A weekly column by Catherine Dugan. This week: Let’s go fishing!
The Cape May fishing industry is big business, with more than $125 million paid annually to fishermen at New Jersey docks. Fish caught here might be shipped halfway around the world, or prepared to perfection at a local restaurant. For pure dining satisfaction, however, there is nothing like eating a fish that you’ve caught and cooked yourself. With this goal in mind, we set out with Captain Bob on the Down Deep, a sportfishing vessel out of Utsch’s Marina.
You can take a group of people, from four to about 15, on the Down Deep for a lighthouse tour, dolphin watching, or a day of fishing. We were after the not-so-elusive bluefish. Captain Bob advises planning for bluefish in summer because “you’ll catch some, and that’s what gets kids interested.” He was right.
On the way out, Jake (age nine) and Paige (age seven) enjoyed the ride, waved to the passing dolphins and laughed at the seasick adults.But, once they started hauling in the fish, nothing else mattered. Bluefish are lively! It was a perfect introduction to fishing.
A day on the water takes some preparation, and your captain will tell you what to bring – food and drinks (no glass bottles), sunscreen, sunglasses, boat shoes or sneakers, rain gear and a camera. Most importantly, bring an empty cooler to preserve your catch. You’ll go out if it’s raining, but not in heavy wind. Captain Bob suggests waiting until a child is about five before you take him or her fishing on the ocean and recommends Bonine, taken the night before, for those who are prone to seasickness.
We did a four-hour tour, but longer excursions are available. Groups of adults may choose more adventurous fishing trips, including overnight trips in search of tuna. Bachelor parties are another excuse to get together and fish.
Eating what you catch can be a spiritual experience, reinforcing the human connection to the sea. Or, it can just be a fun way to spend a summer day. Our catch was cleaned for us, and Captain Bob provided recipe ideas. Although it is an oily, “fishy” fish, it can be mighty tasty when cooked for young, proud fishermen – especially if you soak it in milk for about 20 minutes then fry it. (Add some applesauce and call it dinner.) The fresher the fish, the better your results.
For more information about the Down Deep, give Captain Bob a call at (609) 226-9122.
Next week: The Great American