Mighty Heron Charters specializes in family fishing trips

A little girl shows off a flounder caught on a Mighty Heron Charters fishing trip. (Photo courtesy of Mighty Heron Charters)

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Michael Doebley probably knows the back bays, canals and other waterways around Atlantic and Cape May counties as well as anyone.

Born in Cape May Court House, he has been sailing and fishing the bays and ocean since childhood.

The professional charter captain, known as “Captain Mike”, leverages his decades of experience to provide anglers and nature lovers a good time on the water with his Mighty Heron Charters based at Smith’s Marina at 910 Bay Avenue at Somers Point.

Now in its third season, Mighty Heron Charters specializes in family charters that range from leisurely fishing trips around back bays to sea excursions to catch tuna.

“In summer, our main market is families on vacation. We really look after them all the time,” Doebley said. “We’re really proud to work with these families to make sure they have a great time.”

Not only does Doebley have strong local ties, but so do his crew members. Colby Felix, the second, graduated in 2020 from Ocean City High School, where he played football. He now attends the University of Southern Mississippi.

The other crew member is Logan Monteleone, who will be a senior in the fall at Ocean City High School.

Doebley pointed out that Colby and Logan are major parts of the family atmosphere offered by Mighty Heron Charters.

“Frankly, we’re all buddies,” he said. “We are very proud of the quality of our collaboration during the summer. At the end of our travels, the little kids follow Colby and Logan around like they’re their new best friends.

“I think I have the friendliest and most capable crew,” he added.

On the Mighty Heron Charters website, Doebley noted that while chasing the “big ones” is one of his passions, he’s also thrilled when kids catch their first fish and break out into their joyous dance.

Michael Doebley, right, stands on his 28ft Steiger Craft with crew members Colby Felix and Logan Monteleone.

Although the summer vacation season is a peak time for fishing trips, Mighty Heron Charters offers charters from April 1 through Christmas.

“It’s cold, but the fishing is good,” Doebley said with a smile of striped bass caught on winter charters.

Charters range from two-hour trips costing $250 to 18-hour deep-sea fishing trips for $1,950. The average trip is a three-hour charter costing between $350 and $400, Doebley said.

Along the back bays for fishing trips, Mighty Heron Charters typically cruises the area between the Margate Bridge and the Garden State Parkway Bridge in Great Egg Harbor Bay.

Doebley owns a 28-foot Steiger Craft powered by two quiet Yamaha 250 horsepower engines. The boat, cleaned daily, is maintained to the highest standards and bears a US Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Safety Check decal.

Amenities include an 8ft by 8ft cockpit that offers enough space for six adults to comfortably fish or socialize. There are also private toilets.

In addition to fishing trips, Mighty Heron Charters also offers cruises, dolphin tours, birding tours, and whale watching tours.

Doebley is also an avid birdwatcher, which inspired the name Mighty Heron Charters.

“Herons are great fishers,” he said. “People think herons are a big, pretty bird. But they’re also power hunters who fish every day.

For more information on Mighty Heron Charters, visit mightyheroncharters.com or call (609) 513-4427.

A striped bass is another successful catch on a Mighty Heron Charters fishing trip. (Photo courtesy of Mighty Heron Charters)

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