Many successes at Del Tech fishing camp

July 19, 2014
Ryan Andrew graduated with honors from the Summer Camp Fishing School. BY ERIC BURNLEY

Late this spring, I became aware of a job instructing children on the finer points of fishing at a summer camp run by Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. I applied for the position and was accepted after an extensive background check.

My first class began July 7 with five boys ranging in age from 6 to 8. I raised two boys, and I really don’t recall them being quite as active as these five, who seldom remained seated for more than five minutes.

I had planned to keep instruction periods down to 30 minutes, but quickly lowered that to 15. Each period was followed by outside casting practice then back in the classroom for another 15-minute period.

At first the boys quickly tired of casting, but as the week went on they became more interested up to the point that they would ask to go out and didn’t want to come back inside. The first day I made the mistake of setting up under some trees to keep the kids out of the hot sun. Practice weights were soon lodged in the trees, and one boy managed to get his on the roof of the building. There was no safe place to stand as unguided missiles flew in every direction.

I quickly moved to more open ground and to heck with the sun. After a few sessions the boys were getting closer to the target, a hula hoop, and soon a few casts were actually going inside.

I attempted to teach them some basic knots, but the only one they mastered was the clinch knot. It seems small fingers have trouble working with monofilament line.

During the week, we watched some videos and talked about different types of fish and how best to catch them. We looked at various freshwater structure such as lily pads, fallen trees, overhanging branches and dock pilings. I explained how most fish hide either to ambush a meal or to keep from being a meal.

Friday was graduation day and we met at the fishing pond at Redden State Forest. Only two of my five boys were there, as the other three wanted to attend the morning camp where they had been making a Lego movie.

The pond contained all the different structure we had gone over in class. The closest to shore were lily pads and the two boys made excellent casts to that structure. Frederick had an immediate bite that pulled his bobber under, but the fish did not get hooked. Unfortunately, that would be Frederick’s pattern for the entire morning.

Ryan also had a hit and pulled in a small sunfish. Since Ryan’s mother, grandmother and older sister were there, that poor fish was subjected to more photo opportunities than a Kardashian wedding.

After a few more sunfish for Ryan, he had a massive strike that pulled his bobber under and the fish actually took line against a very tight drag. My first thought was a catfish, but when a bass began thrashing around on the surface, I must admit I was amazed. Ryan handled the fish all by himself with plenty of advice from me, his mother and grandmother.

After the poor bass was dragged up on the bank I picked it up and found the small No. 6 hook barely hanging in the corner of his mouth. It was another photo frenzy before the fish was returned to the pond.

By now Ryan’s mother and sister had caught sunfish, while Frederick continued to remain fishless. I finally moved him to another section of the pond where I hoped his luck would change. He gave it a good try, but came up with the same result. At one point he handed me the rod and took off, saying, “Let me know if I catch something.” I called him back and explained that he had to be fishing to catch something.

The fishing trip was scheduled to end at 10 a.m., and about one minute before 10, Frederick came through with a fine sunfish. He was thrilled, and I was relieved.

We will have a second summer fishing camp Aug. 11-15 at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. This time we will be hosting kids ages 9 to 12. If you are interested, call 302-259-6329 to register.

Fishing report

Croaker are being caught from the canal, Broadkill River and Delaware Bay. Flounder fishing has been very good over reef sites in the bay and fair to slow in the Broadkill and the canal. Croaker and flounder have been caught out of the rocks at Indian River Inlet, with mostly short rockfish taken at night from the jetties.

Ocean flounder fishing has improved with limits caught at Reef Site 10 and the Old Grounds.

  • 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