Braving the cold for one last fishing trip in 2016

January 7, 2017

On Dec. 31, my son Ric and I set sail from Crab Creek in Virginia Beach with hopes of finding a few rockfish or tog willing to take bait or lure. The wind was calm and the air temperature was 21 degrees. There was a thin layer of ice on the water, but I have caught both tog and rockfish under similar conditions.

We arrived at the Second Island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel just as the sun was clearing the horizon. This should be a perfect time to find a few rock by casting WindCheater plugs to the base of the island. Ric and I worked from the rip at the end of the rocks to the pocket on the east side of the island without result. Even the seagulls were huddled together on the rocks.

Next we fished for tog at the north end of the island by tying off to a piling. Our beautiful green crabs went unmolested, and while we could certainly feel the boulders and other structure below, if any tog were in residence, they certainly weren’t hungry.

Ric suggested we move to another location, and I suggested we head for the dock. By this time, my feet and hands were so cold they hurt, and while that has happened before, I was able to soldier on so long as we were catching fish. The pain of not catching along with the cold was more than I could stand. I must say that Ric didn’t put up any argument when I suggested we call it a day.

No long wait to pull the boat since Ric’s truck was the only one in the parking lot. His system for launching and retrieving the boat is well practiced. He can have the boat on the trailer in just a few minutes even when he receives no help from the Old Man.

Since both Ric and I are expert anglers, the lack of catching could not be our fault. We decided the 40-degree water temperature was to blame. The fish were so cold they lost their appetite.

Rockfish tournaments

While the fall rockfish season was a disappointment for most of us, the winners of two rockfish tournaments were able to catch some impressive fish.

The Lewes Harbour Striped Bass Tournament was supposed to run from Nov. 1 to 31, but with no entries by the end of the month, the contest was extended to Dec. 31. The final results had Joe Choma winning with a 45-pound rock. Dave Lyman came in second with his 37.5-pounder, and Evan Falgowski took third with a 36.5-pound striper. 

Bill’s Sport Shop also had a Striped Bass Tournament and the winner was Joe Choma, who entered a 41.11-pound rockfish. Evan Falgowski came in second with a 37.5-pounder, and Cory Falgowski took away the third-place award with a 31.6-pound striper. Congratulations to all the winners.

Flounder hearing

As mentioned last week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 17, to take comments on the proposed regulations for summer flounder during the 2017 season. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at the DNREC Richardson and Robbins Building, 89 Kings Hwy., Dover.

I do encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in the summer flounder fishery to attend this hearing and let the ASMFC know of your concern. If you cannot attend, you can send your comments to Kirby Rootes-Murdy until 5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19. Use to send your comments.

I would strongly suggest sending your comments not only to ASMFC, but to Sens. Carper and Coons as well as Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. It is very easy to reach these people by entering their name in Google and then following the instructions to contact them.

Right now, the plan is to reduce both the commercial and recreational landings by 30 percent. This will be a hardship for both factions, but at least the managers have a reasonably good idea of how many flounder the commercial fishermen land because the weight of the fish is recorded when they hit the dock. Such is not the case for the recreational landings because the only data comes from a very poor survey. Improvements to this were supposed to have been made, but so far the progress has been very slow.

With so many jobs depending on the recreational summer flounder fishery, it is important to get the right data to the fishery managers. While some reduction will occur, cutting 30 percent in one fell swoop would be devastating. When you make your comment, please explain how much money you usually spend fishing for summer flounder, and perhaps this will help delay the proposed cuts until better data is available.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at