A fine fishing Friday yields big returns

Harry Yingling with a brace of keeper sea bass. BY ERIC BURNLEY
October 12, 2013

After a fantastic run of good fishing weather, we are now in the middle of a northeast blow that has shut down fishing since Monday. The weekend forecast is not looking good and I just might spend Saturday watching college football and NASCAR.

Once the weather settles down, fishing will be in full fall mode. The offshore marlin bite will be over, but tuna could still be around. The inshore lumps will hold false albacore and blues with sea bass on the 20-Fathom wrecks. Closer to the beach, sea bass and flounder will be slowing down on the reef sites, but tog fishing will improve. Surf fishing will be on an upward trend with larger rockfish arriving from the north. Big blues and possibly false albacore may join the party.

The good side of a northeast blow is it pushes bait toward shore and into bays and inlets. When the wind dies down, that bait will move out and predators will be waiting. The Point at Cape Henlopen and Indian River Inlet are hot spots when this occurs.

The downside is the beach erosion that will occur during a week of high waves and onshore wind. This will be a test of the new beach at the northside of Indian River Inlet. I am sure they are not done with the replenishment project and this weather will put a stop to further work. Keep in mind the north jetty and the sidewalk that fell in will be closed for repair for at least 90 days.

In spite of the current weather, do not give up on fishing. There are still plenty of fish out there and they will be snapping once the weather improves.

A fine fishing Friday

Last Friday, I was invited on a bottom fishing trip aboard the Karen Sue with Captain John Nedelka. My good friend Harry Yingling has been laid up with a hip replacement for most of the summer. He wanted to have one good fishing trip before hunting season begins and was kind enough to ask me along.

A party of five plus captain and mate left Indian River at 0700 headed to A Buoy. We arrived around 0800 and immediately began catching sea bass. Unfortunately, we were trying to catch flounder.

All hands except me were fishing top-bottom rigs with squid strips and clam. I was using a bucktail dressed with a strip of squid. The sea bass would rip the squid off my bucktail almost as soon as it hit the bottom. I kept using the jig hoping to catch a really big sea bass or flounder, but after awhile I switched to a top-bottom rig.

As we drifted in the 100 feet of water, we began catching trout. This was somewhat of a surprise, but before the day was over we would box a limit of weakfish.

Captain John moved us to a wreck and immediately larger sea bass started coming over the rail. Many double headers were caught until smaller fish began to dominate the catch. One thing about sea bass, the big ones bite first so when you begin catching nothing but shorts it is time to move. The next wreck we tried must have been fished hard recently because nothing but small fish were left.

It was back to the deep water at A Buoy, where we finished the day. I caught my largest croaker of the year plus a 17.01-inch flounder. Harry had a 47-inch smooth dog shark and we all caught a few bluefish. There was even one triggerfish in the mix.

Back at the dock, the cooler yielded sea bass, flounder, blues, croaker, triggerfish and the big dog shark. Everyone went home with several fish dinners.

On more than one trip with Harry, the weather gods have not been kind. We have encountered thunderstorms so severe that one almost washed away Seaford. Several of our planned excursions have been scrubbed by wind and rain, and we held our collective breath waiting for last Friday to arrive. Apparently the weather gods were asleep or decided to give us a break because the winds were calm, the waves were small and the sun shone all day. Even the strong current I expected due to the new moon never materialized. Of course we a paying for it now with a nor’easter that is forecast to last until Saturday and may blow all weekend. And so it goes.

  • 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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