Indian River Inlet turbines a bad idea

April 28, 2012

Rockfish to 40 pounds are available in the upper bay for those willing to make the trip and chunk with fresh bunker. While the high winds make any fishing uncomfortable at best, the upper bay does not suffer quite as much as we do on the much wider lower bay.

Tog fishing has been very good when the boats can sail. Limit catches of three tog per angler are common with the average size in the 3- to 4-pound class. A 17-pounder was caught on the Miss Shyanne out of Bowers Beach.

Boating fatality
Delaware recorded a boating fatality over the weekend with the loss of a bass fisherman on the Nanticoke River. Two bass boats collided, throwing the victim in the water where he went under and never returned to the surface.

Unfortunately, the victim was not wearing a personal flotation device. As I understand the situation, national bass tournaments require anglers to wear PFDs, but some local tournaments do not have that requirement. While I consider it prudent to wear a PFD anytime I am on the water, especially in a bass boat capable of exceeding 60 miles per hour and with very low gunnels, this gentleman choose not to do so.

It may be time for all bass fishing originations to require PFDs for all tournament participants. If the pros have to wear them, it seems to me that should set the standard for everyone.

Turbines at Indian River Inlet
They’re back! The good folks who attempted to stop anyone fishing from shore at Indian River Inlet by placing electric-generating turbines along the jetties have decided to have another go. It was a bad idea in 2005, and it is still a bad idea.

According to an article in last Friday’s Cape Gazette by Kara Nuzback, Mr. David O. Rickards and his company UEK plan to place a test turbine in the inlet to determine its impact on fish and diving birds. No mention of the turbine’s impact on recreational fishing and the millions of dollars that activity generates to the local economy.

According to Mr. Rickards, the turbines are 10 feet high and 20 feet wide and would be connected by a single cable. He says no one would know they are there once the units are installed. That is, until the first unsuspecting angler makes a cast and has his bait or lure sucked into the turbine or snagged on the cable connecting the 25 units.

Then there is the small problem of transporting the electricity to Old Dominion Electric in Virginia. There will have to be some sort of electric terminal built on state park land with distribution lines running to a junction with the Old Dominion grid. Once again, Mr. Rickards wants to appropriate public land for personal profit.

This project has had seven years to find financial backing and has yet to do so. With all the attention paid to green energy, it seems to me if this is the great idea Mr. Rickards claims it to be, why aren’t investors beating down his door?

Naturally, claims of increased employment in Sussex County are made. The turbines are currently made in Annapolis, Md., but could be produced in Bridgeville, creating 100 jobs, according to Mr. Rickards. He claims his company plans to produce turbines for 10,000 facilities nationwide. That is a pretty optimistic outlook for someone who can’t find financing for one single turbine.

At this point in time, no permits have been issued for this project, and we as anglers and private citizens must do all we can to make sure none are approved. Since a Coastal Zone Act permit is required, I plan to contact my state representative and senator to let them know how I feel about the issue. I also plan to contact the governor’s office to make sure he knows there is opposition to taking public water and land for a private project. I suggest you do the same.

Cedar Creek boat ramp
The new ramp and parking lot at Cedar Creek in Slaughter Beach should be ready by mid-June. The ramps are complete, and work continues on the parking lot. This will be a bit late for the black drum spring run, but in time for summer flounder fishing.

As with all public or private projects, there have been construction problems that have slowed progress, but all things considered, the final product will be an excellent boating facility.

As with all boat ramps in Delaware, this one was funded by general fishing license funds and matching money from the federal excise tax on fishing tackle. The federal money pays for two-thirds of the work and our licenses cover the other one-third.

  • 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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