Plenty of fish for the taking in the Delaware Bay

June 22, 2013

If you want to catch a lot of fish, the Delaware Bay is the place for you. The reef sites are holding plenty of croaker, kings and spot, as well as the occasional flounder and trout. You can’t beat bloodworms for these fish, but if $10 a dozen is out of your price range, try Gulp!, Fishbites, clam, cut bunker or squid. Use small hooks and small pieces of bait for best results.

The beaches in Lewes and Broadkill along with the Broadkill River and the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier hold the same variety of fish. A few more flounder and trout have been caught here, and cut, fresh spot has been the secret bait. Walking the beach and casting jigs sweetened with Gulp! swimming mullet or strips of fresh spot has been productive during high tides in the evening and at daybreak.

Boats running to sites 11 and 12 are catching a few keeper sea bass, while those who travel to wrecks beyond 20 fathoms are catching limits of keepers. Capt. John Nedelka on the Karen Sue out of Indian River made the long run on Saturday and said he never caught a short sea bass all day. He also had good numbers of ling and one seven-pound cod. The Katydid and Martha Marie also had excellent results over the weekend. Nedelka said the water on the bottom is very cold inshore and much warmer beyond 20 fathoms.

The ocean beaches also give up spot, croaker and kings, though not in the numbers seen on the beaches along the bay. The occasional short rockfish has been caught here with the larger fish now out of our area until fall.

The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal continues to be very stingy with flounder. A few keepers have been landed, but limits are few and far between.

Perfect trip

On Tuesday afternoon I headed for Tilghman Island and Harrison’s Chesapeake House. I left in a light rain shower and arrived in a torrential downpour. It would take more than a little rain to keep me from one of my favorite locations on Earth.

I have been going to Harrison’s for many years, but that is only a fraction of the time the resort has been in operation. It began around 1900 as a boarding house for folks from Baltimore who arrived on the steamer captained by the family patriarch, Levin Harrison. Today his grandson Capt. Buddy Harrison and his son Capt. Bud Harrison run the place with the help of several other family members and a very competent staff.

Over the past few years, the entire place has undergone a complete restoration. All the rooms have been remodeled, a new bar has been built and the dining room is all new. There is a new outside dining area, and two of the three docks have been rebuilt. The third dock will be completed soon.

The one thing that has not changed is the food; it is as delicious as ever. Crab cakes, crab dip, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the best stewed tomatoes in the entire world. For breakfast you can choose from a buffet of eggs, toast, pancakes, bacon, sausage and a ton of other stuff. The lunch they send with you on the boat has fried chicken, ham and cheese sandwiches, cookies, chips and hard-boiled eggs. If you leave Harrison’s hungry, it’s your own fault.

So how was the fishing? It was fantastic!

We met at the boat, a small battleship named Captain Buddy, around 0600. Underway by 0615, we were on site at 0700, and all eight of us had a limit of rockfish by 0800.

The technique was live bait fishing with spot. Capt. Chuck Harrison and his mate Brooks Harrison already had a live well filled with lively spot. I used my own outfit, a Tsunami Trophy rod, Tsunami Silun 2000 reel filled with 10-pound test Stren mono. I used a short section of Fluorocarbon 30-pound leader to a 3/0 circle hook. The spot were hooked through the eye socket and were inhaled by rockfish almost as soon as they found bottom.

My first hit was a quick bump and goodbye spot. I got the second fish to the boat before he said so long. The next two drops resulted in a 24- and a 26-inch rock and my limit was in the box.

A 12-year-old boy from Utah had the big fish of the day, a 30-incher, and one of the other boats in the Harrison fleet recorded a 43-inch rock.

On the way back to the dock, the fish were dropped of at the cleaners and we all picked up our filets on the way home.

Want to enjoy an adventure like this? Call 410-886-2121 or go online at

  • 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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