Henry Lingenfelder has fished at the beach for more than 60 years, reeling them in along the Maryland and Delaware shores since he was a kid. Few know the region’s coastal waters, and their denizens, like Lingenfelder, 67, fly fishing manager at Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore.
Here are his favorite angling sites, with a few fish tales for good measure:
Assateague Island: “Phenomenal for surf fishing, though one day nobody was catching anything with surf rods. On a whim, I switched to a fly rod, which doesn’t cast as far, and wound up catching bluefish, which were running closer to shore.”
Cape Henlopen State Park: “It’s my second-favorite place to fish on the East Coast after Cape Cod. I’ve seen bluefish runs where the fish were as long as your leg. I like fly fishing on the Delaware Bay side, wading in no more than waist-deep. Once, I caught my biggest flounder ever, probably 30 inches, which had a huge mouth that I wouldn’t put my hand in. As I walked back to shore, he spit the fly and flopped out of the basket and into the drink. That night, instead of fish for dinner, I ate crow.” 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, Del.
Indian River Inlet: “One day, I caught 100 hickory shad on a two-handed fly rod. Fishing from the rocks there is dangerous; people have lost their lives because they weren’t wearing the proper footwear and fell.” 39415 Inlet Road, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
The Oceanic Pier: “There’s a funnel here that fish must go through to reach Assawoman Bay — everything from tautog to bluefish to flounder. They say that if the fish are in and you don’t catch one, it’s because you don’t have a line in the water.” 710 S. Philadelphia Ave., Ocean City, Md.
The Ocean City Pier: “A very popular place because it juts farther out into the ocean than most people can cast from the shore. Remember to take a bridge net to haul your catch up to the pier.” 401 S. Atlantic Ave., Ocean City, Md.
Ocean City surf: “The best spots change from year to year; there’s no way to tell if, say, 45th Street is better than 74th Street. Try anywhere along the beach for kingfish, croaker and the like and, if you don’t get any hits, move 20 yards away because the landscape and your luck can change in that little bit. I caught a shark once at 49th Street.”
Ocean City Inlet: “A very convenient place to fish because you can park close by, and it leads to the bottom of the Boardwalk. If you’re going out past the concrete walkway to fish on the rocks, wear studded shoes, or spikes, because those rocks are very slippery.”
Route 50 Bridge, at Ocean City: “This spot is completely dependent on the tide. Have enough weights on your line to keep the bait down, because if the current is rip-roaring and you only have a half-ounce weight, the bait won’t go down where the fish are. It’s a great place to fish with a friend because one has to man the bridge net. I’ve seen guys try to lift their fish from the water with their rods and, more often than not, the line snaps.”