Harbor of Refuge stone work and lousy fishing

The lighter-colored boulders are the new ones being placed around the base of the Harbor of Refuge lighthouse. BY DENNIS FORNEY
December 7, 2011

7 December 2011 • Pearl Harbor Day • Still in the 60s

Overfalls Shoals, Hen and Chickens Shoal, the 8s, the rip outside the Outer Wall - we tried them all last Sunday.  Fished hard.  Eels and Stretch 25s.  Slack tide and ripping tide. Cliff Diver caught one spotted dogfish.  Jay Reamer and I weren't envious. Six hours we spent trying to coax a striper to take a hook. Frustrating, but it was a nice day.  South wind and calm seas. That may be the problem.  Stripers like their weather a little on the trashy side.

The only consolation for me is that very few people reported catching any stripers on Sunday. I say very few because Ralph Short told me he and his son Ryan caught one keeper early on Sunday morning.

Later, when I drove into the Lewes Yacht Club launching ramp to pull Nellie Lankford the Falgowski contingent had its usual Occupy Fish Station movement in place fileting out several beautiful striped bass. Those boys are some fish-catching fools. No one has a higher success ratio than they.

I didn't bother to tell them about our trophy dogfish.  It was bad enough that while they were bagging their last filets I damn near fell into the drink trying to hook the bow of Nellie to the tow cable while balancing on the tongue of the trailer to keep my boots dry. It would have been embarrassing if I hadn't recovered so nicely - after hanging over the water for about fifteen seconds and thinking how stupid I looked.  But then I was like Baryshnikov losing balance for an instant and then flying through the air as gracefully as a Cooper's Hawk on its rounds through back yards.  Unfortunately, by the time I had finished hawking and recovering, the master striper fishermen had left and there I stood in the back of the pick up - still with dry boots mind you - with nothing but the sound of Diver and Reamer snickering and chortling.  I can't tell you whether it was the snickering or the chortling that irritated me more, or the fact that the Falgowskis keep catching fish while all I have to show for the season is one 21-inch but out-of-season flounder, one short striper and Diver's spotted dogfish.

Still, there's lots of time between now and Christmas and this striper bite isn't over.

When we came back in from out in the mouth of the bay, I recalled that I had taken a photo the week before of contractors placing stone around the base of the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse.  The hydraulic action of pounding nor'easters has displaced a lot of the protective stonework for the lighthouse, jeopardizing its ability to remain standing for many more years. The nation and the Army Corps of Engineers, not to mention all of us in Delaware, don't want to see a repeat of 1926 when the iconic Cape Henlopen Lighthouse tumbled into the sea for lack of any protective measures.

Contractors placing the huge boulders around the light are using the inside of the inner wall - the Delaware Breakwater - as their staging area.  It's there, just inside the East End Light, that they crane boulders from a large barge to a smaller unit for the Harbor of Refuge work.  Between the beach-filling work, the lighthouse base repairs and dredging in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to clear silt from boat slips, there's a lot of activity along the Lewes waterfront.

And some people are even catching keeper stripers.

I'll try tautog next time.