Wind, rain wreaking havoc on fishing conditions

September 22, 2012

The recent unsettled weather has made fishing difficult if not impossible during periods of high winds and heavy rain, but when conditions are suitable, fish have been caught.

My last trip to Delaware Bay was Thursday, Sept. 13, with Larry Weldin on my 16-foot tin boat. We left the Lewes ramp around 7 a.m. and motored to the Outer Wall. As I was slowing down, I felt something let go in the throttle linkage and ended up with only idle speed.

Idle speed is better than no speed and we were able to slowly motor to the ramp. The boat was returned to the trailer and the motor cover removed. Upon inspection I discovered a rod unattached at one end. We located the spot where the rod should have been connected, reconnected it and put the cover back. The boat went back in the water and ran fine the rest of the day.

When we finally got a line in the water, we started catching small croaker on the bay side of the Outer Wall. Not satisfied with the size of our catch, we went looking for larger fish. We moved to the ocean side of the wall and along with six or seven other boats made a couple of drifts in the rips. This resulted in absolutely no bites, so we moved to Site 8.

Once on Site 8, we began catching small croaker, sea bass and blowfish. We managed to cull out three large croaker and two decent-size blowfish for the cooler. They have already had a hot oil bath.

It seems as if everyone but me is catching keeper flounder. Reef sites and rough bottom in the ocean, bay and at Indian River Inlet have all given up big flatfish. Live spot, minnows, squid and Gulp! have been the most popular baits.

The Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier has been the location for spot, croaker, blues and flounder. A Special Olympics Fishing Tournament was held there last Saturday, and my sources told me many fish were caught by the athletes. Most of the spot and croaker remain small with keeper flounder taken at night close to the pilings.

Sea bass and flounder remain at the Old Grounds and will take a variety of baits. Some of the larger flounder have been caught on live spot. False albacore were taken near A Buoy.

When boats can make the long trip, they find marlin waiting in the canyons. Deep droppers continue to catch golden tilefish.

Fall seasons

Back in the day when flocks of Canada geese darkened the Delaware skies, most of us quit fishing by Oct. 1 and began getting our blinds ready. Mine was on Jimmy Snow’s farm in Smyrna, and while the pit was dug out years ago, it was still necessary to cover the hole with corn shocks, remove as many of our unwelcome guests from the pit as possible and set out the decoys. That’s right, we set the decoys out in October and never removed them until January.

Most of us who hunted on Snow farm were somehow connected with South Shore Marina. I did fish out of South Shore and knew just about everyone from captains to mates to private boat owners, but I never had a boat large enough to dock there. My wife and I belonged to the Indian River Boatowners Association, and I represented the group on the Delaware Wildlife Association Board.

I only remember fishing on a boat twice during this time. One trip with Capt. John Nedelka on the Karen Sue for tog and a short trip at the inlet where I caught a decent rockfish on a bucktail.

I moved to Virginia Beach in 1989, and by then the Canada goose hunting was all but over. By the time I got back, the rockfish had returned and people were fishing well into December.

I have been deer hunting since I was 16 and still enjoy getting out every fall. In the old days, we didn’t hunt until November, but now I will be going out Oct. 5 for muzzleloader season. This will conflict with the rockfish run, which I believe will be very good. I plan to work in both seasons and hope to kill my deer early so I can spend more time fishing.

Dove hunting

A few weeks ago I mentioned I no longer hunted dove because the ratio of shells expended to meat on the table was too high. The next week I was reading the report from DNREC that lists recent arrests for game violations, and two guys were apprehended for shooting over the 15-bird limit of dove. I have never killed anywhere near a limit of dove, and these two shot over the limit. I hope they throw the book at them.

  • 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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