Flounder hearing set; War on the Shore planned

February 22, 2014

Due to state law, it will be necessary for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Fish and Wildlife to hold a hearing on the proposed flounder regulations before they can be enacted. This meeting will take place at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 26, at Dover Public Library. I would not expect any objections from the public, as many of them were in favor of a 16.5-inch minimum size in 2013.

Once the public hearing and the two-week comment period are over, a report will be made by the hearing officer and sent to the secretary for his approval. This should allow enough time for the proposed regulation to be placed in the May public register and for the size limit to change from 17 to 16 inches by May 11. The bag limit will remain at four fish per day.

There will be two different sets of regulations in the Delaware Bay, as New Jersey will have an 18-inch minimum size for 2014. This is nothing new, since we seldom operate under the same regulations. It does mean that Delaware anglers should be very careful where they fish, as having a 16-inch or 17-inch flounder in your possession while in New Jersey waters will cost you a lot of money, and I don’t expect their enforcement officers to be in a forgiving mood.

War on the Shore

Rich King and his online website, Delaware Surf Fishing, have undertaken a big project that has the potential to bring 250 well-heeled surf fishermen to Delaware Nov. 29, 2014. He has announced his plans to hold a surf fishing tournament, War on the Shore, on that date. The motto of the event is, Go Big or Go Home.

The entry fee will be $500 per angler with a payout of $50,000 to the winning surfcaster. This prize is based on a full complement of 250 fishermen. There will be a $50 Calcutta for the largest bluefish caught by a tournament angler. Other prizes include $15,000 for second place and $10,000 for third. A $1,000 award will be made for the largest eligible fish caught.

In addition to cash prizes for the contestants, $25,000 will be shared by five nonprofit groups; Surfrider Foundation of Delaware, Delaware State Police Mounted Patrol, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, MERR Foundation and the Coastal Conservation Association of Delaware. The Solid Ground Youth Organization will receive an unspecified amount of the proceeds. Each of these in turn will be responsible for providing 10 volunteers to help with the tournament. These nonprofits will also be able to set up information booths during the contest.

The list of eligible species has some interesting fishes. The usual suspects, bluefish, striped bass, black drum, croaker, flounder, weakfish and spotted sea trout are all aboard. In addition, there are white perch, winter flounder and porgies. I have never heard of a white perch or porgy caught from the surf in Delaware, and the last winter flounder was taken from the beach during the 1960s.

The contest will be held between Key Box and Faithful Steward access areas with each contestant assigned a specific location. No one is allowed to fish before 7 a.m., and all lines must be out by 3 p.m. Should a contestant be hooked up at 3 p.m. he will be allowed to land that fish under the watchful eye of a tournament judge who will then report the catch to tournament headquarters. There will be one judge per every 10 anglers.

Scoring is the standard one point per inch for eligible species. Minimum sizes are specified. All fish must be released. In the event a fish has died or is seriously injured, it will be donated to the Food Bank.

If a contestant does not have a surf fishing permit, he or she can send an additional $25 along with the entry fee for a one-day pass. A state parks spokesman said there is no such thing as a one-day pass. They do have weekend passes for tournament anglers with a cost of $30 for residents and $60 for nonresidents.

Another problem with the rules is the provision that only tournament anglers may fish along that section of the state park. The same state parks spokesman said no one and no organization can prevent anyone from fishing anywhere in the park provided the park is open. Most surf fishermen I know would avoid a large tournament like the plague and would never crowd out a contestant, but there is no law preventing them from doing so.

I am afraid the $500 entry fee is a bit too rich for my blood, but if you want a chance at big money, you have to put up big money.

  • 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