Rockfish anglers yielding good results

May 19, 2012

Rockfish action along the beach has been excellent by Delaware standards. Several surfcasters have recoded limits while others have had multiple rock on one tide. The best times to fish have been during periods of low light in the morning, evening and at night. Cut bunker and surf clams have been the top baits. This action could continue for a few more days, or it could be over by the time you read this report. The only way to find out if the fish are still here is to get out and soak some bait. Rockfish were caught from Herring Point to Three Rs Road with changes of tide a prime time to fish. The fish have been feeding right in the wash, so long casts are not required.

Flounder fishing has been slow. A few keepers have been caught out of the Broadkill River, the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, Roosevelt Inlet, the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier and Indian River Bay. Minnows, squid and Gulp have been the best offerings. With a little luck and warm weather, this fishing should improve.

Indian River Inlet has had a few rockfish runs, but nothing like the action we saw last spring. The fish will be thick one night, then disappear for the next few days. The usual suspects, bucktails, shads, plugs and flies will all take their share of rock.

Black drum are in Delaware Bay with the largest concentrations found on or near the Coral Beds. Fishing from late afternoon into the night has been the most productive time to soak a few clams. Be sure to take plenty of bait, as I understand the dogfish are thick. Head boats out of Lewes and Bowers Beach are running open boat drum trips in the evening. Let the dogfish eat their clams.

Sea bass season opens in Delaware Tuesday, May 22, and I know many anglers, not to mention head and charter boats, are more than anxious to get out on these fish. It has been my experience that the largest sea bass eat first, so it pays to be on your chosen spot as early as possible. If you begin by pulling in all shorts, someone else has beat you to it, and the best plan of action is to move to another of your secret locations.

Farther offshore, yellowfin and bluefin tuna were caught near the Baltimore Canyon. One boat overnighted and ended up with yellowfins and a swordfish. The tuna bite to the south has been excellent, and gaffer dolphin have been filling fish boxes. I hope this good fishing holds together until they are in range of Delaware boats.

A few more trout have been caught out of Delaware Bay with fish to 5 pounds or more taken along Broadkill Beach. This spot has always been good early in the year with peelers, bloodworms or cut bait doing most of the damage.

The one-fish bag limit is resulting in many released fish, which is good and bad. Good because the more we release, the more may survive to spawn. Bad because trout are not hardy fish, and too much or rough handling can cause irreversible harm. I use a dehooker so the fish does not have to be handled at all. Just a quick flip and it is back in the water.

If you don’t have a dehooker, get one and learn how to use it. Until then, make sure your hands are wet before you grab the fish and remove the hook as quickly as possible. Use circle hooks when fishing with bait to facilitate the release.

DNREC enforcement blotter
Every week I receive the enforcement blotter from DNREC, and I am reminded of P.T. Barnum, who said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” The things people do that get them arrested is simply astonishing.

Every week, anywhere from five to 10 people are ticketed for fishing without a license. This, in my opinion, is the height of stupidity. Freshwater fishermen have needed a license for the last 100 years, and the addition of a saltwater requirement is more than four years old. Not knowing a license is required is not a valid excuse.

The cost of a general license is $8:50 for Delaware residents and $20 for nonresidents. If someone can’t afford to buy the license, he or she is going to be in big trouble when it comes time to buy bait, or hooks, or fishing line or any other type of fishing tackle. So why would anyone think they can get away without buying a license? Refer back to P.T. Barnum.

The blotter also contains a list of the enforcement activity for the week. There are drug busts at boat ramps and wildlife areas, speeding and trespassing on DNREC property and arresting people for having sex in the open. I bet the last one is not in the job description given to candidates for the position of enforcement officer.

  • 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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