Wind keeps fishing activity down

This crew braved high seas offshore aboard their 28-foot center console, but were rewarded with an impressive 61.4-pound wahoo. The big speedster grabbed a ballyhoo in 40 fathoms inshore of the Baltimore Canyon. Pictured at the Lewes Harbour Marina scales are Sean Kane, Geoff McCloskey, Andrew White and angler Phil Falgowski. SOURCE SUBMITTED
September 29, 2012

The wind has kept fishing activity down over the past week. A few brave souls have taken a beating and caught fish, but overall the participation level has been slim.

Croaker, blues, flounder, triggerfish and blowfish were caught in the bay with reef sites the most productive locations.

The Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier has been a refuge for anglers trying to get out of the wind. They saw good numbers of big spot, some trout and bluefish plus a few keeper flounder over the weekend.

A few boats took a beating and fished the ocean with sea bass caught over the inshore grounds and at least one big wahoo taken offshore. In my younger days I thought it was fun to fish in rough weather; I am now paying for those bad decisions.

Fall Classic Surf Fishing Tournament

The Fall Classic Surf Fishing Tournament sponsored by Old Inlet Bait and Tackle was held last weekend with 311 anglers participating. There was a variety of fish caught including flounder, bluefish, trout and kings. The overall winner was Trevor Merceron with 159 points. The bluefish Calcutta was split between Gary Born and John Pilcick, with both catching 18-inch blues. The Ladies Division was won by Donna Gettridge with 66 points, and the Junior Division winner was Bruce Gallagher with 60 points.

Delaware Mobile Surf Fishing Tournament

The weekend of Oct. 4 through 6 will see the Delaware Mobile Surf Fishing Tournament. You can register at the Officers Club at Cape Henlopen State Park on Friday evening, then fish one or two days. Many great prizes will be awarded to successful anglers.

Hunters and fishermen pay their way

We all know hunters and fishermen were the first and remain the greatest conservationists in the world, but what you may not know is how much money we have contributed to fisheries and wildlife conservation and management.

In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, and in 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was signed into law by President Harry Truman. These two programs have provided more than $12 billion to the various states for use in fish and wildlife programs. Since 2000, Delaware has received more than $60 million in federal funding.

The money in this fund comes from a federal excise tax on fishing, hunting and boating products. This money is returned to the states on a three-to-one basis, meaning for every dollar the state provides, the federal fund provides $3. State money comes from fishing and hunting license sales, and from duck and trout stamps. In other words, all the money expended on fishing, hunting and boating is supplied by fishermen, hunters and boaters. As an example, a $1.2 million project would cost the state $300,000 while the federal fund would kick in $900,000.

Money is not the only way to receive matching federal funds. In-kind donations of material and labor are also count toward the match. This is how Jeff Tinsman has been able to build all of our reef sites with very little money from the state. He gets donations of materials such as New York City subway cars and uses the value of them to secure matching funds for transportation to and placing the cars on the reef. Every reef in Delaware has donated material to attract fish, plus my bottom rigs in equal measure.

The Delaware trout fishing program is totally supported by trout stamp sales and matching federal funds. Since we have to purchase every trout we stock, the program would not exist if fishermen were dependent on the general fund for support. By using money from trout fishermen, we have had very successful fishing in all three counties even through state revenue has been down over the past few years.

Hunters receive their money back for projects that keep wildlife areas open for hunting. This money may be used to purchase land, improve impoundments that attract waterfowl and do research on various species.

While hunters, boaters and fishermen pay for all of this work, they are not the only ones who benefit. Bird watchers can access the same wildlife areas we pay for, and kayakers and canoeists are able to use boat ramps paid for by those who have to license their boat.

On Sept. 21, a celebration of 75 years of federal aid partnership for fish and wildlife aid in Delaware was held at the Ted Harvey Conservation Area near Dover where U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and Sen. Chris Coons along with DNREC Secretary Colin O’ Mara spoke about the benefits all Delawareans receive from the contributions made by fishermen, hunters and boaters. So the next time you encounter some greenhead enviromoron, please explain to him or her the benefits provided by fishermen, hunters and boaters that protect the environment for everyone.

  • 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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