High winds early in week keep boats at the dock

June 9, 2012

Fishing over the weekend was very good, but high winds during the first of the week kept most boats at the dock. The coming weekend looks pretty good, and with a little luck the fish will still be snapping.

Sea bass continue to come in from the ocean, although the number of throwbacks to keepers keeps increasing. This is to be expected as the larger bass always bite first, leaving the little guys to finish up. Now with most of the keepers already in the frying pan or freezer, only the smaller fish are left.

On a positive note, keeper flounder were caught at the Old Grounds by anglers targeting sea bass. I hope to be out there on Thursday and plan to target flounder.

Flounder have also been caught on bay reef sites, getting that season off to a good start. The key here is to make sure you are on hard structure and then jig with a bucktail and minnow or Gulp! combination.

The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal and Broadkill River gave up some flounder and trout over the weekend. A friend of mine fished the river on Friday in the fog and had two 20-inch flounder, several short flounder and one keeper trout without losing sight of the launch ramp.

Indian River Inlet has been tough. Rockfish have been caught after dark from the jetties on plugs, eels and shads. A very few flounder were taken over the weekend, but small blues and shad invaded the area on incoming water.

The offshore fleet had good fishing for yellowfin tuna and dolphin near the Baltimore Canyon. Saturday saw some pretty rough water, but those who stuck it out found the fish.

Sharkers are finding makos and blue sharks in 20 fathoms. This is the prime time to connect with one of these toothy critters.

Shark fishing 101
Fishing for sharks is an opportunity for small-boat fishermen to get in on some big-game action. I have been fishing for these things for many years beginning when I had my 20-foot Bertram.

The best inshore shark fishing will be from the Shipping Lane on out to 20-Fathoms. Wrecks and depth changes are the most productive locations.

The idea of going out and putting gallons of beef blood in the water to attract big sharks is the stuff of movies and horror stories. Sharks seldom encounter cows in the wild, so using menhaden oil or chum from a fish house is more practical. In the old days you could get mink food from a fish house for a few bucks. It came in big, frozen blocks and I would break it up with a sledgehammer. Today chum comes in plastic buckets and can cost more than $10 a gallon.

A less-expensive alternative is making your own chum. I use any fish-flavored dry cat food, mixing it with just enough water to make a slurry, then adding some bunker oil for more flavor. I freeze the chum in plastic 1-gallon bags and thaw them out as needed.

Shark rigs must have a section of wire or cable leader at the hook. In the old days we used 15 feet of single-strand wire, but now I use 4 to 5 feet of wire to a black barrel swivel and then 200- to 300-pound mono leader. Sharks have a habit of rolling up in the leader, and this will kink wire. The mono is more forgiving. Most local tackle shops sell premade shark leaders.

Bluefish make the best shark bait as they are natural prey. Whole squid and menhaden will also work. When mackerel invaded our inshore waters every spring we used them for shark bait.

I use circle hooks as they are most likely to hook the shark in the corner of the mouth. This keeps the leader away from the teeth that can wear through wire during a prolonged fight.

Set your baits out at various depths under floats, put the rod in a holder and wait. When a shark hits he will run off with the bait and hook himself. The rest is up to you.

I release all sharks, but if you plan to keep a mako or a thresher be very careful. The mako is dangerous from the front and a thresher is dangerous from the rear.

You will need at least two sturdy gaffs and a tail rope. Stick the shark near the head and then in the back. Once he begins to settle down, use the tail rope. Never bring a shark in the boat until you are certain he is dead. Touch the eye with the gaff, and if he blinks, keep him in the water. Good luck.

  • 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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