Enjoy the fishing weather

April 18, 2011

Fishing is getting better every day. Tog are now being caught in the bay and the ocean with three-fish limits common. Some boats will run tog and rockfish trips. After catching a limit of tog, the captain will switch over to rockfish.

The best of the rockfish action has been on the New Jersey side near the Maurice River. Chumming with clams or fresh bunker has been the most productive technique. I would suspect rockfish could be found in the shallow water along Slaughter Beach, but for whatever reason, the larger fish seem to gravitate toward New Jersey.

Rockfish have been caught from the beach at Broadkill and from the surf on the north side of the inlet. My reports indicate fresh bunker or clams have produced the few fish taken to date.

Indian River recorded the first keeper flounder of the season. At least two were reported from the area around the VFW Slough. Live minnows and fresh herring were the deadly baits. We also had reports of one or two flounder caught in the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal and in the bay. Please remember, we are still operating under the 2010 regulations, four flounder at 18.5 inches, until the new regulations become effective in May.

In freshwater we have reports of big bass caught on live shiners and crankbaits from area ponds. Crappie and pickerel have also been active. I expect the herring run to break wide open any day as the dogwood tree in my yard is ready to bloom.

Cedar Creek ramp will be closed
The boat ramp at Cedar Creek in Slaughter Beach will be closed for 120 days beginning in early July. The ramps need to be repaired, and this requires a coffer dam that will close the area.

Those of us in the Cape Region can use the Lewes ramp without any difficulty, but fishermen living in the northern portion of the state will have a much longer distance to tow their boat. It will be interesting to see if the Lewes ramp has more customers or if anglers in New Castle and Kent counties start fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

Virginia fisherman identification
I know several folks in the Cape region who fish in Virginia. In the past, all you needed was a Virginia fishing license and your Delaware fisherman identification number. This year you will also need a Virginia FIN. The commonwealth has instituted a program to register everyone who fishes there. In order to conduct this survey they need information supplied by their own FIN. I got mine online and it is free. Go to

Oregon Inlet
Last week a tragedy occurred at Oregon Inlet that could have been prevented. Four men attempted to exit the inlet in a 26-foot boat under conditions that, according to my son Ric who was in the area, were so bad the Oregon Inlet charter boat fleet cancelled its trips.

The four men did make it out, but encountered seas so high they decided to return. I am unclear if the boat was swamped during the turn or took a following sea over the stern, but the result was three men in the water.

The captain was able to pick up two of the men, but according to the Coast Guard report, the third man was unresponsive and they could not recover him. A subsequent search failed to find him.

The first mistake here was trying to exit what in my opinion is the most dangerous inlet on the East Coast under conditions that were so rough the local charter boats would not go.
These captains run 50- to 70-foot Carolina boats that are designed for the worst sea conditions imaginable.

The next mistake was not having all members of the crew don personal flotation devices as soon as the captain realized he was in a dangerous situation. None of the men thrown in the water was wearing a PFD.

I don’t know the age of all the men involved, but the Coast Guard listed the age of the man lost as 28. At that age I am afraid I might have done the same thing. My brother-in-law Paul Coffin and I ran his 22-Mako to the canyons out of Indian River and Ocean City almost every weekend during the summer, and we would take chances that did not seem dangerous at the time. We never wore a PFD, and to tell the truth, I can’t remember exactly where they were stowed.

Today I won’t go on the water when the wind is over 15 knots and I wear my PFD every time I leave the dock. I am sure I am not any smarter, but perhaps I am a bit wiser.

  • 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

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