Wind makes for choppy boat trips

May 2, 2011

Wind, wind and then more wind seems to be the weather pattern over the past few weeks. While you expect wind in the spring, it seems we have had more than our share in 2011. Windy weekends have played havoc with the head and charter boat fleet as well as working folks who can only fish on Saturday or Sunday.

On the few fishable days, boats have caught limits of tog in the ocean and in Delaware Bay. Flounder and rockfish have been caught from the surf and out of Indian River Inlet.

I keep getting reports of herring caught at the spillway in Milton. I went over there on Saturday and watched a few taken on Sabiki rigs. I began catching herring in Delaware back in the 1950s. Those fish averaged 12 inches, but the ones I see now are lucky to break the 6-inch mark. Anyway, I went back on Easter Sunday armed with Sabiki rigs, but even the few fish that were there on Saturday had departed.

On Monday, I went to Indian River Inlet to try for flounder. Bill Siner and I arrived around 11 a.m. and found the current slack. It started running in after about a half hour, but the fish were not cooperating. We drifted the area along the south side from the old campgrounds to the entrance to South Shore Marina. We were using live minnows and Gulp!

After the flood tide had risen a bit, we moved to the VFW Slough. By this time the wind was howling out of the south, putting it against the incoming current. Not only was it all but impossible to make a decent drift, the water was full of brown snotweed. Faced with these conditions we returned to the inlet, tried a few more unproductive drifts and came back to the ramp.

I had noticed one or two boats trolling for rockfish. At the ramp one of these boats pulled in alongside us. On board were a father and his two children. The youngest was a girl who had just caught her first rockfish, a 33-incher. She was trolling with a Stretch 25. Naturally, I was fishing for flounder when the rockfish were biting.

I know the wind will lay off sometime, and when it does the fishing should be pretty good. In spite of my misadventure, there are flounder at Indian River as well as the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. Rockfish and blues are in the surf and the inlet. Tog season will close Wednesday, May 11, and with some luck, black sea bass should open shortly thereafter. I expect to see the 2011 flounder regulations any day.

Get the kids out fishing
Seeing that family on Monday enjoying time on the water and catching a big rockfish to boot made me realize once again how important it is to make an effort to get young people involved in the outdoors. It can be fishing, hunting, the shooting sports or just watching or photographing wildlife. Having time in the outdoors will broaden their outlook and could make them future allies when preservationists try to shut out the public from public access.

I was very lucky that both of my boys were interested in the outdoors. They fished with me from the time they were housebroken, and both are still involved in fishing today. My oldest boy Ric has taken up outdoor writing and my youngest, Roger, has his 100-ton master license and has run head boats.

I also took them hunting, and I believe both would have become more involved if they had the opportunity. Adding another sport to their already busy lives, especially one that involves as much time as hunting, is simply not practical at this time.

When I took my boys fishing there were at least one or two of their friends who would come along. Recently, I received an email from one of those boys thanking me for introducing him to the outdoors. He is now married with kids of his own, and he is taking them fishing.

In today’s world, with all the distractions and lack of opportunity for kids to get into the field or on the water, it is very important for those of us who have the means and ability to take a young person fishing or hunting to do so at every opportunity. When I was a kid I would play for hours in the field and woods behind our house in Claymont. I-495 runs through that area today. I spent many happy days fishing and exploring Naaman’s Creek. The creek has been replaced by a concrete culvert.

When the opportunity arises to take a young person fishing or hunting please make every effort to do so. You may make a friend and fellow outdoors person forever.

  • 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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