Time to take out the 16-foot Starcraft

September 7, 2013

Fishing remains good from the tidal rivers and creeks all the way out to the canyons. No matter what you like to catch, there is a pretty good chance you can find success right now. The only exception is rockfish, and they are still a month or more away.

On Tuesday, Mike Pizzolato and I took my 16-foot Starcraft out for the first time in more than a year. I had been fishing on Mike’s boat, and now that it is up for sale I had to break mine out of mothballs and get it wet. The process was longer and more expensive than I had hoped, but the motor ran reasonably well, and the fishing was good.

We left the Lewes boat ramp around 0830 and headed up the Broadkill River. The weather was perfect and the current was still running in.

Our first drift near the Duck Blind produced immediate action with croaker taking Gulp! either on a top-bottom rig or a small jig head. The current was slowing down, and the wind was calm so drifting conditions were perfect.

Mike was using the top-bottom rig baited with bloodworm on one hook and Gulp! on the other. We were both surprised when the croaker preferred the Gulp! over the real thing. I was casting a 1/4-ounce jig head baited with small pieces of Gulp!. This is the same rig I have used with much success here and in Indian River. My very light rod and 10-pound braid make every croaker a real battle.

When the current began running out the wind increased from the north, and the drift picked up considerable speed. It seemed as if the fish had quit biting, but a little experimenting led to the discovery of croaker and spot in the center of the river and not at the drop-off along the banks.

There were three gentlemen fishing from shore on the Broadkill Beach side of the river and they seem to be doing very well. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to anchor the boat since our drift speed was so fast.

Got the anchor and line out for only the second time in the 12 years I have owned the boat. Checked the line and the shackle for any problems and they seemed fine. Put the boat where I wanted and dropped the anchor over the side. Let out plenty of line and when the anchor took hold the line came tight and immediately parted. The broken anchor line revealed a spot that was rust colored and rotten to the core. I am currently in the market for a new anchor, line and chain.

In spite of the fast drift, we continued to catch fish. Mike was catching the biggest spot I have seen in Delaware, and I kept hammering on the croaker. The spot were more fond of the bloodworms, but I did manage to capture one on my Gulp! rig. We both caught tiny sea bass, and I landed the smallest oyster toad I had ever seen. Believe me, they aren’t cute even as babies.

I had set a goal of six fish for dinner, and when we had twelve in the box, six for me and six for Mike, I asked if he wanted more. He said he did, so we continued to keep only the largest croaker and spot until he had nine.

The main reason I only kept six fish is because Joe Morris was off the fish-cleaning table for a couple of days until he recovers from an operation, meaning I have to clean my own. In all sincerity, I hope he has a speedy recovery.

We quit at 1130 and were home by noon. Fish cleaned, boat washed and fish and chips for dinner. What more can you ask?

Hunting seasons

Three hunting seasons open this week, but I will not be partaking in any. I can’t hit teal or dove, and since golf courses and public parks are off limits, I won’t be going after resident Canada geese.

When I moved back to Delaware in 2000, the opening day of dove season sounded like a war had broken out in the neighboring cornfields. I did not hear a single shot on Monday. The fact that those cornfields now sprout houses may have something to do with the lack of hunting.

I do not envy those who hunt deer during the early archery season. The heavy rains have made for some very heavy underbrush, and the trees are thick with leaves. All that water has produced lots of mosquitoes to make for an even more enjoyable hunting experience. Add to this the recent news that Delaware leads the nation in Lyme disease, and I would suggest a purchase of the all the DEET stock you can lay your hands on.

  • 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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