Finally, a good saltwater fishing report

April 12, 2014

Finally, a good saltwater fishing report. The first flounder was caught out of Indian River, and it was a nice one. I don’t have the name of the angler, but the flounder weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces and was caught out of the VFW Slough.

In spite of a very windy weekend, tog were caught in the ocean. Many more shorts than keepers, but with this improving weather, larger fish will begin to bite soon. The rough conditions kept boats close to shore, and once seas settle down there will be better fishing farther off the beach.

The only surf report I have came from Assateague Island, where short rockfish were caught from the beach. Bloodworms have been the best bait. The same bait has produced larger rockfish from the shoreline in New Castle County.

White perch are available from tidal creeks and rivers including the Broadkill. Oyster Rocks, the old Route 1 bridge and Petersfield Ditch have seen good action on bloodworms and grass shrimp.

Freshwater anglers have had a good spring on pickerel. The reports I have seen indicate very large fish caught on shiners, jerkbaits and swim shads. Bass have been taken on the same baits while crappie are hitting minnows and jigs.

It has been a very long, cold winter and I think everyone is ready to get outside and enjoy a little warm air and sunshine.

Turkey shoot

The turkey shoot sponsored by Jefferson Lodge 15 AF&AM that had to be canceled due to rain March 29 has been rescheduled to Saturday, April 26, at 2 p.m. The location remains the same, on the Hopkins Farm off Fisher Road, and the proceeds will still benefit the scholarship fund of Jefferson Lodge. Every year the lodge awards a college scholarship to two graduating high school students, a boy and a girl, with the amount depending on the success of fundraisers such as this event.

Back in the day, turkey shoots only awarded turkeys and hams to the winners. Today, turkeys and hams are just a small part of the prizes. This shoot will have a wide variety of awards including NASCAR pit passes, head boat tickets, a free weekend in a Rehoboth motel, a tackle shop VIP card, turkey decoy and calls along with turkeys, hams and much more.

This will be a family event with no beer or liquor allowed. There will be plenty of food for sale including hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks.

This is a 12-guage only event with a maximum barrel length of 32 inches. Shells will be provided.

For more information, call Brian Benfer at 302-841-4283. This will be a fun event for a worthy cause and I hope to see you there.

Sea bass and flounder

As it stands right now we will have a 16-inch minimum size and a four-fish bag limit for flounder. The season should open Sunday, May 11 and run for the remainder of the year. The decrease in the size limit is due to a new regional management plan developed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Management Council. Delaware has been placed in the same region as Maryland and Virginia, which had a 16-inch minimum size last year.

Sea bass season will open Monday, May 19, with a 12.5-inch minimum size and a 15-fish-per-day bag limit. This season is set by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As you can see, this alphabet soup of agencies has considerably more control over our fisheries regulations than the state of Delaware.

Let's be careful out there

With the return of warm weather and with fish beginning to bite, we will all be in a hurry to get out on the water. This is a good thing so long as we don’t become so anxious that we fail to obey the simple rules of safe boating.

Make sure you have all the required safety items and you don’t go when you should stay at the dock. The water temperature is very cold and can kill you in a very short time should you end up in the bay or ocean. In fact, it is possible to suffer from hypothermia while still in the boat if the spray soaks you to the skin.

This happened to friends of mine who were caught out in the Chesapeake Bay after the wind took a sharp turn to the northwest and began to blow over 30 knots. The waves blew out their windshield, and everyone on board was soaking wet. The captain finally turned around and ran to the closest port because he felt hypothermia overcoming him.

They were many miles from home when they finally landed, but at least they were still alive.

  • 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