"It's like you're sitting on your couch and someone bounces a Pop-Tart in front of your face, and you say, 'Oh, thanks. I'll eat that.'" Miller said by way of explaining the method.

"A Pop-Tart doesn't have a hook in it," Jordan said, setting off peals of laughter in the boat.

At fish No. 38, DeSean decided he was done throwing the littler fish back.

"Sure you don't want to let him live another day?" Krauss asked. "He's kind of small."

"Nope," DeSean said, tossing the fish into a cooler as another boat floated by and announced its fish tally was higher.

"Remember that they're fishermen," Miller said.

"And fishermen always lie," Krauss said.

Somewhere around fish No. 54, Krauss started to tease DeSean, too.

"Your number keeps doubling, five at a time," Krauss said.

"No," DeSean said, reeling in another under-6-incher and upping his tally by a few fish. "Trust me."

Back ashore, they learned two other boats piloted by sport fishermen had pulled in the day's limit of rockfish, which captains cleaned so each child was sent home with two big fillets.

The boys and girls, just like the officers and the fishermen, began trading stories on the dock about who got skunked, who failed to reel in a 30-inch rockfish, who dropped a bloody fish on her foot and who hooked a perch large enough to get a certificate. The children lined up with the fish for pictures, and the sportsmen taught them the age-old technique of holding the fish away from you to make it look bigger.

"We might not have caught the most fish," Miller told the boys from his boat. "But we had the most fun."

"And we had the best boat," DeSean said.

ecox@baltsun.com