Weekend fishing good despite windy, chilly conditions

April 27, 2013

Surf fishing was pretty good over the past weekend in spite of the wind and cold. The best action was on the beach north of Indian River Inlet and on Fenwick Island. The primary catch was two- to three-pound bluefish with a few kings, rockfish and dog sharks mixed in. Cut bunker was the preferred bait.

Broadkill Beach produced rockfish and black drum. I was there on Thursday afternoon and just missed the bite that occurred on the change of tide. I saw a 36- and a 32-inch rockfish caught and another one that was close to the 28-inch minimum size. Bloodworms accounted for those fish.

I spoke with other anglers who had success on Broadkill Beach and they all indicated the change from low to high or high to low was the optimum time. Various baits produced action including bloodworms, clams and cut bunker. A few black drum were caught as well with clams the top bait for them. Morty “Golden Horseshoe” Morton had a 30-pound drum here.

I had a message from Dave Beebe at the Lighthouse Tackle Shop on the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier. He was doing some fishing at the pier on Wednesday and saw a keeper flounder and some short rockfish and flounder caught from the boards. The shop will open for the season on Friday.

Indian River Inlet and the back bays are still below par for this time of year. A few keeper tog were caught from the inlet rocks, and some keeper flounder were taken from the VFW Slough, but overall it has not been a good spring.

One fishery that has been good is the tog action in the ocean. Boats running from Lewes and Indian River are catching three-fish limits for all on board. Tog season will soon be over, so don’t wait to get some of those tasty fillets.

New state record

The City of Wilmington can now claim another state record fish. Thomas Sutton caught the new state record muskie below the Market Street Bridge. The big fish weighed 19 pounds, 13 ounces and had a 42.25-inch length and a 19.5-inch girth. The previous state record muskie was caught last year and weighed 16 pounds, four ounces. It too was taken from the Brandywine.

Muskies are not stocked in Delaware, and this fish was probably put in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Delaware River and made his way down to the First State. I understand they congregate at the base of the dam and have a feast on suckers and millroach. Sounds like another road trip.

On the subject of the Delaware River, I had a report from a shad fisherman on the upper part of the river that he caught a few sturgeon and saw several others while trying to catch shad. Not sure how that will affect fishing in the river since sturgeon are an endangered species.


A fishing magazine recently asked the question, “How has fishing changed since you began?” Since I started fishing in the 1940s, the answer is quite a bit.

My first fish was a millroach caught from Drawyers Creek near Odessa. My tackle was a stick, a piece of black thread and a bent pin with a Bond Bread dough ball for bait.

My first rod and reel was purchased from the Boothwyn Farmers Market in Pennsylvania. The rod did not have a reel seat, just two rings that held the reel in place. It may have been primitive by today’s standards, but I caught lots of fish in the Brandywine Creek and Beaver Run.

In the early 1970s, Paul Coffin and I started running to the canyons in his 22-Mako Little Boat. We had twin Johnson 75-hp motors and fished from Indian River and Ocean City. We got wet; we got sunburned and we took a severe beating in anything more than a three-
foot sea.

My last trip offshore was on the 70-foot Spencer Penta Gone. The fly bridge was air conditioned, the galley was well stocked, the salon had very comfortable leather seating and the ride home in six- to eight-foot seas was smooth as glass.

My first watercraft was a raft made from tree branches tied together with twine. It fell apart in Naamans Creek about 10 feet from shore.

Today I own a 16-foot Starcraft and am fortunate to fish on a 22-foot C Hawk. My tackle is pretty up to date and is a far cry from that first rod and reel. I can’t say fishing is any more fun today than it was in the past, but it sure is a lot easier and certainly more comfortable.

  • 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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