A name like “Fishkiller’s” may sound intimidating, but to Captain Chet Townsend and his family, it’s strictly business. Now, in just their second season, Fishkiller’s Lobster Shack near Dagsboro, along Route 26, is becoming a drive-by hotspot for locals and vacationers alike, featuring area-caught seafood and on-the-go sandwiches.
Historically, the term “fishkiller” was used to describe successful fishermen who consistently returned with profitable catches, and the business lives up to its hype. The menu, simple as it is, presents a unique selection of burgers, crab, chicken, fish and, of course, lobster.
Chet Townsend, with the help of his wife, Shirley, daughter Veronica and son Ches, has put his more than 30 years of commercial fishing to use, with snacks and meals prepared right from their eye-catching red trailer along the side of the road.
“I’ve been fishing for a while,” said Chet Townend, “and I’ve been cooking forever. I didn’t really think I’d still be out there, but I’m in too deep to stop now.”
And by the look of the numerous customers pulling off to grab a bite, plenty of others are thankful that the Lobster Shack is back in town for the season.
Patrons can swing by for a whole, steamed lobster, caught right off the Maryland and Delaware coast, for only $9 per pound, or $8 per pound for a live one to take home and prepare. Townsend’s boats – the Paka, out of Indian River, and the Andrew G, in Ocean City, Md. – are well-known for their lobster outings.
The lobsters, initially a by-catch of the sea bass he fishes for, have helped Fishkiller’s find its place in the community. Fishkiller’s signature lobster roll is one of the shack’s bestsellers, served on a croissant or in a hamburger roll, or in a wrap, by request. Their fried soft-crab sandwich worked its way onto the menu this season, as did a third-pound crabcake sandwich, which was frequently requested by customers.
But even with the aforementioned selection, coupled with their zesty Caribbean island-inspired jerk chicken and charbroiled burger topped with homemade lobster salad, one of the most sought-after items at Fishkiller’s are their famous fish tacos. The seasoned catch, whether it be sea bass, rockfish, cod, tautog or flounder, is seasoned and sautéed with onions and peppers and topped with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole and jalapenos, served on flour tortillas.
“We would see fish tacos in the Caribbean when we’d travel there,” recalled Chet Townsend, “and I figured it was easy enough that I could do it.” He began preparing them for his family for lunch and dinner, and would take them out with friends on the boat.
“I was cooking them up long before people around here had even heard of fish tacos,” he said.
The catches are guaranteed to be the freshest around. And if Chet and his brother, Wes, aren’t reeling them in, you can be sure they’re coming from fellow watermen along the local backwaters or Maryland and Delaware coastline.
“People absolutely love it,” noted Shirley Townsend. “You can taste a difference in the seafood because of how fresh it is and how recently it was caught. If you go to a grocery store, you’re not going to see that kind of freshness.”
Fishkiller’s Lobster Shack has limited hours, open only Thursdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. this summer season. Most days earlier in the week, Chet is out retrieving the menu items.
Licensed lobsterer in both Maryland and Delaware, Townsend is able to maximize his payload.
“Each year,” he said, “states have been limiting how much you can keep and take in, so it’s best if I’m able to get out there and get as much as I can each time.”
While the lobster shack is a great supplement for Townsend’s passion, it gives the family a chance to spend more time with each other, too.
“It gets tight in there when we’re all working,” Shirley said of the trailer’s kitchen area, “but it’s nice to get everyone together and work together as a family. We all have our own schedules and responsibilities, but we can all come together for this.”
The shack’s location on prime real estate along Route 26 makes it accommodating for year-round residents not looking to fight the holiday and summer traffic, while those who are in town for just part of the summer frequently find themselves driving past the red trailer on their way to and from the beach.
Business typically starts up right from the time they open, as customers make a habit to stop by during their lunch break, and the dinner crowd assures a busy evening for Fishkiller’s.
“We had a really good opening week, last week,” said Chet Townsend, “and once you get a few cars here, everybody wants to see what the commotion is about. Most people who drive by see us but don’t really know what we’re about until they stop in. For now, business is going really well.”
Fishkiller’s Lobster Shack is located along Route 26, just east of the Vines Creek Bridge, next to Indian River Outdoors – roughly 2 miles east of Dagsboro or 7 miles west of Bethany Beach. They will be available from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from now until Labor Day. For more information, stop by or call (302) 448-5078.