Rockfish and tog action please anglers

December 17, 2011
This 41-pound lunker was the first striped bass Alex Neiss ever caught. The big bass ate an eel in the Valley, and ruined Alex for life as an instant striper addict. It was weighed at Lewes Harbour Marina. SOURCE SUBMITTED

Rockfish and tog continue to please anglers fishing out of Lewes. On Tuesday, private, charter and head boats were able to cash in on the action.

The rockfish returned to the rips after a short a break, and limit catches were made at the Eights, the Valley and Overfalls Shoal. Fish were caught by trolling plugs, drifting eels and jigging bucktails. I believe this fishing will continue for a few more weeks unless the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Tog action was also good Tuesday with fish to 8 pounds taken on crab. The usual suspects, reef sites, Outer Wall and Ice Breakers, were all productive.

The agony of defeat
On Monday, Harry Aiken and I returned to the site of our many victories, Indian River Inlet, only to be met with the agony of defeat. Like all highly trained and conditioned athletes, we expect to win every time we take the field, but alas, such was not the case on Monday.

We cleared the mouth of Indian River Marina as the sun broke over the horizon to be greeted by flocks of birds working the water in several locations. Harry decided to begin the day away from the bird activity by drifting along the southside at the entrance to Southshore Marina. The water looked good with plenty of rips, and this location had produced for us before.

Harry is very flexible when it comes to the lures he uses. He will begin the day with a white bucktail and white worm combination. If, after a fair trial, that does not work, he will break out a white bucktail and white worm. Should that fail as well, it’s back to the original white bucktail and white worm.

I chose to begin the day using a black-backed Rebel WindCheater. The plug I chose is well marked with missing paint and bent hooks, a testament to its success at other times.

After many unproductive drifts at the Southside, I wanted to try the Northside along what is known as Bubblegum Beach.

I asked Harry if he knew how that particular stretch of shoreline came to be known by that moniker. He did not and neither did I. This led to a discussion of how the name came about. We eliminated the prospect that a Yankee come-here named it Bubblegum. Shoo-Fly Pie maybe, but Bubblegum, never.

Finally we decided it was named by a fly fisherman. These folks love to fish here and we figured one of them stepped on some bubblegum and it stuck to the bottom of his $250 Orvis wading shoes. Something like that can make for a good story, especially if you haven’t caught any fish. Knowing how feather merchants love to name every little stretch of water so they can communicate with fellow devotees without divulging their secret spots to mere mortals, I can see this becoming Bubblegum Beach. But I could be wrong.

Harry was not very excited about our change of location, but I insisted on moving and since it was my boat and I was running it, he came along. He said there was nothing there but tiny little shiners.

No sooner had we begun our first drift than the boat next to us hooked one of those tiny little shiners. The angler’s rod bent double as that shiner put up one heck of a battle. The next thing I see is another guy on the boat getting the net to land that tiny little shiner. Lo and behold, that shiner had stripes and was about 20 inches long.

As if that was not bad enough, on the next drift we got to watch a repeat performance from the same boat. To add insult to injury, they were fishing with a white bucktail and a white worm.

After a few more unproductive drifts there, we tried every location from the Green Can to the Southside Rip, back to the Green House then back to the Northside. The score was the same everywhere we went, no hits and no fish, not even a tiny little shiner.

Somewhere around 10 a.m. we decided to cut our losses and head for the ramp. It seems the older I get the less I can tolerate the cold. This condition is amplified when the fish don’t bite.

Far from discouraged by our poor performance, we will be back at the inlet again before the year is over to give those rockfish one more chance to be caught by two of the oldest if not the best fishermen on the planet.

  • 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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