Lewes-Rehoboth Canal offering great fishing

July 26, 2014

I do not remember a year when we had so many fish available so close to downtown Lewes. The Lewes-Rehoboth Canal is a fisherman’s paradise with croaker, flounder, trout, spot and the occasional rockfish available from shore and from a boat.

On Monday, I fished the canal from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., along with my old friend Doug Elliott. We started our drift at the Savannah Road bridge and ended at Roosevelt Inlet, catching fish everywhere along the way. Croaker made up most of the catch with a few spot, three short flounder, a small sea bass, a short trout and one very tiny sea robin. Bloodworms were the primary bait, but I did cut up one of the spot and that is what accounted for the flounder.

We would make a drift from the east side to the west side as the northeast wind pushed us in that direction. Fish would hit anywhere from one side to the other. If we hit a few bigger croaker or a flounder, we would repeat that drift just in case some larger ones remained in the area.

At the end of the day, I had 18 croakers, all over 10 inches, in the cooler. Had we kept everything we caught over the 8-inch minimum size, we would have had well over 75 fish.

While a small boat is the ideal way to fish the canal, it is also possible to access this water from shore. The public dock often has anglers lining the edge, although you must be aware of any boats docked there and respect their privacy. The area just past the Freeman Bridge is another access spot. I am not sure of the parking situation there, so be certain you are in a location that will not attract the attention of a Lewes police officer.

While not exactly the canal, the bridge over Canary Creek and the shoreline on either side of the bridge are open to fishing. I would take plenty of bug spray if the wind is out of the west, but otherwise you should be able to catch croaker and spot from this location.

One place that is not open to fishing is the courtesy dock at the Lewes Boat Ramp. It may look appealing, but fishing there will get you a ticket from a DNREC Enforcement officer.

A light spinning outfit is ideal for this type of fishing. I use a Shakespeare Ugly Stick and matching Shakespeare reel filled with 10-pound test monofilament line. This is a reasonably priced quality outfit.

The rig I use is easy to make. Tie a small No. 6 or No. 8 circle hook on the end of your 10- to 12-pound test line. About 6 inches above the hook, crimp on a large split shot. The light weight will get the bait to the bottom, where it will drift along when fishing from shore or from a boat. From shore, cast up current and from a boat just drop the line straight down.

Bloodworms are the best bait for spot, croaker and trout. While they do cost $10 a dozen, if you use a small piece of worm on the single hook, a dozen should last quite awhile. Each worm will make four to six baits. Thread each piece on the hook and it will be difficult for the fish to pull it off without getting caught.

Fishing has been good no matter the stage of the tide or time of day. I have caught well on the incoming, outgoing and even on slack water.

I grew up catching croaker in the Delaware Bay with my grandfather and have never tired of the experience. If you have children, grandchildren or just want to take the neighborhood kids fishing, nothing could be better than catching croaker in the canal. On Wednesday morning, I was at Lewes Harbour Marina watching Joe clean a steady supply of croaker caught by kids fishing with their parents or grandparents. Two young boys from Texas had caught a dozen nice croaker while fishing with their grandparents, and both could not stop talking about the experience. This is something they will remember for the rest of their lives, although I expect the croaker will be Texas-sized by the time they return home.

Fishing report

Flounder are being caught at the Old Grounds and Site 10 in the ocean. Reef sites in the bay produce croaker, flounder, kings, triggerfish and a few trout.

The surf is beginning to show signs of life with spot, croaker, kings and the occasional bluefish taking bloodworms or cut spot. Indian River Inlet has produced a few keeper flounder and rockfish from the jetty.

Tuna fishing has been good at the Hot Dog, Massey’s Canyon and the Hambone. Trolling is still the best technique to catch bluefins and yellowfins.

  • 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