Warmer weather improves fishing in ocean, bay

April 11, 2011

Fishing in the ocean and the Delaware Bay improved considerably last week. Tog were caught in the bay at reef sites 6, 7, and 4 with crabs or clams the preferred bait. Most of the fishing has been from head boats out of Lewes and Bowers Beach.

On the New Jersey side of the bay on the flats near the Maurice River, rockfish have been caught on clams. This area is shallow, and the water warms much sooner than in the rest of the bay.

Ocean fishermen have had decent numbers of tog while fishing over inshore wrecks and reefs. Success varies according to the weather and the strength of the current. Ideal conditions are when the wind and the current are both moderate.

Indian River Bay has seen a few small flounder caught at the VFW Slough. I expect this fishery to turn on in the next week as we see warmer, sunny days.

White perch have been caught in tidal creeks and rivers on both sides of Sussex County. Rockfish were caught in the Nanticoke River as well.

No word yet on the herring run. Remember, the bag limit is 10 fish, and all nets are prohibited near spillways.

Freshwater anglers continue to do well on bass, crappie and pickerel. Live shiners have been the best bet for big bass along with crankbaits that imitate that bait. Small minnows worked on jig below a bobber have accounted for the good crappie catches. Crankbaits, shiners and spoons will attract pickerel.

Flea market
This weekend Rick’s Bait and Tackle will hold a flea market at the shop on Long Neck Road. Tables are free on a first-come, first-served basis with a limit of one table per person.

I would expect to see lots of fishing tackle for sale as anglers clean out their stuff and get ready for the new fishing season. These events are solid proof that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing Funding
The Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing Funding will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday April 12, in the Senate Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, Legislative Hall in Dover. This is the group that reviews the projects under way and recommends new projects paid for with the money collected from the sale of Delaware’s general fishing license. I am chairman of the council.

At our last meeting there were public comments concerning the meeting location in Lewes that made it difficult for folks from upstate to attend. To that end I requested a meeting site in Dover.

Other public comment indicated an interest in where all the money from the GFL is spent. I have included an explanation of where and how the funds are dispersed on the agenda.

Please keep in mind that there can be disagreements on certain projects where license money is used. So far, that has not been a problem in Delaware, but we did have a situation in Virginia concerning a boat ramp in Virginia Beach.

As originally proposed, the boat ramp would be paid for with license money and matching federal funds. Some anglers said that was unfair because nonfishermen would use the ramp. This would include jet skiers, pleasure boaters and kayakers. As a compromise, it was decided to charge $10 to use the ramp unless you had a Virginia saltwater fishing license, and then the fee would be $5.

Before you start to find something sinister in this I must tell you the $5 or $10 fee provides boat ramp personnel who control the four ramps during high-volume times and maintain the nicest bathrooms I have ever seen at any boat ramp. I believe if you asked someone sitting in line waiting to launch what he would pay to have the idiot preparing his boat in the middle of the ramp removed, or someone trying to retrieve his boat what it would be worth to make sure everyone waiting for an open ramp was taken in the order he or she arrived they would not be able to get the $5 or $10 out of their pocket fast enough. I am also quite certain that anyone using a boat ramp porta potty on a hot summer Sunday would pay at least that much for a clean, air-conditioned bathroom.

General fishing license money and the spending of those funds still generate plenty of opinions from sea lawyers online and in various locations where they may gather. If you are interested in facts instead of opinion, please attend the meeting on Tuesday.

  • 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