Delaware fishing maven King luring in readers

Rich King, of Long Neck, casts a line into the surf on Conquest Beach, south of Dewey Beach last week. With his website and weekly columns, Mr. King has turned his hobby into a full-time of job of supplying information on local waterways. (Special to the Delaware State News/Lexi Coon)

Rich King, of Long Neck, gets ready to head into the surf on Conquest Beach, south of Dewey Beach last week. With his website and weekly columns, Mr. King has turned his hobby into a full-time of job of supplying information on local waterways. (Special to the Delaware State News/Lexi Coon)

DEWEY BEACH — According to Rich King, “Catching is the byproduct of fishing” and through his immense knowledge of surf fishing, he has caught himself an audience.

Born in northern Delaware, Mr. King, who now lives in Long Neck, began fishing from a very young age. So young in fact, he doesn’t remember his first time reeling in a catch.

“I have been fishing all of my life,” he said.

“I used to fish with my grandfather in the surf. I don’t remember that first fish, I was so young.”

He carried his passion for fishing with him throughout his life, finding ways to continue going to the beach and fish. When asked about his favorite fishing memory, he couldn’t pick one.

“Every story has a good memory attached to it,” Mr. King said. “The good catches, the ones that got away, that time we almost sank, that other time we spent the night on the marsh or a sandbar.”

The list goes on.

The only time he wasn’t surf fishing was when he was in college, and even then, he moved back to Delaware after graduation and picked up where he left off.

Still, it was only a pastime. Or it was up until about five years ago.

Mr. King’s friends knew he understood surf fishing more than most beachgoers, and they knew he could help them.

Whenever he was out on the beach, his phone would vibrate and ring, with voices on the other end asking for suggestions and information on the best spots out there.

One day, he had enough, and decided to start a website, Delaware-surf-fishing.com, to keep all of his friends up to date on the fishing reports in different locations.

“This website was a lark, something I wanted to do for some friends,” Mr. King said. “I posted it on, like, five friends’ Facebook pages, and said, ‘Stop calling me,’ and the thing went viral.”

Within two weeks, the website grew to reach 300,000 readers. In June 2010, the Delaware Surf Fishing brand was born.

“Before this I was pounding nails, building houses,” said Mr King.

At one point, he lived on the beach, tagging sharks for Delaware State University.

The popularity for his brand went viral in such a short amount of time that readership now exceeds that of some local newspapers. His weekly column appears Thursdays in the Delaware State News.

Since Delaware Surf Fishing’s creation, his website has also grown to include surrounding waterways, not just the shorelines.

Rich King casts his line into the water south of Dewey Beach.

Rich King casts his line into the water south of Dewey Beach.

“It was born in the surf, but we fish everywhere. It just keeps evolving,” he said, mentioning that he now includes all of the waterway and offshore fishing spots.

Delaware Surf Fishing has also expanded from updating about the activity in the local waterways and fishery issues to include coverage of storms that hit the area.

“We started [covering storms] when Hurricane Katrina hit and all nor’easters. No one used to cover Delaware in the news during these bad storms, so DSF took it upon themselves to do that,” said Mr. King.

During Winter Storm Jonas, the most recent of major storms to his the Delmarva area, the site filtered six months of traffic in two days, reaching over 1.8 million people.

His brand has become a source of connection within the community, too.

In between the many updates that Mr. King provides through his website, he also runs Delaware Surf Fishing’s Instagram, Twitter and two Facebook accounts.

“It’s a social media monster,” he said, speaking of the 34,000 followers he has garnered in a short amount of time.

“It’s become a real job to run all [of those accounts]. Some folks have even reconnected with old friends through our social media sites.”

Rich King writes about the Delaware outdoors every Thursday in the Delaware State News.

Rich King writes about the Delaware outdoors every Thursday in the Delaware State News.

While he is bearing the weight of the business, some surf fishers may say he is living the dream.

“Since I’ve kinda turned this into a job I have had the luxury of doing this on the weekdays,” said Mr. King. He has made his childhood passion into his vocation.

Nowadays, Mr. King can be seen driving onto the Delaware beaches on any given day in his Isuzu Rodeo emblazoned with the Delaware Surf Fishing logo. Packed into the truck and back seat of his car are containers filled with fishing gear, from poles to lines to lures.

Along with his brand’s logo on his car, he sports a DSF iFish sweatshirt, a line of clothing he sells online.

But his work doesn’t stop there.

Much like his website, Mr. King reaches out to connect the community. Delaware Surf Fishing regularly organizes beach cleanups and recently began offering surf fishing lessons for those who would like to learn more.

He encourages those who want to surf fish to join clubs or to learn from others who share the same passion.

“Fishing for many people is a way of life. They shape their lives not just around it but because of it,” said Mr. King.

“It is a connection to nature and a great way to relax. Standing on the edge of the Atlantic holding a fishing rod is a bit humbling at times.”

Surf fishing might be intimidating for some, and frustrating for others, but according to Mr. King, fishing does not always equal catching. Sometimes it’s social, to hang out with family and friends, and other times it’s to relax.

“You’re out there fishing,” he said, “and that’s the main part.”

Lexi Coon is a freelance writer living in the Camden area.

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