By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Michael Doebley probably knows the back bays, channels and other waterways around Atlantic and Cape May counties as well as anyone.
Born in Cape May Court House, he’s been cruising around and fishing in the bays and ocean since he was a child.
The professional charter captain, known as “Captain Mike,” taps his decades of experience to give anglers and nature lovers a great time out on the water with his Mighty Heron Charters based at Smith’s Marina at 910 Bay Avenue in Somers Point.
Now in its third season, Mighty Heron Charters specializes in family-friendly charters that range from leisurely fishing trips around the back bays to ocean excursions to catch tuna.
“In summer, our primary market is families on vacation. We really cater to them all of the time,” Doebley said. “We really pride ourselves working with those families to make sure they have a good time.”
Not only does Doebley have strong local ties, but so do his crew members. Colby Felix, the chief mate, is a 2020 graduate of 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-friendly atmosphere offered by Mighty Heron Charters.
“Frankly, we’re all buddies,” he said. “We take a lot of pride in how well we work together during the summer. At the end of our trips, the little kids follow Colby and Logan around like they’re their new best friends.”
“I think I have the most personable and knowledgeable crew,” he added.
On the Mighty Heron Charters website, Doebley noted that while chasing the “big ones” is one of his passions, he is also thrilled when kids catch their first fish and break out in their happy dance.
Although the summer vacation season is a peak time for fishing trips, Mighty Heron Charters runs charters from April 1 all the way to Christmas.
“It’s cold, but the fishing is good,” Doebley said with a smile about the striped bass caught during the winter charters.
Charters range from two-hour outings 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 the Great Egg Harbor Bay.
Doebley has a 28-foot Steiger Craft powered by quiet, twin Yamaha 250-horsepower motors. The boat, cleaned daily, is maintained to the highest standards and has a current U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Safety Check sticker.
Amenities include an 8-foot-by-8-foot cockpit that features plenty of room for six adults to fish comfortably or socialize. There is also a private toilet.
In addition to fishing trips, Mighty Heron Charters also offers cruises, dolphin tours, bird watching excursions and whale watching trips.
Doebley is also an avid birder, which provided the inspiration for the name Mighty Heron Charters.
“Heron are great fishermen,” he said. “People think of herons as a big, pretty bird. But they’re also a might hunter out there fishing every day.”
For more information on Mighty Heron Charters, vis it mightyheroncharters.com or call (609) 513-4427.