Delaware State Parks fees in effect March 1-Nov. 30

When given the option of running a photo of Mike Pizzolato or Joe and Amanda Morris, the choice is obvious. Here is Amanda with a Guatemalan sailfish. SOURCE SUBMITTED
March 2, 2013

The weather may be miserable, but the birds don’t lie; spring is on the way. I have seen flocks of robins in my yard, and today I watched a crow carrying branches to build a nest. All this rain has made worm picking pretty easy for the robins, and soon the male grackles will be doing their little dance in an effort to attract a mate. The females will ignore the boys and give them the, “Is that all you got?” look before flying away. They remind me of a bunch of 12-year-olds on a playground with the boys doing stupid things trying to get the girls' attention while the girls pretend they could not care less.

We are beginning to receive reports of perch caught in tidal waters from Broad Creek to the Broadkill River. I like the spillway in Laurel or Petersfield Ditch for perch. The head of the Broadkill in Milton is another good perch spot. If we get any kind of break in the weather, I will be out there this week.

Fishing show

Sussex County needs a good fishing show and flea market, and this Saturday there will be one at the fire hall in Oak Orchard. I saw an ad in the Sussex Guide, but it did not give a whole lot of information on who was going to be there. I figure there are worse ways to spend a Saturday, and I plan on attending.

State parks

Beginning today, the fees for using Delaware State Parks will go back in effect. They will remain until Nov. 30.

In my opinion, these fees are very reasonable. Residents pay $4 for ocean parks and $3 for inland parks. Nonresidents pay $8 for the coastal parks and $6 for the others. That is pretty cheap entertainment for a family to spend the day in a wonderful setting. At Cape Henlopen State Park, you can fish for free from the pier and at Delaware Seashore State Park you have the entire Indian River Inlet open for fishing. Annual passes are available for $27 for residents. These allow you to visit any park as many times as you like.

Florida visitors

I have several friends who winter in Florida, and I am about sick of hearing how great the weather and the fishing have been this year. It seems to me if you are able to get away from here for the winter you should be quietly grateful and stop tormenting the rest of us stuck in the cold, rain, snow and wind.

As if being in Florida wasn’t bad enough, I have friends who have been able to fish the Pacific Coast for sailfish. Mike Pizzolato went to Costa Rica in January and caught several sails and a roosterfish, while Joe and Amanda Morris were in Guatemala having equally good luck. Meanwhile, here I sit in Delaware unable to wet a line since December.

Man, these grapes are sour.

Flounder regulations

Virginia set its flounder regulations on Tuesday. The state will have a 16-inch minimum size and a four-fish bag limit with no closed season. That is a half-inch drop in minimum size since 2012. Even at 16.5 inches the commonwealth managed to keep under the quota.

With a 16-inch size limit it will be easy to fill a four-fish bag. This will be great for folks who live there, but I wonder how many will travel down to the Eastern Shore to fish a short day and come back home with four fish.

The other problem is high grading. So long as everyone retains the first four keepers they catch, all is well. I suspect, however, that some less-than-ethical people will keep the first four, then keep on fishing and toss back smaller fish as larger ones are caught. I have kept three fish and left a slot open should I catch something larger. I have also gone home with three fish.

New Jersey has not set its season, but I understand it will probably go with 17.5-inch minimum size and a shorter season than last year. The state was over its quota in 2012.

Should Delaware anglers select the 16.5-inch minimum size and four-fish bag limit with no closed season, our charter and head boat captains will have an advantage over their competition in New Jersey. They and the rest of us have suffered long enough with those high minimum size limits, and now is our chance to put some meat on the table.

  • 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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