My dad, Albert C., has fished the waters of the St. Martin River, Assawoman Bay and Ocean City inlet for over 30 years. Over those years, he developed a fishing philosophy that went like this:
Coffee = Minnows
One of our fondest family stories would be how dad would start the fishing season in late March by driving his moped to the local coffee shop and enjoy some fresh roasted brew for the sole purpose of recycling the Styrofoam cup.
He would bring the cup home, break it into small pieces and put them into the minnow trap in the canal out the back door of the Ocean Pines house where he and mom lived for decades.
He would use bread as his bait, and even though it was great for catching minnows, it would take a lot more frequent reloading and consume an entire loaf of bread or two through the process because the bread would quickly deteriorate.
So with a much more improved and cost effective process (the Styrofoam cup), he would wake up each morning over the next week, empty the minnow trap that held dozens and dozens of fat energetic minnows (full of Styrofoam cup) which he would count off, separate and freeze to be used for bait over the following spring and summer months.
Minnows = Flounder
These minnows would catch the flounder that our fishing family grew up on (kids, grandkids and great grandkids).
My dad was amazing at finding the best drop offs where the flounder would sit and wait for bait, he had an uncanny knack for positioning the boat (that’s right, he never named it…just called it “the boat”) in the perfect manner, taking into account the wind, depth, tides so we could catch fish.
A very important element of every outing was the competition that took place once the lines were put into the water. You see, Dad had perfected the art of ‘bragging rights’.
Dad was light years ahead of the NFL, MLB, and NASCAR in the stats required for calculating bragging rights.
Once the first fish was put into the cooler, the game began: each angler would count how many fish they caught (as well as how many were kept), who had the longest, heaviest, who lost the most, etc. Each of these stats were critically important to the day’s adventure.
As we would head back to the dock, we would each reference the statistic that made our day on the bay better than the other person.
We knew our ‘catching percentage rating’ (number caught vs. kept vs. lost). There was also our bait efficiency score (number of fish caught/minnow used divided by the number of minutes you kept the bait on the hook before reloading).
And finally, the ‘photo finish’ where you captured the day’s catch on film.
Flounder = Crabs
Once at the dock, the cleaning process began. Each flounder was perfectly filleted and skinned, portioned and put into containers for freezing.
The carcasses would be then put into the crab trap at the end of the dock that would attract an inordinate number of the crustaceans. Two days later, a full trap, ready for eating and picking.
This is where Mom got involved, She and dad would eat until full, we’d then pick the rest for Mom so she can make her famous crab cakes which will be carefully marked and stacked in the freezer.
The joke at the end of the season would always be that even though dinners of ‘fresh’ seafood were consumed throughout spring, summer and fall, the freezer would be filled with pounds of flounder filets and dozens of crab cakes.
All from one coffee cup.