Mother Nature spoils sea bass fishing trip

May 22, 2013

I had hoped to impress you with stories of big sea bass and lots of them, but Mother Nature decided to send big waves and lots of them to the Delaware coast on Sunday, the opening day of sea bass season. We rescheduled our trip to Wednesday, but once again seas to seven feet spoiled our plans. There is always next week.

There were a few boats that did go out on Sunday, and while they caught sea bass, the weather made for a rough ride and difficult fishing conditions. Tuesday saw better weather and limits of sea bass plus big ling and a couple of cod on the Katydid out of Lewes.

Lewes Beach is seeing good fishing for spot, croaker, trout and flounder. The best bite has been close to the Ferry Jetty with bloodworms the top bait.

The Ferry Jetty and the Outer Wall have seen a few trout for those working the rocks with bucktails and jigs. Once the peeler run gets underway on the full moon, peeler crab will be the best bait.

The surf at Herring Point continues to produce keeper rockfish with clams and cut bunker the top baits. The best bite will occur anytime I am not there.

The fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park has produced keeper flounder, trout and bluefish. A Speck Rig combined with a three- or four-inch Gulp! swimming mullet has been the ticket to success with these fish.

The flounder action in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal has slowed a bit since the tournament last Friday. Keepers are still being caught; it is just more difficult to find them.

Indian River Inlet has seen good numbers of keeper rockfish taken on shads and bucktails. There was a good run on Tuesday morning just after sunrise. I am considering going down there to shut that bite down.

Boating Safety

On Monday, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control held a press conference at the Lewes Boat Ramp, where Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Saveikis and DNREC Enforcement Chief James Graybeal took the opportunity to remind everyone that with the Memorial Day weekend will come hordes of inexperienced boaters who will test the limits of common sense. Those with boating experience should be aware that not everyone on the water will behave the way we think they should.

It is mandatory for everyone to keep calm and be ready to give the right-of-way to others even if it belongs to you. I sometimes have trouble keeping my cool when I encounter pure stupidity on the water or anywhere else, but so far I have managed to control my anger and avoid bad situations.

One of the factors that contributes to boating accidents is not maintaining a proper lookout. The operator of the boat must concentrate on where he is going and what, if any, other boats are close to his position. Distracted driving is now responsible for more accidents on the road than driving drunk. I suspect the same is true for boating accidents. As if boaters did not have enough distractions, now we add in talking on the phone and texting.

On any boat I operate, I ask everyone on board to let me know if they see another boat on my port or starboard or any obstruction in the water. I am probably aware of the situation, but having someone else looking out and letting me know what they see is a big help.

And then there is the subject of wearing a PFD while on the water. According to Chief Graybeal, 80 percent of boating fatalities were not wearing a PFD. Think about that. If everyone wore their PFD, we would decrease boating deaths by 80 percent. It is such a simple thing; put the PFD on when you get aboard and don’t take it off until you are back on the dock. Every boat must carry a PFD for everyone on board, so why doesn’t everyone on board put theirs on? The new PFDs are light and comfortable, and mine inflates automatically when it hits the water. My PFD is so comfortable, I have forgotten it was on and walked into the Food Lion on the way home still wearing it.

A recent boating fatality off the New Jersey coast involved the operator of a towing service. He was moving his boat from one port to another when something occurred and he ended up in the water. He was not wearing a PFD, and he lost his life. This was an experienced boat operator with a commercial license, and yet he was lost due to not wearing a PFD.

Please wear yours.

  • 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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