Offshore tuna fishing yields excellent results

June 30, 2012
Some nice flounder are coming from the Old Grounds in the ocean. Taylor Deemer decked this 7.68-pound doormat using an orange jig tipped with a squid strip aboard the Thelma Dale V, with Capt. Rick Yakimowicz. Weighed at Lewes Harbour Marina. SOURCE SUBMITTED

Fishing is slipping into summer with excellent results for boats working the offshore grounds for tuna. While a few had trouble finding the fish, those that were in the right place at the right time did very well.

I know offshore fishing is not for everyone, but if you have always wanted to experience the thrill of catching tuna, billfish, dolphin and wahoo, now is the time to go. Charter boats run out of Lewes and Indian River for those who do not have a boat capable of making the run to the canyons. Billfish and wahoo will be more common as the summer wears on, with the best tuna fishing right now.

The inshore grounds are also producing a lot of fish. Sea bass and flounder are available at the Old Grounds and in the flags around B and A buoys. Shorts outnumber keepers, but the bite is pretty steady. Massey’s Canyon and the 19-Fathom Lump have given up a few bluefins and lots of bluefish.

Live spot have been the key to unlock the mouths of big flounder at Indian River Inlet and Bay. Reports indicated plenty of spot in the bay with small pieces of bloodworm on a small hook the ticket to a live well full of bait. The blues that run through the inlet on incoming water are generally small with a few to 10 pounds mixed in just to keep you interested.

The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal and the Broadkill River have not produced the flounder action we would like to see. The high winds and thunderstorms have combined to keep the water dirty, and that may be the problem.

Reef sites in the bay and the ocean have been good for flounder fishermen who can effectively work the rubble. This requires short drifting with jigs or rigs baited with minnows or strip baits.

The pier at Cape Henlopen State Park is seeing some croaker and spot on bloodworms and flounder on live minnows. This is a great place for some quality family fishing.

Prime Hook NWR

I know there has been a lot of a discussion about the management plan for Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, and while I don’t hunt there, I do see a serious problem with taking down the deer stands. Putting people with various levels of hunting experience on the ground with shotguns during deer season is a prescription for disaster. Even the best hunter can cause an accident when firing a slug into the woods at ground level. That projectile can travel a long way and strike another person the hunter had no idea was in the line of fire.

As mentioned in last week’s column, all branches of government are experiencing budget cuts, and I expect getting rid of deer stands will cost less than maintaining them. Perhaps the people who do hunt there on a regular basis should sit down with refuge officials and work out a plan where the hunters build and maintain the stands. To spread out the cost, an organization might be formed where interested parties could pay dues and receive some consideration from the refuge.

A final public meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., Thursday, July 19, at the Milford Senior Center. Comments will be accepted until Monday, Aug. 6. Write to Thomas Bonetti, Refuge Planner, 300 West Gate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035. Email and include Prime Hook NWR in the subject line.

Safe boating

Now that school is out and vacations have begun, there will be a lot of people on the water with limited experience in handling a watercraft. Those of us who live in the area and run boats on a regular basis have a responsibility to keep a sharp lookout and be prepared to take evasive action. Add the Fourth of July holiday to this lack of experience, and places like Massey’s Ditch and Indian River Inlet will be like zoos.

The boat ramps will not be any better as all sorts of behavior will be observed. I try to arrive very early to avoid the crowds and then come in around noon while many people are still launching.

One positive trend has been the presence of DNREC enforcement officers at the ramps when boat traffic is highest. They are checking boats for safety and fishing violations, and it is amazing how much better people behave when enforcement officers are present.

The most important thing you can do when out on the water is wear your PFD. Accidents happen quickly, and having your PFD on can save your life. Several citations have been issued this year for allowing children younger than 12 on the water without a PFD. This is not only against the law, but places the child in great danger.

  • 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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