Bay fishing improves as water heats up

April 26, 2014
It's trout time! Chris Burke and his 8-year-old nephew Tom Burke took these two beauties, weighing 6.1 and 6.2 pounds, from the Broadkill Beach surf. COURTESY LEWES HARBOUR MARINA

The Turkey Shoot sponsored by Jefferson Lodge 15 AF&AM has a new start time. We will get underway at noon, Saturday, April 26, not 2 p.m. as previously posted in this space. All proceeds go toward the Jefferson Lodge Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to deserving high school seniors. The shoot will be held at the same location, the Hopkins Farm off Fisher Road. Hope to see you there.

Fishing report

I am happy to say fishing in the bay has improved considerably with the warming water temperatures. Tog started to bite last weekend with a few boats registering a limit catch of three fish per angler. This good fishing lasted until Wednesday, when a gale force northwest wind shut down everything. Captains reported an abundance of small tog, and that bodes well for the future of the fishery.

Broadkill Beach saw scattered rockfish and trout. The pair of six-pounders pictured here were a sight for sore eyes. Back in the day, Broadkill Beach was a hot spot for early run weakfish, and it looks like they may be on the way back. A mix of clams, bloodworms and cut fresh bunker has been the ticket to success.

A few keeper flounder were caught out of the Broadkill River and the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal. It may just be a coincidence, but two of the keepers were taken on pink Gulp! Live minnows also produced a few flounder. Catfish and white perch are available in the upper reaches of the Broadkill with the old Route 1 bridge, Oyster Rocks and Lodge Pole Road prime locations to soak a bloodworm.

Small rockfish were caught from the beach at Herring Point on down to Fenwick Island. Indian River Inlet gave up short rock and tog. Inshore reefs and wrecks hold tog.

Fishing line

Discarded monofilament fishing line poses a hazard to all wildlife and should be disposed of properly. The folks at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge have installed receptacles for anglers to use when they must get rid of tangled line. The same type of containers have also been installed at Indian River Inlet, but unfortunately they don’t appear to get much use, as the amount of fishing line found there is absolutely astonishing.

When we did a cleanup at the inlet last fall I was amazed by the large tangles of line stuck in the rocks. This fishing line had trapped lots of vegetation and other trash, making it a real mess. We had balls of this stuff at least 18 inches wide, and some of it was stuck under the rocks, making it impossible to remove.

I have seen photos of fish and turtles caught in mono line and other plastic debris, and while some of this plastic could have been thrown away by anybody, there can be no doubt where the fishing line came from. As I have said before, there are numerous groups who would like to keep us from fishing, and a few who would like to lock everyone out of public land and water. It is not difficult for them to connect the damage done by fishing line to fishermen, and this will strengthen their case against us. As we all know, most of the decision makers do not fish and are not aware that fishermen and hunters are the first people to support the environment and our license money is the largest amount of funds dedicated to conservation.

The bottom line is, please dispose of your fishing line and all other trash properly, and pick up the mess left by less conscientious people.

Seasons change

We are approaching several changes in our fishing regulations. Beginning Sunday, May 11, the minimum size for summer flounder will drop from 17 to 16 inches. This is due to a regional approach to flounder regulations being tried by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Our region includes Maryland and Virginia, where the minimum size has been 16 inches for at least one year.

Tog season will close May 11. It will reopen July 17 with a 15-inch minimum size and a five-fish bag limit. The season will close again Aug. 31, then reopen Sept. 29 and run until Dec. 31. The five-fish bag and 15-inch size will remain in effect.

Sea bass season will open Monday, May 19, and run until Oct. 14 with a 12.5-inch minimum size and a 15-fish bag limit. The season will begin again Nov. 1 and continue till Dec. 31 with the same size and bag limits.

If you check the original Delaware Fishing Guide that you should have received with your General Fishing License, these new regulations are not listed. A new version of the guide will be distributed soon.

  • 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