Lewes flounder tourney a success

May 30, 2011
The winners of the Lewes Harbour Marina Flounder Tournament are (l-r) Frank Zeccola, Nikki Rice, John Mitchell, Ron Webster, Ed Bush, Bobby Smith, and Tom Hudson. Chris Moody from the Dewey Beach Lions Club is on the far right. SOURCE SUBMITTED

The social event of the spring season occurred May 20, when Joe and Amanda Morris hosted more than 300 close, personal friends at the Lewes Harbour Marina Flounder Tournament. This was a record turnout for the annual event, and they raised more than $1,500 for the Camp Awareness Youth Program.

The weather and the fish cooperated, with many anglers reporting double-digit catches. Unfortunately, most of the flounder failed to meet Delaware’s 18-inch minimum size limit.

While many fishermen failed to score a winning fish, those who did caught some pretty impressive flounder. Frank Zeccola was the class of the field with a 7.25-pound flounder to take first place. The second-place fish was caught by Nikki Rice, who landed a 4.35-pounder. John Mitchell had a 4.32-pound flounder for third, and Ron Webster took fourth with a 4.31-pounder.

That is a .04-pound difference between second and fourth. There is only a .13-pound difference between fifth and seventh place. Ed Bush had a 4.17 for fifth, Bobby Smith had a 4.11 for sixth and Tom Hudson finished out the field with a 4.04-pounder for seventh. The event was cosponsored by the Dewey Beach Lions Club represented by Chris Moody.

As is apparent by the results of the tournament, flounder fishing in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the Broadkill River has been pretty good. Live minnows, strips of squid, herring or bunker, shiners and Gulp! have produced fish. Flounder have also been caught from and near the pier in Cape Henlopen State Park.

It would appear the fantastic run of rockfish in the Indian River Inlet is over. The wind turned to the south and the bait left with the rock in close pursuit. It was by all accounts the greatest rockfish bite in history unless the Native Americans had some better fishing at the inlet before we Europeans arrived.

For the remainder of the summer, the best rockfish action will be at night with live eels or black swimming plugs the top producers. I am sure some of the few, truly dedicated jetty jockeys will welcome the solitude.

Black drum fishing near Slaughter Beach has been steady. Fish over 70 pounds were caught on clams and peeler crabs. To date, the best action has been in 8 to 12 feet of water, but that could change as this hot weather raises the water temperature in the bay. Black drum have also been caught from the surf at Broadkill Beach.

The Delaware Bay is still producing rockfish. On Saturday I rode with the crew from Smith’s Bait in Leipsic and they ended the day with five keepers to 22 pounds. We ran north to an area off of Collins Beach and soaked fresh bunker chunks.

Offshore activity is also improving. Boats running to the canyons are encountering dolphin and bluefin tuna. The first mako of the season may hit the dock before this copy hits the street. Thresher sharks will also be around.

Inshore fishing improved considerably with the opening of the sea bass season. Reports indicate good catches at Reef Site 11 and other inshore reefs and wrecks. Cod were also caught in the same areas.

25th annual fishing tournament
The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife will conduct three free fishing tournaments Saturday, June 11, for young people between the ages of 4 and 15. The Sussex County contest will be at Ingrams Pond in Millsboro from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Everyone is expected to bring their own fishing equipment, and children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Prizes will be awarded to children in age groups 4-7, 8-11, and 12-15.

This is also a free fishing weekend, and no one needs a license to fish anywhere in Delaware. What a perfect opportunity to take out someone who may have shown an interest in fishing, but may be reluctant to purchase a license.

Just remember to go somewhere that holds great promise for catching lots of fish. It does not matter what kind or how big; just be sure your guest catches plenty of them.

  • 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