Fishing improves with the weather

April 19, 2014
Dave Chappell checked in the first keeper flounder of the season at Lewes Harbour Marina. The 19-incher ate a Gulp! Swimming Mullet in Lewes and Rehoboth Canal this past Saturday. COURTESY LEWES HARBOUR MARINA

Fishing keeps improving along with the weather. The cold front that arrived Wednesday will set things back a bit, but we are definitely on an upward swing as water temperatures in the bay and ocean approach 50 degrees.

The best news for local residents is the arrival of flounder in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal and the Broadkill River. While not a blitz by any means, flounder were caught and that is all we can hope for this early in the season. Please remember the 16-inch minimum size does not go into effect until next month, so the current regulation remains at 17 inches.

Tog fishing was not easy over the weekend, but those who battled the wind and strong current managed to catch a fair number of keepers. Right now, the best fishing is in the ocean, with nothing reported from the bay.

Indian River Inlet gave up a few tog and short rockfish, with the emphasis on a few. Farther up the river, white perch were caught near the power plant along with the occasional short rockfish.

The ocean surf is cold and dead. A few small rock were caught off of Broadkill Beach.

The upper Delaware Bay has seen some good action on keeper rockfish to over 40 pounds. Shore fishing has been productive from Augustine Beach to Woodland Beach, while boaters are finding fish out of Collins Beach and Augustine. Those fishing from the beach are using bloodworms and cut fresh bunker, while chunking with fresh bunker is best when working from a boat.

Perch, catfish and short rockfish have been caught from the Broadkill River and its tributaries. Petersfield Ditch, the old Route 1 bridge and Oyster Rocks have all seen good action with bloodworms the top bait.

Reports from New Castle County indicate a very good beginning to the trout season. Limits were common, and the weather was just about perfect on opening day. I had hoped to get up there this week, but the weather forecast is not promising.

Delaware Bayshore Initiative

For those unfamiliar with the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, it is a plan to establish the best possible public use of the area east of Route 1 and along the shore of the Delaware Bay from New Castle to the bayside of Cape Henlopen State Park. The land is protected from heavy industry by the Coastal Zone Act championed by Gov. Russell Peterson in the 1970s. Much of this area is already set aside as open space by state, federal and private conservation groups as well as conservation easements. These same groups are in the process of securing as much land as possible with their limited funding.

A survey was sent out asking for the preference of Delaware citizens as to what activities and facilities they would like to see within the Bayshore Initiative area. The following is the result of that survey.

As part of the Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing Funding meeting last week, the members were addressed by Anthony Gonzon, Bayshore conservation planner, who gave us some very good news. It seems that the most important Bayshore activity by a wide margin is fishing. Wildlife viewing is a distant second, followed closely by crabbing, walking/hiking and boating. The most important amenity is fishing and crabbing access, followed by restrooms (a personal favorite) and motor boat launch facilities.

It seems there is the same amount of interest in birding as there is in hunting. Mountain biking came in dead last, possibly due to the lack of mountains along the bayshore.

One benefit the state would like to see is increased tourist activity. Improved access to fishing and crabbing would certainly attract more out-of-state visitors, as would better facilities for viewing birds and other wildlife. In spite of what some folks would have you believe, the two activities are not mutually exclusive.

In a somewhat related matter, the council did vote to move forward with plans to put a fishing pier along the shoreline in Dobbinsville. This is an area in south New Castle where fishing has been going on for generations. It will be the first such fishing pier in New Castle County, where the majority of Delaware’s population reside. It won’t be built anytime soon, as there are numerous permits and engineering studies to complete, and the $1.3 million cost will take several years to accumulate.

Back in Sussex County, the boat ramp at Millsboro Pond will be upgraded along with the small parking lot. A bumper will be added to the aluminum sheeting at Phillips Landing to protect boats tying up there, and cleats will be installed on the floating docks at the Lewes boat ramp.

As you can see, the Delaware angling community is getting a good deal of bang for their buck.

  • 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