Warm weather will bring flounder into the canal

March 17, 2012

I had planned to give you a firsthand report on flounder fishing in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, but the water pump on my outboard motor had other plans. I was so happy when the motor started after a winter of sleep until I noticed a very weak stream of water exiting the hole on the rear of the power head. Further investigation revealed the water was scalding hot, and the motor and my fishing plans now await the arrival of the repairman.

The warm weather will certainly bring flounder into the canal, and while I have no reports of any being caught to date I have no doubt they will be taken in the very near future. When the water is this cold, fresh or live bait will outproduce most lures. Tipping a bucktail or jig with bunker strips or squid is an excellent technique for early-run flounder. Work the offering very slowly, as the fish will be somewhat slow to react until the water warms.

Indian River Bay has recorded the first flounder of the season and even more will be taken as this run of beautiful weather continues. Look for the first bluefish by the first of April. The occasional rockfish is being caught out of the inlet with most less than 28 inches.

Tog action was a bit slow over the weekend. The boats that did sail all reported a slow pick on fish to seven pounds.

I keep hearing unconfirmed reports of rockfish caught from the surf. I plan to try the beach at Herring Point to see for myself.

A decent run of rockfish was reported along the oceanfront on Sunday with trollers scoring on fish to 18 pounds. This action was just north of Bethany Beach.

Newton Pond was restocked on Thursday providing more trout for Sussex County anglers. There should be a good crowd there on Saturday.

Productive meeting
On Tuesday evening a group of legislators, Delaware State Parks officials and Fish and Wildlife personnel met with the Board of Directors of the Delaware Mobile Surf-fishermen in the Biden Center at Cape Henlopen State Park. This is an annual meeting between DMS and the officials who determine the fate of our fisheries and public access to the fishing grounds.

In attendance were senators Joe Booth and George Bunting along with representatives Pete Schwartzkopf and Harvey Kenton. Delaware State Parks Director Charles Salkin was there as well. In addition, several representatives from Fish and Wildlife and the Parks Department including two enforcement officers provided information on current programs and history on several projects.

DMS President Morty Morton had prepared an agenda covering several topics that the organization feels are important.

The parking situation at Indian River Inlet has been addressed before, and using input from those public meetings, the final plan will incorporate spaces close to the Coast Guard Station where many people fish. For those interested in further information and the exact location of the parking areas, the plans are on the DelDOT website.

The traffic situation at the Faithful Steward crossing is dangerous because vehicles exiting the area cannot see oncoming traffic due to the thick vegetation blocking the view. A DelDOT crew recently cut some of this away, and Parks personnel will check on this and take further action as needed.

Also at Faithful Steward, the air station needs upgrading as the current equipment is not sufficient to handle the amount of traffic on the weekends. Parks will attempt to find about $10,000 in their budget to bring this station up to the standard set at Cape Henlopen State Park.

One item that really irks surf fishermen is the blatant disregard of the regulation requiring all surf fishing vehicle permit holders to be “actively engaged in surf fishing” when they are on the beach. Enforcement officers do look for violations, but with so much traffic on the weekends it is difficult to monitor. There is a program that involves volunteers to help the officers check vehicles as they come on the beach. This has resulted in the prevention of violators getting on the sand. The program is always seeking new people, and you can find out how you can help by contacting Cape Henlopen State Park at 302-645-8983.

Finally, the idea that seems to have a life of its own - the federal government is going to take over the seashore state parks and turn them into national parks - was killed once and for all by Mr. Salkin. He said there never was, is not now or is ever likely to be any plan by the federal government to acquire any Delaware State Park. I hope this puts the matter to rest.

  • 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