Fishing environment generally good right now

June 7, 2014
Les Brightbill from Dagsboro was one of the fortunate anglers who caught flounder last week.  He pulled this 3-pounder out of Indian River using a Gulp! and minnow combination. COURTESY HOOK EM AND COOK EM

Fishing is generally good, but far from spectacular. The most consistent bite has been for black drum off Broadkill Beach and at the Coral Beds off Slaughter Beach. Unfortunately, this action will soon end as the drum spawning season comes to a close. Fresh clam has been the best bait by far.

One of the surprise appearances of the young season has been the presence of croakers in the bay. They showed up in June last year and this year they were caught in late May. In years past, croaker did not enter the local waters until late June or early July.

Right now, croaker are found at the Coral Beds, off Broadkill Beach, in the Broadkill River and from the pier at Cape Henlopen State Park. Once the drum run is over, most of the bay head boats will begin targeting croaker, flounder and kings. Bloodworms, Gulp! and clam make the best baits.

Weakfish have been caught in many of their old haunts. The jetty at Roosevelt Inlet, the jetties along the beach at Broadkill, in the Broadkill River, the jetties at Indian River Inlet and from the Ferry Jetty. Many of the old favorites from past trout runs will still work today, as will newer devices. A bucktail with a purple worm has accounted for some of the trout as have Mir-O-Lures. Gulp! seems to catch everything, and trout are no exception. Live minnows and peeler crab are the top bait items. Many of the trout have been in the four- to six-pound class, and please remember you are only allowed one per day with a 13-inch minimum size limit.

Many flounder fishermen have been disappointed while a few others have been rewarded with some flatfish to take home. I am certain the 16-inch minimum size limit has put more flounder in the cooler, but the overall numbers are down.

The Broadkill River, the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, the fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park, the Indian River Bay and the shallow water off of Broadkill and Lewes beaches have been the best locations for flounder fishing. Pink Gulp! and a live minnow have been the top bait combo. Plan to fish through at least one tide with the top of the flood into the first of the ebb the most productive.

No reports of flounder on the Delaware Bay reef sites, but they have been caught at the Old Grounds 13 miles southeast of Indian River Inlet. Fishing for flounder here requires ideal conditions with light winds and a weak current. The water is 80- to 90-feet deep and drifting with a strong wind and/or current is very difficult.

The sea bass bite has fallen off dramatically since opening day. The largest sea bass feed first and therefore are caught first. By the end of the first week of the season, most of the snags inside the shipping lanes were picked clean. Now those who want a decent catch of bass must run farther offshore to deeper water. On the plus side, these waters also hold big ling and a few keeper cod.

The inshore shark run has been good with both makos and threshers caught last week. Both of these fish put on quite a show and are very good to eat. Putting out a chum slick and using large baits such as bluefish, mackerel or even a live sea bass will usually attract sharks to your boat.

Both makos and threshers pose a danger to anglers. Never bring a live mako into the boat unless you have a death wish. Threshers are not so much a danger to bite you, but their tails can knock you silly.

Tuna have shown up in the canyons. Both yellowfins and bluefins have been caught along temperature breaks on trolled lures and horse ballyhoo. No report of the first billfish as yet from Delaware boats, but blue marlin have been seen by captains running out of Ocean City.

Wear your PFDs

Last week, I heard a Coast Guard officer describe trying to find and put on your PFD while the boat is on fire or sinking is the same as trying to put on your seat belt during a traffic accident. Ask the folks whose boat caught on fire off of Bowers Beach how exciting it was when they had to don life jackets and jump into the water.

Every week, I receive the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control enforcement blotter and there are at least one and often more instances where a boat operator has been cited for not having a PFD on a child younger than 12. Since this law was enacted, Delaware has not had one child killed in a boating accident, while 80 percent of those people who have been lost were not wearing their life jackets. Think about it.

  • 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