Takiyah Hampton lives in Atlantic City - on Absecon Island, surrounded by water. She crosses over a bridge on her way to Atlantic County Institute of Technology in Mays Landing. She had never been on a boat and never caught a fish.
She was on the Duke of Fluke with a school-sponsored fishing club outing that encompassed two days last week. Hampton was concerned about going out on the water, according to Michael Woertz. So, of course, she caught one of the three keeper flounder, Woertz said.
Woertz is the culinary-arts instructor at ACIT and one of the organizers of the ACIT fishing club with Mark Spencer, the building trades instructor.
This is the third year for the club, Woertz said. The purpose is to introduce students to the local environment. He said some of them have no idea of the diversity of wildlife in the area. The club has 60 high-school-age students from all around Atlantic County.
Duke of Fluke owner and captain Brook Koeneke, mate Mike Mulkeen and back-up captains Lee Scanny and Bob Edney have experience with the fishing/eco tours sailing from the pontoon boat's dock at Higbee Avenue in Somers Point.
The Ocean City Intermediate School fishing club, Egg Harbor Township Fernwood Avenue Middle School and Atlantic County Alternative School have similar outings. The Fernwood School trips include a trawl net that captures for research the marine life in the back bay around Somers Point, Koeneke said.
Mulkeen points out natural wonders of the back bay, identifies birds of region and shows students how to filet fish as part of the program.
They had three fish to filet last week. Hampton's 2-pound, 13-ounce flounder was one of them. Nick Nargi of Hammonton had a 3-pound, 4-ounce flounder, and Joe Sikora of Dorothy hooked one that weighed 2-12. Woertz said the students are all 15.
Woertz said they had great action both days, with flounder caught on every drift. They had 64 fish and two keepers with 31 students one day, and 28 students and 46 fish, with one keeper, the next.
Dr. Les Keeper, science instructor at ACIT, also is one of the faculty involved in the fishing club. Woertz could not help it. He had to tell the standing joke: When the good doctor goes on one of the fishing trips, they are assured of at least one keeper.
The Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament, scheduled for Saturday, June 11, has raised more than $500,000 for the AtlantiCare Ruth Newman Shapiro Mobile Mammography van that provides free screenings for uninsured women. Tournament director Kim Kirk said Monday that the mobile van has been upgraded to state-of-the-art technology, with the same equipment as a doctor's office.
The captain's meeting for the tournament is 6 p.m. Friday, June 10, at American Legion Post 396 located at 3218 W. Brigantine Ave. in Brigantine. The entry fee is $300. The tournament accommodates women anglers from all around the area with weighstations at Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet, Utsch's Marina in Cape May and Key Harbor Marina in Waretown.
Anyone interested in making a boat available to a female crew to volunteer or to sponsor can call Kirk at 609-412-0641.
One more reminder about other contests this weekend: Atlantic City Moose Lodge 216 Father's Day Weekend Flounder Saturday and Sunday, $15 registration, Lodge at 3900 West End Avenue, fish from boat, dock, pier or jetty, 609-344-2965; Brutus Flounder on Saturday, captain's meeting 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Elks Lodge 2536, located at 1815 Somers Point-Mays Landing Road, Egg Harbor Township, signups $25; 609-513-6219; Polecats Stay in the Bay flounder, bluefish and weakfish on Saturday, captain's meeting 6 p.m. Friday at Mott's Creek Inn; signups $20 per person.