Big change coming to IR Inlet after bridge is removed

April 13, 2013

In an effort to find some sort of positive news, I drove down to Indian River Inlet on Wednesday afternoon. When I arrived I was the only one in the north-side parking lot. I took this as a sign that the run was not on.

Barbara and I ate lunch as a few other cars came in the lot and they too wanted a nice, peaceful place to have lunch. Finally, a young lady drove up in an SUV completely outfitted for fishing. She selected a rod and reel from several in her rod rack and headed for the sidewalk. In spite of her best effort, she was still fishless when we left.

A couple of boats were drifting the inlet and it appeared they were jigging for rockfish in the rips. It also appeared they were having no luck.

On the way down to Three Rs Road, we did see several boats drifting the VFW Slough. The tide was falling, so it is possible they may have found a cooperative flounder.

Tog fishing has been great in the ocean. On Saturday, head boats from Indian River and Lewes limited out, and on Wednesday a charter from Lewes had a boat limit while fishing ocean reef sites.

Pond fishing has also been good. There is a wide variety of fish to catch including sunfish, crappie, perch, pickerel, bass and catfish. Live minnows remain the top bait with small jigs the best lure.

As of Wednesday, the flounder run in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal had yet to begin. It won’t be long, as reasonable weather is expected this week and into next week. We need that water temperature to reach the magic 50-degree mark.

The Broadkill River has been producing white perch and catfish on bloodworms and grass shrimp for those in the right place at the right time. Lodge Pole Road, the Head of the Broadkill in Milton and the Old Bridge where the river crosses under Route 1 have all been productive locations. Unfortunately, they don’t produce every day on every tide. We went past the Old Bridge on Tuesday and with all the anglers we saw sitting in chairs with their rods lying alongside, it did not appear the bite was red hot.

Indian River Inlet

I have been fishing Indian River Inlet since I was a child and the bulkhead was steel sheeting. I watched them build what is now the old bridge that is being torn down. I used to dive off of what was then the old bridge in the mid-1960s and swim out to the end of the rocks and then back to the beach. In all those 60 years or so, I have never seen as big a change as will be made when they finish removing the two concrete pilings and then dredge out the sandbar that runs from the bridge to the entrance to Southshore Marina. These two projects will completely change the water flow at the inlet, and your guess is as good as mine as to where the fishing will be best.

Back in the day, we fished the rocks pretty much the same way it is fished now: walking and casting a white bucktail with a white plastic worm up current and allowing the lure to flow down as close to the rocks as possible. The only time we made long casts was when schools of bluefish came through chasing bait on the surface.

As the rockfish died out, trout took over. Our tactics were pretty much the same for weakfish as for rock except the rubber worm was now purple and the bucktail was yellow.

One of my favorite locations for trout was on the south side where sand from the beach washed through the rocks and formed a small sandbar on the inlet side. I would cast my bucktail up current and let it wash over the sand bar. The hit usually came as soon as the lure went down the side of the bar.

Boat fishermen will be impacted more than jetty jockeys. That big sandbar may be a hazard to navigation, but it is a boon to anglers. The rips by the Coast Guard Station all the way around to the entrance to Southshore will be gone. These were favorites of mine for both flounder and rockfish.

The ditch alongside Burton Island my be affected by the lack of sand flowing in the inlet as will the big sandbar west of the VFW Slough.

The group that fishes from the sidewalk at the Coast Guard Station is going to lose their favorite rip. I suspect even the longest long liner won’t have much success once that sandbar is gone.

Change is unavoidable, and the good fishermen will adapt. The rest of us are in for a long summer.

  • 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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