Always wear your PFD, especially children

June 29, 2013

The Delaware Bay continues to provide good fishing for spot, croaker, kings, flounder and the occasional trout. Private, head and charter boats are all finding plenty of action from Woodland Beach to the Outer Wall. Shorebound anglers are scoring from the beach in Lewes, the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier and Broadkill Beach. It is hard to beat a bloodworm for these fish, but Gulp!, Fishbites, clam and squid will work.

The Broadkill River and the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal are seeing improved flounder fishing. There are also loads of small spot and croaker in these locations and this may be drawing in the flounder. If you catch a small spot, put it on a larger circle hook and send it back down. You may just catch the flounder of a lifetime. The more common flounder bait is a live minnow and squid strip, shiners and smelt.

The various reef sites in the bay are seeing some big flounder. The trick is staying on top of the structure and fishing a jig or flounder rig as vertical as possible. It is very difficult to catch a flounder in the open bay unless you can stay on the reef site structure.

Several locations have been giving up trout. The Inner and Outer walls, the jetties at Roosevelt Inlet, the jetties at Broadkill Beach and the beach from Broadkill to Cape Henlopen have all seen keepers. Peeler crab is going to be the most productive bait during the summer with a white bucktail and purple worm the go-to lure. Trout action will be best during low-light periods at dawn, dusk and at night.

We still receive reports of keeper rockfish from the surf, but they have been few and far between. Croaker, spot and kings along with a few rays have been much more common catches than rockfish.

Rock have also been taken from the inlet at night on eels, bucktails and shads. Here too, keepers are rare.

Blues visit the inlet on incoming current and are often accompanied by hickory shad. Small spoons or bucktails have been used on these fish with considerable success.

Flounder fishing in the back bays has been slow. Keepers have been caught at the VFW Slough, Massey’s Ditch and other spots with minnows, squid, shiners and spot the most productive baits.

Inshore fishing in the ocean has not been very good. Reef sites 10, 11 and 12 have given up sea bass and flounder, but not in any great numbers. We were out on Reef Site 11 on Wednesday, and while we had a good number of short sea bass and flounder, we failed to put a single keeper in the box. We had steady action until around 10 when the current picked up and fish shut off.

Wrecks beyond 20 fathoms are producing plenty of keeper sea bass and big ling. These areas were difficult to fish last weekend due to the strong current from the full moon, but should be much more fishable this weekend.

Offshore fishing improved with plenty of yellowfin tuna caught along with a few bigeyes and dolphin. Reports indicate many of the tuna are small with most boats able to cull out a decent number of keepers. Right now the bite is on the troll with ballyhoo on a Sea Witch or Islander the hot setup.

Sharkers are working the canyons back inside to the 20-Fathom Lumps and finding makos, threshers, brown and blue sharks. The action can be pretty intense at times and dull as dishwater at other times.

Wear your PFD

It does not matter if you fish the ponds in a 12-foot jon boat or work the canyons in a 60-foot Carolina sportfisherman - you should wear your PFD at all times when on the water. It only takes a second to put you overboard, and once in the water, your chance of survival is considerably better if you are wearing a PFD.

Keeping PFDs on your children should be a no-brainer, but every week when I read the DNREC Enforcement Blotter, there will be at least one and too often more than one citation for not having a PFD on a child 12 or under. This law was enacted in the 1980s, and since that time not one child has died in a boating accident.

There is no excuse not to wear a PFD with the newer ones so light and unobtrusive that you soon forget you are wearing it. A week ago I came in from the ocean with my PFD on and forgot about it until a guy at the Wawa asked if we were expecting a high tide or a tsunami. Go ahead, put it on; you will be glad you did.

  • 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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