Fishing action is centered on reef sites

Offshore bottom dropping was good in Baltimore Canyon for this crew aboard Quintessa, with Capt. Chris Thurman and mate Evan Falgowski. They had 16 golden tilefish to 35 pounds. Among the anglers were Bill White, Capt. Ted Moulinier, Hank Draper and Mike Parker from Outdoors Delmarva. COURTESY LEWES HARBOUR MARINA
September 1, 2012

While thunderstorms cancelled some trips, shortened others and made a few very exciting, fishing remains good. Croaker still lead the parade in Delaware Bay with flounder and bluefish close behind.

Most of the activity is centered on reef sites with blues showing up under diving birds at the Outer Wall and mixed in the bottom fisherman’s catch.

Speaking of thunderstorms, I don’t recall one lasting for more than 12 hours as we saw from Saturday into Sunday. My rain gauge showed over 6 inches with some areas experiencing twice that much.

The thunder and lightning were constant, putting my two cats into hiding for the duration and into therapy for the next year. Several pontoon boats were damaged by a waterspout at Pot-Nets Bayside and cars parked in an underground garage in Rehoboth were found floating. For us, the good news is Hurricane Isaac paid a visit to New Orleans and has spared the Atlantic coast.

The unsettled weather has cut down on the number of ocean fishing trips, with those who did fish finding pretty much the same action as in the bay. Flounder and croaker were available from the mouth of Indian River Inlet out to Site 11. A decent number of trout were caught off the Bethany Beach condos, and bluefish have been thick at Fenwick Shoal.

Indian River Inlet and Bay give up the occasional keeper flounder with most taken on live spot. The rocks hold triggerfish and sheepshead on sand fleas. The same bait will attract rockfish at night.

Surf fishing has produced blues, croaker, spot, sharks and skates. With the mullet run under way, cut chunks or whole finger mullet have been the top baits.

The offshore waters hold marlin, wahoo and dolphin with several boats deep dropping for tilefish. Golden tiles make up the majority of the catch, and they are excellent table fare.


Over the past two years I have seen more baitfish in Delaware Bay and the ocean than I can recall seeing at any previous time.

Last Friday, I decided to kill a few hours by fishing from Broadkill Beach, and while the catching was poor the sight of mullet jumping from the water close to shore and endless schools of menhaden farther out was heartening. Since Delaware does not harbor many large predators during the summer, the bait went about its business undisturbed.

Sharks are the one big fish that we do have in the summer, and recreational fishermen are catching big specimens close to shore. No doubt these fish are attracted by the bait, and a recent Facebook post showing blacktips feeding on bunker in the New Jersey surf proves the point.

A Philadelphia TV news report showed a decent-sized hammerhead at a New Jersey beach surfing the waves. All of this shark activity is due to the abundance of bait.

I am sure most fishermen have heard about the terrible crisis with menhaden. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has ordered member states to drastically reduce menhaden landings and claims the current population is at an all-time low. I have no idea where they are looking, but my observations would place menhaden populations at an all-time high.

A few weeks ago, I was in Virginia Beach and observed three Omega Protein boats harvesting menhaden at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. At the time, we were cruising the same area looking for cobia and seeing a fair number of menhaden schools. I am sure there would be more menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay if Omega Protein would stop catching them, but in Virginia that will not happen anytime soon.

In Delaware, we are happy to have plenty of bait and hold out high hopes we will soon see schools of big rockfish harassing them.

New books

I recently received review copies of two books published by Florida Sportsman Magazine. These are the latest in the library that includes fishing topics from the back bays to the canyons.

Many people read Florida Sportsman because of the excellent how-to articles that apply to fishing everywhere, and these books follow that format.

"Kayak Fishing" has instructions and tips on every subject from selecting the right boat for your fishing needs to outfitting it with the proper fishing and safety gear. I see more and more kayaks on the water every year, and those just beginning or those who have considerable experience will learn much from this book.

"Sight Fishing" covers the ever more popular technique of looking for fish in shallow and deep water. It can save a lot of fishing time when you know fish are present before making a cast.

Both books are richly illustrated with photos and come with DVDs for even more information. They may be ordered at

  • 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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