ever seen. I had to laugh thinking, if I can actually get the hook set on such a small fish, I should have no issue setting it in a bigger mouth. Sure enough, the next bite a short time later, was the bigger fish I was hoping for. To ensure the first ‘keeper’ Black Sea Bass was caught, Bryce wanted me to reel it in and do everything. He really wanted to look at one a long time and not have to throw it back, I was happy to oblige! For the remainder of the trip, including the three additional keepers, he reeled them all up. I was happy that we did not have a single fish come off.
The photo above was everything I wanted the day to be. If it had ended with only that single fish, Bryce and I would have been happy. The fact that we caught three more, just made it that much better. The day truly had exceeded our expectations. Little did we know, we were not done.
First mate Tim, in between helping the anglers on his side of the boat, was casting artificial lures from his personal open face rod. This is not unusual on head boats. I have often observed mates on Lake Erie trying to nab a few personal fish for their box. As long as they don’t neglect their duty to assist customers, it never has bothered me. Other than taking an interest in his technique, I really wasn’t paying much attention. What did catch my attention was when he yelled, “Bryce, get over here!”. I had no idea his goal was to get a solid hook up on a good fish, only to give my son an opportunity to bring it in. In the excitement I was happy I had enough sense to grab my camera and get some pictures. The fish was landed, a nice keeper Flounder, that provided one more great memory to what was now an epic day! I have no words that can express the gratitude I have towards First Mate Tim.
This was without question, the best head boat fishing experience I have ever had. I couldn’t have asked any more of the captain and crew of The Ocean Princess. The mates explained what to do, the captain put us on top of the fish, and all the anglers had to do was simply use a little bit of skill in detecting bites, a quick set of the hook, and reel in the fish. The extra attention given to my son was not even requested, it was simply given. This half day trip early in our week long vacation, not only set a wonderful tone for the week, but created a lifelong memory for a dad and a son.