Some reading suggestions for the cold winter

January 18, 2014

Fishing for tog was good the last time anyone could get out. Capt. John Nedelka had a limit for his party last Friday and said in spite of the heavy rain inshore, he only encountered a few showers out in the ocean. The other good news was the fish were caught close to the beach.

I have been trying to do a little freshwater fishing, but between the weather and work I have not been able to go. I do believe there will be fish to catch in the local ponds, tidal creeks and spillways if we ever get some moderate weather. Actually, the fish will be there even if the weather is too cold for old people to be outside.

Winter reading

Just because you are stuck inside is no excuse not to improve your fishing or hunting knowledge. I suppose you can access plenty of information on the internet, but somehow I find it more relaxing to actually hold a book in my hand.

All fishermen should read “The Fisherman’s Ocean” by David Ross, PhD. This book explains the relationship among current, tide, bottom structure and fish. It explains why the various natural forces control where the fish will be and when they are most likely to feed. The subject matter may sound difficult, but Ross writes in such a manner that even a less-than-straight-A student like myself can completely understand the text.

To further understand how fish work, read, “Through the Fish’s Eye” by Mark Sosin and John Clark. The book not only explains how a fish sees, but also how it hears and detects scents. If you have ever wondered why a black plug works so well at night, this book will answer that question.

Speaking of Mark Sosin, he and Lefty Kreh wrote “Practical Fishing Knots,” and it remains the standard by which all knot books are measured. Over the years they have updated this work to cover new situations such as the now-common use of braided lines that require knots different from those used when monofilament was the only line found on most fishing reels.

When I first met Ken Schultz, he was the fishing editor for Field and Stream magazine. He held that position for many years, and over that period he acquired a lot of information about all types of fishing. A few years ago he wrote “Ken Schultz’s Fishing Encyclopedia: Worldwide Angling Guide.” The book was even bigger than the title and covered any and all types of fishing you might encounter anywhere in the world.

This magnificent tome was a bit too large and had more information than the average fisherman needed, so Ken has now produced a slightly smaller book, “Essentials of Fishing.” If you are looking for one source for all the information you will ever need to catch fresh and saltwater fish, this is the book for you. While you may not sit down and read it cover to cover in one evening, you will want to acquaint yourself with the various chapters to immediately improve your fishing success while keeping the book handy for future reference.

As a waterfowl hunter, I found “Successful Waterfowling” by Zack Taylor the best book ever written on the subject. The word practical best describes Taylor’s approach to the subject. His description of a good weather day for waterfowl hunting is a classic. “First it rained, then it blew, then it freezed and then it snew.” Zack claimed he found these words written on the underside of the bow of a duck boat, and I can just picture a cold and wet hunter crouched under there trying to find some protection from the elements.

On a more technical note, Bob Brister’s book, “Shotgunning; The Art and Science,” explains in very easy-to-understand detail how a shotgun works and why certain patterns develop for various loads. Since most Delaware hunters are required to use a shotgun, this information can be very helpful whether you go after geese, deer or rabbits.

Shameless self-promotion

Honest, I did not decide to write about books for the sole purpose of promoting my own works, but since I brought up the subject, why not?

I have three books currently available. “Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast,” “The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing,” and “The Saltwater Bait Book.” Anyone who would like autographed copies may contact me via email,

To purchase any of the books mentioned, please go to a local book seller like Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach. I know you can find books online, but when you buy like that, you miss the personal service and the ambiance of actually being in a store full of books. If the store does not have any of these books in stock, they can order them for you.

  • 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