Fresh bunker serves as top bait for surf fishing

May 9, 2011

Finally, some decent fishing to report. The last week of the tog season produced limit catches in the bay and in the ocean.

The season ends May 11, but sea bass will open Sunday, May 22, so bottom fishermen will only have to wait a little while before getting back to their favorite sport.

Delaware and points south will maintain their current regulations of 25 sea bass over 12.5 inches while states to the north will open later and have a 13-inch minimum size.

Rockfish have been caught from the surf and from Indian River Inlet.

Fresh bunker seems to be the top bait in the surf, while a red and white bucktail has put keepers in the cooler for inlet anglers.

Some rock have also been taken on trolled Stretch 25s at the inlet. In both cases, the rip that runs from the Coast Guard Station to South Shore Marina has been the top spot.

I gave the surf a try on Saturday, fishing fresh bunker during incoming water at Herring Point.

My friend Doug Elliott and I failed to attract a single strike and with the wind moving from northwest to northeast we finally departed when the chill seeped into our old bones. In the long-ago days of our misspent youth, Doug and I would have faced into that cold northeast wind and kept on fishing, but those days are gone and so were we.

Flounder fishing has been decent. I have not heard of anyone catching a four-fish limit of 18.5-inch fish, but many anglers report landing at least one or two during the day.

The Broadkill River, Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier, Indian River Bay and Massey’s Ditch all produced a few keepers. Baits vary from Gulp! to cut herring to live minnows.

My wife Barbara and I fished the Broadkill River Tuesday, catching eight or 10 flounder with two keepers of 19.5 and 22 inches. Barbara had both of those.

The largest I could manage was a 17-incher. We used minnows on top-bottom rigs. Barbara used a Bob Baker rig, and she had an excellent guide, which is why she had the two largest fish.

We caught flounder all the way from the first duck blind upriver to the area in front of the boat dock just north of the launch ramp. We had fish in as little as 8 feet and as deep as 12 feet.

After every catch I would short drift the area again, but that seldom produced another strike.

Now is the time for small boat owners to have a good shot at a big flounder. The larger fish move into shallow water in the spring, but will move back to deep water as summer approaches.

With an 18.5- or even an 18-inch size limit, catching keepers in the shallow waters of the canal, Broadkill River or Indian River Bay will become increasingly more difficult as water temperatures surpass the 68-degree mark.


It seems I am hearing more about people losing possessions to thieves this spring.

The ones I hear most often have to do with fishing or boating equipment, with everything from rods and reels to entire boats being stolen. I had one friend who lost all of his electronics, and everything was flush mounted to his dash.

First, let me state the obvious. If someone wants to steal something that only you have, there is very little you can do to stop them.

Fortunately, most thieves are not that particular. They will steal whatever is most accessible.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t keep our boats under lock and key or in a completely secure location. They are wide open to thieves, and these felons have a reasonably easy job when it comes to removing our possessions.

Many of the thieves are well aware that numerous people only visit their boats on the weekends and are not around at all during the winter.

Once again, property is easily available and there is little chance that anyone will interrupt the evildoers while they work.

I lost an outboard motor one fall after the campground where we stayed had closed, but some of us were still fishing. It was only a 35 horse, but this winter someone stole a pair of big motors from a boat in a storage yard.

The first thing that everyone should do is put a lock on everything that must remain outdoors. I have a lock on my trailer and on my outboard. Another lock secures my trailer hitch to my truck.

Next, don’t leave anything of value on the boat. Remove all electronics, fishing tackle and anything else that is even remotely portable.

Finally, take the boat home if you are a part-time resident. This is especially true for the winter when thieves do their best work.

  • 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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