Solid weekend of fishing despite large crowds

June 2, 2012

Fishing was pretty good over the long weekend, considering the amount of people we had on the water.

I believe sea bass were the best bet when the wind allowed the boats to sail. The Old Grounds produced a fair number of fish, but structure farther offshore in 90 to 120 feet of water gave up more keepers. Reef Site 11 was a popular location, as were the various wrecks and snags around the Dry Dock. Clam, squid, crab and Gulp accounted for most of the action. A few flounder and cod were mixed in with the sea bass.

It is hard to fish in places like the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, Broadkill River and Indian River when you can pretty much walk across the water by stepping from boat to boat. In spite of this, keeper flounder, bluefish and rockfish were caught in these locations by anglers who fished early or late in the day and at night.

Speaking of crowds, I went up to Herring Point on Saturday morning to do a little surf fishing. I arrived around 8 a.m. and while there were other folks fishing, the number was within reason. The guy next to me had four lines spread out over an area that could accommodate at least one or two other anglers. The lady on my left was fishing with a 1- or 2-ounce round sinker and her line would wash up the beach as soon as she cast it out. I was going to lend her a heavier weight (I was using 8 ounces), but then she caught a rockfish so I just kept my mouth shut.

By the time I packed up to leave, the beach was full and there was a guy waiting to take my spot. Later in the day, park officials closed the entire area for lack of parking.

In spite of the crowds, it seemed to me that everyone was having a great time. Some were doing more eating than fishing; the ladies were reading their books or chasing their kids; all had the required line in the water. It reminded me of the many days we spent with friends at Three Rs Road doing exactly the same thing.

Black drum were caught in Delaware Bay with clams soaked at the Coral Beds the top technique. This weekend’s full moon could turn the big boomers on.

Offshore anglers found yellowfin tuna near the Baltimore Canyon and big sharks in 20 Fathoms. A warm eddy is in the area, so fishing will be good until it departs.

The Delaware Bayshore Initiative
On Tuesday afternoon I attended the launch of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative at Slaughter Beach. I was impressed by the large number of people who came out for this event and thankful for the strong wind that kept the many bloodsucking insects that live in the marsh from spoiling the party.

The Delaware Bayshore Initiative is a program that brings together local, state and federal governments along with private citizens and organizations such as Delaware Wildlands, the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited in an effort not just to protect the delicate habitat, but to provide access to the area for fishermen, hunters and nonconsumptive users like bird watchers and kayakers.

Thanks to Governor Peterson and the Coastal Zone Act, much of the bayside has been protected from heavy industry, but there are still locations where more work is needed to create access, improve the habitat, and secure the land and water for future generations. The fact that so many different agencies were present at this event gives hope that if all work together, this might actually be accomplished.

As a fisherman, hunter and boater, I was happy to hear the various speakers indicate all three of these activities would be included in any plans conceived under the Bayshore Initiative. Since access is critical if we expect the people who pay for the conservation of the Bayshore to actually enjoy the fruits of their efforts, we cannot save an area, then lock the public out.

On the subject of access, I was able to ask Secretary Collin O’Mara about the dredging problems at Bowers Beach and Masseys Landing. He said finding a consistent funding stream for dredging projects was one of his priorities, but until that is accomplished, the only source of revenue would have to come from the bond committee.

I asked Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about the restriction of access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Biscayne Bay in Florida and how that fit in with plans to open up more lands and waters for recreational use. His reply indicated he was not familiar with either of these areas, but protecting habitat had to be balanced with public access.

And so it goes.

  • 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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